GODs in the Ocean, will it help anyone?

- Green Leaders, India 

Credits- HT photo


Oceans are to the earth what lungs are to the human beings. They generate almost all the oxygen we breathe. Can a human remain healthy without healthy lungs? The changes in climate are making Ocean sick in a big way. Only oceans have the capability to regulate the climate by maintaining different processes like oxygen and nitrogen cycle, water and food cycle. Oceans ecosystem not only support a large biodiversity of marine life but also provide lively hood to more than three billion people worldwide.

UN Green Leaders leading the change 

Oceans are facing three major challenges: acidification, de-oxygenation and pollution:

Acidification: Oceans are the greatest absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide which helps to regulate the temperature on earth. It can be done by optimizing greenhouse effect. Due to human activities, level of Carbon-dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere and in the oceans. The absorption of Carbon dioxide in ocean/ sea water decreases its pH by making carbonic acid. So the water is becoming more acidic posing threat to the marine life. Also global warming physically increases the sea water level leading to flooding. Flood poses threat to both marine life as well as the life on the land.

De-oxygenation: The overall decline in the oxygen content of ocean and coastal waters is called de-oxygenation .When the oxygen consumption from respiration and breathing exceeds the oxygen replenishment through photosynthesis, ventilation and mixing de-oxygenation occurs.2% of oxygen content in the ocean is already been lost since 1960. de-oxygenation does not occur uniformly everywhere, at some places it is as high as 20 -50%.

The primary cause of ocean de-oxygenation is human activities because human activities increase greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which in turn increase the temperature of Earth. Since Ocean is the absorber of carbon dioxide, it makes the water warm and warm water dissolves less oxygen. Secondly the warm surface layers in the ocean prevent oxygen from mixing dipper into the ocean. Mixing is crucial because it is the only way through which oxygen reaches the deeper layers of ocean.

Pollution: The introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that is the ecosystem that causes a negative adverse change can be defined as pollution . It can take the form of any substance or energy. However all forms of pollution eventually make their way to water .The air toxins settles on to lakes and oceans. land pollution get mixed with soil and makes its way to the underground water .Even dumping yard eventually pollute any nearby water supply.

Studies show that pollution originating on land due to human activities  culminates in Ocean via many routes. One of which is rivers. Plastic and micro plastics, industrial waste and oil spills are some of the major polluters of oceans and seas. This has devastating effect on marine life. Sea animals consume micro-plastic mistaking them for micro plants. This causes suffocation in marine animals. Other serious problems like laceration and internal injurious are also caused due to this pollution.

Green Leaders brought smiles & shared their hand crafted refurbished notebooks with students 

Significance of the study

There are huge numbers of studies all around the World which estimate amount of both macro and micro plastic in and around rivers. These rivers are major transport pathways for plastic from lands to ocean .In the studies different characteristics related to plastic pollution such as generation, miss management, population distribution and other variables are observed and analyzed. Inclusion of these different factors in studies leads to different results and figures of estimated plastic waste so there is need of consistent and reliable data regarding plastic pollution especially in and around the rivers.

To develop any reliable model of estimation huge amount of data is required so there is need of constant observation, monitoring, collection of data and clean up drives. Present study is one such effort by the group of students to observe, collect and analyse the data regarding pollution near river Ghaggar in Panchkula district in Haryana state of India with the help of UN debri tracking app.

Non bio degadable styrofoam found at river bed

Human Debris creates havoc with nature


Repurposed & reshared toys & stationary


"The waste material thrown in the rivers travels thousands of kilometers before it enters the sea/ ocean."

The project highlights that the waste material thrown in the rivers moves thousands of kilometers before it enters the sea/ ocean. This project has been undertaken on the river Ghaggar, near Nadda Sahib, flowing through district Panchkula of Haryana state of India. Fourteen students and two mentors selected the site and took the students on the site. A distance of around two kilometers along the bank of river Ghaggar was observed and waste material thrown there was collected. During the process all the students logged in UN debri tracking app. Each item collected was recorded on the app. The material/ items were classified and tabulated. The data was analyzed to draw out the results. 

passing on the learnings

Data Analysis

Table 1: Number of items with different materials collected near the bank of river

Figure 1: Bar Graph representing percentage of items with different materials collected near the bank of river

Table 1 shows the observational data collected from the bank of river Ghaggar, near Nadda Sahib, passing through district Panchkula of Haryana state of India. The analysis of the data shows that the most prevalent item found was food related packaging material such as empty packets of milk retail carry bags and takeout food bags etc.  It constituted approximately 37% of the total waste observed. Another item which constituted major share was cloth pieces, especially the ones used during the religious rituals in India, which forms 11.89% of the total waste found and collected. Other forms of plastic bags bottles etc contributed 11% of the total waste. 9.56% organic waste, which mainly consisted of coconut shells and other religious ritual materials, was also found near the bank of the river. Rest traces of metal pieces, glass pieces, constructions material, e-waste, materials related to restaurants and other informal sectors were also found and collected.

Handcrafted refurbished notebooks

sharing with love

recycled & refurbished toys

Table 2: Biodegradable V/s Plastic and non plastic material collected

Figure 2: Bar graph showing biodegradable V/s plastic & non-plastic ( Non-Biodegradable) material collected near bank of river

Table 2 shows the classification of the collected material on the banks of river Ghaggar as Non-biodegradable material ( Plastic and non–plastic) and  biodegradable material. It  was observed that only 28% of the total found waste was biodegradable and the major contributor was plastics 57% rest of the waste, that is,15% was non plastic material such as building material objects fishing gears etc.

Table 3: Plastic V/s Other waste material collected

Figure 3: Bar graph showing Plastic V/s non plastic material collected near bank of river

Table 3 highlights the collected waste material as plastic and other type of waste material. The plastic material collected constituted only 57% and other waste material constituted 43% of the total waste material collected.


The observational data was collected from Ghaggar river near nada Saheb in Panchkula district of Haryana state in India. The site is near the National Highway 344. It was found that at the site many religious rituals are performed and even people from nearby areas throw their ritual waste in the river around the site. It explains the presence of plastic food packaging, like plastic milk packets, coconut shells, cloth, plastic bottles, and broken glass bottles.

In India, from ancient times, it is considered a sacred practice to dispose of used religious material in flowing water, that is, rivers. In those times, it was a way of keeping the environment clean as the material used were eco-friendly. The idols were made of sand or clay, natural flowers were offered to the deity during the ritual but now a days the idols are made of plastic, cement or other non eco friendly material. 

Even the decorations and paint used are not environmental friendly and pollute the rivers badly. India is a land of more than 400 rivers. Due to various reasons like dumping industrial waste and sewage into rivers is polluting them and making the water unfit for drinking. Another important contributor to the river pollution in India are religious practices where religious offerings are thrown into river water. Not only that the idols of deities and big earthen pots are also dumped into rivers result in polluting it but also causing heavy damage to the aquatic life. Wazza, Sharma and Sharma (2018) studied the case of Tawi River in Jammu district. It found that ritualistic practices are causing river pollution.


The enormous amount of waste especially plastic and other non biodegradable waste make its way to ocean through the rivers. Unmindful human activities are responsible for such situations. More and more awareness drives especially among youth are required to improve this situation.

Annexure: References Web links

Wazza, Mehraj Ud din, Sharma, Anil, & Sharna, Sonam (2018). Ritualistic Practices and River Pollution: A Case Study of River Tawi In Jammu District. International Journal of Innovative Studies in Sociology and Humanities (IJISSH), Volume: 3 Issue: 7 | July 2018.


Date: 21 Dec 2023, India

Youth Leaders:  Kabeer, Sargun, Hasti, Seerat, Saiansh, Kanav, Shivin, Rehat, Johret, Garv, Aadya, Bhavya, Pahul-  India