How Is the Ganges River Used by Humans?

Jon Rawlinson/CC-BY 2.0

Humans use the Ganges River for many different things including bathing, drinking and irrigation. Due to heavy pollution, it has become a health hazard to bathe in or drink the water from the river. However there are people who ignore the warnings and use the river regardless of potential health issues.

The Ganges River starts in the Himalayan Mountains, on the south side near the border of Tibet. It is 1,560 miles long and the river basin is one of the most populated in the world. It flows through approximately 100 cities and towns, which means there are thousands of people using the river on a daily basis.

Many fish inhabit the river, and those living nearby are known to eat the animals as a part of their diet. Due to the river’s pollution, this practice is not encouraged because the fish can be contaminated. There is also a religious significance to the Ganges, and those of the Hindu religion revere it as a holy river. Twice a year there is a religious bathing ceremony in the river’s waters that is believed to wash away one’s sins. One of the reasons the Ganges River has become so polluted is because Hindus scatter the ashes of their deceased into the river, believing this will take them to paradise.