Now, global help sought to save Ganges

Perhaps foreign help will save the Ganges, India`s sacred river of life.

Updated: May 19, 2010, 18:24 PM IST

New Delhi: Perhaps foreign help will save the Ganges, India`s sacred river of life. The government has said it is going to hire international consultants to "reverse the damage done to the river".

"The government is looking forward to hiring international consultants to reverse the damage done to the river. Expression of Interest (EoI) has been invited from global consultants for formulating a strategy to re-infuse life in the river," an environment ministry official told IANS, not wishing to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The consultancy will aim at formulating a strategy for preserving the 2,500 km long river that emerges in the Himalayas and then merges with the Bay of Bengal through an analysis of the river`s ecology and the steps needed to be taken for reversing the trend.

"It will mainly evaluate the present situation and formulate a strategy for what needs to be done," he said.

The official said about $3 million has already been received from the World Bank for preparing a management plan for cleaning river Ganges.

Ganges was designated national river in February last year. Hindus consider it sacred not just because because millions depend on it but also for the pride of place it finds in India`s religious texts and mythology. A dip in the life-giving river is traditionally seen to wash away one`s sins.

But human and industrial waste have left it highly polluted and efforts to clean the Ganges have not really borne fruit. Nearly Rs.900 crore ($20 million) have been spent in the last two decades on what was called the Ganges Action Plan.

A parliamentary panel recently observed that the action plan has shown no considerable results in improving the quality of the river.

-IANS