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The World Bank has agreed to loan India $1 billion to help clean the Ganges river, sacred to hundred of millions of Hindus and also one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

The loan to clean up the 1,550-mile (2,490-kilometer) river will be spread over the next five years, he said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Earlier this year the Indian government set up a National Ganga River Basin Authority as part of a plan to ensure that by 2020 no untreated sewage or effluents will be discharged into the river. The government estimates that nearly $4 billion will be required to meet the target.

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