In a bid to keep the river Ganga clean and pollution free, the Zilla Parishad of Howrah district in West Bengal organised a plastic removal programme in 18 Ganga bordering Gram Panchayats (GPs) with the support of the local Panchayat Samitis and GP communities.

The initiative held during April 2022 is in keeping with Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) to ensure ODF sustainability and visual cleanliness through solid and liquid waste management (SLWM).

In addition to the State interventions, Howrah Zilla Parishad together with all Blocks situated adjacent to the River Ganga and the GPs therein have come forward to keep the sacred river clean and pollution free with the support of community support organization – Aamra Susama Jalaprapat.

Objectives of the initiative: 

  • Bio-diversity restoration by which fish, reptiles, dolphins and other animals of the river are protected and conserved
  • Protection of the underwater/aquatic ecosystem and bio-diversity
  • To ensure that the Ganga remains clean while providing clean water for agricultural purposes
  • To enhance navigability of the river by maintaining depth of the river 
  • To boost livelihood of communities in The Ganga adjacent areas

Key interventions:

In an effort to achieve the aforesaid goals, the Howrah Zilla Parishad has launched SLWM and plastic removal programmes in the GPs, the latter with the support of SHGs in 18 of the Ganga adjacent GPs in Howrah in the 3 Blocks of Sankrail (Villages:  Banupur-I, Banupur-II, Sankrail, Dakshin Sankrail, Raghudevbati, Sarenga, Manikpur, Jhorehat, Panchpara, Thanamakua); Uluberia-1 (Villages: Dhulashimla, Heerapur, Kalinagar); and Shampur-1 (Villages: Baneswarpur-I, Baneswarpur-II, Belari, Dingakhola, Nabagram).

Progress made thus far: The various initiatives were launched during a workshop conducted at the Block level earlier to generate awareness on the interventions taken up by Howrah Zilla Parishad.  The following activities have been rolled out so far:

  • Orientation workshops were held in 18 GPs.
  • 180 meetings with 5482 SHG members for orientation on plastic removal from Ganga adjacent areas
  • 36 meetings with 756 members of market committees and shop owners
  • Installation of 36 plastic collection boxes of permanent nature
  • Installation of 54 permanent display boards on Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2021 in public places
  • 9.32 MT of plastic waste collected in Ganga adjacent villages over 18 days
  • Transportation of 8 MT of collected plastic to registered plastic recyclers
  • Permanent network development for regular plastic removal and transportation through SHGs Sangha is ongoing

Community participation:  The enthusiasm and voluntary participation of a large number of PRI elected representatives, panchayat employees, village communities, members of Self-Help Groups, and market vendors in implementing the programme in the Ganga adjacent GP areas was noteworthy.  The participation of SHGs during the entire initiative was indeed praiseworthy.  The programme was well received by the local people and they have applauded the initiative of Howrah Zilla Parishad. 

Through this initiative, a sustainable system for making GP areas plastic free will be established through regular mentoring of the members of the self-help groups.

Sustained effort for behaviour change among the population would be taken for preventing people from dumping plastic waste everywhere along with other household waste.  Local GPs will play an important role to lead the initiative which would be critical for keeping the River Ganga clean and the lives on the banks of the river healthier and safe.