12/04/2009, 00.00
INDIA

World Bank loan for rehabilitation of the Ganges

The sacred river is one of the most polluted in the world. The problem also extends to its tributaries. Approximately 400 million people live along the river banks. Other rehabilitation programs have come to no end. The pollution produces tumours in the population.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The World Bank will provide India a loan of 1 billion dollars for a proposed clean up of the Ganges. The river, sacred for the Hindu population of India, is one of the most polluted in the world, and flows for about 2500 kilometers collecting the waste of chemical industry products, agricultural pesticides and sewage.

Speaking in New Delhi, the Director of the World Bank Robert Zoellick, said that the cleaning and sanitation project is included in the wider initiative "Mission Clean Ganga" launched by the National Ganges Basin Authority (Ngrba). By 2020 it plans to put an end to the discharge of untreated waste into the Ganges. The project should cover the entire network of tributaries of the river: this plan will include the construction of wastewater treatment centre, upgrading of drainage channels and other measures to improve water quality.

Environmentalists are alarmed, because, they argue, "unabated out of control pollution could cause a collapse of the communities that live on the banks of the river." It is estimated that about 400 million people live on the banks of the Ganges and in the past they have seen other projects end without results, including those that forecast drinking water by 1989. Water pollution in India is large scale and widespread and includes all the rivers of the basin of the Ganges. It has a direct impact on health, being a major cause of cancer in the area. The International International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (Ihpba) estimates that in northern India there are at least ten victims of cancer per 100 thousand.

Of course all this will be discussed also at the summit on climate change scheduled for Copenhagen in December 7 to 18. India has already declared its disappointment on the draft of Danish greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, arguing that rich countries pollute far more and announced an alternative proposal with China, on reducing the energy intensity of production industry.

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