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World Environment Day: Saving the sacred Ganga

Jun 05, 2012 07:46 AM IST India India

Varanasi: On the World Environment Day, CNN-IBN focuses on 'Saving the Ganga', a 45-day campaign that highlights how the sacred river is dying despite thousands of crores of rupees being spent to save it. CNN-IBN's special report shows how dams and pollution are killing the river in every state it passes through.

CNN-IBN reached the ancient city of Varanasi, and found why the river is the most polluted there despite huge amount of money being spent on cleaning it. For thousands of years people have been thronging the ghats of Varanasi to offer prayers, it's here that the circle of life and death is completed.

An NGO has shown that all is not well with the river in Varanasi.

Once a week, volunteers from the Sankatmochan Foundation give the holy waters a thorough check. By collecting water samples, the campaign has managed to blow the lid on many government claims that the Ganga is clean.

Sankatmochan Foundation Founder Veerbhadra Mishra said, "The biggest problem with the Ganga in Varanasi is that all the sewage from the city is dumped in the river. The only solution is to put a stop to this."

The presence of the coliform bacteria is at an alarming level, so instead of cleansing those who bathe in it, the Ganga is actually passing on several water-borne diseases, despite crores being spent on cleaning the Ganga.

Not far from the ghats of Varanasi, there are some tiny creatures, the turtles, whose help is being enlisted to clean the river.

The turtles are bred in captivity, and then released into the Ganga. Since they are flesh eating animals, the turtles feed on the human and animal remains that make their way into the river.