This study aims to determine the trade-off between river pollution and the growth of the economy in the context of India using the concept of Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). According to EKC theory, environmental pressure tends to rise faster than income growth in the early stages of economic development and then declines in the later stages with further economic growth. The present study has used the cross-sectional time series data for river pollutants of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Dissolved Hydrogen Ions (PH) across various states of India for the period 1990–1991 to 2005–2006. This study shows why the conventional EKC model is not sufficient to ascertain the declining path of pollution as the economy grows in the second stage. The paper uses the modified EKC theory where the EKC curve is proposed to have 2 turning points. Our results indicated ‘tilted-S shaped’ relationship which contradicts EKC in the early stages. Most of the regions that were studied have crossed the first turning point but are still to cross the second turning point, which means that there will be an ascent in the pollution level in the future. This calls for more stringent environment policies complementing the desired growth path.