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'Ganga unsafe for drinking, bathing'

Increased pollution in the Ganges river has left its waters unsafe for drinking and bathing in Bihar, says a survey.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Patna
PUBLISHED ON JAN 05, 2005 04:40 PM IST

Increased pollution in the Ganges river has left its waters unsafe for drinking and bathing in Bihar, says a survey.

According to the environmental survey, an estimated 190 million litres of garbage, mainly plastic, is released into the Ganges every day in Patna alone.

The survey said coliform bacteria were also multiplying alarmingly in the river.

A member of the survey team, Bihari Singh, said coliform bacteria were found to be 16,000-24,000 mg per 100 litres of water when it should be below 5,000 mg.

Garbage, untreated water, raw sewage, rotting carcasses, industrial effluents, fertiliser and pesticides flow into the river for much of its 2,500-km stretch from the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal.

The river, considered holy by Hindus, is highly polluted by the time it reaches Patna, some 1,700 km downstream from its source.

Experts say that pollution is to be blamed for a host of diseases like hepatitis, amoebic dysentery, typhoid, cholera and cancer among the roughly 400 million people living in the Ganges basin.

Ironically, garbage continues to be dumped into the river along with untreated water despite clean-up efforts of the Ganges action plan launched in 1986.

According to a government report, the plan could meet only 39 percent of its sewage treatment target.

It said less than half of the grossly polluting industrial units lining the river had installed effluent treatment plants, but nearly 20 percent of them did not use these.

Said environmentalist Arun Singh, who runs the NGO Green Life in Patna: "There is need to set up more sewage treatment plants in Patna. The capacity of existing plants also must be raised to save the Ganges."

Environmentalist Medha Patkar, during a visit here last year, had urged Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi to initiate measures to save the Ganges from further pollution.

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