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India: River as a living entity by SHRISHTEE BAJPAI October 14,2021   |  Source: Frontline

A dolphin bobs up from the quiet flowing waters of the river. At a distance, fisherfolk are quietly angling while our boat chugs along the vast stretches of mangrove forests. We were on the revered and celebrated river Ganga near Sundarbans in West Bengal, where the daily lives of most of the river-dependent communities are still at ease with the rhythms of the river. But amid these serene activities there is a stark reality: excessive effluence flowing into rivers and polluting them, hydroelectric dams disrupting the water flow, and river interlinking projects threatening the riverine ecology, desecrating them in every conceivable way. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report1 notes that humans have had an unprecedented and irreversible impact on climate. The factsheet for South Asia notes that the region will witness intense heatwaves and humid heat stress, glaciers will decline, and there will be a relative increase in sea levels.2

According to the Central Pollution Control Board’s latest report, India has 45 critically polluted river stretches and 300-plus polluted stretches. One-third of India’s wetlands have been lost in the past four decades. The Ganga and the Yamuna, two of the most sacred rivers in India, are choking with untreated

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