|Charter of 10 Demands|
GANGA STANDS FOR ALL OUR RIVERS AND WATER BODIES
HIMALAYAS STANDS FOR ALL OUR FORESTS, MOUNTAINS AND WILDLIFE
1. With the objective to make the Ganga and its tributaries free from pollution completely and permanently within the first decade of the 21st century, a high-powered committee of proven ability and moral character under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister must be formed to ensure the implementation of the Ganga Action Plan. Eminent scientists, environmentalists, and social activists of proven ability and moral character should be invited to the Committee.
2. A similar high-powered Committee should be formed under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to have a lasting solution to the problem of deforestation and destruction of wildlife in the Himalayas. Like the Ganga Action Project, a Save Himalaya Action Project should be undertaken and time-bound steps must be taken to complete both the projects by 2010. The impending catastrophe of fast receding of Himalayan glaciers has to be understood and tackled at a regional and global level. At the regional level, it must involve all Himalayan nations. India should take a major global initiative in this direction to tackle this regional and global crisis.
3.Construction, of dams and other development projects between Gangotri and Dharasu(Uttarkashi) shall cease. This, the first 125-kilometre stretch of the Bhagirathi-Ganga’ may be declared a ‘wild river’ and all steps be taken to protect it and the eco-system it supports. The river may be allowed to flow, freely, in its natural path, without obstruction. Is not crippling the holy river Ganga in Uttarakhand including the the Bhagirathi and causing great harm to her ecology and the ecology of the Himalayas by constructing dams in the earth quake prone Uttarkhand region far great a sacrifice for the production of few thousands megawatt of electricity?
4. Since Uttaranchal is the location of many important pilgrimage places, eco-friendly tourism should replace the present eco-hostile tourism. Time-bound steps for non-commercial afforestation of the Uttarakhand should be undertaken and these activities should be carried by the local people, using samplings of local plants. The Central government should provide necessary monetary assistance to Uttaranchal and other states of the Himalayan region for such activities.
5. A massive time-bound plantation programme on the banks of the river Ganga from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, along with the development of constructed wetlands for sewage treatment in major cities on the banks of the river, should be undertaken with the help of NBRI, and like-minded NGOs and local people. It would set an example for undertaking similar projects for all other great rivers in the country.
6. The maintenance of at least a minimum flow in the river Ganga is absolutely necessary, and the NRCD must monitor the flow at various points along the river and ensure necessary minimum flow throughout the year.
7. The use of highly dangerous non-biodegradable organ chlorines such as D.D.Ts and HcHs should be banned or restricted and decisive steps should be taken for the use of the other available harmless means.
8. Dumping of industrial effluents and sewage from cities and towns into rivers must be completely banned and strictly implemented. Treatment of the sewage through the pond system should be preferred wherever possible to treatment through the electricity-dependent technology.Since all our major rivers flow through more than one states, it would be the best if the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests takes the full responsibility of making and keeping all our rivers completely and permanently pollution free through time-bound steps, leaving no scope for the central and state government authorities blaming each other for the failures. The Central Government must ensure that no worker suffers without proper compensation due to the closure of industries which are found violating the pollution control laws.
9. With increasing population and rapid industrialization and urbanization, and political and bureaucratic leaders showing utter apathy towards the problem of environmental degradation and the lack of mass awareness to work as pressure groups to remedy the situation, the Supreme Court and High Courts have an important role to play in the protection of our environment. The Supreme Court should direct our Central and State Governments to take decisive time- bound steps to make the Gaga and other rivers completely and permanently free from pollution and transform one third of our lands in to forests, and should appoint a committee of experts to monitor the progress of the governmental course of actions in this direction.
10. No Lasting solution to the impending devastating ecological crisis is possible without creating mass awareness against environmental degradation, especially against pollution of the air, water and land and deforestation and destruction of wildlife. In this regard:
a) T.V. and Radio are to be persuaded to give a substantial amount of prime time to create such awareness, informing regularly about the water pollution levels of major rivers and of air pollution levels in big cities and their adverse affect on the common people.
b) National laboratories such as NEERI, ITRC, etc., must regularly monitor the pollution levels of major rivers and inform the public about the hazardous effects through various forms of mass media.
c) A comprehensive website on the Ganga and other rivers of our country should be created for networking of various organizations and people involved in the Ganga Action Plan and for creating necessary mass-awareness for saving the Ganga and other rivers of our country.
d) Environmental ethics should be taught as a part of the syllabus on ethics, both at the school as well as at the college level. Teaching environmental ethics without discussing the value and means of an ethical life would be of little significance. We must study critically the views of great religions and of great teachers and thinkers of mankind about various fundamental issues of ethics.
Protection of the Ganga, symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizing all mountains, forests and wildlife, must be accorded highest priority in our national development process. Ultimately, we must create a new paradigm of development for India based on Gandhian principles of Truth and universal non-violence. In the National Workshop on ‘Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj’ held on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti as a part of our Save Ganga Movement at Gandhi Darshan Samiti, Rajghat, Delhi on 1st and 2nd October 2004, the above Ten Demands were unanimously accepted to be the Ten Commandments for establishing in our country a culture of development based on the principle of non-violence which constitute the base of all ethics.
The charter of Ten Demands was accepted in totality by Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on 12th March 2009 when a delegation consisting Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, H.H Swami Tejomayanandji, Shri M.C Mehta, H.H. Swami Nikhilanandji, Revered Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Smt Rama Rauta met him at his residence and requested him to implement all our Charter of 10 Demands.
Smt Rama Rauta,
Convener, Save Ganga Movement
President, National Women’s Organization, Pune