Ganges Pollution Threatens Hindu Festival

January 9, 2007

Source: Beliefnet/United Press International

BOMBAY, Jan 9, 2007 - Complaining of filthy water, Indian holy men are threatening to boycott a religious festival in which Hindus take a soul-cleansing plunge into the Ganges River.

Sadhus leading the submersions for Ardh Kumbh Mela called on the Indian government to take corrective action or they would not participate in the royal bath on the next bathing day, The Times of London said Tuesday.

"The water in (the) river is so dirty that no one can take a dip," Shankaracharya Vasudevanand Saraswati, head of the main Hindu monastery in Allahabad, told The Times.

Concerns about pollution and falling water levels overshadowed the six-week festival, conducted every six years at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers.

Last month the Allahabad High Court ordering Uttar Pradesh officials to release 1,500 cubic feet per second of water every day from the Arora dam and to contain effluence from nearby tanneries.