Dam: a foolproof solution to twin city-problems of river pollution and flood-control

by Prof.Er.Dr. Devendra Swaroop Bhargava, formerly with IITs at Kanpur and Roorkee, and AIT at Bangkok.


Rivers along cities support numerous human-activities which cause pollution of rivers. River-pollution and human-development are thus, symbiotic. In no city of the world, all (100%) of the generated wastewaters are or can be collected through sewers. As a result, depending on the city-management, some part of the generated wastewaters directly get into the river. In India, more than 50% of the generated wastewaters (from the various human activities) directly get into the river while in many more developed countries this figure lowers down to some 15% to 30% which figure is also big enough to keep the river polluted. On top of that, the impact in India is more serious in view of the fact that most Indian rivers are primarily used for various religious-rites such as “aachman”, the direct inhaling of holy-river waters for ensuring salvation. This is because aachman would need river water-quality of drinking-water standards/level.

Thus, look at the anomaly, in India, river water quality on one hand is much much inferior while on the other hand, there is need for a much much better water-quality of the river when compared to many developed nations. This needs a more rigorous river-quality control in India while in many developed countries, the river quality control is even more than needed. That is the manifestation of development.

The rivers along cities cause hardships of varying kinds when the rivers get flodded due to excessive rains during the monsoon-times. The rivers thus, need trained to prevent the excessive flood-waters entering the city.



The two identified problems are rivers getting polluted from city-generated wastes and city getting disturbed from the floods occuring in the river. And both these problems can simultaneously and most economically and effectively be solved by creating a high barrier between the river and the city such that not even a drop of any wastewater generated in the city is allowed to enter the river on one hand and not even a drop of flood waters is allowed to enter into the city on the other hand.

A dam or a retaining wall of sufficient height and strength can be designed and constructed along both sides of the river to ensure that even the highest flooded river water level does not exceed the top of the dam or wall. And such a dam will automatically prevent the entry of any wastewater generated in the city. This will solve both the stated problems.

The generated wastewaters in the city will be collected through a well-designed sewerage-system and carried upto 2 or 3 km downstream of the city where it will be subjected to purification through a primary treatment or primary plus secondary treatments or primary plus secondary plus tertiary treaments depending on the funds available with the city administration or city corporation.

The manure-rich treated wastewaters can be supplied (even sold to recover a part of the wastewater treatment costs) to the farmers for the more profit giving organic-farming. The sludges generated can be used for manure-making and/or land filling and/or some construction and/or for gas generation (through its anaerobic-digestion) for supplementing the energy needs.

The remaining treated-wastewater effluents can easily be disposed off on the downstram side of the river only to be self-purified by the time it reaches the next downstream city. According to the author’s researches, the Ganga-River of India has a very high self-purifying ability which is 15 to 25 times more than most other rivers and thus can result in some savings in the wastewater treatment costs.


A case example

At Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, the largest Indian state, such dams were constructed on Gomti River. But some engineers later on manipulated to make a big hole in the Dam on the upstream side of the River only to pump raw wastewater into the river to fall on the upstream side of a Hindu-Religious-bathing ghat (platform) where Hindus perform religious worshippings and aachman. Such engineers perhaps not only played with the sentiments of Hindoos, the largest population of India, but manifested their incapability of river-quality management.

Like wise in 1985 Government efforts were initiated to control pollution in Ganga River and no improvement was seen in the quality of Ganga, thanks to the “pseudos” who not only controlled the Environment Ministry in India, decision-making, etc, but belonged to a category of a foolish boy who killed his daily golden-egg-giving goose to get all such eggs in a single day (simily: if Ganga River is cleaned, who will sanction billions of dollars every year to clean Ganga?)

The dam sites can beautifully be developed with attractive architecture, swings, flower-beds, umbrellas, confortable-benches, climbing-paths, play-spots, steps for bathing in river-waters, etc to attract children, tourists, and visitors to the city.



Hindustan Times 1.35 million pilgrims gathered on Wednesday April 14th, 2021, in Haridwar, on the bank of the Ganges. In this period, to the health problem of water pollution, we must add that of the crowned virus (Covid 19).

NDTV Des milliers de personnes, la plupart sans masque, se rassemblent pour le Kumbh Mela en pleine période de Covid en Inde.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *