Giulio di Sturco won a 2014 Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography for his project Ganges: Death of a River. The Ganges provides sustenance and livelihood for millions of people, and yet it is one of the most polluted waterways in the world. Di Sturco traveled the length of the river in India, and, after winning the grant, completed the project by documenting the Ganges in Bangladesh and the Sundarbans delta. Here, he reflects on the experience:
I first traveled north from where the Ganges enters into Bangladesh from India. I was told that, because of the construction of the Farakka Dam the water on the Bangladeshi side is drying up. To add to this, the shift in seasons causes small char islands to emerge, where the phenomenon of sand grabbing occurs. Thousands of people in huge boats conduct massive operations along the Ganges, where sand is lifted from the bed of the river and transported all over the country for construction. It is an illegal trade and it appears to be getting bigger.
I spent a week in Dhaka documenting 7km of the river that was completely dead. Nothing was alive in the water, mainly due to heavy pollution and chemical waste from the leather factories. I cannot recall visiting any part of the river in either country that I could visibly see to be clean or in its natural state without negative interference from man. Not once did I speak to someone who has had their quality of life improved by interference to the river. A lot of factories have been built creating a lot of jobs, but these industries also poisoned the waters, killing off most life forms and vegetation around it. From what I saw throughout the years I feel there is more bad than good.