Award of Excellence
"Ganges: living in toxic water"
The Ganges is India's holiest river, considered a source of spiritual purification for devout Hindus, but also is among the world's most polluted. An ever-growing population, inadequately planned urbanization and rapid industrialization have severely polluted the water in the river, which provides water to an estimated population of 500 million people, which is larger than any other river in the world. The Ganges's waters are not just dirty, they are toxic: unfit for bathing, let alone for drinking, and causing elevated rates of cancer in people residing nearby and correlated to contracting dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, as well as severe diarrhea, which continues to be one of the leading causes of death of children in India. Nevertheless, poor people rely on the river on a daily basis for bathing, laundry, washing, eating, cooking, cleaning utensils, and brushing teeth. And the kids and many young people, they also use the river for playing. From 1985, a host of efforts to clean up the Ganges have been largely unsuccessful. In September 2014 the government started the “Namami Ganga” project. It promised a clean Ganges in three years.