“When our Mother Ganga is injured, our entire nation is hurt … Any disruption of the Ganga detracts from an international symbol of health, healing, revitalization and rebirth. More than a Hindu symbol or economic necessity, the Ganga is India’s best known monument to life.”
M. C. Mehta, “In the Public Interest”
The Ganga is integral to India’s identity. Considered to be a sacred river descending from the heavens, it has been revered and worshipped throughout Indian civilisation.
This ancient and magnificent river is now under serious threat due to the construction of hydroelectric dams along the upper reaches of the Ganga. This will devastate local ecology, wildlife and communities by tunneling in river-flow, effectively drying up the Ganga in these areas.
Further downstream, the Ganga is already suffering from the effects of extensive deforestation, and continues to be used as a dumping ground for untreated industrial and domestic waste. Religious tourism has also led to the proliferation of polythene waste in her waters.
As a result of climate change, the Gangotri glacier is rapidly receding. This will have profound implications on India’s water and food security.
On 4 November 2008, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, declared the Ganga a national river and established a special authority to attend to its clean-up. However, thus far, there have been no visible results towards improving the plight of the Ganga.