India To Spend Billions Cleaning Up Holy River
I think I speak for many when I say: It’s about time.
VARANASI, India—More than a million devout Hindus bathed in the Ganges River Friday, braving the risk of terrorist attack, stampede and petty crime for the chance to wash away the sins of a lifetime and open the gateway to heaven after death.
But perhaps the greatest threat to the devotees who flocked to Haridwar, India, on one of the most auspicious days of the triennial Kumbh Mela festival, was the water itself.
The river is intensely polluted with sewage and industrial waste. Water-treatment facilities have been unable to keep up with India’s rapid growth, often held back by a shortage of funds and other resources.
Now, the spiritually cleansing waters of the Ganges are about to get some cleaning of their own. The Indian government has embarked on a $4 billion campaign to ensure that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage or industrial runoff enters the 1,560-mile river.
Oh, the irony is not lost on India – but maybe now they can wash away their sins without having to wash away the raw sewage immediately afterward.