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As Banaras Has its ‘Maja Aawat Ho’ Moment, Ganga Gasps for Breath

A popular Banarasi variant of a story in which a jackal is stung by a scorpion when the four-legged intruder seeks to greedily eat the ripe mangoes in an orchard, goes like this:

Phir phir khaibe
Par khet na jaibe,
Khet pe jaibe
To amua na khaibe

Generous with their ready wit and sterling one-liners, Banarasis double up in pejorative laughter at this Aesop’s fable-like story, which has unmistakable similarity with what they say is their VIP parliamentary representative Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current predicament

Banaras ke log to paan khaa ke mazey le rahein hain (People of Banaras are eating paan and enjoying),” says Dr Vijaya Kumar Mishra, Professor of Neurology at the Institute of Medical Sciences under the Banaras Hindu University, who also runs the Swachh Ganga Research Laboratory at Tulsi Ghat on the north bank of the Ganges.

A blackboard outside the sanitised laboratory, with its glass beakers, test tubes and electronic gadgets, presents alarming statistics: The water quality of the Ganga on 3 February reached critical levels, in which the reading for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) stood at 6.4 mg/dl, whereas the permissible limit is 3 mg/dl and the presence of fecal matter was 82,000 per 100 ml.

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