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Contesting with the Ganges Water Machine in South Asia: Theory versus Reality

Publication Type
Journal Name
ACS ES&T Water
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 3

Recently, there has been much interest in how to manage the water resources of the Ganges River Basin (GRB), the cradle of Asian civilization, currently supporting >500 million people (Figure 1a). This also includes cleaning up the Ganges river, regarded as one of the most polluted mega-rivers of the world. (1) Historically, the transboundary Ganges river and its tributaries, flowing through India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, have become extensively polluted and disrupted, mostly because of river engineering and increased discharge of industrial and urban waste. Compounding the problem, in the past few decades, intense groundwater abstraction from the GRB aquifers has led to unprecedented groundwater level depletion in some locations (2) (Figure 1b). At present, the GRB groundwater levels are strongly influenced by depth-dependent abstraction, which is predicted to intensify in the future, given the increasing water demand. (3) Thus, with impending climate change, designing the coupled river water–groundwater management necessary to meet the goal for sustainable access to clean water for a huge population, has become an arduous challenge. (4)