Carnegie Mellon University
July 24, 2014

Cleaning the Ganges

Cleaning the Ganges

The Ganges River begins in the North Indian plain, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. For Hindus, the river is a symbol of purity. They worship the river by bathing in it, drinking its waters, praying to it and regarding it as a goddess. The Ganges remains the most prominent archetype of all holy water.The Ganges River begins in the North Indian plain, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. For Hindus, the river is a symbol of purity. They worship the river by bathing in it, drinking its waters, praying to it and regarding it as a goddess. The Ganges remains the most prominent archetype of all holy water.

CEE alum Sameer Khaitan (PhD ’06) is changing pace this year with his new position at The World Bank in New Delhi, India. Khaitan is as an environmental specialist, working on the India National Ganga River Basin Project, which involves the cleanup of the Ganges River. The delivery of this project would lead to improvement in the lives of thousands of people by enhancing the sanitary and hygienic conditions across five states.


Khaitan previously worked at AECOM Technology Corporation in Delhi, India as the infrastructure head, helping with projects to treat wastewater. Stormwater is a huge concern in transportation projects and must be treated before disposal into open water bodies. The World Bank poroject is looking to do just that in helping to clean up the Ganges.

The World Bank is supporting the ongoing efforts of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) to implement a number of treatment facilitites that will reduce pollution loads into the river by treating and disposing of municipal wastewater, industrial effluent and solid waste. The project will also help modernize information systems and provide staff training and upgrades to water quality monitoring systems to help further monitor pollution sources.

As an environmental specialist on this project for the World Bank, Khaitan is responsible for monitoring technical and financial investments made by the bank in infrastructure and environmental projects. “My previous experience and education was in water resources and environmental engineering, which provides me with the background fundamentals for this project,” Khaitan says. “The Ganges River project has enormous significance for the nation, national heritage and the environment.”

Khaitan credits his time at CMU, along with his advisor, Dave Dzombak for helping him to handle the most pressing environmental challenges that face the world today. “The courses I had were practical and useful in tackling day-to-day engineering problems at hand,” Khaitan explains. “The research experience was illuminating and I had close interaction with the best faculty and academic environment while on campus.”

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