for Rediff News on Oct. 1, 2007
A group of environmentalists associated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are on a mission to make the Ganga pollution free.
The environmentalists are currently on a journey from Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh to Mayapur in West Bengal, via the river, to create awareness about the issue. They began their journey on September 11.
"There is an urgent need to awaken people. They have to stop polluting the Ganga to revive the long lost spiritual glory of the river," said Parashuram Das alias Peter Grady from Ireland, an ISKCON member and one of the five members of the Clean Ganga mission.
The other members including Rukmini Raman Das from Columbia, Arjun Das from Russia, Tarun Das from Croatia and Mahavishnu Swami Maharaj from the United Kingdom. The group, headed towards Mayapur, landed at the collectorate ghat in Patna on Sunday.
"We are also making a film on our journey through Ganga, capturing the beauty and the pollution of the river. We are trying to encourage people to save the river and help revive its lost glory," said Mahavishnu Swami Maharaj.
The environmentalists recall how they were shocked to find corpses and carcasses floating in the Ganga. They have come across at least 112 corpses and nearly 100 carcasses floating till now, and know that they will find several more in their next journey.
Parashuram Das pointed out that most of the ghats were dirty and tonnes of garbage and sewage were dumped in the water. "It is the need of the hour that people get involved to save the Ganga," he said.
Latest reports state that the level of pollution in the Ganga has reached alarming proportions and at present the water is not suitable for even agricultural purposes.
According to an estimate, during its 2510 km-long journey from the Gaumukh till Bay of Bengal, nearly 1 billion litres of untreated sewage is dumped in the Ganga.
Incidentally, in spite of the Ganga Action Plan spending over Rs 1500 crore since 1984, not much headway has been made in cleaning up the river. The second phase of the project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2008, includes setting up of sewer lines in eight cities located on the banks of the Ganga.