[Answered] “Dirty rivers in India reflect the failure of society and governance at local and national level.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How dirty rivers are societal and governance failure.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Rivers are lifelines of an ever growing Indian population. Rivers are basis of civilisation since ancient times. Clean rivers are must to support life and healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately in India more than half of the rivers are polluted. Pollution in rivers can be attributed to societal failure as a whole and governance failure especially at local level.

Societal failure:

  1. Domestic wastes and sewage is one of the main reason of river pollution originating form household.
  2. Careless behaviour and irresponsible attitude towards rivers has led to river pollution.
  3. Rampant use of fertilisers and pesticides used in field percolate to rivers. Inability to educate farmers about consequences of indiscriminate use has led to poor state of rivers.
  4. Superstition like bathing in Ganga help in getting rid of all sins and lack of efforts to remove such superstition has polluted rivers.
  5. Inability to understand one’s duty to keep rivers clean and littering here and there, especially at tourist places has led to dirty rivers.

Failure of governance:

  1. According to the recent finding of the Central Pollution Control Board that the number of critically polluted segments of India’s rivers has risen to 351 from 302, 2 years ago is a reflection of the governance failure for keeping rivers clean.
  2. The data show that the plethora of laws enacted to regulate waste management and protect water quality are simply not working.
  3. The failure of many national programmes run by the Centre for river conservation, preservation of wetlands, and water quality monitoring can be attributed to corruption, ineffective law implementation and failure of bureaucracy.
  4. The problems are worsened by the poor infrastructure available in a large number of cities and towns located near rivers.
  5. Managing sewage requires steady funding of treatment plants for all urban agglomerations that discharge their waste into rivers, and also reliable power supply. Unfortunately funds are unavailable either due to low taxes or lack of fund devolution. Further funds which are available are not used properly in an effective way
  6. Country’s waterways have also suffered badly in recent years, with vast quantities of municipal and industrial waste discharged into them every day. Government has failed to stop such industries. Lack of punishment, inspections encourage them to continue dumping in the rivers.
  7. Low priority accorded to enforcement of laws by the SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees. This has led to inefficiencies.

Measures are urgently needed to revive India’s many dying rivers, protect its agriculture, and prevent serious harm to public health from contaminated water. Sustained civil society pressure on governments is vital to ensure that this is done in a time-bound manner. India is already facing threat of water crisis. A proactive role need to be played by government and society.

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