Coordinates: 25°18′N 83°01′E / 25.30°N 83.01°E / 25.30; 83.01 The Ganges (/ˈɡændʒiːz/ GAN-jeez), or Ganga (Hindustani: [ˈɡəŋɡaː]), is a trans-boundary river of the Indian subcontinent which flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India. After entering West Bengal, it divides into two rivers: the Hooghly and the Padma River. The Hooghly, or Adi Ganga, flows through several districts of West Bengal and into the Bay of Bengal near Sagar Island. The other, the Padma, also flows into and through Bangladesh, and joins the Meghna river which ultimately empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is one of the most sacred rivers to Hindus. It is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshipped in Hinduism and personified as the goddess Gaṅgā. It has also been important historically, with many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Kannauj, Kampilya, Kanpur, Kara, Prayag or Allahabad, Kashi, Pataliputra or Patna, Hajipur, Munger, Bhagalpur, Baranagar, Murshidabad, Baharampur, Nabadwip, Saptagram and Kolkata) located on its banks. The Ganges is highly polluted. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. The Ganges is a major source of global ocean plastic pollution. The levels of fecal coliform bacteria from human waste in the waters of the river near Varanasi are more than 100 times the Indian government's official limit. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to rampant corruption, lack of will on behalf of the government and its bureaucracy, lack of technical expertise, poor environmental planning, and lack of support from religious authorities.
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