Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

What happens beyond the Gate of Banaras Hindu University?

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi is one of the biggest and most distinguished universities in India. More than 12000 students live on the campus which covers an area of 5.5 km². The adjacent urban district is Lanka. Leaving the campus through BHU Main Gate one gets to the crowded main road of Lanka. All of a sudden the surrounding is changing from the silent, peaceful and green BHU area to the noisy, dirty and totally crowded Lanka. There’s hardly any time of the day without traffic jam. The main road is a big shopping road with shops strung together like pearls on a string. Banks, restaurants, cafes and street vendors can also be found here, most of them feel no qualms about throwing their garbage on the street.

Manual removal of waste

Leaving the nice and untroubled campus has become even more uncomfortable since the sewage system in Lanka causes serious problems which you can smell as soon as you leave the Main Gate. The sewage of houses, shops and restaurants is disposed by open sewers. Since the bigger part of garbage is just thrown on the street it will sooner or later end in the open sewer lines. This fact leads to clogging and finally causes overflow. In Lanka a blockage and flooding occurred at the point where all open sewage water is fed into the underground sewer network. For several days Lanka has been exposed to unpleasant odor. Parts of the street and the adjacent open spaces from BHU are flooded.

Handpump in direct vicinity

Thus water can easily infiltrate into the ground. Unfortunately in the immediate vicinity hand pumps that tap the shallow aquifers can be found. Water from these hand pumps is used for drinking and for personal hygiene.

People are busy trying to remove the waste that is clogging the sewers. Heavy machines lift the contaminated soils to path a way to the core of the blockage. Men are trying to unclog the sewers manually. This scenario could be observed during the last five days – and end is not yet in sight.


Jasmin Blomeyer
Jasmin Blomeyer, Student M.Sc. Applied Geosciences, RWTH Aachen University, Research in Varanasi about vulnerability of groundwater depending on different types of landuse, See all posts from Jasmin Blomeyer
  1. Shikhar Kumar

    This is not the worst part of the story. I have lived in Varanasi from 1996 to 2000, pretty close to BHU, and after reading your article, unfortunately I have to say, nothing has changed. A decade has passed since I have been to Varanasi and there is no visible change.

  2. Jasmin Blomeyer

    This is sad to hear. This evening two new dredgers and tower crane appeared at the place. But from what you wrote I conclude that people only fight the effect not the causes.

  3. Kristina Schmitz

    I wonder what happens when the monsoon is coming to Varanasi. What happens when the huge amount of rain water can not drain because of the clogged drainage systems?

  4. I have lived in Varansi (BHU) during my graduation between 2007-11. Leaving aside the beautiful, historic campus the situation remains worse not only in Lanka but across the whole city in general. I have witnessed water clogging upto 4 feets during monsoon season. Incidently, I am doing my Master studies here in RWTH Aachen itself and shall be visiting BHU in the coming days during my trip to India. Anyways I am quite sure, the situaion wouldn’t have improved!

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