Sunday, July 12, 2009
Economic benefits of the river
Three towns, holy to Hinduism – Haridwar, Allahabad, and Varanasi -attract thousands of pilgrims to its waters benefiting the tourism industry. Hindu pilgrims arrive at these three towns to take a dip in the Ganges, which is believed to cleanse oneself of sins and help attain salvation. The rapids of the Ganges are also popular river rafting areas, attracting hundreds of adventure seekers in the summer months.The presence of swamps and lakes provide a rich growing area for crops such as legumes, chillies, mustard, sesame, sugarcane, and jute.Before the 19th century much of the Ganges was navigable but this declined with the construction of railroads and the increasing use of water for irrigation. West Bengal and Bangladesh still use the waterways to transport jute, tea, grain and other agricultural products. The hydroelectric potential of the Ganges is 13 million kilowatts, two fifths of which lies in India and the rest in Nepal and this reduces the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity.