Traces of heavy metals and mercury has been detected in the river water says a survey compiled by the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRG) supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research. It has resulted in the largest number of gall bladder cancer cases worldwide, especially among the Indian population settled on the river plains.
The river was known to be threatening to the lives of the many people who consume and use its water even before the report was compiled. The pollution is also a concern to the lives of over 140 fish species, about 90 amphibian species and the rare Ganga river dolphins. There was an initiation of cleaning up the river with the Ganga Action Plan. It didn’t culminate because of the deficient number of technical expertise and corruption, no good environmental planning, no support from religious authorities and due to religious beliefs and Indian traditions.
With the high level of gall bladder cancer cases due to the river water Dr Sameer Kaul, a cancer consultant with Apollo Hospital in Delhi, remarks “High gall bladder cancer cases are understandable. The gall bladder is a digestive organ and if anything goes wrong with it, the causative is linked with food and water,” as reported by Deccan Chronicle.
As per the survey done in Bihar, UP and West Bengal by the NCRG it shows that in every 10,000 people reported 450 men and 1000 women suffer with gall bladder cancer. India also shows the highest number of prostate cancer cases. Kaul further explained “A high intake of animal protein is known to cause prostrate cancer. The people living in the river basin take large quantities of fish which are also infected by these polluting waters.”
“The Ganga water is now filled with arsenic, lead, cadium, fluoride and heavy metals,” said Dr Jaideep Biswas, director of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata, this has drastically increased the number of cancer cases near the flood plains of Ganga.
These pollutants drop down to the river bed, which eventually contaminate the ground water used by the public for drinking and cooking. Because of these pollutants 25 people in every one lakh population suffer with different types of cancer like urinary bladder, kidneys, food pipe, liver and skin cancer.
Rajender Singh, the ‘waterman of India’ has said that with the series of meeting held by the National Ganga River Basin Authority it has caught the attention of the prime minister towards the mounting pollution in Ganga. “It is for the centre to press on the state governments to ban pollutants from being discharged into the Ganga. Unfortunately, nothing is being done on the ground and the result is that our national river is getting more polluted,” as reported by Deccan Chronicle.
Dr Kaul also stated that by 2020, if the government doesn’t employ stringent measures to curtail the environmental pollution, cancer will be an epidemic in India.
Apart from the industrial wastes Ganga also gets contaminated by sewers, religious offerings packed in non-biodegradable plastic, the ashes and bones thrown in Ganga after cremation. The river is believed to wash away the sins but this amount of dirt and pollution is like pushing its limits beyond its possible capacity.