Information Initiative: The Namami Ganges Project
Over the past two years, JCWI has directed its efforts towards the regions in Southern India, hoping to provide impoverished communities with access to clean drinking water, due to the rising concern over pollution levels as developing countries continue to industrialize. While local initiative plays a part in addressing these issues, we are going to take a look at how India’s government has approached the salvation of their environment.
The Namami Ganges Project is the Indian government’s response to their nation’s deteriorating waters. While many have criticized the project to be underfunded, Nanendra Modi, prime minister of India, believes that the Ganges River, revered as the holiest of rivers by many Hindus, can be cleaned by this coming October.
The project has already demonstrated its merit: it has maintained biodiversity conservation, initiated river-front development projects, and has begun a series of public awareness campaigns in order to promote sustainability, as well as the health of citizens. Though such achievements are notable, the abundance of contaminants resting in the Ganges River has led many environmentalists to lose faith in the project, claiming the budget to be too small (2.8 billion dollars) to yield substantial results. Environmental progress is not something that can be demanded, for improvement must take back the years of degradation, and build upon a solid ground of maintenance. However, India’s population is still on the rise, making the issue even more important than before.
The question remains: what makes a river so polluted that even a sizable funding of almost 3 billion dollars is deemed unworthy of solving the problem? While trash is consistently disposed of into the river, a major cause of the increasing pollution has been the dumping of bodies into the body of water. Due to spiritual needs, many citizens feel it necessary to empty the ash of the deceased into the holy Ganges River. While public awareness strategies have encouraged cremation, the process can be inconvenient and inaccessible to many, and so instead individuals dump corpses into the river, leading to a new level of pollution that must be countered heavily.
It is difficult to determine if Modi’s prediction date will be fulfilled, and although the world remains inactive now, it is important that conflicts such as the ones in India are realized, so that the public is aware of how the environment should be taken care of, rather than taken for granted.
Author: Amit Krishna Kallakuri
Editor: Sourish Jasti