The dumping of untreated sewage and industrial effluent is killing the river. This is most acute in the city of Kanpur, where 1.3 billion litres of toxic waste and raw sewage flow into the river each day.
Under the HSBC Climate Partnership, WWF India – with the support of local NGOs Kanpur Nagar Nigam and Ecofriends – piloted sustainable, low-cost wastewater treatment to reduce pollution.
Sewage-eating bacteria are put into open sewers in a process known as bioremediation. These micro-organisms return the water to its original condition. By the time water from the drains reaches the river, it is odourless and clear.
There has been a significant improvement to the quality of the river water in the Ganges since this pilot began. The river is cleaner and instances of diseases have been reduced
A pilot drain in Kanpur was rendered largely odour-free within three months by the process. That success prompted the city to ask WWF to produce a feasibility study on using bioremediation on three more drains.
WWF was also invited to carry out projects, fully funded by the state governments, on drains in the Indian cities of Allahabad and Varanasi. And thanks to the credibility built up through the HSBC Climate Partnership, WWF was appointed as one of four technical experts to the team representing Uttar Pradesh in the new Indian National Ganga Authority.
About the HSBC Climate Partnership
The HSBC Climate Partnership was a five-year environmental programme between HSBC, The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. The programme, which ran until December 2011, helped accelerate the adoption of low-carbon policies and reduce the impact of climate change on people, forests, fresh water and cities.