Hindu Pilgrims Protest Pollution in Ganges
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Jan 31, ALLAHABAD (ANI) Thousands of Hindu pilgrims abstained from taking the ritual dip in the confluence of three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati - at Allahabad on the occasion of "Mauni Amavasaya" on Sunday.
The Sadhus took this step to mark their protest against the inability of the State Government in cleaning up the river, which is considered to be one amongst the most polluted rivers in India.
Thousands of pilgrims are currently camping on the riverbanks to participate in the 28-day long annual 'Magha' fair that began this month.
"Till the time the river Ganges flows freely, free of pollution, we will continue our agitation. We would like to pray for the clean river water," said Harichaitanya Brahmachari, who has been spearheading a campaign for clean Ganga.
Despite several projects to clean the Ganges River, raw sewage, rotting carcasses, industrial effluent, fertilisers and pesticides that pollute the river, are still being dumped into it across its 2,500 km (1,560 miles) long course from the Himalayan foothills to Bay of Bengal.
The Allahabad High Court has recently issued an ultimatum to the state government to take steps to prevent uncontrolled flow of sewage into the Ganges river, and asked to submit a report on the action taken and proposed to be taken for cleansing it, before January 31.
According to a recent official report, only 39 per cent of the primary target of the Ganga Action Plan, which the Central Government had started to cleanse the river in 1986, could be met so far.
From Gangotri, its origin in the Himalaya to Ganga Sagar where it merges with the Bay of Bengal, Ganges flows through 29 cities and is considered to be a free burial ground for thousands of people, who after conducting last rites of the dead, prefer to push the bodies into the river.
World Health Organisation says one person die every minute due to water-born diseases in the Ganges river basin, which is home to some 400 million people, who depend on the river for some purpose or the other.
Millions of pilgrims every year travel to the banks of the Ganges during this period of time to mark the festival. The myth is that the Ganges flowed down to Earth from heaven to wash away the worldly sins of mankind.
Hindus consider a bath at Allahabad, one of the holy places along the Ganges' 2,000-kilometre journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal to be holy enough to wash away their sins.
Amavasya in the month of Magha is known as Mauni Amavasya. According to procedures one should not talk to anyone and remain mute and have a bath in the Ganges.
If Mauni Amavasya occurs on a Monday, it is of special significance. During this month (Magha) many men and women build small huts near the (Prayag) Triveni Sangam and bath regularly in the Triveni.