Shortly after Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014, he pledged to spearhead an effort to clean up the Ganges, building more treatment plants and moving more than 400 tanneries away from the river. But that estimated $3 billion cleanup plan has faltered.
The continued degradation of the Ganges inspires sadness among many who revere it. Ashok Kumar, 66, a priest from Mirzapur, a brass ware hub near the river, tells Reuters, “I feel sad about what’s happening around us. The Ganges is getting dirty day by day but nobody cares. Not even its children . ….The Ganges is our mother, there won’t be any future if she dies.”
Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui traveled along the sprawling course of the Ganges, exploring the conditions that have led some people to say that the storied river is dying. Here’s some of what he saw.