GANGA IS DRYING–An Awareness Programme

Dear Friend,

Happy Sankranti to you! Any good deed on this day multiplies in effect. Hence this request to be a part of this good deed for Ganga, for the Nation and for your own Future Generations

I am glad to apprise you of the work done in the past 2 years on the project Ganga Is Drying.

  1. Book on Ganga (English & Hindi): Completed my English write up of the book; Hindi translation is going on. Books in Eng and Hindi (each 400 pages) are likely to be out in second half of 2013. Several discussions and more than 200 References have helped in gathering the required information.
  2.  Ganga Tour: Completed Ganga tour from Ganga Sagar to Gangotri in 40 days in March-April 2012. Tour was taken up to strengthen our theoretical understanding of the problems and to make the book more factual and interesting.
  3. Tour Reports: 25 reports (100 pages with photos) were sent to interested friends through e-mails. Tour report can be seen in our blog link given below.
  4. Blog on Ganga: Opened a blog for interaction on the subject. Google groups have been created under for comments and clarifications.
  5. Power Point Presentations: made ready with summary and suggestions on the problems. Ready to give presentations, wherever possible, in Rotary, Lions, educational institutions etc including TV channels (if someone helps).
  6. Booklet: A booklet (50 pages) with photographs has been compiled giving the summary of the report (Pathetic condition of Ganga) and suggestions to overcome the problems.
  7. Booklet Publication & Distribution: Planning to print and publish 15,000 copies (Hindi, Bengali and English put together) of the above booklet and distribute freely to all MLAs, MPs, IAS officers and others (in the Ganga belt) for creating awareness. They can then discuss about Ganga authoritatively in any platform or Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Current discussions without full facts create more problems than finding a solution!!
  8. Idea Postponed: Idea of CD preparation and free distribution has been postponed for the time being, because of high costs and logistic problems.

I am deeply indebted to well wishers for extending support for this ambitious project. I am only working on your behalf on this project. Any good outcome will be a devout offering to Maa Ganga and a creditable service by you to the nation.

At this juncture, your help will be your service to Ganga. You may extend help to complete the project through Booklet Publication and Free Distribution as mentioned in point 7 above. Cost of translations, DTP, design, printing, distribution etc is estimated at Rs 6 to 8 lakhs for 15,000 copies. I look forward to your response.

K. Chandramouli                                                                                                                               14.1.2013                                                                                                                                           






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Ganga Is Drying – Tour report 10


Hajipur: (Population 147,126 in 2011) is in Vaishali district of Bihar. It is 10 kms from
Patna, on the other side of the Mahatma Gandhi bridge on Ganga. This bridge itself is the
longest one in India. Hajipur (earlier name Ukkacala) was a small village, where Buddha
gave one of his discourses. His disciple Ananda’s ashes were enshrined here. It got its new
name from the Bengal king Haji Ilyas Shah (1354-1358). Vaishali (35 kms from here) was
the birth place of Mahavir and also the first republic of Licchavi (in 600 BC). Buddha
delivered his last discourse here. Hajipur is famous for its bananas and the lichi fruit.

Sonepur: (Population 33,389 in 2001) is in Saran district of Bihar. It is 25 kms from Patna
and is the place of confluence of Ganga and Narayani Gandak (also called Shaligrami as
Saligrams are found in this river). Asia’s largest animal fair is held here for 15 -30 days every
year from Kartik Purnima. All animals from a monkey to an elephant are sold here.
Mythology narrates the story of Gajendra Moksha, which is interpreted as the war between
forests (represented by elephant) and the rivers (represented by crocodile). Hariharnath
temple, said to be built by Sri Ram on his way to Janakpuri with Vihswamitra, is an
important place. Railway platform at Sonepur is said to be the 8th longest in the world (?).

Chapra: (Population 201,597 in 2011) is the head quarters of Saran district in Bihar. It is 85
kms from Patna and is at the confluence of Ghaghra and Ganga rivers. It was a part of the
Kosala kingdom earlier. Gautamstan, where Ahilya was released from her curse by Sri Ram,
is just 8 kms from here. Ara, Ballia and Chapra are known to form the ‘ABC’ of the Bhojpuri
culture. The indentured labour from these places (during the British rule) have taken
Bhojpuri folk songs to Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Tobago, Surinam, Guyana and other places.
Famous people from Chapra include Jai Prakash Narain, and Babu Dr Rajendra Prasad.

Ballia: (Population 102,226 in 2001) is the eastern most part of UP and is 76 kms from
Ghazipur and 156 kms from Varanasi. This was also under the Kosala kingdom earlier.
Ballia, like Hazipur, hosts the second largest cattle fair (known as Dadri Mela) about 5 kms
from the town. Dadri muni was the disciple of Bhrigu Maharshi. The town is also known as
Baghi Ballia meaning ‘Rebellious Ballia’. Mangal Pandey, who became a martyr during the
1857 uprising, was from Ballia. And even though for a very short time, Ballia had become
independent of the British rule under Chittu Pandey!! Some famous people include earlier
PM Chandrashekar, Dr Ganesh Prasad (Mathematics) and Dr Hazari Prasad Dwivedi (Hindi

Buxar: (Population 102,591 in 2011) in Bihar is close to the border with UP. Known earlier
as Siddhashram and Tapovan, it was the place where Vishwamitra and 80,000 sadhakas were
performing penance and Yajna. The place became a trouble spot and was called as Karush,
when the demon Taraki started disturbing the Yajna. It also bore the name of Vyaghrasar
(face of a tiger, lake of a tiger). Historically also, Buxar (nearby Chausa) was a disturbed spot
in 1539 for a battle between Humayun and Sher Shah Suri and in 1764 between Nawab of
Bengal Mir Kasim (and his allies Nawab of Avadh Shuja uddaula and the Mughal emperor
Shah Alam II) and the British Major Hector Munroe. In the first battle, Humayun had taken
the help of a waterman (Bhisti) to cross Ganga and escape. As per the promise, Bhisti was
made the emperor for one day and he issued leather coins in his name!! In the second battle,
British troops are said to have ripped through the ally force into victory. That gave the British
full control of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Ram Rekha ghat is in memory of Rama crossing the
Ganga to Janakpur along with Lakshmana and Vishwamitra. Ahirauli (6 kms from here) also
claims to be the place where Ahalya was released from the curse of her husband Gautama
Rishi. Naulak Mandir and Taraka statue are among the many places of interest.
Ghazipur: (Population 105,243 in 2001) is the district head quarters of Ghazipur in UP. It is
40 kms from Buxar and 80 kms from Varanasi. Its name comes from Gadhipur, the place of
Gadhi or Vishwamitra. It is also said that Syed Masud set up the new city and hence the
name. It has many interesting temples and places. Lord Cornwallis, the first Governor
General of the British, died here and his cemetery can be seen here. The place has the first
and the biggest opium factory of the country set up by the British in 1820. Now there is an
Alkaloid factory also. It has the proud privilege of having the first Scientific Society of India,
established in 1862 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Photos below show the ghat and the Victory
Pillar of Skand Gupta.


Sewage: Sewage generation in the above places are—Hajipur (26.6MLD), Sonepur (3 MLD),
Chapra (36.5 MLD), Ballia (18 MLD), Buxar (9.4 MLD) and Ghazipur (9.5 MLD), totalling
to 103 MLD. Only Chapra and Buxar have STPs with a total capacity of 4 MLD. Pumping
station at Chapra, constructed under GAP, is lying like a fossil of an earlier age. This shows
that almost the entire sewage generation of 103 MLD is discharged into Ganga without any
treatment. This is equal to pouring 10,300 tankers (10 KL) of sewage into river in a span of
about 200 kms from Hajipur to Buxar. In other words, it is equivalent to pouring about 43
tankers of untreated sewage into Ganga for every kilometre of her flow from Hajipur to



Ganga Is Drying – Tour report 9

Munger: (population 213,101 in 2011) became the capital of the Nawab of Bengal, Mir
Kasim, when he shifted from Murshidabad in 1762. He also fought a battle with EI Company
from here. It has a Mughal fort. Munger is the only city where Gun manufacturing became a
cottage industry, which is flourishing from past 200 years. Munger School of Yoga is also
famous as many come from all over the country and abroad to learn Yoga. It appears visitors
are not welcome here, as we could neither see any activity nor get any definite information.

Mokama: (population 96,441 in 2011) is 90 kms from Patna. Mokama was a resting place
(mukam) for the army in the Ganga belt and hence the name. Folk lore of Reshma and
Chuharmal is famous here and is a romantic but tragic love story of two different caste
lovers. Mokama has industries like Mac Dowell and Bata, which generate industrial effluents.

Patna: (population 16,83,200 in 2011) is the capital of Bihar and its historical importance
since 6th century BC is well known. It had a series of names like Kusumapura, Pushpapura,
Pataliputra and Patna. Once it was also called as Azeemabad. Archaeological findings in
Kumrahar, Golghar or the Granary are of interest to travellers. Guru Govind Singh (tenth
Guru of the Sikhs) was born in Patna in 1660.

Sewage: It may be noted that figures for per capita sewage generation per day is different in
different places due to various reasons (like water supply, sewage going into the land,
available for disposal etc). We have gone by the calculations given in CPCB reports for
different places.

Begusarai has a population of 120,000 and it generates about 12 MLD of sewage. Munger
generates about 38 MLD. The two towns discharge about 50 MLD of untreated sewage to the
Barauni oil refinery spills huge amounts of oily sludge into the river. Years back a two
kilometer stretch of the river caught fire and burned for 16 hours due to oil sludge. Frequency
of occurrence and pollution effect was not clearly spelt out.

Mokama generates about 14 MLD of sewage. But more dangerous is the effluent coming out
of the two major factories, Mac Dowell and Bata. Though both the factories claim to have
Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP), in reality lot of untreated effluent goes into the fields, as
can be seen from the photos (taken near Hatidah village). There are a number of discharge
points/pipes from the wall of the factory, which are not even connected and the effluent is
continuously falling into the nala. The nala by the side of Ganga is blackish in colour and no
fish survives in this water. It is not suitable for irrigation also. Whatever is collected in a
pond/canal is washed off into the river during monsoons. The untreated effluents of both
industries and the distilleries in particular, consume large quantity of dissolved oxygen and
cut off the supply of oxygen to fish. Fish do not survive in this pond water.
Patna generates about 305 MLD of sewage and the STP capacity is 105 MLD at Saidpur (45
MLD), Beur (35), Pahari (25) and Karmali (under construction). Taking the working
effectiveness at around 65%, Patna discharges 235 MLD of untreated sewage to the river.
This can be seen in many of the ghats like Anta Ghat, PMCH (Patna Medical College &
Hospital), Ghai Ghat, Banka Ghat, Gosai Ghat, Bans Ghat etc. The ghats do not take you to
the river, they lead you to a dirty and awfully smelling nala, which separates the river from
the ghat. The day (29th March 2012) we went to see the ghats was a special festival day, the
chaitra Chhat. It was really tragic that so many ladies were offering prayers to the Sun in that
dirty smelly nala water! Government had officially divided the responsibility to different
senior officers to keep the ghats clean for the special day. Unfortunately they could not have
cleaned the dirty water of the nala!!
Untreated Sewage discharging into Ganga from Munger to Patna totals to almost 300 MLD.
In addition, industrial effluents are also discharged from factories to Ganga.

Ganga Is Drying – Tour Report 8

Kahalgaon:  Kahalgaon  is  a  small  town  (population  of  22,000  in  2001)  43  kms  from Sahibganj (Jharkhand) and 31 kms before reaching Bhagalpur (Bihar). It is a small place with a famous background. Among the three great rishis Vasisht, Kahol and Durvasa, who were together, Durvasa went to Muniji ki Pahad and Kahol came to this place. Since then the place was  known  as  Kahalgaon,  to  which  the  Englsih  rulers  gave  an  ugly  turn  and  called  it ‘Colgong’! Rishi Kahol is known more as the father of the great jnani Ashtavakra. In the 8th century, king Dharmapal built the famous Vikramshila University (10 kms from here) known
for Mahayana Buddhist teachings. Now, Kahalgaon is famous for the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary and the modern NTPC Power Plant (2340 MW capcity).

Bateshwarnath  (Madeshwar):   The temple is about 10 kms from Kahlgaon and 42 kms from  Bhagalpur.  Ganga  flows  northwards  here  and  in  Kahalgaon.  There  was  no  boat available to go on to the place of confluence of Kosi with Ganga. Fortunately, permission was granted to us to go by the launch of Inland Waterways Authority of India. Kursela is the place (Kataharia on the opposite bank) where Kosi joins Ganga. Strangely, contrary to our imagination, Kosi was calm and placid and not furious or rebellious at the confluence.

Sultanganj: (population 41,812 in 2001) is 26 kms from Bhagalpur. Earlier it was called as Gangapur and the Shiva temple as Billeswar. Now the famous Ajgaibinath temple and the Jahnu  ashram  (rishi  who  drank  Ganga  when  she  flooded  his  ashram  while  following Bhagirath) can be seen here. It is also said that Jahnugrih has been twisted into ‘Jahangira’, near here. Shiva (Aja or unborn) was hidden till the linga was found out by Mahatma Harnath Bharati in the 15th century. Hence the name ‘Ajgaibinath’ came up. One can see Ajgaibinath, Siddhanath and Kedarnath in this temple complex. Of the many sculptures found here, the famous bronze statue of Buddha (500-700 AD, 2.3 m high, more than 500 kgs) is now in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Shravani mela brings in thousands of devotees. They carry Ganga water (on kanwariyas) and walk from here to perform abhishek on the jyotir linga at Baidyanath temple (105 kms). A mythological story conveys how Faith heels, cures, reforms  and  grants  merits!  (I  have  narrated  a  real  life-story in  one  of  my travelogues, describing how a drunkard-wife beater was reformed into an excellent family man after two such yearly yatras from Sultanganj to Baidyanath).

Bhagalpur:  (or Bhagdattpuram, City of Good Luck, population  398,138 in  2011), is the second largest city in Bihar after Patna. Bhagalpur and its vicinity excel in many chequered features. As  ‘Champa’, the capital of Karna’s Anga Desh, it was famous in Mahabharat. Nearby Mandara hill is mentioned in many Puranic myths (Samudra Manthan, Panchjanya Shank or conch, slaying of Madhu rakshas, Vasuki,Vish Hari Puja of Manasa Devi etc). Sculptures of Ashokan period (274-232 BC), temple of Gupta period, Champa Port of 7th century, Vikramshila University of 8th c, Shuja’s tomb of 17th c, event of coming under the EI Company  in  1765  etc  speak  of  its  historical  importance.  Nand  Lal  Bose  (artist),  Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (novelist of Devdas fame), Ashok Kumar (cine actor), Pritish Nandi (writer) are only a few names of cultural significance. Angika or Chika chiki is the dialect spoken here. It is famous for its mangoes, ‘tusser silk’ and Kaholgaon sweet speciality.

Sewage: Kahalgaon and Sultanganj discharge nearly 9 MLD of untreated sewage into Ganga. Bhagalpur generates about 72 MLD of sewage (based on estimated 2011 population) and the treatment capacity is just  11 MLD. Considering the power availability and maintenance problems actual treatment is only for  2 to  4 MLD  (as per our discussions in STP plant). Thereby nearly 70 MLD of untreated sewage is discharged into river.

Total untreated sewage discharged from these towns is equivalent to pouring  7900 tankers (10 KL) of sewage every day into the river.   Compare this with a few litres of milk poured every day into the river, at various points, as part of worship by the devotees!!

Fly Ash from NTPC: at Kahalgaon is dumped and is carried during monsoons to the river. The Kue (?) nala   water was earlier drinkable, but due to fly ash carried in the nala and bad fish  (thrown from the market), the nala is stinking and filled up with ash. Progress and prosperity care little for environmental pollution!!

Sustainable Development?: Bukto Sahani of Oriap village  (an activist fighting for small fishermen) narrated the mode of exploitation by the modern Fishing Cooperatives. They go against the tradition and catch the small fish (even before they can breed) just to make quick money.  Involvement  of  the  Fisheries  Department,  contractors  and  mafia  were  strongly suspected. This sort of over exploitation is nothing but the killing of the hen laying golden eggs!! The matter has been taken up at various levels— but who will listen??

Photos: Mr Aaron MacFarlin

K.Chandramouli: 09481005676,


Ganga Is Drying – Tour Report 7

Dhuliyan is a small town about 78 kms north-west of Baharamapur. River Ganga divides itself into two rivers after Nimtita near Dhuliyan  —Padma  (flowing eastwards to Bangla Desh)  and  (Bhagirathi)  Hooghly  turning  southwards  to  Kolkata.  Compared  to  Padma, Hooghly is a small stream at Dhuliyann. After flowing by the border of Murshidabad for 60 kms, Padma is joined by the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. Delta starting from Farakka and extending till the Bay of Bengal is the world’s largest delta. It is formed by the huge amount of silt (around 1667 million tonnes per year) brought by Ganga and Brahmaputra.


Farakka  Barrage:  Farakka  is  about  254  kms  from  Kolkata  and  the  barrage  here  was commissioned in 1975. The main purpose of the barrage was to help irrigation activities, to re-establish inland water transport and to rejuvenate the Kolkata Port, made less efficient in the 1950-1960s by the silt accumulation. Increased supplies from Farakka into Bhagirathi-Hooghly were also supposed to reduce salinity and ensure sweet water supply to Kolkata. Barrage diverts up to 40,000 cu ft/sec of water into the Hooghly river at Kolkata during the dry season. Diversion to the Hooghly River is via a 41 km long feeder canal.

Ill- Conceived: Many Indian and Bangla experts strongly criticise Farakka Barrage as illconceived. Some points made out are given below.

a) Huge sedimentation in the barrage has increased flood intensity and bank failures  (in upstream areas of Bihar and UP). It is estimated that  640 million tonnes of silt per year accumulates on the riverbed, totalling to more than 20000 million tonnes since 1975.

b) Silt build up has raised the river bed by 20 feet, clogged the dam’s gates and forced the river  to  change  its  course,  thereby  flooding  many  villages  in  Malda (upstream)  and Murshidabad (downstream). Keskar Committee reported that in a stretch of 174 Kms along the Ganga (population of nearly 26 lakhs) 6.20 lakh people lost their homes in the last few decades. Mr. Kalyan Rudra, geography professor in Kolkata, explains that the dam forced Ganga to shift almost six miles eastward over the last 30 years. As Ganga moved towards Panchanandapur, an indigo factory, sugar mill, hospital, police station and a government building and other settlements were all swallowed by the river.

c) Bangladesh’s delta receives less sediment and inadequate water flow for navigation and irrigation during summer. This has curtailed delta growth and increased coastal erosion.

d)  Increase  in  salinity  in  Bangladesh  is  supposed  to  be  the  reason  for  reduced  cropproduction, fish-catch, power generation and reduced industrial output,

e) Sundarbans have also shown signs of deterioration through increased salinity, chlorine levels, and insufficient nutrients in the water.

f) Fisherman in UP and Bihar complain that the Barrage has hindered the natural migration of fish from the sea.

It looks strange that the riparian suffers the floods but recovers soon to enjoy the benefits of fertile soil brought by the floods. But, he dreads the bank erosion and shifting of the course by the river, which deprive him of his land and displace him from his old moorings. That leaves him the options of becoming a landless rural labourer, migrating out of the area to seek other means of livelihood or praying for the mercy of government for resettlement.

Rajmahal: (earlier name Agmahal) is in the northeast of Jharkhand state in the Rajmahal Hills, which extend for a distance of 192 kms. Ganga skirts round the hills to flow towards Bengal. The town is on the west bank of Ganga. Man Singh, on his return from the conquest of Orissa in 1592, named it Rajmahal. He was impressed by the strategic command of the place over Teliagarh Pass and the Ganga river and its central position between Bengal and Bihar. As the governor of Bengal (1580-1600) under Akbar, he chose this town as his capital (1595-96). Man Singh built a fort, his palace and also a Jama-i-Masjid here. Rajmahal flourished as it was a healthier place than Gaur. Soon after, Ganga receded nearly two miles and was no longer accessible to war-boats and could not be defended on land or water. In
1608-09 Islam Khan transferred the capital to Jahangirnagar  (in Dhaka) to uppress the growing power of the Portuguese. However, Rajmahal was named as the capital by Shah Shuja  (1639-1660). The prince built the famous palace Sang-i-dalan  (Stone Palace). Mir Jhumla (1660-1663) transferred the capital again to Dhaka to check the Arakanese and the Portuguese pirates. The ruins of the old city are now covered with luxuriant jungle.

Moti Jharna and Sahibganj: Moti Jharna (67 kms from Farakka) is so called because the water droplets falling from the peak of the mountain resemble the white pearls. The place must be picturesque in the monsoons when the pearly water drops appear more beautiful amidst the lush greenery. It had caught the imagination of many artists and photographers. Sahibganj (84 kms from Farakka) is the district head quarters of the same name in Jharkhand. Manihari (across the river) and Peer Pahad hills are being bared by stone quarrying. People will soon be unable to have darshan of Budiya Mayi’s ashram and Palahari Baba in the hills.

Sewage: Total population of Dhuliyan, Farakka, Sahibganj and Rajmahal in 2001 was nearly 192,900 and the sewage was 21 MLD, equivalent to a discharge of 2100 tankers (of 10KL) sewage to the river every day.

Interference With Nature: A) Peer Pahad hills are virtually laid flat to the ground due to stone quarrying and transport at Sakrigalli. Mining mafia is virtually destroying the historical, cultural and environmental assets in Bihar. There appears to be no concern for conserving the hills, forests and the environment. The urge is born of the greed for immediate acquisition of prosperity, even at the cost of ecology or environment.

B) Secondly, Farakka Barrage stands as a tragic example of our direct interference with the river’s natural flow and its long term consequences. Jatin H Desai writes-“Man, will continue to exploit the nature to gain materialistic success. He will justify the decisions without deeper, long term effects they might have. Because, he has armed himself with a belief that materialistic growth is the only way to define success – at individual level, at level of society, and at the grander level of political strength, which is, in fact, the ultimate self-deception….. They fix a short-term problem,  without our ability to recognize the future negative impact …….”

K.Chandramouli: 09481005676,


Photos: Mr Aaron MacFarlin — Ganga in Dhuliyan, Stone for transport in Sahibganj, Masjid in Rajmahal, Trucks on Ferry in Sahibganj, Dead Body at Sahibganj,


Ganga Is Drying – Tour Report 6

Kolkata to Baharampur: Baharampur (earlier called Brahmapur) is the sixth largest city in West Bengal and is the administrative headquarters of the Murshidabad district. It is located about 200 km from Kolkata. There are a number of towns along the banks of Hooghly between Kolkata and Baharampur. These are—Howrah, Belur, Barakpur, Ranaghat, Shantipur, Mayapur, Navadwip, Baharampur, Murshidabad, and Nawabganj.

Some Famous Places: Belur is famous for Paramahansa Sri Ramakrishna Math.
Dakshineshwar with the famous Kali temple (worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna) is on the other bank of Hooghly.

Boyra/ Beyra (a small village near Fulia town) in Nadia district is famous as the birth place of Bengali poet Krittivas, who wrote Ramayana in Bengali language. The village is by the side of Hooghly/Bhagirathi river. The residence of Krittivas is now converted in to Krittibas Memorial Community Hall Cum Museum Library. Fulia is famous for producing Tangail Saree.

Mayapur (about 130 km north of Kolkata) is located on the banks of Hooghly river. It is also known as the Triveni sangam where three rivers Jalangi, Saraswati (hidden) join with Hooghly. Mayapur is famous as the birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1533), the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. It is also the Head Quarters of Iskon (International Society of Krishna Consciousness). Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi Mandir is a grand memorial to the founder of Iskon. The holy place is visited by about ten lakhs of pilgrims every year.

Navadwip is on the opposite bank of Hooghly (opposite to Mayapur). Navadwip also has the claims as the birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and as his place of lila. It was the capital of Ballal Sen and Lakshman Sen, the famous rulers of the Sena dynasty, whose origins are traced to Karnataka. They ruled from 1159 to 1206. Victory of Bhaktiyar Khilji in 1202 ushered in the Muslim rule. It was famous as a great centre of learning and intellectual prowess. The Navya Naya system of logic (tarkashastra) in India was started here and it produced great logicians of the 15th century.

Murshidabad is a place with a long history. This district had the capital city of Sasanka, the king of Gouda in the seventh century AD and perhaps that of Mahipala, the Pala king. Murshid Ali Khan (the Dewan who became the Nawab) made it his capital of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa in 1706. The East India Company reigned from here for many years after the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Murshidabad flourished under the 18 nizams and became a centre of arts and culture.

Plassey on the banks of the Bhagirathi is about 150 km north of Kolkata and is near
Murshidabad. The Battle of Plassey took place on 23 June 1757 between the East India Company and Siraj Uddaula, the last independent Nawab of Bengal and his French allies. A decisive victory in the battle established the Company’s long rule in India.

Class I and Class II Cities: Those cities with a population of more than a lakh are termed as Class I cities and those with a population between 50,000 and a lakh are termed as Class II cities. Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) are set up in some and not in all cities. Following classification is made for cities from Kolkata to Baharampur and situated along the course of Hooghly and which discharge
sewage into Hooghly directly (not to tributaries or not via irrigation or pisciculture channels). The listing is according to population and not according to the sequence in the travel route.

NOTE: The data given below are based on CPCB Report of November 2005. This has considered the population as per census of 2001. In the next decade, population growth must have galloped faster than the increase in the STP capacity.

Class I with STPs–Haora, Bhatpura, Maheshtala, Chandannagar, Behrampur, Barrackpur, Kardaha, Navadwip, Baidyabati, Bhadreshwar, Bansberia, Champdani—-
Total Population —29,59,687; Sewage—416 MLD; STP Cap—178 MLD;

Class II with STPs—Budge Budge Total Population —75,465; Sewage—6.49 MLD; STP Cap—0.18 MLD;

Class I with No STPs—South Dum Dum, Rajpur Sonarpur, Kamarhati, Rajarhat Gopalpur, North Dum Dum, Naihati, Uluberia, Haldia, Uttarpara Kotrung, Santipur, Kanchrapara, Halishar, North Barrackpur, Basirhat, Ashoknagar Kalyannagar, Bangaon, Dum Dum.
Total Population —31,00,337; Sewage—435.16 MLD; STP Cap—0.00 MLD;

Class II with No STPs—Bishmupur, Dhuliyan,Ranaghat
Total Population —203,603; Sewage—17.51 MLD; STP Cap—0.00 MLD;

Total of Route (WB)
Total Population —63,39,092; Sewage—875.16 MLD; STP Cap—178.18 MLD;
Above figures show that nearly 700 MLD of untreated sewage is allowed to flow into Hooghly in the above route. Considering 70% effectiveness of the STPs, the flow into Hooghly is likely to be 750 MLD. To simplify these figures, it may be said that in this stretch, about 75,000 tankers (of 10 kiloltrs) of untreated sewage is poured into Hooghly every day.

THE BIG QUESTION: Will you tolerate mixing up of just 1 litre of sewage every day into your storage tank of 200 ltrs capacity?

Ganga Is Drying – Tour Report 5

Kolkata: Kolikata, (a fishing village), Sutanti (a weaver’s village) and Govindpur were three small villages on the eastern bank of river Hooghly, when East India Company came to India. Tax collection rights in these villages rested with the local zamindar (under the Moghul rule) till the rights were transferred to EI Company in 1698. Kolkata’s recorded history starts from 1690, when the ruling Nawab granted a trading licence to the EI Company. Job Charnok, an Administrator in the ompany, is known as the founder of Kolkata, but the Calcutta court ruled that there was no founder for the city. Many versions have been put forward in an effort to trace the origin of the name ‘Kolkata’. Fort William was built in 1712 by the Company and
was captured by Nawab Sirajuddaula in 1756. Robert Clive recaptured it in 1757. Kolkata was the oldest port in India and also the biggest port. Now Haldia is the biggest port. Kolkata  was the centre of the opium trade in the 18th /19th centuries and the textile and jute industries  also sprang up. It became the nucleus of the Bengal renaissance in the 19th and 20th centuries, when dance, drama, art, theatre, film, and literature flourished in different colours. Kolkata was the capital of the British rulers till 1911.
Hooghly river: Bhagirathi splits into Padma (flowing into Bangla Desh) and Hooghly
(turning southwards into WB) at a place called Dhuliyan (after Farakka). Hooghly is the life line for West Bengal. British, Dutch, Portuguese and French had their settlements by Hooghly. Hooghly flows through Murshidabad, Baharampur, Katwa, Navadwip, Kalna, Hooghly District, North 24 Parganas, Halisar, Chunchura, Rishra, Kamarhati, Kolkata, Howrah, Nurpur to Bay of Bengal covering a total distance of 260 kms. During this journey 860 MLD (million litres per day) of untreated sewage is poured into Hooghly river (Sewage generation minus STP capacity). This is about 330 litres of untreated sewage poured in for every metre length of the river! Actual figures will be higher depending on the effective working of STPs.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation: has an area of 185 sqkms with 141 wards (population 4.5 million in 2011). This area does not include Salt Lake and New Town. City is 9-10kms wide from east to west. Kolkata Metropolitan Area is 1886 sqkms (population 14.1 million in 2011) and has 3 municipal corporations, 39 municipalities and 24 panchayat samitis.
Sewage: River Hooghly forms the western boundary of Kolkata and flows about 15 kms along the city from Prinsep ghat in the south to Bagbazar ghat just near Howrah Bridge. Natural drainage of the city is away from the river towards the east and south. Kolkata generates about 618 MLD of sewage as per CPCB Report of 2010 and about 3000 T /day of solid waste. River Bidyadhari flowed in the east and carried city sewage for more than 70 years till 1930 to the wetlands of Kolkata in the east. The river got choked due to high silt content in sewage. In 1943-44 a new channel was constructed to carry the city sewage to river Kulti Gong, about 28-36 kms to the east of Kolkata. Kulti Gong is another river affected by the tides of Bay.
East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW): Wetlands of East Kolkata are man- made and have been used as the dumping ground for liquid and solid wastes since 1800. EKW has partly saved Kolkata from the major burden of waste disposal and construction–maintenance of big sewage treatment plants. Total area of EKW is about 12500 ha (hectares) in North and South 24 Parganas. This system of waste water treatment is the largest in the world. In this system, raw sewage is let into the stabilisation pond, where organic components of sewage are biodegraded. The nutrient rich sewage is then sent to the next fish pond, where algal bloom is formed and BOD is reduced. Used water outlet is then sent into for irrigating the crop fields, where paddy and vegetables are grown.
Nearly 250 MLD of sewage from the city flows into the water-bodies of EKW and is
gainfully used for agriculture and fishing. There are variations in the figures reported, but one estimate is that nearly 8000/11000T of fish and 16000T of paddy per year and 150T of vegetables per day are grown in this area. Wetlands generate a rich harvest from the domestic refuse and also significantly reduce the high levels of nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen (associated with agricultural runoff and sewage).
Solid Waste: Solid waste generated in Kolkata is about 2500/3000T /day, of which nearly 25% is recyclable. Solid waste is now being dumped in Dhapa landfill site and Garden Reach dumping ground. Asia Development Bank has sanctioned Rs 1300 crores to Kolkata Municipal Corporation (in Feb 2011) for sewage treatment, water supply and solid waste management projects.
Balance Sewage: It is reported that after sending 250 MLD to the wetlands, the balance 370MLD of sewage gradually flows through Kulti Gong to the Bay, when the tide is at ebb. But, as explained to us by the Chief Engineer of KMC (also in Down To Earth, Oct 15, 2007), the nine storm water outfalls, controlled by gates discharging into the river, also carry sewage during low tide. STP capacity (in Garden Reach, Bangur, South Suburban (E) and Bhagalatin) in Kolkata Municipal Corporation is hardly 172 MLD. Considering a net efficiency of 70% only 120 MLD is treated and the balance 250 MLD of untreated sewage goes into Hooghly. One instance and a few photos given below are examples. Ganga in the Morning and Nala in the Afternoon!! One can see this strange change over near Kidderpore. In the mornings, Hooghly river backs up into the big nala (gutter carrying the sewage) and the sewage flow in the nala is restricted to a good extent. By afternoon
(when the tide in the sea is at its ebb), the level of Hooghly comes down and the sewage gushes into the nala and pours into the river. Then the nala is black in colour and very smelly. Kids and elders alike take bath in the nala in the mornings and they firmly believe that it is Ganga water in the morning and turns into nala water only in the afternoons!!
Fossils of GAP: Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was started in 1985 by the then PM, Rajiv
Gandhi. It is shocking to see many structures, pumping stations, treatment plants and the equipment lie unutilised and have virtually become mere fossils. Video-clippings show the fossilised structures of the Lifting Station at Tolly’s Nala built under GAP, Phase II.
Questions with No Answers: Questions that hit us badly are—how did they end up in such unusable bad condition? How many years did they work? What a waste of tax payer’s money? Who is responsible? Who is answerable? Who is to bell the cat? We could only draw some conclusions –a) wasting huge amount of tax payer’s money is a crime, b) making people drink, bathe and wash in sewage mixed water is a barbaric activity and an uncivilised crime by the ‘civilised society’ and c) though our forefathers were called ‘crude’ they were more civilised than any of the westerners who brought in underground sewage system!
Discussions: I am grateful to the Chief Engineer of Kolkata Municipal Corporation,
Councillor Mr Santosh Kr Pathak of KMC, the Media in Kolkata and my friends.

Above: Two Nalas in Kolkata before joining a bigger Nala


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