The Ganga river supports millions of lives along its bank and has been given the status of India’s National River. Ganga is the social, cultural and economic lifeline of India. It supports many critical wetlands (a number of Ramsar sites) including the charismatic Sundarbans mangroves.

This river happens to be the habitat of endangered Gangetic dolphins whose sightings in particular have dwindled over the years in the lower stretch of Ganga close to the eastern metropolis of Kolkata.

Owing to the rapid increase in human activities, Ganga’s water quality was visibly deteriorating. To improve its health, the Indian government established the Ganga Action Plan I that was launched in 1986, followed by Ganga Action Plan II. The main objective of the Ganga Action Plan was to decrease the pollution load and improve the water quality but there was little success. In 2014, “Namami Gange” was launched by the Modi government with a budget of approximately Rs 20,000 crore.

According to a study co-ordinated by professor Punyasloke Bhadury at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, the lower stretch of the Ganga is under severe pressure from human disturbances. “This will have cascading long-term consequences on biologically rich ecosystems such as the Sundarbans and also…

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