On Ganga bed at Har ki Pauri, slum kids lead ‘treasure hunt’
It’s routine for the children, numbering between 100 and 200, to dig for coins and other articles of some value such as metal statues and utensils on the river bed, which turns dry around Diwalidehradun Updated: Oct 04, 2017 20:26 IST
With first rays of the sun, you can see shabbily-dressed children, mostly teenagers, reaching at the ghats of Ganga river at Har ki Pauri. It’s routine for these children, numbering between 100 and 200, to dig for coins and other articles of some value such as metal statues and utensils on the river bed, which turns dry these days.
Every year, the Ganga canal is closed from the Dussehra eve till Deepawali for cleaning and maintenance of the ghats at Haridwar. The entire Ganga canal bed, barring Har-Ki-Pauri, where minimum 800-1000 cusec of water is released, becomes dry, thus becoming a ‘treasure trove’ for these poor children, who collect coins and other things ‘offered’ by pilgrims to the Ganga.
These children, coming from Khadkhadi, Bhoopatwala, Chandighat Colony and suburban Jwalapur, collect anywhere between 20 and 100 coins of various denominations everyday depending upon their age and ability. Most of the coins they collect are of ₹1 and 2 denominations.
Sukhdev, 15, who worked at a shop selling religious items such as flowers and incense sticks at Gobind Ghat, but was currently engaged in the coin collection, said, “With no river flow and a few pilgrims at the ghat these days, the shop is closed temporarily. Now, I have only option to earn by searching coins till the river water is restored,” he said.
However, it’s not easy to sift through filth on the river bed including glass bottle pieces and other sharp objects.
Some labourer families living in the border districts of Uttar Pradesh such as Muzaffarnagar and Bijnore also join the local children in the hope of “earning” coins through digging on the Ganga ghats from Har-Ki-Pauri till Kankhal, where a large number of temples and ghats are situated. “For past five years, I have been coming with my family to Haridwar during Ganga Canal closure from Najibabad in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from currency coins, our main focus is on abandoned metal statues in Ganga,” said Veer Singh, an earthen pot maker, who routinely comes during Kanwar fair.
Though coin collectors remain active during normal water flow in the Ganga at Har-Ki-Pauri, it’s easy and risk-free for them when the river bed is dry.