August 23, 2010
New Delhi, December 20. - Concerned about the massive pollution suffered by the Ganges, the Government indicated or had to spend millions items a new master plan to purify the sacred river of the Hindus, which supports hundreds of millions of people .
"The situation is serious: there are areas with much pollution that nothing can live in them. Pollution and excessive exploitation are the main problems the river, "the expert told Efe Parikshit Gautam, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The Government created this year the National Authority Ganges Basin (NGRBA), which decided at its first meeting, in October, completely eliminate the discharge of untreated industrial wastewater or river 2020.
But, the task was daunting: according to the Indian owner Environment, Jairam Ramesh, the Ganges every day receives 3,000 million liters in landfills, and two thirds of this spend to flow without any purification.
To address the alarming situation, the Government is required an investment of 3,200 million dollars over the next ten years in installation of infrastructure within the "Mission Clean Ganga" to what already has World Bank support.
"(The river) is pressured by expanding production, industries and urban development," he said this month in New Delhi that organization's president, Robert Zoellick, after agreeing initial support to the proposed 1,000 million.
"The Bank will begin its commitment to promote the exchange of relevant experiences. We hope that this will help improve the management of this large watershed that sustains 400 million people in India alone, "he added.
After a plan dated to 1985, according to activists, ended in failure, the Government has now decided to allocate spending between central and regional, to be drawn cyclical reports on the status of the most polluted areas.
The Ganges basin feeds life to a third of the land forming part of India and its passage through the subcontinent not only testifies to the existence of ancient civilizations, but it provides livelihood to one in twelve people worldwide.
But it is also much more than a river: the Hindus consider sacred and him come every year on pilgrimage million people, encouraged by the fact that its waters washed not only sins, but that free you from the cycle of reincarnation.
When passing through the city of Varanasi, the Ganges contains 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, 120 times the safe limit for bathing, which does not dissuade pilgrims from entering its waters to purify themselves.
"Religious festivals happening take many years, there are many fairs. But this can be improved, for example by taking hygiene measures for the river is not affected by poor sanitation, "said Gautam.
Apart from biological waste, many fur industries located on the banks dumped chromium waste and other metals to the flow of the river, which is under intense pressure from the massive construction of dams on its tributaries.
According to the WWF, 95 percent of the water of the Ganges is diverted from its course before its mouth, which increases the presence of sediments and causes death or migration of native species like Gangetic dolphin.
"He is confined in some isolated strips together. We estimate that there are only about 2,000 dolphins in gangético system and its population is in decline ", maintained the expert, on alert for additional threat that climate change may pose.
The solution, he said, goes to end industrial pollution and ensure a minimum level in the flow, which can only be achieved with the state plan "if the objectives and development are appropriate", unlike what happened so far.
August 23, 2010
New Delhi, December 2, 2009. - The demand for justice and sequelae victims continue to suffer mark the 25th anniversary of the toxic leak in the Indian city of Bhopal, widely regarded as the worst industrial disaster in history.
"The situation is very bad. In many ways, it's worse than it was before. The Government protects the interests of large corporations, "he told Efe Group Chief Information and Action Bhopal, Satinath Sarangi.
Your organization, as he has the phone, open daily to some 150 victims of an event that caused the immediate death of 3,000 people, although the total number of deaths could be around 25.0000.
At 00.05 the December 3, 1984, 40 tons of "white smoke"-a toxic mix of metisocianato - from the plant of Union Carbide pesticide company filled the air in nearby neighborhoods with devastating effects.
Thousands of citizens of Bhopal terrified burst into the streets to escape the gas and reach hospitals, although the centers were soon overwhelmed and many people agonized for hours as the toxic air penetrated his lungs.
A subsequent investigation found several security flaws in the plant where audible alarms were off when the accident occurred, although Union Carbide maintains that the leak was caused by a "deliberate sabotage".
"Someone purposely put water in the gas storage tank and caused a massive chain reaction," says the facts Union Carbide, which got rid of the factory in 1994, which is now owned by the U.S. company Dow Chemical.
The toxic release immediately killed 3,000 people, according to the Supreme Court of India, although several medical associations have risen to 25,000 since the deceased due to the two tragedies: the escape and subsequent pollution.
"That December 3, who died, died. But at least we hoped that others would be recovered in the future. It never happened, "says Rashida Bee Efe, one survivor who leads the foundation today Chingari, aid to victims.
Despite cleanup efforts, are estimated at about 5,000 tons of toxic waste in the affected area, and some 30,000 people are still consuming poisoned water still surrounding lack of access to clean water.
"Many of the chemicals found in the water supply are known or suspected carcinogens," he said this week the British organization Bhopal Medical Appeal in a study on the quality of groundwater surrounding the plant.
Twenty-five years after the fact and after countless delays and obstacles, there are now 572,000 people that have received compensation, according Sarangi although this figure does not include children who have been born with birth defects.
The current owner of the plant, Dow Chemical, insists he has no responsibility for the accident, as Union Carbide in 1989 accepted a settlement to pay $ 470 million, which were used to compensate victims.
But activists require the current owner to clean the area of pollutant discharges, provide medical care to victims and assist in the extradition of the head of Union Carbide Warren Anderson, now a fugitive from Indian justice.
"The government has done nothing. People still use water. We wanted to put pressure on the government because Dow Chemical is the company should take responsibility, but the sad thing is that they are protecting, "said Rashida Bee Efe.
Authorities in Madhya-Bhopal region announced in November that it would use the anniversary to open the floor to the public and show that it was safe, but then backtracked apologizing in a code of conduct that governs election period.
"The factory will open, but maybe in January, once the end of the electoral process (municipal)," he said last week the Minister of Regional Relief and Rehabilitation, Babulal Gaur.
Authorities and activists advocate the construction of a memorial to remember the tragedy, although the latter criticize the regional government budgeted for the monument a cost four times what these decades spent on helping the victims.
September 30, 2009
Of all the rivers of the Indian subcontinent, the Ganges, by culture and tradition, is the most significant. Gangáticas flows through the plains of northern India into Bangladesh, from its source in the western Himalayas in the Uttarakhand region of Indian politics. Culminates a long journey of 2,510 miles to the Sundarbans delta in the Bay of Bengal. It has long been considered a holy river by Hindus and worshiped has been understood as an incarnation of the goddess Ganga. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Pataliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad, Murshidabad and Calcutta) were built on its banks. The Ganges and its tributaries irrigate a catchment of one million square kilometers which serves as a staple food for millions of people, with one of the highest population densities in the world.
The symbolic meanings of the river to the Indian subcontinent were referenced in the year 1946 by the father of Indian independence, Jawaharlal Nehru , in his Discovery of India.
"The Ganges is mostly the river of India, which has held captive the heart of India and attracted countless millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of civilization and culture of India, the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man ... "
Currently, extreme pollution suffered by the river affects about 400 million people living in the vicinity.
Course. The source of the Ganges in the Himalayas, in the geographical area of the small state of Uttarakhand in northern India. It is made to your home for many streams and confluences of sources, but most important streams are the Alaknanda, the Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi. The latter is the true source: born at the foot of Gangotri Glacier, at an altitude of 3892 meters.
After flowing 200 kilometers through narrow Himalayan valley, the Ganges flows into the plain gangática up to the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. There, a swamp diverts some of its waters into the Ganges Canal, which irrigates the Doab region in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The Ganges, which until then travels to the southwest, turns around and heads southeast direction across the plains of northern India.
Draw a curve of 800 miles and visit the city of Kanpur before joining the Yamuna river, at the height of the city of Allahabad. This point is known as the Sangam at Allahabad. The Sangam is a sacred place in Hinduism. According to ancient Hindu EXTS t, a third river, the Sarasvati, joined at this point with the other two.
From Allahabad, several major rivers run to meet the Ganges-the Kosi, Son, Gandaki or the Ghaghra-with what tremendous stream is formed between that city and Malda, and in Bengal. Between them lies the city of Benares. Already about East Bengal (Bangladesh), India in 1974 rose Farakka dam, which controls the flow of the river.
The entrance to the river in Bangladesh marks a tangle of relationships with some large rivers like the Jamuna and the Meghna, the two major tributaries of the Brahmaputra. The Ganges spreads in a large delta of 350 km wide, and eventually dies in the Bay of Bengal. Only two rivers, the Amazon and the Congo, carry a water flow greater than the system of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Surma-Meghna.
Religious significance. Located on the banks of the river Ganges, Varanasi city is considered by some as the most sacred in Hinduism and some people scattered in its waters the ashes of dead loved ones. The Ganges is mentioned by the Rig Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. Appears in Nadistuti sukta (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west. There is another reference to the word "Ganga" (RV 6.45.31) in the text, but it is unclear whether it refers to the river.
According to the Hindu religion, the famous king Bhagiratha held constant sacrifice times for many years to make the river Ganga, then in heaven down to earth, and thus give salvation to his ancestors, affected by a curse. Ganga came down to earth using the bow of Shiva, to make the land fertile again and pious, without human sins. For Hindus in India, the Ganges is more than a river: a mother, a goddess, a tradition, a culture.
Some Hindus also believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganges at least once in life. Many Hindu families keep an urn of water from the Ganges in their house. This is done because it is prestigious home keep the holy Ganges water, so that if someone dies, you can drink some of that water. For many Hindus, drinking from the Ganges can cleanse a person's soul of all past sins, and can also cure the disease. The old scriptures say that the water of the Ganges carries the blessings of Lord Vishnu's feet, so the mother Ganges is known as Vishnupadi, meaning "emanating from the lotus feet of Sri Vishnu supermodel god".
The Ganges is home to some of Hindu festivals and major religious congregations. Stresses in particular the Kumbh Mela, held every twelve years in Allahabad. Benares in India known as Varanasi has hundreds of temples along the banks of the Ganges, is often flooded in the rainy season. The city is also a point of prayer and cremation for the deceased.
Marshes. There are two large reservoirs in the Ganges. One, near the source, in the city of Haridwar diverts much of the snow melt of Malaysian Hi Upper Ganges Canal, built by the British in 1854 to irrigate nearby land. This caused a serious deterioration of the water flow, and is one of the main causes of maladjustment purpose river basins.
The other major Farakka swamp is near the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh . The barrier feeds the branch known as Hooghly River through a canal of 26 miles, which has been the subject of constant disputes with Bangladesh. Although the conflict appears in the process of solution, the failure of the negotiations has hurt both countries for two decades. Bangladesh protest because the current lack of summer has caused increased sedimentation and exposing the country to flooding. In the same way, is controversial plan to improve the flow of water in the Ganges. The water management problem can actually affect other basin countries like Nepal, where there has been massive deforestation and increased silt.
Ganges is likely more water transported in Roman times, when the present Patna was the great port city of Pataliputra. Even in the eighteenth century, the ships of the East India Company came to Allahabad. Today, silt prevents such communications for deep vessels.
History. During the early Vedic period, the Indus and the Sarasvati River, and the Ganges-were not major. But the later three Vedas seem to give much more importance to the Ganges, if you look at the references.
The first Westerner to mention the existence of the Ganges was Megasthenes possibly. He did it several times in his "Indika".
" India , again, possesses many long and navigable rivers which have their sources in the mountains of the northern border and traverse the level country, and not a few of these, after uniting with each other, flow into the river called the Ganges. This river, which at its source is 30 stadia broad, flows from north to south and empties into the ocean, which forms the eastern border of Gangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of big elephants ".
In the Plaza Navona, a famous sculpture, Fontana dei Four Rivers (source of the four rivers) designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, reflects the importance of the Ganges. Built in 1651, symbolizes four of the great rivers of the world (apart from the Ganges, the Nile, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata).
Economy. Ganges Basin with its fertile soil is key to agricultural production in India and Bangladesh. The Ganges and its tributaries provide a perennial source of irrigation to a large area. The main crops in the area include rice, sugarcane, lentils, oil seeds, potatoes and wheat. On the banks of the river, the presence of swamps and lakes favor crop area as legumes, pepper, mustard, sesame, sugarcane and jute. The river offers fishing, but is very polluted.
Tourism is another related activity. Three towns holy-Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi attract thousands of pilgrims to its waters each year. Thousands of Hindus come to bathe in the Ganges, because they think the river will cleanse the sins and help attain salvation. The rapids of the Ganges are popular for rafting and attract hundreds of adventurers in the summer months. The Muslims of India and Bangladesh resort to ablution, religious cleansing of the body for prayer on the River Ganges.
People. Ganges sediments formed temporary islands in the area of Bengal. Each provides ground for some 20,000 people. Its soil is very fertile and provide good nutrition to livestock, but can disappear in a matter of hours, depending on the river level rises, as occurs during the monsoon. The inhabitants of these islands sedimentary ("chars") are usually Bangladeshi refugees, so that the Indian government does not recognize their existence in fact or issue identity cards. Hygiene in these sediments is zero and there are no health services or schools, so that illiteracy is rampant. These people pay taxes.
Pollution and Ecology. Ganges River has been considered one of the dirtiest in the world. The waters of the river begin to suffer pollution from the source. Commercial exploitation of the river was in proportion to the increase in population, as in the cities of Gangotri and Uttarkashi: Gangotri had only a few huts of Sadhus until the 70s, and Uttarkashi population has increased in recent years. It runs through densely populated areas, the Ganges suffers human-bacteriological contamination, fecal-, so its water consumption at high risk of infection. Proposals have been made to remedy the situation without success. In Varanasi, it is clear river pollution, industrial discharges under. On their way through the city, the river contains 60,000 faecal bacteria per 100 milliliters, 120 times the safe limit for bathing.
Climate change. Overall increase in temperatures being felt their effects on Tibetan glaciers, and thus on the Ganges. It is believed that the progressive disappearance of glaciers will threaten the water supply of the Indus and Ganges. According to a UN climate published in 2007, the Himalayan glaciers that feed the Ganges could disappear by 2030. From that point, the river current would result purely seasonal monsoon.
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February 3, 2009
New Delhi, 28 Mar 2008. - After 23 years of struggle, a march of survivors escape toxic U.S. company Union Carbide in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people, has taken his protest to New Delhi to seek justice and helps government.
"We want to take two big issues the prime minister: first, the formation of a commission of medical care and rehabilitation, and two, the initiation of legal action against Union Carbide, because so far not done anything," he told Efe the leader of the expedition, Satirath Sarangi.
The 50 walkers, aged between four and 74 years, were launched on 20 February in the central city of Bhopal Indian and arrived today, 800 miles later, the observatory of Jantar Mantar Delhi.
There, in an area that serves as a "manifestódromo" capital, they were greeted with garlands and applause by groups of students who joined the protest symbolically, undertaken by 20 women and 30 men who hoisted white flags.
"My four year old son walked but also took on the shoulders," he told Efe with humor the boy's father Samin Ahmed, a hiker who complain of vision problems and unable to perform heavy work.
Ahmed was out of Bhopal when the tragedy occurred, but have taken their toll the years of consumption of contaminated water they drink the Bhopalis in a radius of three kilometers around the factory where the leak occurred, one of the worst industrial tragedies of history.
So remember the old village the Senabi: "I was sleeping with my family and I suddenly felt a stinging in the eyes. Outside there was a lot of noise, people shouting. All started running and went too far. The next morning we had puffy eyes and skin burned us. "
On the morning of December 3, 1984, 40 tons of "white smoke"-a toxic mixture of methyl isocyanate, from the plant of Union Carbide pesticide company began to fill the air from nearby neighborhoods with devastating effects.
Thousands of citizens were thrown into the streets terrified gas to escape and reach the hospitals, although schools were soon overwhelmed and many people agonized for hours as the toxic air penetrated his lungs.
"Some 500,000 people were exposed to the gas, of which more than 100,000 have related conditions. Furthermore, children are born with genetic defects, "said Sarangi.
A subsequent investigation found several security flaws in the plant where audible alarms were off when the accident occurred, although Union Carbide for its part argues that the leak was caused by a "deliberate sabotage".
"Someone purposely put water in the gas storage tank, and this caused a massive chain reaction", collected in a statement Union Carbide, which got rid of the factory in 1994, now owned by Dow Chemicals.
The chain reaction caused the death of 3,000 people, according to the Supreme Court of India, although several medical associations have risen to 20,000 deaths since then because of two tragedies: the exhaust and pollution that followed.
Despite cleanup efforts, more than 25,000 people still continue consuming poisoned water surrounding the absence of a decent supply, and are estimated at 5,000 tons of toxic waste in the area.
"There I built my house in 1992-has Phagonia Tulsabai. Then you know there was contamination. Children born deformed, disabled. My granddaughter weighs ten years eleven kilos. And the government's solution is that we go from there, but we have no money. "
Guided by the Group for Information and Action Bhopal, the bophalíes carry a notebook of twenty questions to the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, who promised two years ago to create a commission, but "did not do anything", chanted the expedition.
Although Singh has not confirmed if the victims receive, Sarangi said already gotten morning meetings with presidential secretary and Minister of Defense, AKAnthony.
"Hopeless? It's been twenty-three and still here. We are ready to measure. For the moment, we have no plan to go back (home). We will sit, perhaps will fast. And to follow ... "he added.
January 18, 2009
New Delhi, April 29, 2007. - More than 15 million people are at risk of becoming "climate refugees" in Bangladesh, where, according to the UN Environment Programme, a rise of 1.5 meters in sea level would remove only 16 percent of its territory.
"We have no development or infrastructure. Just emit harmful gases into the atmosphere. So, while rich countries pollute and the earth warms, we are the victims, "he told Efe from Dhaka a spokesman for the Center for Advanced Study of Bangladesh (BCAS), Jandakar Mainudin.
At home, structured around the extensive Sundarbans delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, about 60 of its 140 million people, the vast majority of poor-living less than 10 meters above sea level, making them particularly vulnerable to any change of the medium.
"There are many people affected. Our land is very flat and coast people will have to flee northward. Even so, we have the advantage that it is a process that happens slowly, "he told Efe AQM Mahbub ecology professor at the University of Dhaka.
According to a report released this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change United Nations expects for 2100 an increase sea levels will threaten coastal areas and plains of the country, dominated by the delta of Sundarbans ("beautiful jungle" , in Bengali).
Of the major rivers, Bangladesh gets the fertile source of its agriculture, dependent on monsoon rains, while the action of the ocean has allowed salt extraction and development of fisheries.
And now, with the increase in global mean temperature and the melting of Himalayan glaciers and polar areas, the coastline of the country, where the biggest beach in the world (Cox's Bazar, about 120 km long), suffers and pressure of the water.
"It's like time has gone mad: Too many or too few showers. The sea enters the delta and rivers carry less and less water. Some offshore islands are already gone, "he said by phone Mainudin.
Quantified three millimeters annually by the World Bank, the sea level rise is related to global warming, but also with the reduced flow of the major rivers of the country, drowned by the construction of dams and erosion.
The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna crawl tons of sediment that modify the ground, and act as a powerful agent against environmental degradation of the banks, where they have built shacks million people in clear defiance of the risk posed to reside at the level of water.
Each year, approximately 95 million farmers in Bangladesh waiting with a mixture of fear and longing to drought and flooding that come with the monsoon, so important to their livelihood and fertility of crops as dangerous for their lives.
"Our culture blesses monsoon rains are very important because the crops. But, due to climate change, severe floods are becoming more frequent. Just check the dates of the last "maintains Mahbub.
Among the catastrophic flood of 1954 and passed similar effect after 20 years, according to the professor. Then, the interval was reduced to 14 years (1988), then to 10 (1998) and then to 6, 2004, when was the last great flood, which caused 600 dead and 4 million displaced.
The finding of climate change should lead, according to the BCAS, rich countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, but also the development of pilot projects help because, Mainudin says, "apart from the great words to do something here and now. "
And while climate change looms as a threat to the future of the Bengalis, millions of poor farmers await the arrival Sundarbans delta, like clockwork, the next monsoon.
January 18, 2009
New Delhi, 21 Mar 2007. - From the glaciers of the Himalayas to the distant shores of Bengal, the Ganges, Hindu holy river and vital basis for tens of millions of people, faces two serious threats: pollution and overexploitation.
"The river is facing alarming levels of pollution and overexploitation of its resources, which is the cause that in some places one can walk where there was water," said Efe Parikshit Gautam, CEO of World Wildlife Fund ( WWF acronym in English).
The Ganges basin feeds life to a third of the land as part of India, and his time in the subcontinent not only testifies to the existence of ancient civilizations, but grounds for millions of families, to the point that one of every twelve people on Earth lives under its influence.
However, human activity itself, which acquires its meaning and way of life around the river Ganges which puts at risk with agricultural and industrial uses of the land, while the river flow appears thinner each day by the limited contribution of its tributaries, content, every time, for more swamps.
The massive construction of dams weakens the natural river flow and prevents sediment reaching the mouth, which favors the salinization of the area and thus the death or migration of native species, the WWF said in a report released this days.
At the end of its cycle, in the delta of Sunderbans, the organization estimates that 95 percent of the water of the Ganges has been diverted the flow, which is reflected in a rise in sea level and increased salinity that puts endangered ecosystems Indian agency ANI reported.
"Many farmers divert river water for their crops, sometimes illegally, which together with the proliferation of wetlands and pollution requires action rather than face an irreversible situation," Gautam told Efe.
Along the banks of the Ganges, numerous fur industries waste waters discharged into chromium and other metals, which later will stop the pilgrims who come to purify their bodies in the sacred flow.
Because the Ganges river is also the fundamental part of Hindu theology, and he make pilgrimages million people each year, encouraged by the fact that its waters washed not only sins, but that free you from the cycle of reincarnation.
Ignoring savages pollution levels, many Indians saved him a bowl of holy water from the river waiting to ingest just before dying and make therefore, according to oral tradition, his soul ascends to heaven.
In this range of problems also binds climate change, whose effects threaten an ecosystem consisting of more than 140 species of fish, 90 amphibians and the endangered Ganges Dolphin.
"Glaciers account for between 30 and 40 percent of the water of the Ganges, and between 70 and 80 percent in the case of the Indus River. Studies are needed to determine the impact of melting glaciers on the flow of rivers, "he said told the newspaper" The Times of India "Sejal Worah, another spokesman for WWF.
However, concerns about the abandonment of the river is not new, and already in 1985 the government launched an action plan of the Ganges (Ganga Action Plan), which 22 years later is considered a "failure" by Gautam.
"The plan has no substantial results, although their goals were broad: he wanted to stop the pollution and reintroduce species, but it was well executed because it required an effort of coordination at many levels," said the activist.
That plan was devised earlier by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, perhaps influenced by his father, the prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
"From its source to the sea, the Ganges is the history of Indian civilization," said the historic former Indian Prime Minister.
Oblivious to the man but under its constant influence, the Ganges continues its eternal stanza 2,510 miles of water, silent chronicler of the successes and miseries of their children, "from the old days, Nehru said the new".