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09/06/2013

Is the Ganges pure or poisoned? The Water Brothers explore the paradox

Mela

A view of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, where millions took a bath in the Ganges earlier this year. (Photo courtesy: S.K. Films)

Much has been written and said about the Ganges. The trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh, it is the most sacred river to the Hindus, is worshipped as a goddess and it is also the lifeline for the millions of people who live near its banks and depend on it.

The Ganges is also considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

The Water Brothers, Tyler and Alex Mifflin, hosts of a popular show on TVO that tackles water-related issues around the world, travelled to India’s Kumbh Mela earlier this year to explore this paradox, how a river can be both pure and poisoned.

They made many stops along the river, including one at the sacred city of Allahabad, the site of the Maha Kumbh Mela earlier in 2013 where millions of pilgrims and visitors took a holy bath in the river considered sacred, “pure” body of water, yet is polluted from human and industrial waste.

What was their journey like? What did they uncover about the Ganges?

It’s all revealed in season 2’s first episode titled The Pure and the Poisoned. It airs on Sept. 10.

The first season of The Water Brothers won international acclaim, including the BBC Earth Panda Award for Best Newcomer at U.K.’s 2012 Wildscreen Festival, considered the Oscars of natural history filmmaking.

Earlier in the summer, the brothers tracked the presence and the danger of micro plastics in the Great Lakes.  

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star’s environment reporter. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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