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River Thames:

In the olden days, you would have to fear for your life if you happened to fall into the River Thames in London. While the river was the main source of drinking water for the people, it was full of untreated sewage and when cholera broke out in 1832, it remained for 22 years and claimed 35,000 people. In 1957, the River was declared biologically dead, as the levels of Oxygen in the water had dipped to such drastic levels that no organism could survive.
It was only from the 1960s, after the city’s sewage system was revamped, that the River began to breathe again. The city also introduced strict legislation that prevents industries from dumping effluents into the River and its tributaries. Furthermore, to ensure that raw sewage and rainwater does not enter into the waters, the city is developing the Thames Tideway Scheme which is a 25 km long, under-construction tunnel which captures, stores and transports the sewage so that it can be treated at the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, the largest sewage treatment plant in Europe.
Today, the Thames is teeming with around 125 species of fish, more than 400 species of invertebrates, birds, seals and even Benny the Beluga – a Beluga whale that has been sighted near the mouth of the River.

How cities around the world have cleaned and revived their Rivers

As India inches closer to the 2020 deadline, the Herculean task of cleaning up the Ganga – a key poll promise of the Narendra Modi Government during the 2014 elections – seems huge. While progress has been made since the initiative was first taken up in 1986, the fact that only 25 per cent of the Rs 20,000 crore allotted for the Mission has been used till now, as per official data, points to the amount of work remaining to be done.

Across the world, wherever there are major cities, the rivers flowing through them have proven to be polluted. However, while some countries have allowed their rivers to die, others have taken up cleaning and reviving them on a war footing.

Let us take a look at how some of the world’s major rivers have been rejuvenated.