The Problem With Polution in India

Rivers have always been important to people in India. Just a few decades ago, Indians across the nation would walk down to the local stream of river to collect drinking water, wash their clothes, or take a bath. Today, doing anything of this sort is out of the question and can have serious health consequences. Like many other rivers around the world, India’s rivers have become polluted bodies of water.  

Pollution in India is caused by multiple different reasons, such as industrial sewage, which enters the river in high volumes from a few locations, or a non-point source, such as agricultural runoff, which can enter the river from thousands of locations along its course.  

Agricultural runoff is harmful to rivers because of the use of chemicals for cultivation, which has become the norm today. According to, to call soil, soil, it has to have a minimum of two percent organic content. If you take away this organic content, you are effectively turning soil into sand and making it unfit for cultivation. In many Indian states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, the organic content in the soil is 0.05, according to  

Point source pollution is generally either chemical and industrial waste from industries of domestic sewage from towns and cities. One important aspect in towns and cities is that just as electricity, water and gas are metered, sewage should be too, and households and industries pay according to the meter. For example, a city like Mumbai generates 2100 million liters of sewage a day, according to Most of this sewage ends up in the sea right now. However, if this is treated and used for micro-irrigation, it can water thousands of hectares of agriculture. According to, adding up sewage from 200 Indians cities and towns amount to 36 billion liters which can micro-irrigate 3 to 9 million hectares (a metric unit of square measure, equal to around 2.471 acres or 10,000 square meters.) 

Luckily, agriculture runoff can be rectified if farmers are encouraged to move to organic cultivation. For our farmers to get good yields and make a living out of agriculture, the soil will not need chemical inputs, instead it would need organic content. Moving to organic cultivation is not only good for the soil, but also for the river, the farmer’s income, and for public health. Incentivizing farmers to shift to organic cultivation is therefore not just a necessity for our rivers, it is also essential to ensure the food security of the nation and the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of farmers. 

Right now, the way chemical and industrial waste is handled in India is that the polluting industry itself is expected to clean its effluent, or liquid waste discharged into a river or sea. In effect, this just leads to many industries treating their effluent only when the inspectors are present. When there is no one overseeing them, many industries release untreated effluent in the rivers. If we want this treatment process to be effective, it is important that we understand the consequences of population on the earth and the people around us.