"India Aims $1 Billion at Sacred but Filthy Ganges"

"NEW DELHI -- Indian officials signed an agreement with the World Bank on Tuesday to use a $1 billion loan to finance the first major new effort in more than 20 years to cleanse the revered Ganges, one of the world’s dirtiest rivers.

One-third of India’s 1.2 billion people live along the banks of the 1,560-mile-long river, many of them relying on it for drinking, cooking and washing. Millions more visit for ritual baths to cleanse themselves of sin. But untreated sewage, agricultural runoff and industrial waste have fouled its waters for decades, and hydroelectric projects and dams threaten to choke off its waters in spots.

On Tuesday, a religious leader on a hunger strike over the effect of illegal mining on the state of the river, Swami Nigamanand, died after spending weeks in a coma."

Nida Najar reports for the New York Times June 14, 2011.

Source: NY Times, 06/15/2011