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Dying Waters

River Of No Return

Adi Ganga, once carrier of the Ganga, now a neglected dribble, seems to be beyond repair

River Of No Return
Fetid End | Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
A polluted Adi Ganga flows into the Hooghly in Calcutta
River Of No Return
outlookindia.com
2017-07-22T10:27:25+05:30

“Boats ferrying merchandise from the Bay of Bengal used to anchor at this port,” directing his finger towards a stagnant, reeking sewer that cuts through Garia, a suburb 14 km south of Calcutta, 72-year-old Anath Taran Ghosal sighs. “After all, this is the Adi (meaning ‘ancient’) Ganga”.

It is a little known fact that the part of the Ganga that flows through Bengal, over which hangs the iconic Howrah Bri­dge, is not the river’s original course. The once-main channel of the ancient Bhagirathi, as the Bengal part of the Ganga is called, is today a stinky, sooty, black gutter that circles along the outer limits of the city for 75 kms, eventually belching out a dark mass of polluted water into the Hooghly—the above-mentioned course of the Ganga that flows by Calcu­tta—at a point called Dahi Ghat.

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