"Mission Clean Ganga" the new India plan to save their sacred river

August 23, 2010

New Delhi, Dec. 20 -. Concerned about the massive pollution suffered by the Ganges, the Government indicated or have had to spend millions heading to a new plan to purify the principal 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 over-exploitation are the main problems of the river, "he told Efe expert Parikshit Gautam, World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The Government created this year's National Basin Authority Ganges (NGRBA), which decided at its first meeting in October, completely eliminate the discharge of untreated industrial waste water into the river by 2020.
But the task appears daunting: as the Indian head of 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 the support of the World Bank.
"(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 an initial aid project 1,000 million.
"The Bank will begin its commitment by fostering 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, "he added.
After a plan dating from 1985, according to activists, ended in failure, the Government has now decided to allocate spending between central and regional, to be drawn up cyclical reports on the status of the most polluted areas.
The Ganges basin nourishes 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 provides livelihood to one in twelve people worldwide.
But it is also much more than a river: the Hindus consider sacred and him go on pilgrimage every year millions of people, encouraged by the fact that its waters washed not only sins, but free of 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 hygienic measures for the river is not affected by poor sanitation, "Gautam said.
Apart from biowaste, numerous fur industries situated on the banks dumped chromium waste and other metals to river flow, which is under intense pressure by massive dams on their 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 such as the Gangetic dolphin.
"He is confined to a few isolated strips together. We estimate that there are only about 2,000 Gangetic dolphins in the system and their population is in decline, "continued the expert, on alert for the extra threat due to climate change.
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.

Victims still suffering after-effects of industrial exhaust Bhopal 25 years later

August 23, 2010

New Delhi, December 2, 2009 -. Demand justice and continue to suffer the consequences that victims 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 the head of Group of Information and Action Bhopal, Satinath Sarangi.
His organization, as he has on the phone, open daily to about 150 victims of an event that caused the immediate death of 3,000 people, although the total death toll could be around 25.0000.
At 00.05 on 3 December 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 burst terrified into the streets to escape the gas and reach hospitals, although schools were soon overwhelmed and many people agonized for hours while 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, but maintains that the Union Carbide leak was caused by a "deliberate sabotage".
"Someone deliberately poured water in the storage tank of gas and this caused a massive chain reaction," says Union Carbide on the facts, that got rid of the factory in 1994, which is now owned by Dow Chemical.
The toxic leak caused the immediate death of 3,000 people, according to the Supreme Court of India, although several medical associations have risen to 25,000 since the deceased because of two tragedies: the escape and subsequent pollution.
"One 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 today Chingari foundation 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 still continue consuming poisoned water 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 water surrounding the plant.
Twenty-five years after the fact and after countless delays and obstacles, are already 572,000 people who 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, Union Carbide accepted as a settlement in 1989 to pay $ 470 million, which were used to compensate victims.
But activists require the current owner to clean the zone of pollutants, provide medical care to victims and assist in the extradition of Union Carbide responsible for Warren Anderson, now a fugitive from Indian justice.
"The government has done nothing. People still use the water. We wanted the government to put pressure Dow Chemical is the company that must take responsibility, but the sad thing is that they are protecting, "said Rashida Bee Efe.
Authorities in the region of Madhya-Bhopal-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, after the end of the electoral process (municipal)," Minister of aid and regional Rehabilitation Babulal Gaur said last week.
Authorities and activists advocate the construction of a memorial to remember the tragedy, although the latter criticize the regional government budgeted for the monument cost more than four times that spent decades in helping these victims.

The Ganges River

September 30, 2009

Ganges Of all the rivers of the Indian subcontinent, the Ganges, by culture and tradition, is the most significant. Flows through the plains of northern gangáticas India to Bangladesh, from its source in the western Himalayas in the Indian political region of Uttarakhand. Culminates a long journey of 2,510 miles to the Sundarbans delta in the Bay of Bengal. Has long been considered a holy river by Hindus and has been worshiped, 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 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 drawn uncounted 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 history of civilization and culture of India, the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man ... "

Currently, extreme river suffers pollution affects about 400 million people living in the vicinity.

mapadelaindia Course. The source of the Ganges in the Himalayas is, in the geographical area of the small state of Uttarakhand in northern India. Is formed at the beginning by many streams and confluences of sources, but the 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 gangática up to the pilgrimage town of Haridwar plain. 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 towards southeast, 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 in 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 a formidable current between that city and Malda is formed, as in Bengal. Between them lies the city of Varanasi. Nearing East Bengal (Bangladesh), India in 1974 raised the Farakka dam, which controls the flow of the river.

The entrance of the river in Bangladesh marks a tangle of relationships with some large rivers like the Jamuna or Meghna, the two largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra. The Ganges spreads in a large delta 350 kilometers wide, and eventually dies in the Bay of Bengal. Only two rivers, the Amazon and the Congo, carry more water flow system of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Surma-Meghna rivers.


Religious significance. Located on the banks of river Ganges, Varanasi city is considered by some as the most sacred in Hinduism and some people in its waters spread the ashes of dead loved ones. The Ganges is mentioned in 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 get the river Ganges, then the sky down to the 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 a river: it is 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 sacred Ganges water, so that if someone dies, you can drink some of that water. For many Hindus, the Ganges can drink clean the person's soul of all past sins, and can also cure the disease. The old scriptures claim that the water of the Ganges carries the blessings of Lord Vishnu's feet; hence Mother Ganges is known as Vishnupadi, meaning "emanating from the lotus feet of Sri Vishnu god supermodel."

The Ganges is home to some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious congregations. Especially emphasizes the Kumbh Mela, held every twelve years in Allahabad Varanasi-known in India as Varanasi-has hundreds of temples along the banks of the Ganges.; 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 snowmelt of Malaysian Hi Upper Ganges Canal, built by the British in 1854 to irrigate the surrounding land. This caused a serious deterioration of the water flow, and is a major cause of the unsuitability of river to river uses.

The other major Farakka swamp is near the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh . The barrier fed 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. Likewise, it is controversial plan to improve the flow of water in the Ganges. The water management problem can actually affect other basin countries such as Nepal, where there has been massive deforestation and increased silt.

Probably the Ganges water transported over the Roman Empire, when the current 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 Sarasvati River Indus and the Ganges-not-were the main. But later the three Vedas seem to give much more importance to the Ganges, if references are observed.

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 crossing the flat 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 Gangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of large elephants. "

In the Plaza Navona in Rome, a famous sculpture, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the four rivers) designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, establishes the importance of the Ganges. Built in 1651, symbolizing the four 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 area favor crops such as legumes, pepper, mustard, sesame, sugarcane and jute. The river offers fishing, although it is heavily polluted.

Tourism is another related activity. Three sacred cities-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 them of 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 wudu, a religious cleansing of the body for prayer on the River Ganges.

People. Ganges sediments form temporary islands in the region of Bengal. Each provides ground for some 20,000 people. Its land is very fertile and provide good nutrition to cattle, but can disappear in a matter of hours, as the river level rises, such as 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 schools or health services, so that illiteracy is rampant. These people must pay taxes.

Pollution and Ecology. Ganges river has been considered one of the dirtiest in the world. The river waters 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 Uttarkashi and Gangotri: Gangotri had only a few huts of sadhus to 70, and the population of Uttarkashi has increased in recent years. It runs through densely populated areas, the Ganges suffers human-bacterial, fecal-contamination, 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.

varanasiganges Climate change. Rising global temperatures being felt their effects on Tibetan glaciers, and thus on the Ganges. It is believed that the gradual disappearance of glaciers will threaten the water supply of the Indus and Ganges rivers. According to a UN climate published in 2007, the Himalayan glaciers that feed the Ganges could disappear by 2030. At that time, the river current would result purely seasonal and monsoon.

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A march to remember the tragedy of Bhopal India

February 3, 2009

New Delhi, Mar 28, 2008 -. After 23 years of struggle, a march of survivors toxic leak from the U.S. company Union Carbide in Bhopal, which killed thousands, has taken his protest to New Delhi to demand justice and aid government.
"We want to take two big issues the prime minister: first, the formation of a committee of medical and rehabilitation care, and two, the initiation of legal action against Union Carbide because so far has not done anything," he told Efe leader expedition, Satirath Sarangi.
The 50 walkers, aged between four and 74, were launched on 20 February in the central Indian city of Bhopal and arrived today, 800 miles later, the Delhi Jantar Mantar observatory.
There, in an area that serves as a "manifestódromo" capital, they were greeted with garlands and cheers 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 I took it on his shoulders," he told Efe's father humorously small 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 drinking water in the Bhopalis a radius of three kilometers around the factory where the leak, one of the worst industrial tragedies history.
So the old village Senabi remember: "I was sleeping with my family and suddenly felt a stinging eyes. Outside there was a lot of noise; people shouted. 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-plant from the Union Carbide pesticide company began to fill the air in nearby neighborhoods with devastating effects.
Thousands of terrified citizens burst into the streets to escape the gas and reach hospitals, although schools were soon overwhelmed and many people agonized for hours while the toxic air penetrated his lungs.
"Some 500,000 people were exposed to the gas, and more than 100,000 of them have related conditions. Furthermore, children are born with birth 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 deliberately poured water in the storage tank of gas, 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 since the deceased 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-I Tulsabai Phagonia account. I did not know there was contamination. Children born deformed, disabled. My granddaughter ten years weighs twenty kilos. And the solution the government 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 nothing" chant the expedition.
Although Singh has not confirmed if the victims receive, Sarangi said he already got meetings tomorrow with the presidential secretary and Minister of Defence, AKAnthony.
"Hopeless? It's been twenty-three and still here. We are ready to measure. At the moment, we have no plan to go back (home). We will sit down, maybe we will fast. And to follow ... "he added.

Bangladesh is facing climate change with doubts about its survival

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 Environmental Program, a rise of 1.5 meters in sea level would away 16 percent of its territory.
"We have no development or infrastructure. Just we emit harmful gases into the atmosphere. So, while the rich countries pollute and 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, set around extensive Sundarbans delta formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, about 60 of its 140 million people, the vast majority poor, living less than 10 meters above sea level, which makes them particularly vulnerable to any change of the medium.
"There are many people affected. Our land is very flat and the coast people will have to flee northward. Still, we have the advantage that it is a process that happens slowly, "he told Efe AQM Mahbub professor of ecology at the University of Dhaka.
According to a report released this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change UN 2100 provides an increase in sea levels that threaten coastal areas and plains of the country, dominated by the delta of Sundarbans ("beautiful jungle" in Bengali).
In large rivers, Bangladesh gets the fertile source of 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 average temperature and the melting of Himalayan glaciers and polar areas, the coastline of the country, which is the largest beach in the world (Cox's Bazar, about 120 kilometers long), suffering and pressure of water.
"It's like time has gone mad: there are too many or too few showers. The sea enters the delta and rivers carry less and less water. Some coastal islands have already disappeared, "he said by phone Mainudin.
Quantified in three millimeters annually by the World Bank, the sea level rise is related to global warming, but also to the decrease in the flow of major rivers, choked by 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, about 95 million farmers in Bangladesh are waiting with a mixture of fear and longing to drought and floods that come with the monsoon, so important to their livelihood and fertility of crops as dangerous for their lives.
"Our culture Bless monsoon rains that are very important for 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 follows similar effect passed 20 years, according to the professor. Then, the interval was reduced to 14 years (1988), later 10 (1998) and then to 6, 2004, when the last great flood, which caused 600 deaths and 4 million displaced occurred.
The finding of climate change should take, according to BCAS, the rich countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, but also to help develop pilot projects 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.

The Ganges, threatened and sacred

January 18, 2009

. New Delhi, Mar 21, 2007 - From the glaciers of the Himalayas to the distant shores of Bengal, the Ganges, the sacred Hindu river and vital basis for tens of millions of people, faces two serious threats: pollution and overexploitation.
"The river is facing some alarming levels of pollution and over-exploitation of resources, which is the cause that in some places one can walk where there was water," he told Efe Parikshit Gautam, CEO of World Wildlife Fund ( WWF acronym).
The Ganges basin nourishes 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 nourishes millions of families, to the point that one of every twelve people on Earth lives under its influence.
However, it is human activity itself, which acquires its meaning and way of life around the river Ganges which puts at risk from agricultural and industrial land uses, while the flow of the river each day appears thinner the limited contribution of its tributaries, content, every time, even swamps.
The massive dam construction weakens the natural river flow and prevents sediment reaching the mouth, favoring salinisation of that area and thus the death or migration of native species, the WWF warned in a report released this days.
At the end of its cycle, the Sunderbans delta, the organization estimates that 95 percent of the water of the Ganges has been diverted flow, which affects a rise in sea level and increased salinity putting endangered ecosystems, the Indian agency ANI reported.
"Many farmers to divert river water for their crops, sometimes illegally, which together with the proliferation of wetlands and pollution forced to take measures to not face an irreversible situation," Gautam told Efe.
Along the banks of the Ganges, numerous fur industries discharge their waste waters in chromium and other metals, which will later stop the pilgrims who come to purify their bodies in the sacred flow.
Because the river Ganges is also the underpinning of Hindu theology, and he pilgrimages million people each year, encouraged by the fact that its waters washed not only sins, but free of the cycle of reincarnation.
Ignoring wild pollution levels, many Hindus saved him a bowl of holy water waiting to ingest just before he died and have therefore according to oral tradition, his soul ascends to heaven River.
In this range of problems also binds climate change, which 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 per cent for the Indus River. I studies are needed to determine the impact of melting glaciers on the flow of rivers, "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 Ganges (Ganga Action Plan), which 22 years later is considered a "failure" by Gautam.
"The plan has not given substantial results, although their goals were broad: he wanted to stop the pollution and reintroduce species, but was not 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.
Alien to man but under its constant influence, the Ganges continues its eternal 2,510 kilometers of water stanza, dumb chronicler of achievements and miseries of their children, "from the old days, said Nehru-new".