THE RAPE OF GANGA
Ganga at Kanpur is dirty, unappetizing and synonymous with
pollution in almost everyone’s eyes. Environmentalists love to cite
Kanpur as proof of the failure of the government’s still ongoing massive
programme to clean up the river. Not all the criticism is either accurate
or fair. Kanpur is too convenient a whipping boy for the sins and omissions
of others, both upstream and downstream.
Kanpur is on the road to nowhere. Lucknow, just 50 kilometres away across the Ganga, has the airport, history, architecture and the culture. Kanpur has factories, money and pollution and a strictly functional relationship with Ganga. Established in 1801 by the British to supply uniforms, boots, saddles and ordnance for their army in India, Kanpur is the largest city in Uttar Pradesh and sits on the higher, southern bank of the river. Kanpur is an anomaly, an industrial city which accidentally happens to lie on the banks of a river that almost everyone else round here thinks of as a goddess.
But not here in Kanpur. One can count the number of bathing ghats on one hand. Like Kolkata, half a continent away, Kanpur is all about manufacturing. Yet, the idea that Kanpur is indifferent to pollution of Ganga is not strictly true: the city has some of the most advanced sewage treatment systems in India; it really does plan ahead; it has a world-class university; and yet, and yet.....somehow the situation never really seems to improve.
Why? Lack of water? Lack of money? Lack of electricity? Lack of urgency? Lack of will?