Water plays an important role in Indian culture. Nevertheless, many of the country’s most sacred rivers—such as the Ganges, Yamuna, and Godavari—are heavily polluted from factory waste, agricultural runoff, and untreated sewage. Much of India lacks basic water and sanitation infrastructure, forcing tens of millions of Indians to forage daily for water and toilets. NGOs, the government, and business are making progress, but much remains to be done. Cleveland, Ohio-based Michael McElroy became interested in the issue after traveling to the country in 2010 on a photo assignment. “My attention quickly shifted when I saw water sources drying up, water pollution, and the struggle people went through every day to get clean water,” says McElroy. He returned to India in 2011 and 2012 to take these photographs. McElroy’s work has been published in The New York Times, Stern, Mother Jones, The Wall Street Journal, and Time.
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