Varanasi: A recent survey by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has showed that an increasing dead bodies of human beings and cattle floating in the Ganges posed a threat to the health of the river.
According to the findings of the TERI Environmental Survey 2015, 96 percent of Varanasi respondents found Ganga river water unsafe to drink without treatment.
Environment in river cities
It shows only 5 percent of the respondents felt that the river water in the city was in good condition, whereas nearly 55 percent of the respondents felt it to be in poor condition.
The TERI study shows 58 percent of the respondents felt that the odor in the surrounding areas of River Ganga has worsened, 51 percent felt the same for greenery along the banks of the river and 49 percent for water color.
Nearly 72 percent of the respondents held individual citizens responsible for the current condition of the river, followed by industries (15 percent) and local government/Municipal Corporation (13 percent).
The survey also shows 65 percent respondents believed that the National Mission for Clean Ganga would be successful in achieving its goal. And more than 90 percent of respondents who thought that the mission would be successful wanted to be associated with the Clean Ganga campaign.
89 percent of the respondents felt there should be a reduction on the amount of religious material such as ashes and flowers released in the river. Nearly 92 percent of the respondents felt that increasing dead bodies of human beings and cattle floating in the Ganges posed a threat to the health of the river.
More than 60 percent of the respondents thought that there had been a significant reduction in the flow of the river, particularly in the non-monsoon season. 66 percent of the respondents thought the reason for this to be variability in rainfall, followed by excessive diversion and use of water for agriculture and industrial activity (nearly 45 percent each).
54 percent of the respondents thought that the river has become more flood prone and devastating in the last five years. 70 percent attributed this to encroachment on the river and floodplains and 48 percent thought variability in rainfall.
56 percent of respondents identified solid waste being dumped into the river and lack of government or municipality's initiative to clean the river (54 percent) to be the prime reasons for poor quality of the city's river.
Nearly 50 percent of the respondents felt that the environmental indicators such as number of bird and insect species, air quality, surface water quality, green cover, and waste and waste management had worsened in the past five years.
Nearly 56 percent of the respondents identified human activities such as industrial activity, transportation, construction and deforestation to be the cause of changing climate patterns, whereas 43 percent perceived it to be a natural process.
62 percent of the respondents felt that temperature had increased, whereas 81 percent of the respondents thought rainfall to have decreased during the last five years. 63 percent of the respondents opined that frequency of extreme events, such as heat waves, floods and droughts had increased.
56 percent of the respondents felt that no government policies or legislations exist relating to wastewater treatment. 55 percent felt the same for groundwater usage and water conservation and 49 percent for water supply and climate change.
Around 67 percent of the respondents felt that the Government of India's “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” will be a success in improving the quality of the rivers flowing through the cities.
The following were the stakeholders identified for improving the environment: local government or the Municipal Corporation (by 36 percent of the respondents), state or central government (by 25 percent of the respondents), business entities and non-profit organizations/ trusts and foundations (by 3 percent and 5 percent of the respondents, respectively).
Health and Environment
80 percent of the respondents were of the view that quality of the environment impacts human health. 48 percent of the respondents identified water quality as the issue with greatest visible impact on human health. Waste and air quality was also identified by 31 percent and 21 percent of the respondents, respectively, to be the problem with the most visible impact on human health.
63 percent of the respondent’s perceived that water-borne diseases are majorly caused by bad quality of environment, and 51 percent said the same for respiratory illnesses.
76 percent of the respondents identified Television and 42 percent identified National Newspapers as the two most important sources of information on environment-related issues. In both the cases, 90 percent of respondents felt the information provided by these sources to be adequate.