Barely a month after Union minister Ravishankar Prasad launched a scheme for the doorstep delivery of Ganga water (or Gangajal) in Patna, supply to post offices in Bihar has trickled to a halt.
The demand for Gangajal from Rishikesh and Gangotri was so high that over 1,553 bottles were sold within 15 days of the scheme’s launch on July 10. But post offices have run out of stock over the last 20 days, and officials don’t know when supply of the sacred commodity would resume.
“The stocks come from (the bottling and distribution centre in) Delhi. We have requested that fresh stocks of bottled Gangajal be sent to us as soon as possible. But we have no idea when this will happen,” said Abhijit Bhattacharya, chief postmaster, Patna General Post Office (GPO).
Two varieties of Gangajal – one bottled in Gangotri and the other in Rishikesh – have been made available for sale under the scheme. While a 500-ml bottle of Gangajal collected from Rishikesh bears a Rs 28 price tag, the same amount of water sourced from Gangotri – the river’s point of origin – costs as much as Rs 38. Gangajal can also be bought through the India Post e-portal.
The government also plans to acquire Gangajal from Sultanganj after the completion of the ‘Namami Gange’ project. Sources said it cannot be done now because the Ganga water in Bihar is still “too impure” for distribution.
The government has launched over 300 projects, aimed at cleaning and protecting the 2,500-km-long Ganga, along its banks.
Many Hindus believe water from the holy river has the power to wash away their sins. Religious ceremonies are also considered incomplete without a generous sprinkling of Gangajal.