Originating in the outer Himalayas and flowing through the rich agricultural states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, is one of the most crucial rivers of northern India—Ghaggar. In other words, these states, especially Haryana that is fed by the 230-kilometre stretch of the river, survive on this intermittent monsoon river not only for its agricultural produce, but also for the daily activities of human existence. However, as per the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which responded to a media report earlier this month, the Ghaggar River is so heavily polluted, that it has been found unsafe for human existence around the river, leave alone its use. The question to ask here is—what steps must be taken to ensure a pollution-free Ghaggar River?
The Central Pollution Control Board has estimated dangerous levels of organochlorine residues in the waters of Ghaggar, a pesticide which makes river unfit for usage. Again, the excessive concentration of two elements, hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in the Ghaggar River flowing through Haryana, make the water unfit for drinking purposes. Industrial wastes in huge quantities thrown in the river, further add to the dangerous levels of toxicity in the Ghaggar waters.
The foremost step that must be taken is to ensure that the Pollution Control Board of Haryana issues directives of proper waste management in the state. This can only be guaranteed by a strict undertaking of the need to cleanse the polluted river. Industrial wastes cannot be dumped into Ghaggar, and the escalating rise of industries in Haryana must be accompanied by the proper management of effluents produced from them.
Residents of Haryana must be made aware of the crucial right of pollution-free environment. Especially for the residents who are directly being affected by the sewage in Ghaggar, awareness programmes addressing the issues of violation of this basic right must be organised. They should also be made aware of the correct uses of the river water, so that the daily uses of river water do not include discharging wastes in Ghaggar.
Special management of the Ghaggar River must be done along the Amravati Enclave, Chandrapur Siphon, Outta Weir and Dabwali Road in Haryana, wherein the toxic levels in the river are most populated. Systematic surveillance, control and management of the toxic elements at these points in the river are especially required in order to address this issue of Ghaggar pollution.
The most important step to ensure a less-polluted Ghaggar River, is the effective collaboration between the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, in order to implement policies to save the Ghaggar River. An intra-state approach must be taken, as no one state can address the problem of pollution in this river that passes three vital agricultural states of the country. Steps such as regular water-quality profiling, BOD load testing, etc. must be done in each state and the results communicated more effectively between them, so that the source of pollution of Ghaggar can be addressed holistically.
On a final note, we must remember that in a landlocked state like Haryana, which is not fed by many water bodies, the correct use of the Ghaggar River is extremely crucial and mandatory. The abundance of toxicity in the river, followed by the use of minimal technological advancements to combat the issue, is making the pollution levels in Ghaggar a dangerous concern. In an agrarian economy that Haryana primarily is, it seems necessary to address pollution levels in the river.