iconimg Monday, May 04, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 08, 2013
Spiritual dip in holy Ganga at Kumbh is not clean. The pollution level in the sacred river has increase since Kumbh started in Allahabad on January 14 and the water is no more fit for bathing purposes, according to the latest evaluation by the Central Pollution Control Board. The level of the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels — used to measure of the level of organic pollution in the water — had increased to 7.4 milligram per litre at the main bathing place, known as Sangam, since the Kumbh started.

A day before the Kumbh, the pollution level was 4.4 milligram per litre slightly more than the national standard for bathing quality of water of 3 milligram per litre.

“Higher the BOD level worse it is for one’s skin,” said a CPCB expert. High exposure to dirty water can result in skin rashness and allergies. “One may not notice the side-effects immediately.”

The official reason for the sudden rise of contaminants in the river was sudden increase in flow of human waste because of increased bathing during Kumbh.

Around 10 million people have already visited the Khumb and the UP government has employed around 10,000 sweepers to keep the city clean. “Still most of the dirt is going into the river,” the CPCB official said.

Off the record officials admit that their drive to check sewage from industries in Ganga upstream of Allahabad has not worked as dirty sewage was still flowing into the river.

“We fear that untreated sewage especially from industries in Kanpur was still being discharged into the river illegally,” he said.

But, the dirt in the river is not a deterrent for people to take a dip at Allahabad. Hindus believe that the Ganga water has ability to clean and purify itself, a claim not scientifically proven.

And, this belief has driven millions to the world biggest Hindu congregation and another 15 million are expected to visit in the 55-day long festival to end on March 10.