Sunday, June 5, 2011


India (The Australian) - The Ganges River, India’s heavily polluted spiritual artery, has dropped to alarmingly low levels and begun receding from the historic Varanasi Ghats, which attract millions of pilgrims and tourists each year. The water has receded as much as 3m in some areas from the holy ghats.  Environmentalists say levels in the upper reaches of the river below the Himalayas, as well as downstream, are several metres lower than they should be at a time when heavy rains and spring melt from Himalayan glaciers normally increase flows.  At Varanasi, the water has receded as much as 3m in some areas from the holy ghats, considered one of the most sacred Hindu spots India.  The blame is being laid at the feet of the country’s major hydroelectric projects in the upper reaches of the river, which hoard massive volumes of river flow in dams and barrages.  

But unregulated water extraction at all points along the 2500km river, for farming, cities, industry and hydroelectricity, has also reached unsustainable levels.  At the Bim Goda barrage alone, outside the Himalayan tourist town of Haridwar, 9 per cent of the river’s total flow is believed to be diverted.  The effects of climate change on Himalayan glaciers - a controversial topic in India - are also suspected of contributing to the river’s reduced flows.  
The federal government has established a National Ganga River Basin Authority to oversee the river’s management and rehabilitation. In November, it blocked plans for three new hydro projects.

At Varanasi, the water has receded as much as 3m in some areas from the holy ghats, considered one of the most sacred Hindu spots India.  River campaigner M.C. Mehta, says he is alarmed by the plight of the river.  “The water has receded very dramatically when the water should be increasing because of snow melt and heavy rains,” he said yesterday. “In the downstream reaches now there is no flow in the river at all. It’s not a good thing. The river has a right to live and a right to sufficient water flows. India is not India without the Ganges,” he added.  Every Vedic literature nicely explains Ganga-devi's greatness, mercy and pastimes. 

The Lord is so kind that He has spread the River Ganges throughout the universe so that by taking bath in that holy river everyone can get release from the reactions of sins, which occur at every step. There are many rivers in the world which are able to evoke one’s sense of God consciousness simply by one’s bathing in them, and the River Ganges is chief amongst them. In India there are five sacred rivers, but the Ganges is the most sacred. The River Ganges and Bhagavad-gītā are chief sources of transcendental happiness for mankind, and intelligent persons can take shelter of them to go back home, back to Godhead. Even Śrīpāda Śańkarācārya recommends that a little knowledge in Bhagavad-gītā and the drinking of a little quantity of Ganges water can save one from the punishment of Yamarāja.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - Canto 3: “The Status Quo”
Chapter 5: “Vidura’s Talks with Maitreya”
Verse 41.  Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

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