By Vishakha Dahiya:
Ganga is the holy river of India. It is one of the largest rivers and provides water to at least 40% of the population. However, due to several religious and industrial activities, river pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. Environmentalists have forewarned the people of the consequences. The beautiful view of the river has been shunned by India’s ghastly realities.
Every year millions of Hindus come to Varanasi to seek spiritual purification in the Ganges. It is believed that if you die or are cremated in Varanasi, you get Moksha — release from the cycles of death and rebirth. Some believe that taking a holy dip in Ganges will cleanse all their sins. Owing to this credence, people turn up in huge numbers every year at the banks of Ganges. During this religious gathering, everything from food to flowers are baptized in the Ganges. The pollution has risen to almost 3000 times more than the limit suggested by the WHO. This organic pollution has increased mainly due to mass bathing. You can often see dead bodies (both human and cattle), leaves and waste going with the flow of the river. It is practically impossible to have any living habitat surrounding this place. Contrary to this, more than 420 million of population rely on Ganges water for their livelihood like food, water, bathing and agriculture.
“River maybe impure but water is holy”
In this belief, tens of thousands of pilgrims enter the city every month to bathe, wash, dip and drink the water and believe it to be the nectar of god which will lead them to heaven. Some even store the water in a bottle and carry it home to sprinkle the positive energy on their loved ones. However, what needs to be noticed is that what is of such religious importance that we tend to close our eyes from the obvious?
The pollution of environment is like a “gift” of the industries. The countless chemical plants, hospitals, textile mills etc. also dump their untreated waste into it. Statistics show that an estimated 3 billion litres of sewage is released into Ganges every day, out of which only 1/3rd is processed by the treatment plants. With globalisation, more industries are cropping up to set up their roots without any stringent regulations being enforced by the govt. This has increased the pollution to dangerous levels and put life of many on stake.
Due to negligence, both from the people and government, the situation is getting unpropitious. People don’t want to hear the word “impure” about Ganges. But hopes are still alive as the World Bank has agreed to provide India a loan of $1 Billion for cleaning of the river.
Having said that, you need to experience it personally to see the current face of theÂ “holy” river Ganga which carries everything along but “water”. This is not only terrifying but also dangerous. Though after taking a short but petrified visit, you might not want to come back to this place again but we can surely do our bit in protecting what is considered to be the “mother” of all rivers.