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By Johnny Wood

The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.

The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.

Here are some of the challenges the river faces.

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Taking a stand for environmental justice and protecting natural resources is a dangerous pursuit. A new report from the UK-based NGO Global Witness showed that 164 environmentalists worldwide were killed for their activism in 2018. That averages to just over three murders per week. And that's an underestimation.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Indian government on Monday said its native wild tiger population has grown by more than 30% in four years thanks to bold conservation efforts.

The number of tigers in the wild rose to 2,967, up from 2,226 in 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the increase as a "historic achievement."

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Nepali residents look at floodwaters after the Balkhu River overflowed following monsoon rains at the Kalanki area of Kathmandu on July 12. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP / Getty Images

Monsoon flooding in India, Nepal and the surrounding region has killed at least 90 and displaced more than one million.

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People in Chennai gather near the metro water supply tanker to collect the water for their daily usage on June 29. Atul Loke / Getty Images

A special train loaded with 2.5 million liters (approximately 660,000 gallons) of water reached the parched Indian city of Chennai Friday, The Times of India reported. The water was sent to relieve India's sixth-largest city, which is running out of water due to lack of rain.

The train left the station in Jolarpet around 7:10 a.m and arrived in Chennai around noon, where it was greeted by state ministers.

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In this photo taken on June 20, Indian worker carry the last bit of water from a small pond in the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. ARUN SANKAR / AFP / Getty Images

As much of India bakes in a deadly heat wave, the country's sixth largest city is running out of water, Time reported Thursday.

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In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

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Volunteers distribute water during one of India's most intense heat waves. NARINDER NANU / AFP / Getty Images

Four elderly pilgrims died while riding in a non-air-conditioned train car as India's deadly heat wave continues, The Times of India reported Tuesday.

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A solar power plant in the state of Telangana, India. Thomas Lloyd Group / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

India needs power. Good thing it's moving away from coal and honoring its commitment to use renewables. And now, for the first time, India's 2018 investment in solar power outpaced coal, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

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Brick factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which is the world's most polluted country on average, according to a new report. Andre Vogelaere / Moment Open / Getty Images

The latest data on the world's most polluted cities is out, and confirms that Asia has a major crisis on its hands when it comes to air pollution.

The report, released by Greenpeace and software company IQAir AirVisual, shows that 22 of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in India. Five are in China, two in Pakistan and one is the capital of Bangladesh: Dhaka.

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The Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is a mosaic of primary, old-growth forest and plantations. Vignesh Kamath

By Shreya Dasgupta

Eucalyptus plantations in southern India that were abandoned and left to recover for nearly 40 years are still far from resembling the primary forest surrounding them, a new study has found. This, researchers say, suggests that once disturbed for long, forests may never bounce back to their original forms.

In India, eucalyptus has often been the tree of choice when it comes to restoring degraded forests: it grows quickly, is hardy, and requires little care. But can these plantations, when left alone and allowed to regenerate, grow into the forests they replaced?

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