India “wastes” over a billion dollars trying to clean holy river

Various Asia News - November 3rd, 2012
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India’s supreme court has set official a one week deadline to explain what has happened to almost 2 billion dollars of public money spent trying to clean one of the country’s most holy rivers.

The Yamuna, which flows from a glacier in the Himalayas, past the Taj Mahal and through Delhi on its way to join the Ganges at Allahabad, is one of the most polluted in the world. At some points, reports The Times, its level of faecal bacteria is 10,000 times more than what is considered safe for bathing.

Hindus worship the river as a ‘goddess’ and routinely protest to authorities about the lack of clean-up action. Now the Supreme Court has stepped further into the waters at a hearing investigating the almost $2 billion that has been spent over 18 years since their first intervention in 1994.

“Where has all this money gone? We don’t see any improvement in the water of the river. What is the use of this money?” Justices Swatanter Kumar and Madan B. Lokur demanded at the hearing this week.

There is much infighting and disagreement between the different regions the river flows through. Delhi blames areas upstream for limiting the flow and those downstream blame the capital for its toxic deposits.

It is thought that water-borne diseases kill up to half a million children every year in India.