Varanasi, Oct 23 : Seers in Varanasi offer prayers to holy river Ganges and vow to cleanse it of all the pollutants.
Residents, environmentalists and religious groups, who have formed a 'Ganga Sena' (Ganges Army-for protection) to save the River Ganga from pollution, took part in the prayers that marked the completion of the first phase of action against pollution.
The plan of action has been divided into three phases. To begin with, the devotees said that they have succeeded in convincing the authorities about the steps that are required to be taken.
"It is a three-phased plan. The first step is to reach to the authorities and convince them to be a part of the action. The second stage is to complete the paper work and declare our fight against Ganges pollution. And the last one is to implement the plan of action and clean Ganges of the pollution. The first stage has been completed and therefore we are here to offer prayers," said Swami Avimukteshwaranand, chief of Ganga Sena.
Prayers were offered to 108 Hindu Goddesses as a token of thanks for helping them succeed in the first phase of their plan of action.
Some observe that problem of the river cannot be solved till the time water is not released from the Tehri dam.
"Some saints are celebrating, but the Ganges issue cannot be resolved till the time the flow of water does not increase in Kashi (Varanasi) and the water does not flow in from Tehri Dam," said Baba Nageshwarnath, a seer.
The principal sources of pollution are domestic and industrial wastes. Conservative estimates put the effluents flowing into Ganges at 1.7 billion litres each day, out of which 1.4 billion litres is untreated.Nearly 88 per cent of the pollution originates in the 27 cities that are located along the river''s banks and the banks of its tributaries.
According to a recent official report, only 39 percent of the primary target of the Ganga Action Plan, which the Central Government had started in 1985, has been met so far.
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was initiated by the late Prime Minster Indira Gandhi, who called for a comprehensive survey of the situation in 1979.
After five years, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published two comprehensive reports, which formed the base from which the action plan to clean up the Ganga, was developed.