See photos of the devastating pollution in India's holy Ganges River
India's Ganges River is a paradox: The mighty river's tributaries are cool, Himalayan-glacier fed springs. But where the river meets Indian subcontinent's highly populated cities, and pours out into the Bay of Bengal, the water goes from crystal clear to trash-and sewage-infested sludge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed $3 billion in 2015 to clean up the waterway that provides drinking water for 400 million people - and is revered as a place of worship for over a billion Hindus - but a recent audit found that less than a quarter of those funds have actually been used to help the situation, according to Reuters.
And the Ganges, or the Ganga Mata (Mother Ganges) as it's called by India's devout, is in bad shape. Untreated sewage flows directly into the river where people cook, bathe, and perform burial rites for the recently-deceased. Factories and farms from industries as varied as leather tanning to shipbuilding line the river's banks, dumping dangerous chemicals into the river.
Modi's government set a target to improve the river's water quality by the beginning of 2018 - but it looks like that goal won't be met.
We've rounded up some of the most startling images of the river's pollution below:
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