|Save Ganga Movement|
SAVE GANGA MOVEMENT
A GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENT MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT
Gandhi symbolizes a culture of Truth and non-violence, i.e. a culture of pursuit of ethical perfection as the ultimate goal of life and pursuit of selfless ethical life of universal love as its means; the Ganga, symbolizes all rivers and water bodies; and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizes all mountains, forests and wildlife.
Smt Rama Rauta founded the Save Ganga Movement in 1998 with a seminar on 'Ganga aur Humara daayitva' at Kanpur understanding the need of a nationwide collective movement to the cause and also a need for a holistic solution to the various issues faced by the river. She conceptualised the movement with Gandhian ideology and soon this movement was supported or joined by various eminent Gandhians, religious leaders from various faiths, legal experts , eminent political leaders and various scientific organisations such as IIT, CSIR labs such as NEERI, NBRI, ITRC and many like-minded NGOs. A holistic roadmap detailing short-term and long-term solution to the impending ecological crisis drafted by the continuous churning of the intellectuals associated with this movement has been a reference guide to the Governments working towards making the Ganga "Aviral " and "Nirmal".
FOUNDER AND CONVENER:
Smt Rama Rauta
Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee
ORGANIZATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH SAVE GANGA MOVEMENT
-CHINMAYA MISSION, MUMBAI, DELH
-RAMAMANI BKS IYENGAR YOGA INSTITUTE, PUNE
-M.C. MEHTA ENVIRONMENTAL FOUNDATION, NEW DELHI
-GANDHI SMIRITI AND DARSHAN SAMITI, NEW DELHI
-ARCHBISHOP HOUSE, NEW DELHI
-GUILD OF SERVICES, NEW DELHI
-AHIMSA VISHWA BHARTI, NEW DELHI
KHADI &VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION GRAMODYOG MUMBAI
-SANKAT MOCHAN FOUNDATION, VARANASI
-SADHU VASWANI MISSION, PUNE
-NAVJIVAN PUBLISHING HOUSE, AHEMDABAD
-NATIONAL BOTANICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (C.S.I.R), LUCKNOW
-INDUSTRIAL TOXICOLOGY RESEARCH CENTRE (C.S.I.R), LUCKNOW
-NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING RESEARCH INSTITUTE (C.S.I.R), NAGPUR
-ART OF LIVING, BANGLORE
-GANDHI NATIONAL MEMORIAL SOCIETY, AGAKHAN PALACE,PUNE
-ALL INDIA IMAM ORGANIZATION, DELHI, GUJRAT
-ISCKON, MUMBAI, PUNE
-BHARTI VIDYA BHAWaN, MUMBAI
-GAYTRI PARIVAR, SHANTIKUNJ, HARIDWAR
-KABIR PEACE MISSION, LUCKNOW
-PARMARTH NIKETAN, RISHIKESH
-SRI CHITANYA PREMA SAMSTHANA, VRINDAVAN
-MOKSHADA, NEW DELHI
-TERI, NEW DELHI
-SHRI MAAN MANDIR SEWA SANSTHAN TRUST, BARSANA, U.P
-BANDHUA MUKTI MORCHA, NEW DELHI
-GANGA AVHAAN, UTTARKASHI
-PRAJAPITA BRAHMAKUMARIS, MOUNT ABU,
-NATIONAL YOUTH PROJECT, NEW DELHI
-BAHAI LOTUS TEMPLE, NEW DELHI
-WWF, NEW DELHI
A NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT
The utility, aesthetic and religious value of the natural ecology of the Ganga & of the Himalaya is invaluable. Ganga, the cradle of the Indian civilization, is considered to be the holiest river by crores of Indians. It is the lifeline of crores of people of our subcontinent; about 47 per cent of the total irrigated area in the country is located in its basin in its 2525 km. stretch. Yet it is greatly agonizing, anguishing and alarming to see that year after year we are doing more and more harm to the natural forests and wildlife of the Himalayas, and in spite of our launching the Ganga Action Plan in 1985 and spending hundreds of crores of rupees for this purpose, the pollution levels of the mighty Ganga continues to be alarmingly high, even though we know that it is the lifeline of crores of our people and crores of our people consider her to be their divine mother and that the polluted water directly or indirectly causes health hazards like cancer, respiratory diseases, renal failure and much other water born or water related diseases. According to UNDP Human Development Report 1998, there are more than 29 cities, 70 towns and thousands of villages located on the banks of the river, depositing every year more than 13 billion liters of sewage directly into it. Another 260 million liters of industrial wastes are added to this by hundreds of factories along the riverbanks. Besides, to this, are added the run off from more than 6 million tonnes of chemical fertilisers and more 9000 tonnes of chemical pesticides.
Present paradigms of development need to be reviewed, which have been causing perpetual harm to our life-sustaining natural systems. All great religions, explicitly or implicitly, accept the natural eco-systems which sustain healthy life and provide various essentials of life freely to masses to be sacred and invaluable. We must not allow our development activities to deprive the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting freely since ages from the Himalayas and from the Ganga and its tributaries. We must not allow, in the name of development, our greed for wealth and lust for luxuries to deprive the masses the invaluable essentials of life such as pure air, water, sun light, natural manure, medicinal plants, etc. which they have been getting freely from nature since ages. Surely, our country has moral and spiritual resources to provide to the world the example of a culture of non-violence and Truth (i.e. the true ultimate meaning of life) which can meet the challenges of the present technological age. (For Gandhiji's view on Truth and non-violence, please see the Note entitled " Gandhiji on Truth and non-violence".) Our future generations will condemn and curse us if we fail to take now the right steps in the direction of preventing the impending catastrophic ecological crisis in the twenty first century, which otherwise can have devastating implications for them.
Sixty years ago we achieved Independence as a result of the great non-violent struggle under the leadership of Gandhiji, one of the greatest apostles of non-violence. A non-violent society through non-violent means was the explicit ideal of our freedom struggle. It is very sad to see that today the modern civilization, which Gandhiji denounced to be a soulless civilisation of lust for pleasure and wealth, is spreading like a wildfire throughout the country. While various traditional major forms of violence, such as injustice to women, caste and class injustice, communalism, exploitation of rural masses by the urban still continue to exist, a potentially much greater kind of violence in the form of pollution and destruction of forests and wildlife is rapidly growing in the name of development.
According to the report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published on 20th March 2007, apart from the Ganga, the Indus, Nile, and Yangtze are among the 10 most endangered rivers of the world, that are lifeline of billions of people. Global warming could cause more hunger in poor countries and extinction of many animal and plant species and melt most glaciers of the Himalayas, which is the source of the Ganga, the Indus and many other great rivers, by the 2030s, according to a draft UN report published on 6th April, 2007.
Philosophy of the Movement
In the beginning of twentieth century, Gandhiji in Hind Swaraj, presenting a severe critique of technology-obsessed Modern Western civilization, laid stress on the basic values of great teachers and seers of classical Indian civilization (Gandhiji's views on both the civilizations are presented in the Note entitled "Gandhiji on Classical Indian and Modern Western Civilization.") Let us not allow the consumerist glamour of the modern western civilization to replace her basic values from the core of our life. Let India, the birth place of so many great religions, which explicitly accept non-violence as the root of all ethical principles, be an example of a non-violent culture of development to the rest of the world. Let us have a national Gandhian movement to complete the unfinished work of our beloved Bapuji, a movement to save and purify our civilization, a movement to have a culture of Truth and Non-violence where all religions could grow harmoniously in spite of their differences in the realm of metaphysics on the basis of the knowledge about their fundamental ethical unity and truth, and where development could take place with the loving care for our life-sustaining natural systems and countless variety of invaluable flora and fauna. Let us make an in-depth critical study of the Gandhian alternative and initiate a national and global debate on it.
Objective of the Movement
The objective of the Movement is, on the one hand, to create mass awareness for an eco-friendly non-violent culture of development for the protection of our life-sustaining natural systems in general and of the sacred Ganga and the Himalayas in particular; on the other hand, to put moral pressure on the government, to take time-bound decisive steps to completely and permanently save the Ganga symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalayas, symbolizing all mountains forests and wildlife.
Origin of the Movement
National Women's Organization (NWO) was formed in Pune in July 1998 by Smt Rama Rauta, dedicated to the protection and promotion of Nature and Women's cause in general and to the creation of a Gandhian non-violent Movement to Save the Ganga and the Giriraj Himalayas in particular. In its Ahimsa Rally from Aga Khan Palace to Yervada Jail, Pune on 1st Oct 1998 under the inspiring leadership of Dr. Sushila Nair, it was decided to initiate a Save Ganga Movement to mobilize public opinion in favour of a culture of development based on the principles of non-violence replacing the present eco-hostile culture of development.
With the objective to create scientific awareness among the masses against environmental degradation in general and the pollution of the Ganga and its tributaries in particular, with the help of many like-minded organizations and with the moral support from many religious leaders, spiritual and political, scientists, environmentalists, writers and social activists, we initiated Save Ganga Movement with a seminar on "Ganga aur hamaaraa daayitva" on 13th Nov. 1998 at Kanpur. Renowned Gandhians Sri Sundrlal Bahuguna, Dr. Kanchanlata Sabarwal, the minister of urban development-U.P. govt., the mayors of Lucknow and Kanpur and scientists, environmentalists, industrialists, social activists and many distinguished persons from Lucknow and Kanpur participated in it, and solemnly resolved to make this movement a national non-violent movement against the pollution of the Ganga and other rivers of our country. No lasting solution to the impending devastating ecological crisis is possible without creating mass awareness. We intend to convert this Movement into a mass awakening campaign across the country for the protection of life-sustaining environment in general and of the sacred Ganga, its tributaries and their source the Himalayas and its flora and fauna in particular.
The movement received from its initial stage very valuable blessings and moral support for its various save Ganga activities from Hon'ble former Prime minister Shri Atalbihari Vajpayeeji, spiritual leaders from different faiths such as H.H Sri Sankaracharyaji (Kanchi Kotipuram), Swami Tejomayanandj,( Worldwide Head, Chinmaya Mission), Rev. Acharya B.K.S.Iyanger, (Iyanger Yoga Institute) Pune, H.H. Dada J.P Vaswani (Sadhu Vaswani Mission) Pune, H.H. Acharya Sudanshu Maharajaji (Vishwa Jagriti Mission) New Delhi, . Late Rev. Panduranga Shastriji Athawle, Mumbai, H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankarji (Art of Living) Bangalore), Late H.H. Sri. S. N.Goyankaji (Vipasna Research Institute) Igatpuri , Rev. Acharya Kriyanandji (Ananda Sangha) Gurgaon, Late Revered Apa Shripad N Kulkarani,Pune , H.H Swami Nikhilanandji( Chinmaya Mission) Delhi, H.H. Archbishop Vincent M.Concessao(Delhi), Revered Maulana Wahiuddin, Delhi, Late H.H Acharya Mahapragyaji, H.H. Swami Chinmayanandji, Parmarth Ashram, Haridwar; valuable guidance and active support and help from eminent Gandhians like Shri Sundarlal Bahugunaji, Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyaji, late Dr Kanchanlata Sabarwal, late Dr. Sushila Nair, late Smt. Usha Mehataji, Dr. S.N. Subba Rao, Shri Tushar Gandhiji, eminent scientists like Prof. Govinda Swarup, (TIFR) Pune, Dr. Vijay Bhatkar(Eminent computer scientist, Pune) Prof Raghunath Marshalkar (Former Director General, CSIR), Prof Jayanta Narlikar (Ex-Director, IUCA) Pune, Prof MGK Menon, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Prof. Yash Pal, Dr P. Pushpangadan (Ex- Director, NBRI, Lucknow) Dr P.K Seth (Ex-Director, ITRC, Lucknow), Dr Veerbhadra Mishra,(Sankat Mochan Foundation, Varanasi) and eminent persons such as Dr Karan Singh (Eminent Parliamentarian), Shri M.C Mehta (Noted environmentalist and Supreme Court Advocate ), Late Prof Rama Chandra Gandhi, Dr. S.C. Rai (Ex Mayor, Lucknow), Late Dr Veerbhadra Mishra (Shankat Mochan ,Varanshi), Dr. Mohini Giri, (Guild for Services).
Important Activities of the Save Ganga Movement
Save Ganga Rally at Delhi (12th Nov, 2000)
A fervent appeal was made to the Hon'ble Rashtrapati K. R. Narayananf for his guidance and active supportt for this noble cause. A national campaign was launched with a mass rally in Delhi on 12th Nov. 2000, with blessings from the then Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and many eminent spiritual leaders including His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchikotipuram, Rev. Dada J.P. Vaswani of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, Pune, in which eminent persons like Shri Sundarlal Bahuguna, Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyaji, Dr Kanchanlata Sabarwal, Dr Samprasad Vinod etc. participated.
Save Ganga Yatra From Gangotri To Gangasagar (May 2002 - Nov 2003)
The Save Gangas rally paved the way for organizing a country-wide Save Ganga Yatra from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar spread over three years. It was the idea of Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna to undertake this Yatra, to create mass awareness against the pollution of the Ganga and its tributaries. Shri Bahuguna has been with us as a great moral force from the very beginning. The Yatra was conducted in three phases.
First Phase: from Gangotri to Haridwar, 19-26 May, 2002.
Second Phase: from Lucknow to Varanasi, 17-24 Nov, 2002.
Third Phase: from Varanasi to Gangasagar, 22-30 Nov, 2003.
With enthusiastic participation from the masses and blessings and good wishes from national and spiritual leaders including Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchikotipuram, Rev. Dada J.P. Vaswani of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, Pune, Revered Apa Shripad N Kulkarani, Pune, Rev. Swami Tejomayanandji of Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, Rev. Swami Smaranandji of Ramkrishna Mission, Vellur, renownned Gandhian late Usha Mehta, eminent writer late Sri Bhishma Sahni and several eminent scientists, it was completed with a grand success.
In the course of Yatra, many meetings were held in major cities and towns situated on the banks of the river Ganga. This included three seminars and six workshops in which several intellectuals, social activists, Gandhians and religious leaders and many distinguished scientists took part. Many national scientific institutions such as CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), NBRI (National Botanical Research Institute) Lucknow, ITRC (Industrial Toxicology Research Centre) Lucknow, NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Reaserch Institute) Nagpur, IIT Kanpur, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi also joined in the Yatra and helped us in every possible way to make it a great success.
First phase of the Yatra commenced in Delhi with prayers at Bapuji's Samadhi at Rajghat by offering prayers for the success of the mission. It was followed by a workshop at the National Gandhi Museum, inaugurated by Shri Vijay Goel, Union Minister of State. A highlight of the Yatra was Sunderlal Bahuguna's passionate plea that deforestation of the Himalayan region is the major cause of soil erosion and melting of glaciers. Afforestation will be a major step in preventing this malaise : "Forests are natural water tanks and these can serve people as their natural water resource." Dr. Vijay Bhatkar, eminent computer scientist, expressed his willingness to launch a Save Ganga Website with the aim of creating "a platform for networking of organisations and people, and for creating awareness on the importance of the Ganga and other rivers of the country to make these rivers pollution free". Shri Jayakrishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, gave a resume of the progress made in various schemes under Ganga Action Plan - Phases 1 and 2 . Mrs. Rama Rauta, Convener of the Save Ganga Movement beckoned: We must strive to replace the present culture of echo-hostile development by a culture of non-violent eco-friendly development, and make the Ganga and its tributaries completely and permanently free from pollution as a first major step in the direction to introduce a culture of development based on ethics.
The Osho World Foundation, New Delhi, sponsored the Workshop and joined us in the Yatra from Delhi to Devprayag; Parmarth Ashram of Haridwar sponsored the Yatra from Haridwar to Gangotri.
Second phase of the Yatra commenced with a seminar in Lucknow on 17th Nov 2002. The Seminar was inaugurated by Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharya, grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and chaired by the noted Gandhian Dr. Kanchanlata Sabarwal. It was sponsored by the Lucknow Nagar Nigam , the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and C.M.S. Lucknow. Other halts of the Yatra were in Kanpur on 19th Nov 2002, sponsored by the Rotary Club in the Merchant Chamber of Commerce, and in Allahabad on 20th Nov 2002, sponsored by Allahabad Nagar Nigam. The Yatra concluded on 23rd Nov 2002 at a historic meeting in Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, sponsored by Sankat Mochan Foundation, Varanasi. Many prominent scientists from Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, and Varanasi participated in these meetings.
Third phase of the Yatra started on 22nd Nov 2003, with a puja performed by Swami Gyanand Saraswati at Assi Ghat, Varanasi. A programme of shramdan, along with a National Seminar, was arranged in which thousands of students participated. The Seminar was inaugurated by Shri Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and joined by eminent Gandhian activist Dr. Subba Rao, and many spiritual leaders, distinguished scientists and political dignitaries. The Seminar was hosted by Banaras Hindu Univversity, Varanasi. Major halts were at Patna University, Patna on 24th Nov, presided by Prof K.K Jha, Vice Chancellor of Patna University, and at the Chinmaya Mission in Calcutta on 28th November, presided by Swami Advaitanand of the Chinmaya Mission. The Yatra concluded on 30th Nov 2003 with prayers at Ganga Sagar.
Speakers and participants in these meetings and rallies expressed their deep anguish over the nation's failure to make the Ganga free from pollution in spite of the Central government launching the Ganga Action Plan in 1985, and spending hundreds of crores of rupees for this purpose. It was stressed that since our rivers and forests are our invaluable heritage, constituting the lifeline crores of our people, we must take time-bound decisive steps to make all our rivers completely and permanently free from pollution and transform one third of the land into forests.
This historic Yatra was initiated by enthusiastic groups from Pune, representing National Women's Organization, Vedic Research Centre, India International Multiversity, and in the course of the Yatra Mumbai-based Mahatma Gandhi Foundation and Rehmani Foundation, along with Kabir Peace Mission at Lucknow, and Rakshat Gangan Aandolan at Varanasi participated as co-organisers.
National Save Ganga Seminar at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (22nd Nov, 2003)
In the National Save Ganga Seminar at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, on 22nd Nov, 2003, many comprehensive reports presented by experts pointed out that "even with the available knowledge, skill and money, the Ganga could be cleaned completely within two years." Lack of will and apathy of our political leadership and almost total apathy of our bureaucrats to solve the problem is mainly responsible for our failure and our intellectuals' failure to create the necessary mass awareness is its root cause. The Nation's moral bankruptcy is evident in not being able to eradicate none of our various major social evils even sixty years after our Independence.
National Workshop on ‘Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj' (October 2004)
Many constructive ideas emerged from the enthusiastic response at different levels of participants during the course of the Yatra. An action plan was prepared in the form of "the Charter of Ten Demands to Save the Ganga" to draw the attention of the Union and State Governments in consonance with the goal of the Yatra. (See the Charter of Ten Demands.) 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 Charter of 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. A book entitled Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj, published by Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad and NWO, Pune was released in the workshop.
Save Ganga & Save Himalayas March, Delhi (12th March, 2006)
We organized a Save Ganga & Save Himalayas March from Bapuji's Samadhi at Rajghat to Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 12-03-2006, the76th Anniversary of Gandhji's Dandi Yatra, and formally presented the Charter of Ten Demands in the Office of our Hon'ble Rashtrapatiji in the form of an Appeal to Save the Ganga and the Himalayas. It was unanimously resolved to celebrate the Day of Dandi Yatra, 12th March, every year in the form a Save Ganga & Save Himalaya March from Bapuji's Samadhi to Rashtrapati Bhavan till the necessary steps are taken to completely and permanently save the Ganga &the Himalayas. A delegation comprising of Smt Rama Rauta, Rev. Vincent M. Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, Rev. Swami Nikhilanandaji of Chinmaya Mission, Delhi, Shri Vasant Gadgil of IIMV, Vedic Research Centre, Pune met our Hon'ble Prime Minister on13th March 2006 at 9.30a.m and presented the charter of Ten Demands in the form of an appeal to Save The Ganga & The Himalyas. The Prime Minister has said that he considers the Ganga to be the soul of India and has assured that his government would certainly take the necessary steps as soon as possible to save the Ganga and the Himalayas. (Please see the report on the Save Ganga March at Delhi on 12th March 2006)
National Workshop on ‘Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj', Haridwar (October, 2006)
The 2nd National Workshop on ‘Gandhi, Ganga and Giriraj' was held on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti as a part of our Save Ganga Movement from 1st to 3rd October 2006 at Haridwar, Uttaranchal to discuss further deeply on various major issues concerning Protection of the Ganga and the Himalayas as well as to create public awareness about it. As a part of the event, a seminar on ‘Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj' was held at M.C. Mehta Environmental Foundation, Eco Ashram at Haridwar on 1st and 2nd October 2006 in which many distinguished persons such as Shri M.C. Mehta, Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna, Dr P. Puspangadan (ex-director NBRI, Lucknow), Dr. T.K.Gosh, Deputy Director, environmental Biotechnology Division, NEERI, Nagpur, Shri Arun Kanti Biswas,Senior Scientist, Kolkata Zonal Laboratory, NEERI, KolKata, Eminent Scientst Dr M.L.Dewan, Chairman, Himcon, New Delhi, Rev. Acharya Arun Chaitanyaji, Chinmaya Mission Shri Devendra Sahai& Mrs Shipra Sahai, DEEP, New Delhi participated. The participants expressed their deep concern for Tehari Dam's failure to produce electricity because of too much silt in its water. The seminar was sponsored by M.C. Mehta Environmental Foundation, Eco Ashram. Many eminent persons such as H.H Sankaracharya of Joshi Math, Tara Gandhi Bhatacharya, Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna Smt Rama Rauta, Rev. Yogacharya Dharmdas, Ananda Sangh, Gurgaon, Acharya Sri Arun Chaitanyaji, Chinmaya Mission, Sri Ansul Srikunj etc., addressed the public in a Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Public Meeting held at Har Ki Paudi, Haridwar on 3 rd October2006. Rama Rauta asserted that our posterity would not forgive our spiritual leaders if they allow silently the slow death of mother Ganga and our other great rivers. The Public Meeting was organized by Bharat Jagriti Mission, Hardwar. (Please see the thematic note of the seminar on "Ganndhi, Ganga and Giriraj" for the details about the issues discussed in the seminar.)
1. The following recommendations of the Consortium of seven IITs which is preparing the Ganga River Basin Management Plan(GRBMP) must be endorsed implemented throughout our country: -
a. Ganga, the National River, must be made aviral and nirmal.
b. In place of the present practice of allowing treated sewage into the river, the policy of zero discharge into the river be adopted promoting Reuse and Recycle of wastewater after treatment up to tertiary-level. In other words, sewer and river should be separate and wastewater should be completely consumed for beneficial use in buildings and agricultural fields.
c. Industrial effluents, hospital wastes, treated or untreated, must never be allowed to enter into the rivers and must not also be allowed to mix with the sewage, which should be converted into valuable manure for organic farming. Industries must treat their effluent and use recycled water.
d. Organic farming should be promoted in a massive way for decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers such as hazardous chemicals from agricultural run-off into the rivers, maintaining soil fertility, checking the groundwater degradation, reducing water requirement of corps, protecting human health, etc. Methods of irrigation need to be changed to improve recharge of groundwater and minimize abstraction from the river.
2. The bactericidal, health promoting, non-putrefying and self-purifying properties of the water of Ganga should be restored and conserved.
3. 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 wherever possible, which is the cheapest and durable and need least management and electricity, should be undertaken with the help of NBRI, Lucknow and other prominent research centers of botany and like-minded NGOs and local people.
4. No encroachment should be allowed on either side of the banks of Ganga within 200-300 meters. Setting up of or continuation in dwelling or other encroachments in the river banks or its active river plains; or construction of new permanent new structures for residential, commercial and industrial purposes in the active flood plains of any river must be prohibited.
We must have a law protecting River rights, and River Guards to prevent crimes against rivers and River Courts to try crimes against rivers.
5. The highly earthquake-prone, eco-fragile and aesthetically and religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region of the Ganga Basin must be declared "Ecologically Fragile" and all steps must be taken to preserve its rivers and vegetation in pristine condition. It would be a major step for the realization of our National Mission of saving the Himalayan Ecosystem as a part of the National Action Plan for Climate Change and also of the National Action Plan for Preservation of our Biodiversity
Since crores of our people since ages consider the entire Himalaya region of the Ganga with all its tributaries to be the zone for self purification and spiritual enlightenment (Tapo-Bhumi and Adhyatma-Bhumi), we should also declare this religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region to be our national Spiritual Heritage Zone.
We must have a high powered National Himalayan Ecology Preservation and Restoration Authority headed by Hon'ble Prime Minister to save the highly fragile invaluable ecology of the young Himalayas. 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.
6. Decision on the controversial issue of construction of eco-hostile dams for hydropower in this region must be postponed till there is a national agreement on this issue on the basis of a comprehensive holistic scientific study about what would be the loss to the nation because of the loss of various benefits our nation gets from its natural eco systems as well as about the devastating implications of natural calamities if hydropower plants are constructed in this highly earth quake prone eco-fragile Himalaya region of the Ganga Basin.
Since such a scientific study is absolutely necessary for the preparation of the Upper Ganga Basin Management plan, the consortium of 7 IITs who are preparing the NGRMP must make such a study, which they have not made so far.
7. The Ganga must be constitutionally declared as the National River with statutory provisions that ensure due respect and protection to her, considering her National River status analogous to the ‘Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act' for the national flag and anthem.
8. Since the Ganga is our national river, at least the main stream of the Ganga must be maintained close to its pristine and natural state. In place of the present policy of providing "minimum e-flow", which implies "maximum abstraction" of water from the river, there must be the policy of minimum interference with natural flow in River Ganga.
9. The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) must take the full responsibility of the protection of our national river. Since the Ganga flows through many states, it would be the best course if NGRBA takes the full responsibility of making and keeping the Ganga and its tributaries completely and permanently free from pollution through time-bound steps, leaving no scope for the central and state government authorities blaming each other for the failures. The Expert Members of NGRBA must be given due role and importance in this organization both in decision-making and in implementation. At present they are neglected in both. NGRBA must have transparency and accountability in every sphere of its activities, which at present it does not have.
10. There should be disincentives in the form of proper fines to the states in the Ganga basin in proportion to the quantity and quality of pollution a state addes to the river in the state. The NRCD must have a monitoring mechanism to regularly monitor the water quality of the Ganga at the entry and exit points of each state.
We must have a law protecting River rights, and River Guards to prevent crimes against rivers and River Courts to try crimes against rivers.
11. To begin with we must make Uttarakhand an absolutely eco-friendly ideal Himalayan state and must take time-bound decisive steps to make the Yamuna at Delhi completely and permanently free from pollution, which would set an example for the entire country. `An adequate flow of natural fresh water must be allowed to flow on the Ganga Bed and the Yamuna bed throughout the stretch of the rivers throughout the year not only to protect and preserve their ecology but also to meet the basic water needs of the cities, towns and villages situated on their banks and restore their self purifying capacity. At present in dry season the three large barrages at Haridwar, Bijnor and Narora divert 100% of the river's water into its canals and the Ganga is totally bereft of Gangajal after the Narora barrage; similarly in dry season no water is allowed to flow in the Yamuna River downstream to Hathnikund barrage in Haryana and what reaches the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan is mainly the treated or untreated domestic and industrial waste water contributed by various drains joining the Yamuna at Delhi.
12. There is no scarcity of money, knowledge and skills with us to save our rivers including the Ganga. There is lack of will due to our moral bankruptcy which is at the root of our various deep rooted social evils including the problem of corruption. Environmental ethics should be taught as a part of the syllabus on Ethics, which must be taught as a compulsory subject, both at the school as well as at the college level. Teaching environmental ethics without discussing various fundamental questions concerning moral and spiritual values, and the value and means of ethical life would be of little significance. Critical study of the views of great religions and of great teachers and thinkers of mankind about various fundamental issues of ethics would be a major step in the direction to build the moral character of our society, without which it would not be possible for us to overcome our present deep rooted moral and spiritual crisis.
We must not allow our development activities to satisfy our greed for wealth and lust for luxuries to deprive the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting since ages from from the Ganga and its tributaries and their source the Himalayas. 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.
It is deeply satisfying that our Save Ganga Movement has succeeded to a great extent to bring under one umbrella various like-minded eminent scientists, social workers and organizations, Gandhians, spiritual leaders and organizations to work together for the absolutely non-controversial noble cause of Saving the Ganga, symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizing all mountains, forests and wildlife. But the goal is yet too far.
Although the former Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh accepted our Charter of Ten Demands to Save The Ganga on 12th March 2009, hardly any progress has been made in the context of their implementation. Although more than 5 years are over since the formation of our National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) head by the Prime minister for the abatement of pollution and conservation of our National River and its tributaries, our progress towards the objective is highly insignificant. We are continuing to commit the same kind of mistakes which are responsible for the failure of our Ganga Action Plan Phase-1 and Phase-2 which poses serious threat of wastage and misuse of funds. 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 in the case of GAP Phase-1 and Phase-2. Decisions have been taken on spending thousands of crores rupees on various projects by steering committees keeping the expert members totally dark about it. The Expert Members of NGRBA are neglected both in decision-making and in implementation. The only major achievement of the NGRBA has been cancelling the construction of hydro power projects in the region from Gangotri to Uttarkashi declaring the region "Eco fragile" and preparation National Ganga River basin Management Plan (NGRBMP) by the Consortium of 7IITs.
Our movement will continue to create mass awareness and put moral pressure on our government to take time-bound decisive steps to completely and permanently save the Ganga symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizing all mountains forests and wildlife & and the mass-awareness necessary to create a Gandhian Non-violent Culture of Development, through holding Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meetings/ Seminars/ Workshops, etc in various major cities/ pilgrimage centres situated on the banks of our great rivers of our country in the course of Save Ganga& save Himalayas Yatras.
We are sincerely trying to bring various like-minded Gandhians and Gandhian institutions in to the main stream of our movement. It is greatly agonizing to see that Gandhians and Gandhian Institutions are hardly doing anything substantial to complete the unfinished work of our beloved Bapu, the apostle of Truth and non-violence of our age. Gandhiji would have given top priority to create a mass Satyagraha to replace the immensely eco-hostile form of development of modern Western civilization by an eco-friendly non-violent form of development. (For suggestions to transform Gandhian Institutions into centers of moral and spiritual awareness, inter-religious dialogue and harmony, and social transformation based on ethical foundations, please see the Note entitled "Saving Gandhi and Gandhian Institutions in India" in our website: www.savegangamovement.org.).
We must realize that Saving the Ganga and its tributaries and their source the Himalayas and the Godavari and Krishna and their source the Western Ghats is absolutely necessary for us to have a lasting sustainable development: it is necessary to ensure water, food¬, air¬ and health security to our masses. We must reflect over the Gandhian view that the culture of having unlimited desires and going to the ends of the earth with the help of science and technology causing great irreparable harm to earth's life-sustaining natural eco-systems in search of their satisfaction is satanic and suicidal. Surely the message of enlightened desire-less unselfish ethical action of our Indian Civilization has the potentiality to save the world from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with its present deep rooted all pervasive moral and spiritual crises. In the long term, we must make serious efforts to solve the problems of eco-hostile industrialization, urbanization, and population-growth, which constitute the root of our problem of environmental degradation in general and the slow death of our rivers in particular, by a radical change from our current ideas of development and growth to a Gandhian alternative, which essentially involves retelling the basic ethics of all great religions in the context of our technological age and which is the surest and perhaps the only solution to our impending catastrophic global ecological crisis.(For the details about the Gandhian alternative see the article " Gandhian Solution of Global Ecological Crisis" in our website: www.savegangamovement.org.)
Request for Sponsorship and Donation
Individuals or organizations desirous of helping or participating in our Save Ganga Movement are requested to contact me.
As we are self supporting, for all our activities, we have to depend on the funds generated through donation. Please draw the cheque/Draft in the name of National Women's Organization, Pune. Donations are approved under Section 80G of Income Tax Act, 1961.
Smt. Rama Rauta
Save Ganga Movement