Millions of people take holy dips in the Ganges River during the Kumbh Melas that are held every twelve years alternatively at Allahabad and Haridwar and also in the Shipra River in Ujjain and the Godavari at Nashik. None of these Rivers are clean and so it is really a conundrum as to how those taking dips in them can become holy. In fact a report in the Hindu newspaper says that the recently concluded Kumbh Mela in Allahabad has left a pile of trash and filth at the Sangam that is going to be a Herculean task to clean. Whenever I cross a stinking river or stream in a town or city I feel deeply disturbed that we have not been able to take a few simple steps to tackle this problem which is getting more and more serious by the day.
Another Kumbh Mela is to take place in Ujjain in 2016. So preparations have begun in earnest. The Shipra river in Ujjain is polluted heavily due to the stinking water that is discharged into it by the Khan River from Indore city and also other streams from Dewas town in addition to the untreated sewage from Ujjain itself. So the Government has initiated a project to lift water from a canal carrying irrigation water from the Indira Sagar dam on the Narmada River up some 300 meters and 30 kilometers to augment the flow of the Shipra. Simultaneously it wants to build a by pass canal to take the dirty water from the Khan River away from its confluence with the Shipra and make it join the latter after it passes through Ujjain. A few thousand crores will be spent on this when at a miniscule fraction of this cost to the exchequer decentralised waste water treatment and disposal systems can be installed with the rich who control most of the land in cities and towns bearing the costs. There are laws and rules in place for this to be done but these are blatantly flouted with Government agencies being the biggest violators.
The NGO TARU tried to get the residents of an upper class colony in Indore to install a sewage treatment plant. The NGO wanted some buy in from the residents and so asked them to contribute a quarter of the installation cost and all of the running costs. These would all be recovered by the reuse of water leading to a lesser demand for water supply from the municipality or from underground. Yet the residents could not come to an agreement. The leaders of the colony demanded a cut from the NGO to let them carry out the project as did the staffers of the Indore Municipal Corporation. When this is the mindset of the people then it is very difficult to do anything else but wallow in the worship of stinking rivers in the cities and towns of this country.