Implication of cultural and religious practices on ganga
Environmental EconomicsAbhishek Khandelwal firstname.lastname@example.orgChandranshu Garg email@example.comElectronics & Communication EngineeringB.Tech III Year, IIT Roorkee
The river Ganga (Ganges) occupies a unique position in thecultural segment of India.Legend says that the river has descended from Heaven on earth as aresult of the long and arduous prayers of King Bhagirathi for thesalvation of his deceased ancestors.From times immemorial, the Ganga has been Indias river offaith, devotion and worship. Millions of Hindus accept its water assacred. Hindu Religion involves ceremonial use of this holy waterEven today, people carry treasured Ganga water all over India andabroad because it is holy water and known for its "curative“(medicine or therapy) properties.
However, the river is not just a legend, it is also a life-support systemfor the people of India and hence treated as GANGA MATA (goddess)by Hindus.
The Ganga (Ganges) basin extends over more than 1 million km2 and encompasses parts of India (about 80% of the total basin area), Nepal, China and Bangladesh. The length of the main channel is some 2,525km, while altitude ranges from 8,848m in the high Himalayas, to sea level in the coastal deltas of India and Bangladesh. The basin occupies a quarter of India’s land mass. Flow pattern is for a low-flow dry season from January to May and a wet season from July to November, with peak flows usually occurring in August. The waters of the Ganga carry one of the highest sediment loads anywhere in the world, with a mean annual total of 1.6 billion tonnes, compared to 0.4 billion tonnes for the Amazon.
Apart of high religious and cultural significance Gangain modern times has been known for being verypolluted.Ganga, has been enlisted on the list of 10 mostendangered rivers of the world. The sand bed in theGanga is increasing slowly and the increase is clearlydistinguishable each year.The extreme pollution of the Ganges affects 400million people who live close to the river
Domestic and industrial wastes. Solid garbage thrown directly into the river. Non-point sources of pollution from agricultural run-off containing residues of harmful pesticides and fertilisers. Animal carcasses and half-burned and unburned human corpses thrown into the river. Defecation on the banks by the low-income people. Mass bathing and ritualistic practices.
The most sacred and the basic ritual in Hinduism is taking the bath in the holy water of river Ganga . As it is compulsory for every Hindu to take a dip in Ganges once in a life time, many devotees travel to these ghats to wash away their sins in the holy water of Ganga. Recently, Kumbh Mela (largest religious gathering on the planet) in 2010 at Haridwar witnessed around 80 million devotees travelling from different parts of India to take a holy dip in Ganga. There are many auspicious days like Baisakhi, Amavasyas on which mass bathing takes place in Ganga. The main holy sites are Allahabad, Mathura, Haridwar and Varanasi.
Haridwars Kumbh Mela is known as "The Largest Pilgrimage on Earth". Calling it "one of the most extraordinary displays of faith on Earth, a spectacular journey drawing tens of millions of people". Water quality is severely affected by mass bathing. Deterioration of river water quality may injure health of the people taking the dip and also the population downstream which use the river as a source of water for drinking and bathing There is a famous bollywood song highlighting this fact in context of the film : Ram Teri Ganga Maili ho gayi... paapiyon ke paap dhote dhote !!!
The annual ritual of immersing idols of GoddessDurga and other Hindu deities in the Ganga riverhas threaten the survival of the endangered riverdolphin and other aquatic creatures but alsoincreases pollution in the already polluted river.Thousands of idols are immersed in the Ganga inKolkata, Patna and other cites situated on thebanks of river last year to mark the end of theDurga Puja festival.
Aartis are performed everyday on various ghats of Ganga, after which religious items are left to flow in Ganges. Hindus dump their religious household wastes in Ganga andYamuna. Some of them gets handpicked by local people at ghats. But still polythenes, plastics and many other harmful items associated, degrades and pollutes the Ganga river.
The river is the final resting place for thousands of Hindus, whose cremated ashes or partially burnt corpses are placed in the river for spiritual rebirth. In Varanasi, Maha samashanam (or Great cremation ground), some 40,000 cremations are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganga. In addition, the carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year.
Scientists and religious leaders have speculated on the causes of the rivers apparent self-purification effect, in which water-bourne bacteria such as dysentery and cholera are killed off thus preventing large-scale epidemics According to studies reported by environmental engineer D.S. Bhargava of IIT Roorkee, the Ganges decomposes organic waste 15 to 25 times faster than other rivers. The Ganges has an extraordinarily high rate of reaeration, the process by which it absorbs atmospheric oxygen. The water quality samples also suggest that the Ganges retains Oxygen much longer than does water from other rivers. Due to increasing contamination of Ganga, it has been found that Self Purification effect of Ganga is declining over the years.
The Ganga has been described by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the world’s top ten rivers at risk. It has over 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species, and five areas which support birds found nowhere else in the world. In a recent finding, the scientists have observed that various species of fishes which helped in keeping the river water clean are facing extinction. Gangetic dolphins (declared as national Aquatic Animal) were once found in abundance in the river Ganges. But over the years a steady increase in pollution in the river has decreased the population of Dolphins. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Gangetic dolphins are in grave danger with their population declining at a rate of 10 percent annually. Rotten Dead Bodies are one of the major cause behind it.
M Omair from the University of Michigan in the US has collected zooplankton samples from Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, and Kolkata. He found that many of the zooplanktons that are eaten by the small fish have tumours. The small fish are in turn eaten by the bigger fish and so on, so the ill zooplanktons are getting into the entire food chain, including humans who eat fish from the river. "It is a bad sign for the environmental health of the Ganga," Omair said.
Ganga River supports many Plant Species which are of both ecological and economic importance. Due to contamination and pollution of Ganga river, many of these species are getting extinct. They play an important role in nutrient and water conversion and preventing soil erosion. Ganga is said to be of “curative” nature because of medicinal and therapeutic values attached to it. There is a decline in its medicinal values over the years because of lack of support to herbal and medicinal plants.
The flora and fauna found along Ganga banks are vital to nutrient and water conservation, and control of soil erosion. 451 million people living in its basin are directly and indirectly dependent upon the Ganga. The Ganges and its tributaries provide a perennial source of irrigation to a large area. The Ganges can swell a thousand-fold during the monsoons. Haridwar, Allahabad, and Varanasi are the the source of tourism and attract thousands of pilgrims to its waters.
In 1985, the government of India launched the Ganga Action Plan.But official audit of the Ganga Action Plan has revealed that it has met only 39 per cent of its sewage treatment target. Moreover, the plan is behind schedule by over 13 years even after spending Rs 24,000 crore, the Ganga remains as dirty as ever. In a boost to the Ganga cleaning programme, the government has cleared projects worth Rs 1,394.11 crore for the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand on March 6, 2010 After two Ganga Action Plans failed to deliver the goods, seven major IITs of the country have joined hands to find ways to clean up the national river. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has asked them June 10, 2010 to prepare a work plan for National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) in the next 18 months. VARANASI is all set to witness establishment of National Ganga River Basin Research Institute for sustainable development of the Ganga river basin in the region. The Centre has expressed confidence that by 2020 the polluted River Ganga would be cleaned and Rs 15,000 crore will be spent on it.
Electric Crematoriums, River front facilities for bathing and other schemes for biological conservation of aquatic species and river water monitoring are proposed in Ganga Action Plan. GAP also tries to cover very wide and diverse activities, such as Conservation of aquatic species (gangetic dolphin), protection of natural habitats (scavenger turtles) and creating riverine sanctuaries (fisheries).It also includes : building stepped terraces on the sloped river banks for ritualistic mass-bathing, improving sanitation along the river frontage, development of public facilities and many more.
http://www.gits4u.com/water/ganga.htm http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/ir bm/cases/ganges_river_case_study/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollution_of_the_Ganges http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganges http://www.shubhyatra.com/uttar-pradesh/ritual- performances.html PDF : Water Resources of the Ganga under a Changing Climate Interaction between Glaciers and Monsoon in the Himalaya_ Siderius and Moors http://vgopalan.blogspot.com/2010/04/ganges-holy-river.html http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/i rbm/cases/ganges_river_case_study/ http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resourcesquality/wp ccasestudy1.pdf
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.