A Haridwar-based spiritual group has said it will clean the entire Ganges river over a period of five years. As a fortnight-long clean-up programme ended in Haridwar, the Gayatri Pariwar announced its decision to spruce up the 2,525-km long river, from Gangotri in Uttarakhand to Gangasagar in West Bengal.
“The Ganga, which Hindus worship as a holy river, should be restored to its original glory,” said a spokesman for the group.
As part of an annual event, about 7,000 people took part in the manual cleaning of the Ganges in Haridwar, from Har ki Pauri to Laltara Pul, the core part of the river stretching to about three kilometres.
The activists included Gayatri Pariwar members, Haridwar residents as well as people from the neighbouring districts of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The Ganges cleaning in Haridwar, which ended late on Tuesday, also had official sanction. Gayatri Pariwar has in the past taken up similar work in nine major rivers in the country and one in Nepal.
As part of the clean-up of the entire Ganges, Gayatri Pariwar has launched a survey along the river banks. “The facts collected are very surprising and disappointing too,”said the spokesman, referring to the discharge of pollutants from factories and municipalities into the Ganges all along its winding route.
Gayatri Pariwar members toured villages and hamlets along the banks during the survey, taking photographs of areas which need immediate attention.
The activists plan to interact with people living close to the river, to highlight the importance of a clean Ganges and to request help in what is undoubtedly a gigantic task.
The spokesman said this part of the programme had got delayed due to the devastating floods that hit the Kedarnath part of Uttarakhand in June and killed hundreds of people besides causing widespread destruction.
“The real cleaning will start after the interaction campaign,” the spokesman said. “We hope to set up a few groups for continuous cleaning of the river forever.”