Millions of pilgrims flock to the ghats of the river Ganges every year to take a dip in its holy waters, which Hindus believe absolves them from all sins. It is believed that people are cleansed physically, mentally and spiritually at the ghats of the river in Varanasi, Prayagraj and Haridwar.
Unfortunately, the pilgrims leave behind a ton of waste, including old clothes, worshipping materials and other garbage on the river banks. Under the Namami Gange programme, the National Mission for clean Ganga has been using trash skimmer machines, equipment which helps remove floating waste from the river surface, at the prominent ghats.
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, the Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, said: "We have put these machines where lots of pilgrims come; where the ghats are popular, very iconic in terms of culture and religion. It is very difficult to change people's habit and we have so much of belief in the river that people come, worship and then throw the puja material into the same river. With such a large number of people coming and throwing garbage, it gives a very dirty picture. Surface cleaning with the help of these Trash Skimmers keeps the surface clean."
"Apart from this machine, they also have some workers to clean manually as the machine cannot go in every small corner. Then we have a tie-up with a local urban body because they work under supervision and have to bring the garbage to the ghat which is transported to a different place once picked up from here. At some places, we have a tie-up with some agencies who can use these puja materials and develop some good products like agarbati (incense sticks) or some other useful things so that we can use this waste also," Mishra added.
Initiatives like the Namami Gange are also helping raise awareness among the people, with a large number of pilgrims now avoiding throwing solid garbage into the river.
"We have shortcomings within ourselves. You want a change, yet we people come at the ghats and throw dirty clothes, polybags, and other scraps into the river. People should throw it at a designated location. Why should they throw it into the river? People are responsible for this," a pilgrim said.
To tackle river surface pollution with the arrest of floating material is one of the prime tasks of the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
The Namami Gange project focuses on strengthening public participation and improved inter-ministerial and Centre-State coordination. However, the awareness among masses will only make the holy Ganga clean.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)