OzGREEN programs connect youth with communities to become leaders of innovative sustainable social change

Day 2- Varanasi

Suffering jetlag, I of course woke up at 4.00am (9:30-10.00 Australian time). A little cold and a little uncomfortable, I lay in bed listening to the wonderful bells and singing and chanting sounds coming from the Ghats below me. 
Eventually Ali led me to the balcony where, for the first time of many more to come, I was struck by the breathtaking beauty of the sun rising over the Ganga. 
I was standing next to one of the most important rivers in the world. It was magnificent. 
A man bathed just below my balcony- praising his Mother Ganga. While appreciating the significance of the river, I felt physically ill and remembered what I had heard in a meeting the night before- "let's feel the pain of Ganga. Let us show the pain of Ganga to the world". In that moment, I could feel the pain of the Ganga. 
So many ecosystems rely on the river for life. No river, no life. 
Later on that morning, Ali and I visited the lab, it was there that the severity of Ganga's situation was solidified once again for me. 
When testing the water, we are looking for temperature, turbidity, biochemical oxygen demand/dissolved oxygen and the number faecalcoliform colonies per 100ml. Faecalcoliform is bacteria which comes from the intestines of warm blooded mammals. On its own, it is not harmful. However the levels of cp/100ml indicate the presence of harmful pathogens and bacteria. 
In Australia the levels of faecalcoliform must be, at most:
0 for drinking
150 bathing 
1000 boating 
In India the level is 500 for bathing. 
The water of the Ganga, which is tested twice a week by Sankat Mochan Foundation, has consistently had levels of faecalcoliform from 40, 000 to 60, 000. 
However, since a manor drain was redirected, out of public view, upstream we have been recording levels of faecalcoliform at 100, 000. 
These are detrimental and heart breaking statistics; ones which no one should over look.