India offers Ganges holy water by post

The river Ganges at Rishikesh Image copyright iStock
Image caption Water will be bottled at Rishikesh, a popular spot for yoga enthusiasts

India's national postal service is to deliver holy water from the River Ganges through the mail.

The water, known as Gangajal, will be bottled at two spots along the river - its source at Gangotri and the popular pilgrim town of Rishikesh - and sold in all post offices across the country, the Zee News website reports. Customers can also choose to have it delivered straight to their front doors. Government-run India Post says people can place orders for the water online. Those who opt for bottles from Rishikesh will pay 15 rupees ($0.22; 17p) for 200ml, while Gangotri's water is on sale at 25 rupees for the same size.

The river is sacred to Hindus who worship it as "Mother Ganges", but it has also become badly polluted with industrial waste, sewage and dead bodies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a huge clean-up operation, but India's environment watchdog said in January that little had changed so far.

Small businesses operating close to the river point out they've been bottling and selling its water locally for years, but admit that the post office's plan is enormous by comparison. Businessman Subrata Khan says that initially his company filtered the water to make it "crystal clear", but that led to a dip in sales. "We understood that people were failing to relate with clean Gangajal," he tells The Times of India website. "So we stopped filtering it and it worked wonders."

Image copyright KBC News Katihar
Image caption The bottles can either be bought online or from post offices nationwide

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