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The Ganga: Sacred River, Sullied River

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    Ganga basin amounts to health costs of almost $4 billion per year. Prevalence of certain cancers is higher in the basin than in rest of the country

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    About 2,000 million litres of sewage from our homes end up in the Ganga untreated. About 600 factories also disgorge their toxic waste directly into the river

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    Millions depend upon the river for irrigation and dozens of city for water supply. Cleaning it is not about creating a neat river front in the cities such as done on Sabarmati in Ahmedabad

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    The state regulatory authorities, such as the State Pollution Control Board, have neither the teeth nor the political support to act against the dirty industries

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    About 84% of Narendra Modi’s constituency has no sewer connection. The waste just pours through nullahs into the river untreated

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    More than 30,000 bodies are cremated at the river side in Varanasi. More than 16,000 tonnes of firewood is used. About 7,000 tonnes of ash is dumped in to Ganga in the holy town

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    The sacred nature of the river helps the pilgrims ignore its pollution. For the millions living along the river, there is no alternative but to live with the poisoned holy river

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    The government can either do extremely expensive tertiary level cleaning of sewage or draw less water from the river for irrigation to keep it alive. It’s a tough political and economic choice

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    Laying new sewer lines in fast growing cities – hardware and civil engineering — provides plenty of contracts. India has spent Rs 2.2 lakh crores so far on cleaning the Ganga basin

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    Cleaning the river needs to be public funding priority. Calling it a national river or naming a ministry after Ganga is just an empty symbolism

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