The economic success of many Asian countries has brought numerous problems along with prosperity. With increasing economic and industrial growth, in many countries the amount of waste produced grows in direct proportion to growth of GNP and development, and the waste becomes a problem if adequate environmental protection measures are not taken during the development process. With the increase in public awareness about environmental degradation by industries and human settlements, waste management has of late become a major issue and Government and private sectors are initiating pollution abatement measures.
The rapid growth of population and industry has caused large-scale pollution of the rivers and other water bodies of India . Kanpur , the largest city in Uttar Pradesh, has been called the “ Manchester of the East” due to the large number of industries that it supports especially cotton and textile industries. The leather industry is particularly important in Kanpur – there are approximately 350 leather industries concentrated mainly in the Jajmau area, many of which release their effluent directly into the Ganga . Leather industries produce a large amount of effluent concentrated with pollutants, particularly the toxic heavy metal Chromium. In addition, the Jajmau tanneries produce about 400 tonnes of solid waste daily, contaminated with toxins from the leather making process and this waste is improperly disposed of.
Ganga , which is considered to be the lifeline of millions and the holiest river in the world, has become the victim of industrial development, growth of civilization along the riverbank and its own religious significance. In addition to the industrial pollutants described above, Ganga is the recipient of large amounts of untreated sewage and human waste, and subject to a high intensity of irrigation (43% of the total irrigation in India takes place in the Ganga basin). Practically the entire dry weather flow is diverted to the Upper Ganga canal at Haridwar, and whatever flow is regenerated between Haridwar and Aligarh is again diverted to the Lower Ganga Canal near Aligarh . As a result, the heavy inflow of pollutants at Kanpur meets a very slow flowing river during the dry season. The Ganga receives over 60% of its water from Yamuna, Ghagra, Kosi and Gandak, all joining the mainstream at or at points below Allahabad . The Kanpur-Allahabad stretch is, therefore, particularly vulnerable to a high pollution level due to low flow. The polluted water directly or indirectly enters the human system through the food chain causing health hazards like cancer, respiratory disease, renal failure and many other water borne or water related diseases.