| Devotees offer arghya at a ghat in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Sachin |
Patna, April 10: The wish to take a holy dip in the sacred Ganga turned into a mockery of sorts when several Chaiti Chhath devotees gathered at the Collectorate Ghat realised that the purity aspect of the river water was missing.
The devotees were forced to hire boats to go to the diara areas in search of clean water because they found it difficult to offer obeisance to the setting Sun on Saturday, standing in the stinking and visibly dirty river along the banks.
As a result, overcrowded country-made boats ferrying devotees to and fro the diara was a common sight all day long.
“It is good business for us today as several devotees are willing to go to the diara to offer prayers. Devotees don’t feel like getting into the water near the banks and taking the holy dip,” said Mahesh, one of the helpers on the boat at the Collectorate Ghat.
Though the Nitish Kumar government has promised to take steps to keep Ganga pollution-free in Bihar, the common man continues to sigh at the sight of the once-crystal clear water now turning black day-by-day, especially in and around the ghats.
“Earlier we used to offer prayers at the ghats but for the past two years it has become impossible to take the holy dip there. All of it is sewage water. There is nothing pure about it anymore,” said Munni Devi, a Chhath devotee, who was seen going to the diara in search of comparatively clean water to offer prayers to the setting Sun.
Punam Kumari, another devotee, expressed her concern that owing to the heavily polluted Ganga they are scared of taking a dip, lest they might contact skin diseases.
The sewage discharge from different corners of the city continues to raise the concern for Ganga figuring high on the pollution alarm rate with every passing day.
“The increased amount of coliform (a kind of bacteria) can be attributed to the decrease in the volume of water in the Ganga over the past few years owing to lesser rainfall in catchment areas, more than required amount of water being stored in the dams and barrages and so on. Also untreated sewage discharge in the river has also raised the pollution level manifold. First, it should be chemically treated and ideally this treated water should be used for irrigation purpose rather than discharging it into the river,” said Gopal Sharma, a scientist with the Zoological Survey of India.
Today, the pollution level in the Ganga has reached such an alarming level that it is doing irreparable damages to the flora and fauna of the aquatic life.
“The increasing pollution level has a direct bearing on the marine life. Of late, there has been a sharp decline in the commercially viable fishes like rohu and katla. Even the dolphins have to bear the brunt of this human indifference. Either they are suffering from diseases or developing cysts and parasites. The water quality is obviously going from bad to worse,” said professor R.K. Sinha, better known as the Dolphin Man of India.