Successful implementation of Mission Ganga project requires Ganga Management System

It had already been found that the principal sources of pollution of the Ganga river can be characterised as follows:

• Solid garbage thrown directly into the river.

• Non-point sources of pollution from agricultural run-off containing residues of harmful

pesticides and fertilisers.

• Animal carcasses and half-burned and unburned human corpses thrown into the river.

• Defecation on the banks by the low-income people.

• Mass bathing and ritualistic practices


Extensive research activities had already been carried out. The Plan-I studies had revealed (WHO/UNEP)-

• 88 per cent of the municipal sewage was from the 25 Class I towns on the main river.

• Only a few of these cities had sewage treatment facilities (these were very inadequate

and were often not functional).

• All the industries accounted for only 25 per cent of the total pollution

However, it had already been admitted that the mission to clean Ganga has failed. It says undue investment on technical aspects like creating sewage treatment plants to prevent the pollution in river Ganga without involving people living on the banks of the river are the reasons for it (Down to Earth, 18 May 2012). But this may not be the only reason behind the failure of  the mission. It can be said that although multi-pronged objectives were taken both as short term objectives (e.g. controlling municipal and industrial wastes) and long term objectives (e.g. to improve the environmental conditions along the river by suitably reducing all the polluting influences at source), the mission was started mostly as ‘cleanliness drive’ and this same character continued. The final result is that Ganga is still polluted.

Hence a sustainable approach is in need which shall not be limited only within ‘cleanliness drive’ but to maintain the cleanliness for long time along with maintenance of physical, environmental and socio-economic character of Ganga river system.

A comprehensive structured management system is required to be formulated at the very beginning for successful implementation of this project. Under this management system multi-directional and mutually compatible SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) shall needed to be developed based on which implementation activities will be carried out. 

Now, assuming Ganga as an organization, applying ISO 14001: 2015 management system standard (which is the  most recent standard in environmental management system) may result into building of the foundation of successful implementation of the mission. This management system model with following division of works shall cover all the requirements of implementation activities to be covered-

The scope will include not just the river but a holistic approach of Ganga river basin.