Ganga River Current Affairs

India-UK Joint Team wins Newton-Bhabha Fund for Groundwater Arsenic Research project

India-United Kingdom (UK) Joint Team has won Newton-Bhabha Fund for project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin. The project was undertaken by Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK to find solutions to water challenges faced in pervasively arsenic-affected Ganga River Basin.

Key Facts

  • The Indian team comprised representatives of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, National Institute of Hydrology, IIT Roorkee and Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Centre of Patna.
  • The UK team consisted of representatives of University of Manchester, University of Salford, British Geological Survey and University of Birmingham.
  • The project is aimed to assess problem of arsenic poisoning and to understand aggravation such situation in next 25 to 30 years and its influence on groundwater management practices and suggest water remedial technologies accordingly. It is conducted from three sites – Bijnor and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Nadia in West Bengal.

Newton Bhabha Fund,

It is provided by the British Council. It aims to bring together UK and Indian scientific research and innovation sectors to find joint solutions to the challenges facing India in economic development and social welfare.

Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Arsenic contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
  • Arsenic Contamination is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tube wells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels.


Government to raise Territorial Army battalion of ex-Armymen to clean Ganga

The Union Defence Ministry has sanctioned raising of Territorial Army (TA) battalion comprising ex-servicemen of Indian Army as part of its mission to clean the Ganga by 2020. It has been named as Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF) battalion of TA for National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the nodal agency for cleaning Ganga.

Key Facts

The CETF battalion will be raised in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh as a pilot project. For this government has allocated Rs 167 crore under NMCG. The battalion will work on book debit system with funding provided from budget of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

The CETF TA battalion will be commanded by Colonel-rank officer. It will have 8 officers, 20 JCOs and around 500 other ranks on its roll. For the task, it will only enroll ex-servicemen, who will be embodied under TA rules.

Functions of CETF TA

It will be responsible for monitoring ecological and environmental projects related to Ganga River, and also raise public awareness through campaigns. It will also patrol sensitive river areas for the protection of biodiversity, keep a tab on the river pollution levels, plant trees and check soil erosion.

It will also assist government in enforcing pollution control measures, support local civil administration and police in managing the ghats, and provide support and assistance if and when there is flood or natural disaster in region.


Territorial Army which comes under Defence Ministry is considered a second line of defence after the regular Army. So far 9 Ecological Task Force (ETF) battalions of TA have been raised to execute specific environment-related projects.

The proposal for raising CETF TA battalion had emanated from Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare in Defence Ministry, which took up case in 2014 for cleaning Ganga. The proposal was vetted and approved by Defence ministry and was forwarded to NMCG. After an approval from NMCG in 2017, the Defence Ministry concurred and issued a Government Sanction Letter in December 2017.