100 million Hindu worshippers turn holy Ganges River into a giant sewer

Published: February 25, 2013

DEAN NELSON
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Kumbh Mela

Devotees bathe on the auspicious day of ‘Maghi Purnima’ in the waters of Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati during the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India on Feb. 25, 2013. Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

The Kumbh Mela, the Hindu religious festival described as the largest gathering of people for a religious reason in history, is contributing to the alarming levels of pollution killing the Ganges, the faith’s holiest river, officials have warned.

Campaigners called on the government and worshippers to take action to save them from chemical pollution and human sewage as millions of devotees immerse themselves Monday at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna.

Despite government measures to reduce the human and industrial waste from leather factories upstream, the impact of more than 80 million worshippers bathing in the river and camping on its banks had raised organic pollution to dangerous levels.

Tests carried out by Uttar Pradesh’s state pollution control board found levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), which measures organic pollution, were at more than seven milligrams per litre – double the maximum acceptable level – after the first day of the mela. On that day last month an estimated 10 million bathed in the Ganges.

By the time the festival ends next month, up to 100 million people will have bathed in the river.

Uttar Pradesh has built a vast temporary city of campsites, police stations, hospitals and shopping centres to cope with the numbers, including its own sewage systems. It pledged to build 35,000 lavatories and raise the water levels in the Ganges and Yamuna to wash away waste quickly.

But as 10 million people gathered there yesterday in preparation for today’s 4 a.m. immersion, there were signs that efforts to keep the tent city clean had reached their limits.

Hindu ascetics in saffron robes and matted dreadlocks defecated openly on the roadside as other worshippers made their way to the river banks.

Dr Suresh Dwivedi, head of health and sanitation for the festival, denied that the government had not made enough sanitary provision but admitted that there was a problem of “open-air defecation.”

“It is a social problem in our country,” he said. “A lot of people come here and defecate in the open, so we constructed pits.”

In the rivers, tons of rotting marigolds, coconuts and other offerings formed a scum on the surface, as worshippers drank the holy water. The river is polluted by the ash from thousands of cremations, rotting animals, and the human waste of millions of people. Of the 660 million gallons of sewage produced by cities along the river, only a third is treated.

Regardless of the pollution, Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges will purify them and help them to achieve their  desired Moksha, an end to continual reincarnation.

Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the head of the Parmarth Niketan ashram, the largest in the holy city of Rishikesh, has dedicated his order to saving the river. Hindus, he said, focused too much on their creator but did not care enough for his creation.

“What’s the point in coming here and having one dip in the holy river but not taking care of it? We need waste management, sewage management, the sewage should be in a canal, but it is not being done,” he said.


Tags: , , ,





Featured

File photo: A nurse loads a syringe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

South Surrey clinic places public ‘at risk,’ says document filed in Supreme Court

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI A South Surrey clinic has “placed members of the public at risk” by falsely claiming to be naturopathic doctors and administering…
Continue Reading »

jail sex

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if Kamloops Mountie watching women have sex in jail is a crime

THE CANADIAN PRESS KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A judge wants to hear arguments from lawyers about the legality of the charge against an RCMP corporal accused…
Continue Reading »

Rice Bucket India poverty

India’s Rice Bucket Challenge gives a ‘meaningful twist’ to ALS ice bucket challenge

VANCOUVER DESI India has created its own “desi” version of the ALS ice bucket challenge that has swept the globe. While the original icy cold…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

File photo: A nurse loads a syringe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

South Surrey clinic places public ‘at risk,’ says document filed in Supreme Court

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI A South Surrey clinic has “placed members of the public at risk” by falsely claiming to be naturopathic doctors and administering…
Continue Reading »

jail sex

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if Kamloops Mountie watching women have sex in jail is a crime

THE CANADIAN PRESS KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A judge wants to hear arguments from lawyers about the legality of the charge against an RCMP corporal accused…
Continue Reading »

Child pornography

Abbotsford man charged with possession and distribution of child pornography

THE CANADIAN PRESS ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Charges of possessing and distributing child pornography and obstructing justice have been laid against a 39-year-old Abbotsford, B.C., man….
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Elephant headed god

Gallery: India prepares to welcome elephant-headed Lord Ganesha

VANCOUVER DESI Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed god, have taken off in India as Hindus prepare to welcome…
Continue Reading »

India-Khatav-Akola,Maharashtra

Baby born with two faces in India fighting for life (Warning: Graphic content)

VANCOUVER DESI A baby born with two faces and four eyes is fighting for her life at a hospital in western India, according to Ruptly….
Continue Reading »

PRV0826-SOCIETYEVICTED_217653098

City of Vancouver gives multicultural society the boot

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The Vancouver Multicultural Society’s 40th anniversary celebrations have hit a major snag after the city issued the group notice of eviction…
Continue Reading »

Mystic India: The World Tour takes the PNE stage Tuesday and runs until Sept. 1. Submitted photo.

Bollywood dance group Mystic India takes stage at PNE for one week only (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI Internationally acclaimed Bollywood dance troupe Mystic India will be transporting Vancouver audiences overseas as it takes the PNE stage for one week only….
Continue Reading »

cen main.jpg

Woman in India survives hour-long battle with leopard, armed only with small agricultural tool

CEN NEWS A 54-year-old woman has astonished wildlife experts in India after she survived a terrifying hour-long battle with a hungry leopard. Widow Kamla Devi…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

hot photos desi actress bollywood sex

Gallery: Deepika Padukone photo shoot

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone, who is creating a lot of buzz with her upcoming film Finding Fanny, poses for the camera. Related Stories:…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood desi boobs sex

Bollywood’s bold babe Sherlyn Chopra strips for Playboy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra marks the first-ever Indian model to pose for Playboy magazine, according to eonline.com. While the 30-year-old announced she’d be…
Continue Reading »

Imam Siddique

Imam Siddique excited about Bollywood debut

IANS Mumbai – Imam Siddique, best remembered for his appearance in reality show “Bigg Boss 6″, is making his Bollywood debut with a film titled…
Continue Reading »