Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mapping the Ganges & Its Pollution

Reuters reports that the Indian government has pledged to spend nearly $3 billion on cleaning up the Ganges. The Ganges is of huge religious and cultural importance to millions of Indians. Millions of Indians also depend on the river everyday to supply their water needs. Unfortunately the river is also hugely polluted by industrial waste and plastics (some of this comes from religious offerings wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic).

In The Race to Save the River Ganges Reuters claims that the Indian government has not spent most of the money that it has promised to cleaning the Ganges. In fact untreated sewage is still being dumped in the river in huge quantities. The Reuters report includes an animated map which traces the course of the river Ganges from the pristine waters at its source in the foothills of the Himalayas to its entry into Bangladesh. This map also shows the extent of the Ganges' tributaries across Tibet, Nepal and Bangladesh. A population density overlay on the map shows how the river basin is a vital source of water for over 400 million people. A polluted Ganges is a very big problem to millions of people.

Under the story map in the Reuter's report is a fabulous flow map of the river Ganges. As you scroll through this flow map of the river you can see where sewage-drains, factories and other rivers pour pollution into the river as it moves downstream. There is an element of Minard's famous visualization of Napoleon's March on Moscow to this flow map. As you move down river on the strip map the size of the river grows to show the accumulated levels of wastewater discharged into the Ganges as the river flows across India. The daily amount of wastewater entering the river every day is 6.07 billion litres.

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