NATIONAL

Multi-lab effort to study properties of Ganga’s waters

It is observed that water samples closer to Gangotri do not putrefy, says the CSIR.— File Photo: K. R. Deepak  

A multi-lab effort by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, and the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech, Chandigarh) is studying the possible medicinal properties of the waters of the Ganga. Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research — the apex body for all the labs — Dr. Girish Sahni said: “What is observed is that water samples closer to the source (Gangotri) do not putrefy.” He added that a part of the study is to understand why, and investigate the ecosystem of microbes and bacterial life in the river.

Bacteriophages

One hypothesis is that the waters of the river contain bacteriophages — viruses that replicate within bacteria and are toxic to them. The IMTech would study these phages for their antimicrobial properties and look at whether these could be translated into effective drugs in future.

At a press briefing last week, Union Minister for Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti, said traditional knowledge and certain scientific studies have established certain ‘unique’ properties of the river.

“This is not just puranic wisdom. Brahmadravya (divine liquid) is a property attached to the river from texts such as Akbarnama and contemporary scientists too,” said Ms Bharti.

“So it’s actually a fairly involved project and with potentially practical applications,” said Dr. Sahni.