Varanasi, Nov 10 : Thousands of people offered special prayers in Varanasi on Sunday after the holy river Ganges got the status of country's first national river.
Country's Central government declared the river Ganges first national river on Tuesday with a separate authority to monitor its cleanliness.
Seers including head of the Jyotish and Dwaraka Pith Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand performed rituals amidst chanting of sacred hymns.
Swaroopanand expressed happiness over Government's gesture, which would mean better and concerted efforts for cleaning the river battling pollution.
"I want to convey my thanks to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on declaring Ganges a national river. I also want to say that by doing that he has won hearts of many countrymen and he will find an immortal place in the history. We now want him to accelerate pace of activities intended to clean the water of the Ganges," said Swaroopanand.
The residents are also upbeat and expect that the initiative will help their campaign for clean Ganges.
"Now we feel that this step will help in cleaning the water of the Ganges and we would get the Ganges as clean as the one in Himalayas," said Asha Aggarwal, a resident.
The Prime Minister will chair the proposed Authority and Chiefs of the states through which the river flows would be its members.
Various agencies working on different aspects of river conservation and pollution management would be brought together under the proposed authority.
Environmentalists and scientists in India are concerned as the pollution levels in the river have reached alarming proportions.
Ganga or the Ganges, which finds a mention in mythological as well as historical texts, is in a pitiable condition.
The banks of the river present an ironical picture. On the one hand religious activities like prayers, recital of hymns and fire-rituals take place. On the other, heaps of garbage lies unattended.
One of the major causes of polluting the river is the cremation of human bodies on the banks of the river, the practice of throwing bodies into the river and immersion of flowers and other articles into the Ganga after performing religious rituals.
Hindus immerse the ashes of their deceased or just leave the bodies to be taken away by the 'holy waters' to a heavenly abode.
Nearly 88 per cent of the pollution originates in 27 cities located along the banks of River Ganga and its tributaries.
Industrial effluents account for a quarter of the entire rubbish being thrown and pumped into these rivers.
Domestic and industrial pollution, combined with deforestation, use of pesticides and fertilisers and other factors, have rendered the water of River Ganga unfit for drinking.