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

cricket-terrorism-Belgium

Pakistani cricketer labeled terrorist for carrying bat on public transport, deported from Belgium

VANCOUVER DESI A young Pakistani cricketer and his family have been forced out of Belgium after he was labeled a terrorist for carrying his cricket…
Continue Reading »

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

patquinn2

Spice Sports: Pat Quinn passes away at age 71

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI The hockey world is deeply saddened by the passing of the legendary Pat Quinn, who spent nearly 50…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

suffer in silence

Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse

NIRMALA RANIGA VANCOUVER DESI The reasons for not reporting incidents of sexual abuse or harassment are many and varied. Recently, we have addressed some of…
Continue Reading »

Sitara Devi

Kathak star Sitara Devi dies after prolonged illness

IANS Mumbai – Eminent danseuse Sitara Devi, who once impressed Rabindranath Tagore with a three-hour solo recital, died here Tuesday after prolonged illness, leaving behind…
Continue Reading »

monkey main

Killer monkeys invade India after government issues wildlife preservation to protect wild apes

CEN AGENCY A ban on capturing monkeys in India has led to an explosion of ape attacks – some which are deadly – across the…
Continue Reading »

Surrey RCMP were called to ..

Surrey husband charged with murder after wife found dead in Newton home

SURREY NOW and VANCOUVER DESI A Surrey man has been charged with murder after his 64-year-old wife was found dead at their Newton home on…
Continue Reading »

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan

Arjun Rampal still quiet on his proximity to Hrithik Roshan’s ex-wife Sussanne

HINDUSTAN TIMES In December 2013, Arjun Rampal’s name was dragged into the troubled Hrithik Roshan-Sussanne Khan marriage. Rumours claimed that the actor, a close friend…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Bipasha Basu: Pinkathon important platform encouraging women

IANS Mumbai – Actress Bipasha Basu Tuesday expressed support for Pinkathon, a run for breast cancer awareness, terming it an important platform that encourages women….
Continue Reading »

Kangana Ranaut

Bollywood’s female stars rise in stature and crank out hits, but ask: Where is the money? (w/gallery)

NIRMALA GEORGE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — This is Bollywood’s year of the woman. Some of the biggest hits in India’s prolific movie industry…
Continue Reading »