Socio-Economic And
Cultural Aspects of
Ganga River Basin
• The river Ganga has significant economic, environmental
and cultural value in India.
• Rising in the Himalayas and flowing in to the Bay of Bengal,
the river traverses a course of more than 2,500 km through
the plains of north and eastern India.
• The Ganga basin – which also extends into parts of Nepal,
China and Bangladesh – accounts for 26 per cent of India‘s
landmass, 30 per cent of its water resources and more than
40 per cent of its population.
• The Ganga also serves as one of India‘s holiest rivers whose
cultural and spiritual significance transcends the boundaries
of the basin.
Topics Highlighted….
River basin Data
River ecology
Cultural and Social Isssues
Environmental profile
Pollution and its affects
Steps taken till now
Steps planned for future
Our suggestions
• The Ganges basin is a part of the composite GangesBrahmaputra-Meghna basin draining 1,086,000 square
kilometres in China, Nepal, India and Bangladesh
• Its catchment lies in the states of Uttar Pradesh (294,364 km²),
Madhya Pradesh (198,962 km²), Bihar (143,961 km²),
Rajasthan (112,490 km²), West Bengal (71,485 km²), Haryana
(34,341 km²), Himachal Pradesh (4,317 km²) and Delhi
(1,484 km²), the whole of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan
• The basin has a population of more than 500 million, making
it the most populated river basin in the world.
The Ganga : A Precious Resource
Ganga River resources are unique in nature in promoting cultural,
ecological and economic prosperity of India. It provides :
– Fertile Land for agriculture
– Perennial source of Fresh water
– Inseparable part of Indian Culture
– Fisheries
– Rich Bio-diversity
• The Ganga river basin is one of the most fertile areas on the
earth surface.
• The Ganga Basin with its fertile soil is instrumental to the
agricultural economies of India and Bangladesh.
• The Ganga and its tributaries provide a perennial source of
irrigation to a large area.
• There is about 580,000 km² of arable land, which is
almost 29.5% of the cultivable area of India.
• Already half a billion people live within the river basin, at an
average density of over 500 per sq. km, and this population is
projected to increase to over one billion people by the year
• As a result, there is strong demand and competition for
natural resources, especially water for domestic use and
irrigation, and most of the basin tributaries are regulated by
• The annual surface water potential of the basin has been
assessed as 525 km³ in India, out of which 250 km³ is
utilizable water.
River Ganga in Indian Culture
• The river Ganga is very sacred in India. The influence of Ganga
on Hindus and their cultural believes are enormous.
• River Ganga occupies a unique place in the hearts of millions
of Indians whose faith is intimately connected with her. Rituals
from birth to death take place all along the flowing river and
the confluence in search for salvation.
• Some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious
congregation (worship) are celebrated on the banks of the
River Ganges, such as the Kumbh Mela, every twelve years at
Haridwar and at Allahabad.
Social and Cultural Issues
• Tourism
• Pilgrimage
• Fests and Festivals
• River Ganga also gets mention in popular folklore, like the
legend of Bhagirath.
• The river, personified as a goddess, is worshipped by Hindus,
who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of
sins and facilitates liberation from the cycle of life and death.
• It is believed that a holy dip (punya/pavitra snan) in the
Ganga purifies one’s soul, intake of few drops (theerth) of
holy water cures all diseases
• Immersion of ashes (deceased one’s) in the river rests the
departed soul in the heaven.
• Hindus store holy water at their houses and serve a few drops
with holy basil to the dying human which helps him to attain
• The stored holy water is also used for special pujas
(Sathyanarayan Vratam).
• Pilgrims travel long distances to immerse the ashes of their kin
in the waters of the Ganga, so that their loved ones will pass
on to heaven.
Contribution to Indian Economy
• Apart from playing a critical role in the agriculture sector,
Ganga river also has many other advantages.
• It provides water for many industries which flourish on its
• In earlier days, the river Ganga was an important means of
• River basin is very closely linked to the livelihood patterns of
the people.
• There are two major dams on the Ganges. One at Haridwar
and the other at Farakka.
• The hydroelectric potential of the Ganges is 13 million
kilowatts, two fifths of which lies in India and the rest in
• Tehri Dam was also constructed on Bhagirathi River, tributary
of the Ganges. Its main purpose is to supply water to New
Cause of Concern
• Despite its importance, extreme pollution pressures pose a
great threat to the biodiversity and environmental
sustainability of the Ganga, with detrimental effects on both
the quantity and quality of its flows.
• Due to increasing population in the basin and poor
management of urbanization and industrial growth, river
water quality has significantly deteriorated, particularly in dry
• Untreated sewage and industrial wastewater represent the
primary sources of pollution, with only one-third of the
sewage generated in the main-stem towns and cities receiving
treatment before being discharged in the river.
Environmental Profile
Vegetation and Forests
Irrigation Projects
Land degradation
Sensitive Environmental Habitats
High replenishment rate
Industrial and Domestic uses
the fluoride & arcenic content in the
groundwater is high enough to cause
fluorosis and skin diseases when regularly
consumed for long periods of time .
• Quality monitored by CGWB
Sensitive Environmental Habitats
Biosphere reserves
National Parks.
Wildlife Sanctuaries
Tiger Reserve
Irrigation Projects
• 57% of the net irrigated area in india is
• total number of medium or major
irrigation projects – 644
• Flood control
• Water diversion and area irrigation
Vegetation and Forests
Soil characteristics
Meteorology and climate
Biotic factors
Land Degradation
• Decline in the productivity and the quality
of land.
• 45% of the total geographical area of the
Limitations of GAP-1
• Unable to provide adequate funds for
Operations & Maintenance.
• Failure of local bodies in discharging their
• Pollution load is large especially at kanpur.
• Failure in minimizing organic pollution
Can we clean river Ganga?
Lack of political interests
Centralized schemes or policy?
Unimplemented Decisions.
Lack of coordination among the member
states and centre.
• Affordable technology.
• Unavoidable scams!!!!
• Development VS Environment
Adverse Affects of GAP
• Irrigation water is a cocktail of deadly chemicals.
• Farm-lands are turning fallow, crop productivity
has gone down.
• Agricultural produce and cattle milk are
contaminated with Chromium.
• Health impacts of GAP due to direct exposure to
• Irrigation water and consumption of
contaminated groundwater
Steps Taken ….
• Ganga Action Plan
1) cleaning initiatives
Various authorities
Water quality
Conservation of biodiversity
River front development
Research programs
7) Waste management and diversification
Sources of Pollution
• Point Sources
Municipal waste
Industrial Pollution
• Non-Point Sources
Solid and medical wastes
Disposal of Dead bodies and Animal Carcasses
Open defecation and Cattle Wallowing
How to Control Pollution
• site specific applied research with a view to
improving the river water quality.
• Activities for construction and improvement of bathing ghats
to provide a clean and hygienic access to the river were also
part of the Action Plan.
• controlled under the existing Environmental Laws without
any public investment
• Training programmes , under the scheme for engineers and
operators engaged in the design and operation & maintenance
of the systems
• common effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant

138- K RAJ KOUSHIK (1)