Scientist: Valmik Thapar
India’s Most Sacred RiverHere’s a program from our archives.Ambience: Prayer/bathing on the GangesWe’re on the banks of India’s Ganges river where, for thousands of years, worshipers have come to bathe in and honor the sacred waters. But over the years, the Ganges has become increasingly polluted. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Valmik Thapar is with the World Conservation Union.Thapar: The Ganges is the most important river in India. It’s the most sacred river. People flock in the hundreds of thousands and millions to the Ganges. Bathing in the Ganges purifies the soul. But the tragedy is that being one of our most sacred rivers it’s become also the most polluted river.As a result of deforestation and industrial waste, many of the animals that live along the Ganges have experienced a loss of habitat and there is little of the river that remains clean.Thapar: Probably one of the most pure areas where it’s relatively clean is still just before it comes to the plains. And of course at the source of the Ganges up in the Himalayas. But otherwise most of this river and the incredible wildlife that used to exist and the forests around it– because it was really fertile and you still have some crocodiles and gorillas who nest on the banks, but more and more all that is going as the use of this river has become so phenomenal. I think the Ganges envelops the psyche of a huge population of Hindu people in India and it will continue to do so. Our job is to keep it as clean as we can and to make sure that the forests that existed around it come back because without that it’s very difficult for this river to remain reasonably clean.We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.