Monday, Oct 03, 2022
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River Of No Return

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

Fetid End Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee

“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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