NEW DELHI: Indian scientists have validated the scientific basis of the mysterious ‘special power’ of the water of Ganga, which Hindus consider as “Brahm Dravya” or divine elixir.
Microbiologists from the Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), who had studied the special characteristics of Ganges water have found, for the first time, several Bacteriophages, which keeps it non-putrefying. Bacteriophage is a type of virus that eats bacteria.
This resolves the mystery for the self-purifying properties of Ganga water.
“Analysis of the fresh water sedimentary metagenome-viromes revealed that the holy river Ganges not only house novel viromes, but also include unexplored double stranded DNA viruses,” The Indian Science Journal quotes Dr. Shanmugam Mayilraj, Senior Principal Scientist at the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, as saying.
It is for the first time, scientists have come across new viruses.
Dr. Mayilraj said, the fresh water sediments from the Ganges house several novel viruses, which were never reported earlier. These bacteriophages are active against certain clinical isolates, or viral strains and can be used against multi-drug resistant or MDR infections.
Dr. Mayilraj and his team has identified 20-25 interesting viruses, which can be used for treatment of tuberculosis (Mycobacterium), typhoid (Salmonella), pneumonia (Klebsiella and Acinetobactor), cholera (Vibrio), dysentery (Shigella), diarrhoea (Aeromonoas) meningitis (Cronobacter), etc.
“Our findings revealed variety of different bacteriophages, which have specific bactericidal characteristics,” Dr. S. Mayilraj told Indian Science Journal. “Current analysis showed that the water was enriched with several strains of bacterial groups like Oscillatoriphycudeae, Flavobacteria, Sphingobacteria, a-proteobacteria, ß-proteobacteria, ?-proteobacteria and Nostocophycideae, whereas sediment was enriched with ß-proteobacteria, ?-proteobacteria, a-proteobacteria, Clostridia, Actinobacteria, Sphingobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria.”
The IMTECH team has already collected samples, during the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period from the Haridwar to Varanasi stretch of the Ganges, which is highly polluted. They would now collect water samples from Yamuna and Narmada rivers for a comparative study to see, how water in the Ganges is different.
The study was commissioned by federal Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry, headed by Kum. Uma Bharati in November, 2014. Besides IMTECH, Nagpur-based National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), National Botanical Research Institute, Indian Institute Toxicology Research and Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, all in Lucknow are part the project. The consolidated report of all the Labs involved in the current study would be submitted to the government by December 2016.
Several scientists in the past – Indian and international, have found certain clinical properties of Ganga water, but it is for the credit of microbiologists of IMTECH to identify them.
The River Ganges has a special place for devout Hindus, who consider it sacred and personification of Goddess Ganga. They believe a dip in the holy river on certain days putrefy them of their sins and facilitates Moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death, as water of Ganga is considered very pure