Efforts on to designate Ganga as part of UNESCO’s international heritage

Updated on Aug 09, 2019 08:53 PM IST

The Amicus Curie also shared that new research reveals that despite pollution, the water of the Ganga still possesses medicinal qualities.

People walk across the pontoon bridge over the River Ganga to take a holy dip at Sangam.(PTI)
People walk across the pontoon bridge over the River Ganga to take a holy dip at Sangam.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By

Efforts are now on to get the Ganga – already designated the National River of India in 2008 - ‘International Heritage’ status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Senior lawyer and Amicus Curiae in Re-Ganga Pollution case at Allahabad high court Arun Kumar Gupta, who is pushing for this status for the holy river, led a small two-member delegation and has presented a formal memorandum in this regard to the UNESCO’s New Delhi director Eric Falt in the national capital.

“Our meeting was very positive as UNESCO New Delhi cluster office director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka Eric Falt showed great interest regarding the river and its different aspects including its uses and the purity that commands reverence from millions of Indians. We also apprised him of the cultural importance of this ancient river besides explaining the spiritual and scientific importance of its water,” Gupta said on his return to Prayagraj after his 45-minute meeting with Falt.

He said that the delegation also requested that UNESCO bestow Ganga with the ‘International Heritage’ status after due process and make efforts to protect and conserve the river and its sacred water which is embellished with many unique qualities.

During the meeting, Gupta was accompanied by Vibhas Chandra, a researcher from Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramoday University, Chitrakoot.

Besides its religious and spiritual importance for millions of Hindus who worship the river and attend the two mega Kumbhs that are held on its banks in Prayagraj and Haridwar, the two-member delegation informed Falt that research had established that Ganga water contains unique Bacteriophages (viruses which kill bacteria) due to which Ganga water has anti-microbial attributes.

“The scientific world has always been amused by the antiseptic properties of Ganga’s waters. In 1896, British physician E Hanbury Hankin observed that cholera microbes died within three hours in its water, but thrived in distilled water. It has been revealed that more than 20 types of bacteriophages are found in water of the Ganga which can fight micro-organisms that cause diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, cholera and urinary tract infection, among others,” Gupta said.

After numerous researches, it still remains a mystery how the water of Ganga retains an unusual content of oxygen – nearly 25 times higher than any other river in the world, studies show. This is one of the reasons of self-purifying attributes of Ganga, remaining fresh even over a prolonged period of time, he added.

The Amicus Curiae also shared that new research reveals that despite pollution, the water of the Ganga still possesses medicinal qualities so much so that some microbiologists are working to develop a new anti-microbial compound with the help of Ganga water.

Gupta has been fighting for the river in various courts and has obtained nearly 80 orders in the cause of the Ganga.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    K Sandeep Kumar is a Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times heading the Allahabad Bureau. He has spent over 16 years reporting extensively in Uttar Pradesh, especially Allahabad and Lucknow. He covers politics, science and technology, higher education, medical and health and defence matters. He also writes on development issues.

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