Barrage of sewage

Kanpur can now chant river Ganga's dirge. On May 11, 2005, Uttar Pradesh (up) chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav inaugurated a barrage on the river, named the Luv-Kush barrage, which threatens to greatly increase the river's pollution load. The government claims the barrage will help meet the city's water needs and also, for devotees' sake, bring the (holy) Ganga back to the ghats (banks). But experts warn Luv-Kush will reduce water flow in the river, converting it into a drain. They also allege the government's hidden agenda is to develop a township project on 16,000 hectares (ha) of land on the barrage sides. A disaster, they say, for the river.

The 621-metre-long barrage has been constructed by the state Irrigation Department (id), w hich will withdraw 200 million litres of water per day (mld) now and 1,600 mld by 2031. Yadav also inaugurated a water treatment plant near the barrage, constructed by the up Jal Nigam under the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Jal Aapurti Pariyojana (rmljap) (see map: Disaster scheme). In 1993, when both projects were drawn up, the cost was estimated at Rs 173 crore; "due to unforeseen factors', they were completed after 15 years, at Rs 412.44 crore!

Since 1963, the river has receded more than four kilometres from its banks in the city. Consequently, the Jal Nigam has had to dredge a channel every year to carry the water to a treatment plant (located upstream, near Bhairoghat, from where the city use to get most of its water), incurring an annual expenditure of about Rs one crore. "The barrage not only means saving the money, but also restoring the historical and religious importance of the ghats, with the water flowing next to them,' Yadav proudly declared, adding: "My government has finally fulfilled the promise of providing clean drinking water to one of the most important cities of the state.' But nobody gave a thought to the Ganga.

First blow: minimum flow "Setting up a minimum flow standard is necessary