Activists of 146 organisations have started a campaign to clean the River Ganges. The movement is gathering momentum at a rapid pace.
The campaigners said they wanted people to join the effort to save the river.
"We are not depending on the government for this campaign, but it hinges on the support of the inhabitants of towns situated on the bank of Ganges. When the people of the country come out for this cause, the government and its leaders will be forced to be accountable for the cause," claimed Jitendra, the General Secretary of the Ganga Mahasabha, a voluntary organisation.
"River Ganga gives us salvation and purifies us. This effort to rid it of pollution is a Himalayan one," said Indresh Kumar, another member of the Ganga Mahasabha.
The principal sources of pollution are domestic and industrial wastes. Conservative estimates put the effluents flowing into Ganges at 1.7 billion litres each day, out of which 1.4 billion litres is untreated.
Nearly 88 per cent of the pollution originates in the 27 cities that are located along the river's banks and the banks of its tributaries.
Domestic and industrial pollution, combined with deforestation, the use of pesticides and fertilisers and other factors, have rendered the waters of the Ganges unfit for consumption or any other use.
Environmentalists say, one of the major causes of river pollution is the cremation of Hindus on its banks and the practice of immersing flowers and other rubbish after religious rituals.
According to a recent official report, only 39 percent of the primary target of the Ganga Action Plan, which the Central Government had started in 1985, has been met so far.
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was originated from the personal intervention and interest of the late Prime Minster Indira Gandhi, who requested a comprehensive survey of the situation in 1979.
After five years, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published two comprehensive reports, which formed the base from which the action plan to clean up the Ganga, was developed.