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

Violent Vancouver muggings

Violent street mugging in Burnaby brings light sentences to two of the perpetrators

A third suspect who has never been arrested held knife to victim’s throat KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI A man convicted in a violent street mugging…
Continue Reading »

security-CBSA-Transit Police-death

Migrant group asks Transit Police not to share info with CBSA

THE CANADIAN PRESS A B.C. group is calling on Transit police to stop sharing all information about migrants with the Canada Border Services Agency. Transit…
Continue Reading »

TK

IHIT takes case after body found in SUV in Surrey City Centre area

VANCOUVER DESI The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is at the scene where a deceased male was discovered in Surrey’s City Centre area Friday morning….
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Canadian gets seven years in Nepal jail for child molestation: report

THE CANADIAN PRESS A media report says a Canadian man has been sentenced to seven years in jail in Nepal for molesting a nine-year-old boy…
Continue Reading »

Canadian universities attracting kids, especially girls, to sciences

@ By Liam Casey THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Groups of students huddle around desks at a university campus as the instructor gives out a…
Continue Reading »

Canadian universities attracting kids, especially girls, to sciences

@ By Liam Casey THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Groups of students huddle around desks at a university campus as the instructor gives out a…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Hands Against Racism

Hands Against Racism: Send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

triplets

U.S. mom with 2 kids celebrates one-month birthdays of rare identical triplet boys (with photos)

COREY WILLIAMS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – A suburban Detroit couple who have two older children are adjusting to life after becoming…
Continue Reading »

File photo: An Indian Muslim bride, her hands decorated with henna, attends a mass wedding organized by a social service organization in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Groom dumped by bride-to-be for a wedding guest accuses her of drugging him before ceremony

VANCOUVER DESI A 25-year-old Indian groom who was dumped by his bride-to-be for a wedding guest after he suffered an alleged seizure has accused his…
Continue Reading »

bikram

Vancouver woman sues hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury for sexual assault

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI A Vancouver woman is claiming the leader of one of B.C.’s largest yoga chains repeatedly sexually assaulted and coerced her over…
Continue Reading »

murder plot-Pakistan-love triangle

U.S. man convicted of setting up fatal shooting of Pakistani wife while walking with young son

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MORRISTOWN, N.J. — A man was convicted Thursday of setting up the fatal shooting of his Pakistan-born wife while the couple was…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Katrina Kaif -bikini blouse

Gallery: Bollywood babes pair hot bikini blouses with sarees

VANCOUVER DESI When it comes to sinful fashion mingled with grace, elegance and beauty, no one can beat Bollywood actresses and their style sense. Check…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood film review

Dum Laga Ke Haisha: So real and heart-warming, it smells like life

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”; Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pedneker; Written and Directed by Sharat Katariya; Rating: ****(4 stars) It’s very…
Continue Reading »

Katti Batti

Bollywood actors Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan are having fun on the sets of Katti Batti

IANS Mumbai – Actor Imran Khan is having a “positive experience” filming “Katti Batti”, thanks to his “wonderful co-star” Kangana Ranaut and “great director” Nikhil…
Continue Reading »