The Save Ganga Movement of India has called for a law protecting river rights, ensuring (a) policy of zero discharge into the rivers, (b) policy of maintenance of adequate environmental flow in the rivers and (c) policy of protection of the active floodplains of the rivers.In a message issued on October 02, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi the Save Ganga Movement said, ‘the saving our national river mother Ganga would be a major step in the direction to save all our other great river mothers which are also in the process of slow death.’
‘We must realize that rejuvenating and preserving our national river mother Ganga and our other great river mothers and their sources, our great mountains and forests, the natural source/ store-house of pure air, water and soil, which are in the process of slow death, is absolutely necessary to ensure lasting water, food, air¬ and health security to our masses,’ the message said’. Excerpts:
‘Message of Save Ganga Movement for Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd October 2018
We must realize that rejuvenating and preserving our national river mother Ganga and our other great river mothers and their sources, our great mountains and forests, the natural source/ store-house of pure air, water and soil, which are in the process of slow death, is absolutely necessary to ensure lasting water, food, air¬ and health security to our masses, and saving our national river mother Ganga would be a major step in the direction to save all our other great river mothers which are also in the process of slow death. Since our rivers, forests and mountains will remain always invaluable for us, we must take time-bound decisive steps to make all our rivers completely and permanently free from pollution with adequate environment flow and transform one-third of our land into forests.
‘As soon as possible:
a. We must take necessary steps to declare the Ganga constitutionally as our National River with statutory provisions that ensure due respect and protection to her, considering her National River status.
b. We must get passed in the Parliament ‘The Ganga Act’ prepared by Justice Giridhar Malaviyaji’s Committee.
c. We must take decisive time-bound course of actions` to ensure an adequate environmental flow of natural freshwater
with sediments on the Ganga bed throughout the year, throughout the stretch of the river, to begin with at least up to Varanasi, not only to protect and preserve her ecology but also to meet the basic water needs of the habitations on her banks, and restore the unique health-promoting bactericidal, non-putrefying, self-purifying qualities of Gangajal (the water of Ganga). We must accept and implement the policy maintenance of Adequate Environmental Flow in the rivers throughout the country.
d. Since our rivers are the source of drinking water for crores of our common people and also for the animals and STPs cannot convert sewage into potable water, we must accept and implement the policy of zero discharge into the rivers throughout the country.
e. Treatment of the sewage through “Pond System and Plant-Based Management of Sewage and Waste Treatment” and using the nutrient-rich treated wastewater for organic farming, which is the cheapest and durable and need least management and electricity, should be preferred wherever possible.
f. A massive time-bound fruit/ medicinal plant/ tree plantation programme on the banks of the river Ganga from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, ensuring a substantial profit to the farmers, along with the development of constructed wetlands for sewage treatment in major cities on the banks of the river wherever possible should be undertaken.
g. Construction of permanent structures for residential, commercial or industrial purposes and eco-hostile mining of sands and gravels in the active floodplains of a river must be prohibited throughout the country. A floodplain helps in flood mitigation, helps a river to recharge aquifers and groundwater sources and to improve the fertility of farmland through the river’s silt, and provides suitable habitats for specialized plants and animals, etc.
h. We must declare the highly earthquake-prone, eco-fragile and ecologically, aesthetically and religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region of the Ganga Basin “Ecologically Fragile and a Sanctuary for Himalayan Flora and Fauna”, and its rivers “wild rivers” and take all the necessary steps to protect them and the natural ecosystems they support.
i. We must also declare this religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region to be our national Spiritual Heritage Zone and must not allow any eco-hostile tourism in the Name of Tirtha Yatra. The proposed 900km All-Weather Char Dham Yatra Highway Development Project is very likely to affect the Himalayan region of the Ganga Basin very badly if absolute care is not taken to make it absolutely eco-friendly and spirituality-friendly.
j. The National Council for River Ganga (NCRG) which has replaced The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) must have, like NGRBA, adequate number of expert members (Ganga-Activists & Scientists) of proven good character with due substantial role both at the context of policy making as well as at the context of their implementation: at present it has only central and state Bureaucrats and politicians in the government as its members and the management of affairs related to the Ganga continues to be handled by the central and state governmental bureaucracies in the same manner as before the formation of NGRBA.
k. Taking into account the important role rivers play to meet various water requirements of the masses and the danger to their life they are facing at present from various eco-hostile forces of development, we must have a law protecting River Rights, ensuring throughout the country (a) Policy of Zero Discharge into the Rivers, (b) Policy of Maintenance of Adequate Environmental Flow in the Rivers and (c) Policy of Protection of the Active Flood Plains of the Rivers.
‘We have now the necessary wealth, knowledge, skill and a holistic scientific National Ganga Basin Management Plan (NGRBMP) prepared by the Consortium of 7IITs to save and rejuvenate our national river mother Ganga. It is our firm conviction that if there is political will and moral power, it is possible to make mother Ganga Aviral & Nirmal by 2019, the 150th Birthday Year of Mahatma Gandhi, and rejuvenate it by 2022, the 75th year of our country’s Independence. Mother Nature will not forgive us if we fail to save our national river mother Ganga, the cradle of our living great ancient civilization, and which constitute the lifeline of nearly 40 % of our country’s population and considered to be divine mother by crores of our people; and surely our future generations will condemn and curse us.
‘In the long run, we must replace the present fundamentally unspiritual and greed for wealth and lust for luxuries based, extremely eco-hostile, inherently unsustainable, out-and-out consumerist global culture of development of modern civilization, by a Gandhian alternative, which essentially involves retelling the basic ethics of our great living ancient civilization as well as of all great religions in the context of our technological age, and provides the form and content of a sustainable, equitable, loving and caring non-violent culture of development, which is the surest and perhaps the only solution to our impending catastrophic global ecological crisis, including the problem of Global Warming and Climate Change, along with the present all pervasive deep-rooted moral and spiritual crisis. The great seers of our Indian civilization as well as of various great religions would agree with the Gandhian view that the modern Civilization’s culture of having unlimited desires for wealth and luxuries and going to the ends of the earth with the help of science and technology causing greater and greater irreparable harm to earth’s life-& health-sustaining natural systems in search of their satisfaction is satanic and suicidal. With the help of soul force, let us build a new India rejuvenating and preserving our great ancient civilization of Truth and non-violence and establish a secular kingdom of enlightened spiritual righteousness (Rama Rajya, Kingdom of God) in the context of our present technological age and save India and through it the world at large from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with the present all pervasive deep-rooted moral and spiritual crisis. Under the spell of the glamour of the modern civilization, which Mahatma Gandhi called a Nine Days Wonder, let us not become modern Dhrtarastras.
‘Unfortunately, under the spell of the glamour of the modern civilization, our leaders are failing to see what Mahatma Gandhi could see clearly long time back: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not for every man’s greed”; “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after that manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom (England) is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts”, (Harijan, 20-12-1928, p. 328.) Gandhiji was once asked if he expected independent India to attain the same standard of living as Britain. Gandhiji rightly replied, “It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require!” ’
Smt Rama Rauta
President, National Women’s Organization, Pune
Founder& Convener, Save Ganga Movement
Expert Member, Expert Advisory Committee, Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of WR, RD&GR, GOI
Former Expert Member, National Ganga River Basin Authority, Govt. of India
Source: ‘rama k rauta’ firstname.lastname@example.org [WaterWatch] WaterWatch@yahoogroups.com>