The Ganges is one of the greatest rivers on Earth, but it is dying. From the icy Himalayan peaks, where it begins, right down to the Bay of Bengal, it is being slowly poisoned with pollution from the factories and farms and from the riverside cremation of Hindu true believers.
Watch the video and answer the questions.
1 What is the main industry in the centre of India?
2 What polluting element do factories use?
3 What colour is the polluted water?
4 Why is the cleaning of the river more than an environmental project?
5 How many tanneries have been closed by the government?
6 How long will it take before we can see a difference in the cleanliness of the river?
You don't have to be a scientist to know the Ganges is polluted.
I’m in Can Po, the centre of India’s huge leather industry.
There is a tannery…
Much of the leather produced here is exported to Europe and the US.
Oh, God. It’s really powerful, very strong. What kind of waste do we have in here?
They are highly chemicalised end toxic water, waste water, coming from the tanneries. And you know tanneries use a variety of chemicals, hundreds of chemicals.
Including really dangerous chemicals like chromium they use to soften the leather, don’t they?
Chemicals having metals and pesticides also, as well.
So which ones are tanneries here?
The government says it is making progress reducing pollution, and to prove it, we’ve been given permission to go out with a team of pollution control officers on a surprise inspection of the leather tanneries.
Wow, this is a bit different.
Who’s stopping? Something happening down there.
Why are you stopping? Why are you stopping?
Who is in charge of this place?
Four days. It’s four days of flesh. This is where they strip the flesh from the hide. There are huge puddles of water and the water has that distinctive blue. It’s blue because there’s chrome in it. And there’s hides here, they clearly have been treated with the chrome. This just does not look so good.
Not tidy, not much tidy.
This just does not look tidy at all. Looks disgusting.
The effort to clean the river is more than just an environmental project. It’s being seen as a crucial test, as India’s ability to modernise because it means tackling corruption…
Man, it’s like walking on rubber.
… and enforcing effective regulation as well as massive investment in sewage and a fluent treatment infrastructure. It is clear there’s still a long way to go.
Meanwhile, the government says it has raised pollution standards and has already closed more than a hundred tanneries. It says its clean Ganga mission is a key priority, but warns it will take time.
We are not saying that the whole Ganga mission will be completed in five years, no, five years will ensure that there is a marked difference. But it’s a long project. Rhine and Thames were same dirty fifty or sixty years ago, but they also took nearly ten years to completely change the overall ecology of that, and we will also do achieve it.
It will take sustained effort and constant vigilance to clean this mighty river but Mr Modi has a key advantage: The fact that so many Indians want him to succeed.
2 chemicals or metals or pesticides or chromium
4 it is a test test of India’s ability to modernise and dealing with corruption
5 more than a hundred
6 five years