Ganges braced for 60 million bathing pilgrims
Wednesday 13 January 2010
As millions of Hindus prepare to descend on the holy city of Haridwar, the authorities have urged people to avoid dirtying the Ganges – India's most sacred river yet one of its most heavily polluted.
When the three-month-long Kumbh Mela festival begins tomorrow in the northern Indian city, 2.5 million people could take a ritual bath in the river on the first day alone. Many more – perhaps as many as 60 million – will follow in the weeks ahead. Yet for all its importance to the Hindu faith, those overseeing the festival – held in four different locations over a period of 12 years – are aware of the very damaging effect so many people could have on the river that is considered a living Goddess.
Yesterday, the government of Uttarakhand state took out full-page advertisements in national news papers listing a code of conduct for pilgrims. Chief among the rules is not to use detergents or soaps when bathing in the river, and not to bring polythene and plastic. "Observe the sanctity of the holy sites," it adds. Along with several other sacred rivers, the state of the Ganges is one of India's greatest environmental embarrassments.
A combination of billions of litres of raw sewage being pumped into the river along with the waste from industry have transformed the 1,500-mile waterway into one of the world's most heavily polluted. Just last month, the World Bank announced it was to give India $1bn (£618m) to help it clean up the river, which provides a lifeline to at least 400 million people who either live beside it or depend on it to irrigate their crops. "There is an increasing pressure from population at these festivals," said Lalit Pande, director of the Uttarakhand Environmental Education Centre. "But most of the problems with the pollution come from sewage that is discharged."
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...