The Kali River originates from the Doon Valley in the western part of Uttaranchal. This river is named as Kali, possibly because the colour of the river water is kala (black). The basin covers a drainage area of approximately 750 sq. km within the latitude of 29°13'30" N and longitude of 77°32'45" E. From its origin up to the confluence with Hindon River, a tributary of Yamuna, the river travels a distance of approximately 150 km through Saharanpur and Muzaffar Nagar, Meerut, and Ghaziabad Districts. Despite a significant drainage area, mostly lying in plains, the river does not carry any significant flow. The city of Muzaffar Nagar is situated on the left bank of the Kali River.
Kali is a highly polluted river. People living in about 1,700 villages and a dozen towns along the river from Saharanpur to Kannauj are exposed to polluted water.
Levels of pollutants including heavy metals and industrial sludge have reached alarming proportions in the river and even handpumps drawing water from a depth of 35 meters are found to contain pollutants. The presence of a salt of cyanide has resulted in over 100 species of fish getting extinct from the river over the past 40 years. Similarly, the release of heavy metals and toxic material from various industries and slaughter houses into the river has led to chronic ailments among people living along it.