Monthly Archives: February 2009

रहिमन पाणी बेचिए….

 ज्या लातूर शहरात सर्वसामान्य लोकांनी एकजुटीने पाणीपुरवठय़ाचे खासगीकरण, तात्पुरते का होईना, थोपवून धरले आहे त्या लातूर शहरात महाराष्ट्र सिंचन परिषदेचे अधिवेशन होणे, हे लक्षणीयच म्हणावे लागेल. पाणी जगण्यासाठी आवश्यक आहे आणि माणसाचा जगण्याचा हक्क हा मूलभूत हक्क म्हणून राज्यघटनेने मान्य केलेला आहे. जगण्यासाठी पाण्याप्रमाणेच अन्नधान्यही लागते. अन्नधान्य शेतीत तयार होते. शेतीला पाण्याची गरज असते. महाराष्ट्रात ६० टक्क्य़ांहून अधिक लोकांची उपजीविका शेतीवर अवलंबून आहे आणि माणसांच्या उपजीविकेचा हक्कही राज्यघटनेने मूलभूत हक्क म्हणून मान्य केलेला आहे. म्हणूनच जगण्यासाठी आणि उपजीविकेसाठी अत्यावश्यक असणारे पाणी हे संसाधन लहान-मोठे, गरीब-श्रीमंत अशा सर्वाना समन्यायी तत्त्वावर उपलब्ध करून दिले पाहिजे. पाण्याच्या स्रोताचे आणि पाणीवाटप व्यवस्थेचे खासगीकरण केले गेले तर साहजिकच पाण्याचे वाटप हे ‘नफा तत्त्वा’वर होईल आणि मग ‘जो किंमत देऊ शकतो त्यालाच फक्त पाणी’ ही पद्धत रूढ होईल. मग समाजात बहुसंख्येने असणाऱ्या गोरगरीबांचे, वंचितांचे काय होईल? म्हणूनच पाण्याच्या क्षेत्रात कुठल्याही खासगीकरणाला लोकांनी कडाडून विरोध करायला हवा. परंतु २००२ सालापासून महाराष्ट्राने जलस्रोतांचे आणि जलव्यवस्थापन यंत्रणेचे संपूर्ण खासगीकरण करण्याच्या दिशेने पावले टाकण्यास सुरुवात केली आहे. पाणीवाटप हे ‘नफा तत्त्वा’वर करता यावे म्हणून पिण्याखालोखाल शेतीऐवजी उद्योगधंद्यांना प्राधान्यक्रम देऊन शेतीला तिसऱ्या प्राधान्यक्रमावर ढकलण्यात आले आहे. २००५ साली महाराष्ट्राने एक कायदा करून राज्यातले जलस्रोत आणि जलवाटप व्यवस्था पूर्णपणे हाती घेईल असे एक ‘जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरण’ स्थापन केले आणि हे प्राधिकरण आता पाण्याच्या र्सवकष खासगीकरणाच्या योजना राबवू पाहत आहे. या साऱ्या गोष्टींबद्दल सामान्य लोक तर अनभिज्ञ आहेतच, पण सिंचन परिषदेसारख्या बिगरसरकारी चळवळीही अकारण सरकारधार्जिणी भूमिका घेऊन गेली दहा र्वष घडत आलेल्या या विपरीत गोष्टींकडे काणाडोळा करीत आहेत.
राज्य शासनाला महाराष्ट्रात यापुढे जी पाणीविक्री करायची आहे तिचे दर निश्चित करण्यासाठी जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरणाने एक प्रक्रिया नुकतीच सुरू केली. तीत एका खासगी कंपनीला कंत्राट देऊन हे जल दर निषित करण्यास सांगण्यात आले. या कंत्राटदाराने २००५ सालच्या जल प्राधिकरण कायद्यात नमूद असलेले ‘समन्यायी वाटपा’चे तत्त्व तर गुंडाळून ठेवलेच, पण संविधानाने दिलेले जगण्याचे आणि उपजीविकेचे हक्कही बाजूला सारून ‘पूर्ण खर्च वसुली’ या तत्त्वावर पाण्याचे दर प्रस्तावित केलेले आहेत. यात शहरी आणि ग्रामीण अशा दोन्ही भागातले पिण्याचे पाणी, शेतीला लागणारे पाणी, घरगुती वापराचे पाणी, उद्योगधंद्यांना लागणारे पाणी आणि पर्यटन- जलक्रीडा- मनोरंजनादी कारणांसाठी लागणारे पाणी यांचा समावेश आहे. शिवाय हे दर ठरवताना कोण गरीब- कोण श्रीमंत, कोण किती पाणी वापरतो, कोण जगण्यासाठी- कोण चंगळीसाठी पाणी वापरतो, कोण पोट भरण्यासाठी- कोण भरमसाठ नफा कमावण्यासाठी पाणी वापरतो, असा कोणताही भेद करण्यात आलेला नाही. अशा या ‘सब घोडे बारा टक्के’ न्यायाने गोरगरिबांना लागणारे पिण्याचे पाणी आणि सामान्य शेतकऱ्यांना लागणारे सिंचनाचे पाणी न परवडण्याजोगे महाग होणार हे निश्चित! तुलनेत उद्योगधंद्यांना देण्याच्या पाण्यासाठी सवलतीचे दर प्रस्तावित केले गेलेत. भविष्यकाळात पिण्याचे शुद्ध पाणी आणि शेतीत पिकणारे धान्य यांच्याऐवजी कारखान्यात तयार होणारे कोल्ड्रिंक आणि कृत्रिम अन्न यांवर लोकांनी जगावे, अशी सरकारची इच्छा आहे की काय, कोण जाणे!
गेल्या दहा वर्षांमध्ये महाराष्ट्रात ३३ हजार शेतकऱ्यांनी आत्महत्या केलेल्या आहेत. त्यात विदर्भ आणि मराठवाडा या दोन विभागात झालेल्या आत्महत्यांचे प्रमाण सर्वात जास्त आहे. गेल्या २० वर्षांत बियाणे, खते आणि कीटकनाशके यांच्या किमती अतोनात वाढल्यामुळे शेतकऱ्यांवरील कर्जाचा बोजा वाढत गेला आणि त्यामुळेच शेतकऱ्यांच्या आत्महत्या घडल्या. महाराष्ट्र शासनाचे आणि पंतप्रधानांचे मदतीचे पॅकेज मिळाल्यानंतरही आत्महत्या थांबलेल्या नाहीत. पाण्याचे दर ठरवताना पूर्ण खर्चवसुलीचे तत्त्व लावले गेले तर शेतकऱ्यांच्या आत्महत्येचे प्रमाण कमी न होता उलट वाढण्याचाच धोका आहे. म्हणूनच छोटे व मध्यम शेतकरी, भूमिहीन, कष्टकरी पाणीवापरकर्ते, छोटे व्यावसायिक, शहरी व ग्रामीण भागांतील अतिगरीब, गरीब आणि निम्नमध्यमवर्गीय आणि इतर वंचित लोक यांना शेतीसाठी व घरगुती वापरासाठी खात्रीशीर पाणीपुरवठा आणि ‘परवडतील असे’ अत्यल्प दर लावले जाणे आवश्यक आहे. लातूरच्या सिंचन परिषदेने याचा आग्रह धरायला हवा.
आपल्याकडच्या बहुतांश मोठय़ा आणि मध्यम सिंचन प्रकल्पांची कार्यक्षमता अवघी ३० टक्के आहे. धरणांना आश्वासित पाणीसाठा न मिळणे, कालवे आणि चाऱ्यांच्या देखभालीचा अभाव, पाणीगळती, पाणी व्यवस्थापनातील अकार्यक्षमता, दिले जाणारे पाणी व प्रत्यक्ष सिंचित क्षेत्र यांच्या वास्तव मोजमापांचा अभाव, अशा विविध कारणांमुळे खुद्द पाणी प्रकल्पांच्या लाभक्षेत्रातच पाण्यापासून वंचित असणारे क्षेत्र मोठे आहे. कालव्याच्या शेवटच्या टोकाला असणाऱ्या जमिनींना तर पाणीपुरवठा होऊच शकत नाही. त्याशिवाय लाभक्षेत्राच्या बाहेर पाण्यापासून वंचित असणारी ८४ टक्के शेतजमीन महाराष्ट्रात आहे. म्हणून नव्या जल दरांची आखणी सरसकट न करता ‘पाण्यापासून वंचित असणाऱ्या किंवा कमी पुरवठा असणाऱ्या भागांना कमी दर आणि मुबलक पुरवठय़ाच्या भागांना जास्त दर’ अशा पद्धतीने केली जाण्याची गरज आहे. तसेच कालवे आणि चाऱ्यांची अवस्था, पाणीगळती, अकार्यक्षमता, कामे पूर्ण करण्यात होणारी दिरंगाई या कारणांमुळे होणाऱ्या नुकसानीचा भार पाणीदरांवर पडता कामा नये. यासाठी कडक नियम करून संबंधित जबाबदार व्यक्तींना जबर शासन करण्याची तरतूद असायला हवी. जलप्रकल्पांची आखणी करताना जलस्रोतांचे जास्तीत जास्त शोषण करण्याचे सूत्र डोळ्यासमोर ठेवले जाते. हे घातक आहे. पर्यावरणीय समतोलासाठी ओढे, नाले व नद्या यांच्यात किमान वाहता प्रवाह राखण्याची खबरदारी घेतली जायला हवी. यावरही सिंचन परिषदेत चर्चा व्हायला हवी.
सिंचन परिषद मराठवाडय़ात होत असल्यामुळे या विभागाचा विशेष विचार करण्याची गरज आहे. मराठवाडा आणि विदर्भ हे मागासलेले विभाग असल्यामुळे भारतीय संविधानाच्या कलम ३७१ (२) अन्वये या विभागांना विकासात झुकते माप मिळावे म्हणून वैधानिक विकास मंडळे स्थापन करण्यात आली. या दोन्ही विभागांच्या विकासाचा जो अनुशेष काढण्यात आला आहे त्यात सिंचनाचा अनुशेष मोठा आहे आणि तो अद्याप पूर्णपणे भरून निघालेला नाही. मराठवाडय़ातल्या लोकाचे सरासरी दरडोई उत्पन्न तर महाराष्ट्रापेक्षा आणि विदर्भापेक्षाही कमी आहे. म्हणून जोपर्यंत सिंचनाचा अनुशेष पूर्णपणे भरून काढला जात नाही तोपर्यंत या दोन्ही विभागांतील सर्व पाणीवापरकर्त्यांसाठी ‘विशेष दर’ म्हणून कमीत कमी असे प्रस्तावित केले जाण्याची गरज आहे. त्याचप्रमाणे ज्यांना वाढीव दर परवडतात, अशा लोकांसाठी या पुढच्या काळात जल-दर ठरवताना ‘खर्च वसुलीचे’ तत्त्व अंगीकारले जाणार असेल तर त्यात केवळ देखभालीचा खर्च समाविष्ट असावा. प्रकल्पावरील गुंतवणुकीचा आणि आस्थापनेचा खर्च त्यात अंतर्भूत केला जाऊ नये. कारण वेतन आयोगांच्या शिफारशींनुसार अभियंते आणि कर्मचारी यांचे पगार सतत वाढत असतात. त्यांचा बोजा जलदरावर पडता कामा नये. आजकाल वीजनिर्मितीची स्थिती, पाणी प्रकल्पांच्या लाभहानीचे गुणोत्तर इत्यादी गोष्टींबाबत वस्तुस्थितीचे भान न ठेवता शेकडो मीटर लिफ्ट अंतर्भूत असणाऱ्या आंतरखोरे पाणीवहन योजना बिनदिक्कत सुचवल्या जातात. जिथे अशा योजना झाल्या तिथे शेतीची दर हेक्टरी गुंतवणूक इतकी प्रचंड वाढली की, तेथे सामान्य शेतकऱ्याला धान्योत्पादन करणे अशक्य बनले. म्हणून कमी खर्चाच्या व्यवहार्य पाणीयोजना आखल्या गेल्या पाहिजेत. सिंचन परिषदनेही वास्तववादी दृष्टिकोण ठेवून कमी खर्चाच्या लाभदायी पाणीयोजनांचा आग्रह धरावा.
‘रहिमन पानी राखिए, पानी बिन सब सून’ असा मोगलकालीन कवी रहीम याचा एका दोहा आहे. त्याऐवजी ‘रहिमन पानी बेचिए’ ही उलटी नीती अनुसरून आटणाऱ्या भूजलाचे, पेयजल टंचाईचे, तहानलेल्या शेतीचे आणि वाढत्या दारिद्रय़ाचे भान न ठेवता आमचे राज्यशासन पाण्याचा बाजार मांडून बसणार असेल तर त्या शासनाला सामान्य लोकांनीच खडसावण्याची आज गरज आहे.

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प्रोफेसर अग्रवाल

अंत में पर्यावरणविद् प्रोफेसर अग्रवाल ने 20 फरवरी, शुक्रवार को उस समय अपना अनशन तोड़ दिया है जब सरकार ने भागीरथी पर 600 मेगावाट क्षमता वाले लोहारीनागा पाला पनबिजली परियोजना को रोके जाने का आश्वासन दिया।

भागीरथी बचाओ संकल्प के प्रतिनिधियों और केंद्रीय ऊर्जा मंत्री सुशील कुमार शिंदे के बीच एक लंबी बैठक के बाद यह फैसला लिया गया था। संकल्प के कार्यकर्ता ने पोर्टल को बताया लोहारीनागा पाला पनबिजली परियोजना पर कार्य बंद करने का आश्वासन सरकार ने लिखित में दिया है।

प्रोफेसर अग्रवाल 14 जनवरी के बाद से दिल्ली में आमरण अनशन पर बैठे हुए थे, उनकी मांग थी कि भागीरथी में पानी का प्रवाह बनाए रखा जाए और ऐसा कोई निर्माण कार्य नहीं किया जाए जिससे जल प्रवाह प्रभावित हो।

इस विख्यात पर्यावरणविद् का तर्क था हिमालय में बहने वाली भागीरथी पर प्रस्तावित जल विद्युत परियोजनाओं और बहुत से बैराजों के निर्माण से गंगा के अस्तित्व को ही खतरा बैदा हो जाएगा।

भारत के अग्रणी पर्यावरणविदों और सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं ने भी प्रोफेसर अग्रवाल का समर्थन किया। 30 जनवरी को देश के विभिन्न गांधीवादियों ने भी इस मांग के समर्थन में सामूहिक उपवास किया था।

अग्रवाल का संकल्प दृढ़ था। उंहोंने साफ कहा कि गंगा के लिए मैं अपनी जान की बाजी लगा दूंगा और शायद मेरी मौत से लोगों की सोई आत्मा जाग जाए और वे इस पवित्र नदी की रक्षा के बारे में सोचें।

डॉ. अग्रवाल देश में पर्यावरण इंजीनियरिंग के अगुआ है और पर्यावरणीय प्रभाव आकलन में मुख्य सलाहकार माने जाते हैं। आईआईटी कानपुर के भूतपूर्व प्रोफेसर और केंद्रीय प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड (CPCB) के पहले सदस्य सचिव के रूप में उन्होंने, भारत के प्रदूषण नियंत्रण नियामक तंत्र को आकार देने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई है।

Tags – Prof Agarwal, breaks fast, stop Loharinag , flow of water, Bhagirathi, ENVIRONMENTALIST Professor GD Agarwal, government, Loharinag-Pala hydel project on Bhagirathi, Bhagirathi Bachao Sankalp, Union Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde,

http://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/?q=profagrawal

Govt warned on failure to save water flows in Ganga !

'Only Supreme Court can save Ganges !'

Describing the environmental, social and the economic impacts of the hydroelectric power projects, he said that a hydroelectric power project caused more environmental pollution that a super thermal power plant of the same capacity. . .

RELIGIOUS LEADERS, scientists and social workers on Tuesday came together on a single platform to warn the union government of dire consequences if it failed to take immediate steps to save the river Ganga. Demanding a stop on the construction of hydro-electric projects, they asserted that saving Ganga should be on the top priority of the government.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday, the successor to the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth and Jyotirmath, Shri Avimukteswaranand warned the Centre that if it failed in its duty to protect, preserve and maintain unhindered flow in the Bhagirathi River, it would have to face dire consequences in the forthcoming general elections.

Shri Avimukteswaranand said that the views of the Shankaracharyas of all the four holy seats were unanimous on the issue and called for unhindered flow of the holy river from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar.

The press conference was organised by supporters and former students of former IIT (Kanpur) Professor Dr GD Agarwal, who is on a fast unto death since January 14 last in support of his demand to maintain unhindered flow in the river Bhagirathi.

Criticising the statement made by the Prime Minister on November 4, 2008, regarding his government’s assurance of constitution of a Ganga basin authority in two months time, Shri Avimukteswaranand said that the assurance has not been met even after the passage of over three months. He urged the government to initiate positive steps in this direction.

Addressing the press conference, SK Gupta, an IITian and a former student of Dr Agarwal said that the Union Power Ministry as well as the High level Expert Group (HLEG) has agreed to the release of 16 cumecs of water in the river Bhagirathi.

Informing the media persons about the demands of Dr Agarwal and his fast-unto-death, he said the union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and three other member of the HLEG, in a meeting recently, deliberated on the issue and have agreed to leave 16 cumecs of water flow from Loharinag Pala project or “as directed by Ganga Basin Authority”.

PC Tyagi, former Chairman of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) criticised the government’s slow response and said that the main objective of the HLEG was to maintain environmental flows in the river Bhagirathi and Ganga.

Describing the environmental, social and the economic impacts of the hydroelectric power projects, he said that a hydroelectric power project caused more environmental pollution that a super thermal power plant of the same capacity. He demanded that while no new construction should be undertaken on the river Bhagirathi-Ganga, 16 cumecs water should be released from the existing Maneri Phase I and II dams.

On the occasion, renowned economist and writer Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala explained the various negative effects of building dams on rivers in the Himalayas and also gave an analysis of their cost-benefit ratio.

Sunita Narayan of Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) referred to a letter from the government and said it has become imperative on the part of the government to immediately stop all construction activity on Loharinag Pala project.

A representative of Shankaracharya of Puri demanded that the river Bhagirathi-Ganga should flow unobstructed from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar.

Addressing the media persons, ’Waterman of India’ Rajendra Singh said that as the government had recently declared the river Ganga as the National River, it should immediately stop all construction activities on it.

http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15710595

Climate lectures don’t make lessons ! By- Sunita Narain

There was a jamboree in my town recently, a gathering of the powerful and famous, to discuss the climate change agreement the world must carve out in Copenhagen by end 2009. But what happened was rather discomforting: We Indians were publicly lectured, castigated and rapped on our knuckles for being bad boys and girls by one and all. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told us developing countries must make more efforts to address climate change and get on-board with industrialized world for solutions. “They have to do more”, he said, because the climate crisis was a common and shared responsibility and “countries should not argue on who has contributed more or less to tackle global warming.” So, in one stroke, the key issue of differentiated responsibilities and the key fact the industrialized world was not cutting its emissions were swept aside. Instead, we were told, sternly, President Barack Obama had assured the secretary general he would do his best. What this meant in real terms—US carbon dioxide emissions have increased by over 20 per cent in the last 15 years—was another matter, of course. We pupils should not question.

Finnish President Tarja Ha-lonen also chipped in: “India must do more”. unep head Achim Steiner went further and asked for a voluntary cap on greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. US Senator John Kerry, on long-distance link, repeated the old Bush line that climate renegade usa would take action only if China and India took binding commitments. All in all, we were firmly shown our place, properly admonished.

The Indian side was stunningly silent. Our foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, who inaugurated this bash-India do, was sidelined as he repeated the now much-abused position: “We did not create the problem and we are not required to solve it”. His call that climate change should not add to a greater burden, by imposing conditionalities on countries like India, was scoffed at. Instead, leaders of the western world got a great opportunity to inform the Indian public of the inadequacy of the government’s position.

In this round of the climate change public relations game, the Indian government lost badly. Worse, it has lost an opportunity to tell the industrialized world how it wants the entire world to deal with this global catastrophe, already beginning to hurt us. We are victims of climate change and the world must not be allowed to forget this.

What should India have made clear?

One, the industrialized world get its act together to cut its emissions, and not just talk big. Our foreign minister should have shown the door to the European leaders, who glibly said they would cut their ghg emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, if other countries joined. He should have asked each industrialized nation to explain—to convince us—how they would actually cut their emissions domestically, given a pathetic track-record. The hosts of the next conference of parties, the Danes, should have been told, without mincing words, their emissions are increasing and that is not good for the world.

All these nations should have been rapped for inaction. They should have been hauled up for saying they would ‘help’ reduce emissions in the developing world, taking the cheaper route of buying into ways to ‘offset’ theirs. Because it is in all our interests, we should have pushed the industrialized world to reinvent and transform its energy system, drastically, starting now.

Two, we should have said, at the conference and so to the world media, India was serious about climate change, aware of cutting emissions and already doing a lot, at her own considerable cost and pain.

For instance, the government should have boasted it had agreed—and perhaps it is the only one—to fund public transport buses, not private cars, as part of its financial stimulus plan, a move that will transform mobility patterns and reduce emissions in the years to come. It should have explained that the Union ministry of urban development, managing this programme, had already announced that purchase of buses would require cities to undertake internal reform, including compulsory waiver of taxes on public transport and increased taxes on private cars. Here was a car-restraint strategy even the richest have not attempted. We should have challenged the world to learn and emulate.

We are also learning the great leapfrog—jumping the fossil fuel trajectory by cutting before we add to the emissions pool. For instance, large numbers of Indians, particularly poor and energy-insecure, have already jumped to using compact fluorescent lamps (cfls), side-stepping the inefficient bulb. Many states are undertaking this programme—to push for efficiency—at their own cost; these appliances are more expensive than what we currently use. In other words, we are not waiting to first get rich and then move towards a low-carbon trajectory, as the western world has done.

This is not to say we are doing enough or cannot do more. Fact remains our constraint is the making of the rich world. We need funds to be able to move faster, to make investments today, not tomorrow. We can, would like to, build solar powered facilities that would substitute the coal-powered stations of the future. But we know this energy source is still expensive. We know this because, even as the rich world lectures big on good behaviour, it has done little to change its energy systems towards renewables.

It is time the Indian government made this clear: we are not the climate renegades. We can change. We are ready to believe. Till date, all we have got are lectures, but no lessons. That is not good enough. Not for us. Not for the world.

By—Sunita Narain

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/cover_nl.asp?mode=1

Advaniji on the Environment

Advaniji on the Ganga

 ‘I am writing these lines at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, an idyllic ashram located on the banks of the Holy Ganga, with the verdant mountains of the lower Himalayas towering behind it. It is run by His Holiness Swami Chidanandaji Saraswati, whose work for the reform and renaissance of Hinduism I have greatly admired.

Swamiji discussed several ongoing and future projects of his ashram with me. Among these were the cleaning up of the Ganga; making Uttrakhand, which is considered ‘Dev Bhoomi’ (Divine Land) free of plastic and other litter; and renovating and beautifying of all the pilgrimage centers in the state. The idea strongly appealed to me because the sight of pollution at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Varanasi and other sacred places in India, which attracts tens of millions of devotees from all over the country each year, always fills me with despair. Fortunately, the Chief Minister of Uttrakhand, Maj. Gen (Retd.) B.C.Khanduri, also joined us in these discussions and it was decided that the government, civil society organizations and religious establishments should jointly undertake a massive and time-bound campaign to implement this project, first in Gangotri, where the Ganga originates, and subsequently thereafter in other places such as Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Uttarkashi, Hemkunt, Rishikesh and Haridwar. I feel confident of this project taking off for two reasons. Firstly, Khanduri has the reputation of being dynamic; as Minister of Surface Transport in the Vajpayee government he had earned nationwide fame for implementing the ambitious National Highway Development Project. Secondly, there are several far-sighted religious leaders, both in Uttrakhand and elsewhere in the country, who are willing to contribute to make the vision of Nirmal Ganga (pollution free Ganga) a reality.

Going forward, it is my dream to see that Ganga becomes free of pollution all along its course, right from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, the place in West Bengal, where it merges into the ocean. Former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi had launched a commendable project for this purpouse called the Ganga Action Plan, in the mid-1980’s. Sadly, it did not yield the desired results because it sought to be implemented in a bureaucratic way, without eliciting the enthusiastic involvement of what I might call the Ganga Parivar—the people living on both sides of the country, and, most importantly, the hundreds of religious establishments located along the course of the river.

I have no doubt that a combined determined and sustained effort of society and the state would restore the Holy Ganga to this pristine purity. It may take decades to fully reach this objective, but it is a maha yagya (mega mission) worth undertaking. Indeed, it should be our long term goal to make all the rivers, lakes and water bodies in India pollution free. After all, they are only the lifeline of our country’s development, but also the symbols and sustainers of India’s ancient and proud civilization.’

http://www.lkadvani.in/eng/content/view/388/354/

Man who was a mountain, By- Chitra Padmanabhan

Dasrath Manjhi

Dasrath Manjhi

Dasrath Manjhi, the man who bent a mountain to his will and connected his village to the outside world, died on August 17, 2007. He was over 70. In his life story of great poverty and greater will is the lesson that supermen don’t always come from an alien planet.

It’s the kind of superhuman deed that seems so hard to believe because it is true. One man hacked away at a rocky hill for 22 years to create a three-km-long road linking his village to the outside world, armed with nothing more than a hammer and a chisel. What drove the frail man on was a resolve much higher than the hill facing him.

His name: Dasrath Manjhi.

Dasrath Manjhi was from village Gehlour in Gaya District, state of Bihar, India, one of the poorest districts of the western Indian state of Bihar. Poor and illiterate, he worked as farm labour on fields that lay on the other side of the hill, as did many other villagers. The villagers had to scrabble up the hill with its narrow and difficult pass to buy even the smallest thing; skirting it took hours. One day, Manjhi’s wife, Faguni Devi, slipped on the hill and broke her ankle as she was bringing him lunch. Enraged, Manjhi decided to cut the hill down to size. He sold off his goats to buy a hammer, chisel and rope. He even shifted his hut closer to the hill so that he could work day and night. People called Manjhi a madman but he did not care. He was unstoppable; even hunger could not win over him.sold off his goats to buy a hammer, chisel and rope. He even shifted his hut closer to the hill so that he could work day and night. People called Manjhi a madman but he did not care. He was unstoppable; even hunger could not win over him.

Taming the mountain

Manjhi started his work more than 40 years ago. As time passed, the villagers noticed that the hill was a bit more climber-friendly. It was no longer so steep – Manjhi’s hammer and chisel had seen to it that a flat stretch had made its appearance. Those who had called Manjhi a madman fell silent. A few even joined him.

By the early 1980s, a three-kilometre road had been hewn out of the rock. It was wide enough for even vehicles to pass through. A 50-km journey to the nearest block headquarters of Wazirganj had now shrunk to a 10 km journey! (Several villages and small towns comes under one block. All the important government departments looking after the affairs of the block are located in the town which functions as block headquarters.)

Sadly, the woman who had inspired Manjhi to take on the hill could not live to see the fruit of his labour. Manjhi’s wife had died of illness some years ago. Reason: it took a long time to skirt the hill and reach the hospital in time.

Taming the mountain

Manjhi started his work more than 40 years ago. As time passed, the villagers noticed that the hill was a bit more climber-friendly. It was no longer so steep – Manjhi’s hammer and chisel had seen to it that a flat stretch had made its appearance. Those who had called Manjhi a madman fell silent. A few even joined him.

By the early 1980s, a three-kilometre road had been hewn out of the rock. It was wide enough for even vehicles to pass through. A 50-km journey to the nearest block headquarters of Wazirganj had now shrunk to a 10 km journey! (Several villages and small towns comes under one block. All the important government departments looking after the affairs of the block are located in the town which functions as block headquarters.)

Sadly, the woman who had inspired Manjhi to take on the hill could not live to see the fruit of his labour. Manjhi’s wife had died of illness some years ago. Reason: it took a long time to skirt the hill and reach the hospital in time.

Outcaste who became a hero

Manjhi was not stung by a spider that bestowed him with superhuman powers; nor was he born of a super race on some other planet. If anything, he was stung by poverty all his life. The Musahar community he belonged to is among the poorest of the poor in Bihar. It is considered the lowliest among the “untouchables”, a practice that continues in free India despite a law banning it.

Outcaste who became a hero

Manjhi was not stung by a spider that bestowed him with superhuman powers; nor was he born of a super race on some other planet. If anything, he was stung by poverty all his life. The Musahar community he belonged to is among the poorest of the poor in Bihar. It is considered the lowliest among the “untouchables”, a practice that continues in free India despite a law banning it.

Manjhi’s people: living sub-human lives

The Musahars are forced to live some distance away from the village. Nobody wants any contact with them. They are poor, illiterate and have no land. Some work as scavengers; others work as farm labour but are paid much less than the other workers. Often for months together they do not find work. Hunger stalks them at all times. Their occupation at one time was trapping and killing rats. To this day they are looked down upon as the people who live by gathering grains from the hideouts of rats in the fields, who even eat rats. The one Musahar child out of 100 children, who may want to go to school, finds that nobody wants to sit close by. That is their life to this day.

Yet, it took a Musahar called Dasrath Manjhi to do what no one else could, or wanted to do.

Manjhi lived in poverty and died in poverty on August 17, 2007, two days after India celebrated its 60th year of independence. He was over 70.

In his lifetime Manjhi had become a legend – the man who moved mountains; the man who worked tirelessly to instill some of his self pride among members of his community; the man who tried to cure his community of its addiction to liquor.

Blind and deaf government

Yet, for almost 25 years this legend was unable to convince politicians and officials of his state to make the hill road a metalled road and to link it with the larger road network in the state of Bihar.

A report in The Times of India early this year exposed the fact that Manjhi’s road is perhaps the only concrete progress achieved in the village. Tubewells were installed at one time but are dry; there are electric poles but no cables. A plot was given to Dasrath who insisted that a hospital be made on it. That land is still lying barren.

A gesture at last, but too late

Last year, there was a change of government in Bihar. The new chief minister promised Manjhi that all his dreams would be fulfilled. He made Manjhi sit on the chief minister’s chair for a few minutes to honour him and even had him flown to Delhi for treatment. On Manjhi’s death, he announced a state funeral for him. A state funeral is a public ceremony conducted by governments for heads of state (e.g, the President and Prime Minister of India, or ministers) or people of national significance.

That is one gesture to honour a man who rose from his humble origins to touch the skies. The real gesture from the government and from society will come when the Musahars are seen as equals and given opportunities for a life of dignity.

That would be a fitting gesture to honour Dasrath Manjhi.

Manjhi’s people: living sub-human lives

The Musahars are forced to live some distance away from the village. Nobody wants any contact with them. They are poor, illiterate and have no land. Some work as scavengers; others work as farm labour but are paid much less than the other workers. Often for months together they do not find work. Hunger stalks them at all times. Their occupation at one time was trapping and killing rats. To this day they are looked down upon as the people who live by gathering grains from the hideouts of rats in the fields, who even eat rats. The one Musahar child out of 100 children, who may want to go to school, finds that nobody wants to sit close by. That is their life to this day.

Yet, it took a Musahar called Dasrath Manjhi to do what no one else could, or wanted to do.

Manjhi lived in poverty and died in poverty on August 17, 2007, two days after India celebrated its 60th year of independence. He was over 70.

In his lifetime Manjhi had become a legend – the man who moved mountains; the man who worked tirelessly to instill some of his self pride among members of his community; the man who tried to cure his community of its addiction to liquor.

Blind and deaf government

Yet, for almost 25 years this legend was unable to convince politicians and officials of his state to make the hill road a metalled road and to link it with the larger road network in the state of Bihar.

A report in The Times of India early this year exposed the fact that Manjhi’s road is perhaps the only concrete progress achieved in the village. Tubewells were installed at one time but are dry; there are electric poles but no cables. A plot was given to Dasrath who insisted that a hospital be made on it. That land is still lying barren.

A gesture at last, but too late

Last year, there was a change of government in Bihar. The new chief minister promised Manjhi that all his dreams would be fulfilled. He made Manjhi sit on the chief minister’s chair for a few minutes to honour him and even had him flown to Delhi for treatment. On Manjhi’s death, he announced a state funeral for him. A state funeral is a public ceremony conducted by governments for heads of state (e.g, the President and Prime Minister of India, or ministers) or people of national significance.

That is one gesture to honour a man who rose from his humble origins to touch the skies. The real gesture from the government and from society will come when the Musahars are seen as equals and given opportunities for a life of dignity.

That would be a fitting gesture to honour Dasrath Manjhi.

By- Chitra Padmanabh

http://www.pitara.com/news/news_india/online.asp?story=199&page=1

Water Problem in India and How to Solve it !

Water Warriors of India – Initiative towards Pure and Ample water

Essay on Topic 1: How do you contribute to solving community problems?


Water Warriors of India – Initiative towards Pure and Ample water


No water or contaminated water is commonplace news in the national or regional dailies of India. Such incidents are termed by newspapers as mismanagement of the government, bureaucrats calls it unfortunate incidents and the governing authorities term it as accident. Whatever the term used its the shame to the whole mankind that even being in 21st century, with such high development of technology some of our fellow beings living in certain sections of the society has a threat to ill health and in some cases succumb their lives to shackles of death because of water which itself is the originator of life.

Now, the questions to be asked are:-

Are these water problems beyond hope?
No.
Can we have ample and pure water?
Yes.

Such incidents occur throughout India. Year after year, whether or not the monsoon is officially declared “good”, whether or not there is an “official” drought.

Can all of India solve its water (and water-related) problems?
Yes.

Self help is the best help, each and every being of the community has to take a step to solve its own problem and the best step to solve water problem is to catch and store water where it falls through Rain water harvesting. Rain will usher local food security, from rain will come biomass-wealth that will eradicate ecological poverty. From rain will come social harmony.

Rainwater harvesting is what India can choose, and the youth consortium which will bring paradigm shift in this process will be Water Warriors of India

water, Photo By - Abhijeet Bhattacharya

Its an irony that India being surrounded by water bodies on three sides, house of 13 major rivers, largest river island (Majuli), highest rainfall ( Mausingram) and many other facts which reflects Indias dominance in water resources, yet we face shortages every year.

Consider this the per capita water availability in India was 3450 cu m in 1952. It stands at 1800 cu m now and by estimates by 2025 it will fall to 1200 1500 cu m per person.

Even though the rate of urbanization in India is among the lowest in the world, the nation has more than 250 million city-dwellers. Experts predict that this number will rise even further, and by 2020, about 50 per cent of India’s population will be living in cities. This is going to put further pressure on the already strained centralized water supply systems of urban areas.

The urban water supply and sanitation sector in the country is suffering from inadequate levels of service, an increasing demand-supply gap, poor sanitary conditions and deteriorating financial and technical performance.

Supply of water is highly erratic and unreliable. Transmission and distribution networks are old and poorly maintained, and generally of a poor quality. Consequently physical losses are typically high, ranging from 25 to over 50 per cent. Low pressures and intermittent supplies allow back siphoning, which results in contamination of water in the distribution network. Water is typically available for only 2-8 hours a day in most Indian cities. The situation is even worse in summer when water is available only for a few minutes, sometimes not at all.

Looking at the condition at metro cities of India: Mumbais demand for water is expected to rise to 7,970 MLD (million litres daily) by 2011, current supply is 3100 MLD which already constitutes a substantial shortfall as the city receives only 2,500 MLD, the balance lost on account of leakages and pilferage. In the capital itself Delhi the supply of water is around 650 million gallons of water per day against the demand of 750 million.

According to a World Bank study, of the 27 Asian cities with populations of over 1,000,000, Chennai and Delhi are ranked as the worst performing metropolitan cities in terms of hours of water availability per day, while Mumbai is ranked as second worst performer and Calcutta fourth worst

All these was regarding the shortage of water but the analysis remains incomplete if we dont emphasize on the quality of water available for drinking. Whether the water is potable? The fact is that it is deteriorating fast. As early as in 1982 it was reported that 70 per cent of all available water in India was polluted. The situation is much worse today. There are daily news reports on prime dailies showing the pictures of the contaminated water available in various localities of the city for drinking. The colour of the contaminated water supplied to these areas is worse to urine.

Over extraction of ground water has led to salt water intrusion into coastal aquifers. It has also resulted in problems of excessive fluoride, iron, arsenic and salinity in water affecting about 44 million people in India. Ground water is facing an equally serious threat from contamination by industrial effluent as well as pesticides and fertilizer from farm run-offs.

Sanitation and water management should be looked at simultaneously. Too often attention is focused on drinking water supply, leaving sanitation and wastewater treatment for later. However, for every 100 litres of water going into a house about 90 litres will have to leave the plot again.

Unless priority is given quickly to creating an infrastructure to assure availability of water, there may be no water to meet the agricultural, domestic and industrial needs of a population that has tripled in 50 years to more than a billion.

Water management in terms of availability and most importantly quality is therefore major challenge not only for town planners, state and central governments but being citizen of the worlds largest democracy its our supreme duty to overcome the hurdles regarding the water management and water warriors will take initiative in gratifying this duty.

 Water supply is an institutional process and an institutional framework for effective water supply and sanitation has to comply with the functions of policy, regulation and sector organization, management of quality, infrastructure and on-site sanitation.

So we discuss about the major issues and their solution concerning institutional options in water problem and sanitation in Indian community, analysis can be further extended to other developing countries:

First issue: Water supply should treat to all sections of society, but poor people are neglected

Institutions in developing countries dealing with water and sanitation issues have rarely been designed to cater for large numbers of poor people. At the level of operations, public utilities are often constrained by bureaucratic requirements. For instance there is often considerable inflexibility in the management of human resources within public utilities. Given the complexity of the problem in many countries there are a number of separate agencies responsible for wastewater and sanitation, particular in the case of public sector provision.

For this, the role of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as ours, particularly in low cost sanitation, community participation and creating public awareness has to be very positive. In cities, community toilets has to be constructed and managed mainly by NGOs or private firms, based on the user pays principle or as a charity. We will be active in raising awareness concerning health, hygiene, slum development, solid waste collection and disposal issue and equitable distribution of facilities. The challenge remains to increase the impact of these initiatives by multiplying them on a larger scale or mainstreaming the approach in the leading institutions for water and sanitation in India.

Second issue: Should privatization of water be done and confusion regarding the delegation of roles between public and private sector?

An important issue according to this is the division of responsibilities between the government and the private sector. Ideally the government would set the framework, but there is often market failure. Then governments get involved and find it difficult to pull out. Also the type and scale of technology is important and has consequences for the management and financing. The larger the scale, the bigger the financial implications. In that case governments will also be more inclined to involve the private sector.

But majority of the public opinion favors water as a common resource while showing reservation about policy that seeks to make water a commodity of the state. Water policies adopted by states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan are being opposed by several groups including the environmentalists. A largely felt perception held by the people is that governments in India are buckling under pressure from the World Bank. These policies, it is felt, help declare water as a state property, which later facilitates its conversion into private property. But is the privatization of water the only viably efficient solution to our shoddy management of water resources?

The division between the public and private sector requires answering the question which tasks each one is fulfilling?  To ensure effective provision of sanitation services it is imperative to have a good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of every entity (be it public or private) and the technologies used to perform its task. The emergence of the private sector and the users themselves as alternative providers leads to a formulation of a large number of institutional modes for the provision of services with private sector involvement. These modes vary from simple service contract to complete divestiture to the private sector, and a large variety of models for user involvement as owners or in the management.

On the other hand we as participants of the youth movement in water through our ways of harvesting water along with water activists, environmentalist and policy makers will work to provide alternatives to water policies so that the government and people are made aware that there are ways other than privatization to manage the countrys water resources.

Third issue: Willingness to pay or to contribute for water supply and sanitation is minimal.

Effective demand for water and sanitation is often weak if measured by the willingness to pay or contribute to for example the installation of sanitary services. Public demand in context of making payments for water supply and sanitation services systems is low in spite of the high social cost assigned to the polluted sites. The public sector has also become increasingly aware of the high political risk of a significant raise in basic rates for providing these services. Key constituting elements of such systems are appropriate policies, laws and regulations, institutions, technologies and cost recovery systems. There is a need to look for appropriate technological solutions and to involve the people at the preparation and implementation stage.

In general the public is interested in getting sanitation facilities, but not very much concerned about the treatment of wastewater or the necessary off plot sanitation facilities. This usually means a limited willingness to pay and a negative attitude towards involving private parties. Water warriors in its programme will organize campaign stressing on bringing water democracy by ensuring that every drop is conserved, harvested and shared by the people.

Fourth issue: water supply and waste water management should be looked in an integrated way

It is desirable to think of water supply, sanitation and wastewater in an integrated way. This implies that the cost of an integrated solution will be much lower than a solution at a later stage by a separate institution based on different cost recovery system. In big cities dealing with wastewater and offsite sanitation is often integrated. However, in the Indian case we also learn that this tends to be limited to the area of the Municipal Commission, leaving the rest of the city to the development authorities or even district authorities, who tend to have less money and no money raising responsibilities.

As a result we at our movement will make government and people aware to manage useable water and waste water with same assiduousness.

Fifth issue: there is a need for regulation in the system

The need for well-defined roles and responsibilities is clear. It is also necessary to make the institutional arrangements dscn1404between the municipality and the private sector explicit. There needs to be a regulatory framework and the authorities need to take their responsibility. As public utilities are not usually subject to the disciplines of the market, they have fewer incentives to minimize costs (and maximize tariff collection rates). Regulatory arrangements can stimulate them to look at their cost, for example through a system of benchmarking.

The design of an effective institutional framework is a challenge in large metropolitan areas. If not done well, the existence of multiple institutions with primary or secondary responsibilities in sanitation can become a hindrance to effective development and management of sanitation services. A case in point is Bangalore where mandates not only overlap, but have also been defined at different levels, and for different technologies. Here, effective co-ordination is absent, as a result of which the services cannot be run effectively. So, if each section of the society is made aware of its role, such commotion wont arise at all, this is also an area where water warriors will emphasize.

Sixth issue: Finances cannot be ignored

Financing is crucial. What is the financial basis for supplying water and sanitation services? Some of the cost recovery mechanisms currently used includes infrastructure charges, connection fees, environmental user fees and local taxes. Raising sufficient revenue to cover for the cost is difficult. As already emphasized, the costs of these services are high and at the same time, the demand is usually little developed and the willingness to pay is low, and lower than that for other services. In addition, enforcement of payment for sanitation and waste water services is difficult, as one cannot simply disconnect as is done with other utilities such power and telecoms. Yet, any sustainable water management initiative must address the key issues of financing and cost recovery. In this context, raising the awareness of the need to have adequate wastewater and sanitation services, of the range of technologies, and of the cost of such services and of the inevitability of cost recovery in return for good service quality is a precondition for effectiveness. User participation is yet another key to success in wastewater services: several urban case studies have shown that willingness to pay is above expected levels in cases where the users have been given a chance to consciously participate in the selection and establishment of the sanitation system.

Various cost recovery mechanisms or economic instruments can be applied to recover (at least) the operational cost of urban sanitation and the treatment of wastewater. These include user charges, effluent charges and taxation. There should be provision of ‘polluter pays’ in which the costs of wastewater management charged to a customer are calculated in function of wastewater quantity and pollution load. Household charges may be uniform and based on an assumed pollution equivalent, or a volumetric rate based on recorded water consumption. High charges may encourage pre-treatment and even process-redesign by industries in an effort to optimize water and wastewater costs. (Too) high charges may also have undesired effects such as illegal discharges inside or outside the wastewater system. So water warriors through advocating such policies will ensure maximizing of utility under the constraints of minimizing cost.

The youth consortium of water warriors will cater specifically to all the above concerned issues.

Having discussed the current scenario, reasons and the issues and their specific solution regarding the water management in India, now we shift our emphasis on the ways in which an individual or a locality can take measures to solve its own major water problem

Urban centres in India are facing an ironical situation today. On one hand there is the acute water scarcity and on the other, the streets are often flooded during the monsoons. This has led to serious problems with quality and quantity of groundwater.

This is despite the fact that all these cities receive good rainfall. However, this rainfall occurs during short spells of high intensity. (Most of the rain falls in just 100 hours out of 8,760 hours in a year). Because of such short duration of heavy rain, most of the rain falling on the surface tends to flow away rapidly leaving very little for recharge of groundwater. As water shortage increases, alternative sources of water supply are gaining importance. These include sewage recycle, rainwater harvesting, generating water form humidity in the atmosphere etc.

Water recycle through rain water harvesting is a simple, effective and economical solution to conserve water so that more fresh water is available for essential uses drinking, bathing, cooking and laundry. Population, industrialization and pollution are putting pressure on our limited fresh water resource. There is limit to increasing water supply because we are running out of sources and cost of additional facilities is prohibitive. The best way to solve water problem therefore is by conserving water and recycling it wherever possible. Recycling must be made mandatory far all new projects- industrial or domestic and even should be promoted to existing buildings also.

One of the solutions to the urban water crisis and the best way to recycle water is Rainwater Harvesting – capturing the runoff. Rain harvesting will be really efficient in areas where there is inadequate groundwater supply or surface resources are either lacking or insufficient, it drastically reduces urban flooding from which our two major cities Mumbai and Chennai suffered drastically last year

Rain water harvesting is an ancient concept, the implementation of it does not requires any major technology and the cost is even low, as compared to the benefits cost should not even be considered. At this juncture its worth mentioning the ways in which an individual of the society can take part in such a process.

Rainwater harvesting can be harvested from the following surfaces:

Rooftops: If buildings with impervious roofs are already in place, the catchment area is effectively available free of charge and they provide a supply at the point of consumption.

Paved and unpaved areas i.e., landscapes, open fields, parks, storm water drains, roads and pavements and other open areas can be effectively used to harvest the runoff. The main advantage in using ground as collecting surface is that water can be collected from a larger area. This is part of the community project to be undertaken

Water bodies: The potential of lakes, tanks and ponds to store rainwater is immense. The harvested rainwater can not only be used to meet water requirements of the city, it also recharges groundwater aquifers.

Storm water drains: Most of the residential colonies have proper network of storm water drains. If maintained neatly, these offer a simple and cost effective means for harvesting rainwater.

Rain water though stored will only serve the purpose if properly filtered to meet the major drinking water needs. For this effect major invention in the field has been made which provides proper rain water purification mechanisms. These purification system works on the normal treatment method involving screening, flocculation sedimentation and filtration.

These purification systems are also available for micro scale projects to serve the need of a household. Such purification systems are simple in installing and easy to operate. The most important feature is that they dont require electricity.

Many entrepreneurs of industries tend to forget the fact that they are part of the living society and in turn they tend to foster the production of negative externality. It should be made mandatory for each industry to install water management solutions to recycle its waste water for reuse. Major step in this front is through the development of Industrial effluent recycle solution which integrates physiochemical, biological and membrane separation processes for optimum water recovery. They achieve water management through water recycle and source reduction, and waste management through product recovery and waste minimization. They are cost effective as they recover valuable products for reuse while recycling which gives industries a good return on their investment while protecting the environment and even the common people as it reduces the water usage of industries and transmittance of waste to water bodies.

After emphasizing the ways of tackling the problem through rain water harvesting and other recycling options, the following paragraphs paves the way to the essence of the whole discussion; it illuminates the role of the youth in curbing the problem of such a magnitude which can pose a threat to the very existence of the mankind in this world.

Any amount of government expenditure cannot solve this problem unless and until the community as a whole in its full might rise to the occasion and work for it.

In India the role of youth cannot be under estimated as India in its demography cycle has a position of Young India with more than half of Indias population below the age of 35 years. The youth of the nation has to take part in mass movement of awareness; they have to be the Water warriors of India

In this approach the youth will be enlightened to serve their locality and curb the water problem. Each locality in city will have its own group of members named as the water warriors whose primary work will be to impart awareness among the residents regarding rain water harvesting. Charity begins at home, so in the first step the members have to set up rain water harvesting system in their respective houses, so that they can put forward examples and other people can replicate these. Water warriors of respective localities will provide assistance in setting up of the system of rain water harvesting. In certain cases possible community projects can be taken as a whole where large tanks are to be constructed to store rain water. Major foray of water warriors will be in water harvesting but it will also simultaneously ensure that water is being properly utilized.

The promotion techniques will include the most believable of all- word-of-mouth, apart from other conventional means of imparting awareness such as newspapers, hoarding etc, as water warriors will be a youth forum, the awareness and membership will be imparted through the largest network of World Wide Web.

The major question which remained unanswered is that why will any youth join this consortium of water warrior? The answer to this question can be traced from last year experience of major cities of west and south India, which were struck by floods, the irony was that there was water everywhere but there was no water to drink, no water to cook food, no water to survive life. This incident in major way has brought into notice the major problem of water management in our country, and its the younger generations who have to foray into the scene, join the consortium and solve the problem simply because of the reason that we are the people who have to destine the future of ours as well as coming generation. It was first time that major important cities of India had confronted such a problem which made youth aware of the reality, and steps has to be taken to overcome the harsh realities of water mismanagement.

Among the factors that constrain performance of water management in India are: poor levels of service particularly for sanitation, inadequate pricing policies (poor cost recovery), undue political interference with service provision, highly centralized character of the sector, lack of accountability, lack of continuation in policies and programmes, low levels of productivity and efficiency and inadequate training or management and sector staff. These factors are exacerbated by external factors such as of population growth, urbanization, and economic development that jointly drive a growth in demand that providers fail to cope with.

Successful approaches that has to be considered at macro level for policies should be effective decentralization, integration of hygiene and sanitation activities, demand-driven approaches, cost recovery and good governance, and focus on poverty alleviation, equitable distribution of health services, and gender-sensitive approaches.

It is heartening to note that in India, the water supply sector is at last moving away from an infrastructure- creation approach to a consolidation approach. But India still needs to make substantial infrastructure is that its growth has not been accompanied by an improvement in the quality of governance of water services in the country and that the water sector suffered from a policy of build- neglect and rebuild. Therefore, government and its agencies should not merely concern them with fixing pipes but also fixing institutions that fix pipes

These were the approaches at macro level but for effective utilization of these policies the work has to start from micro level, from each and every household itself.

We as youth through our voice need to create awareness about the importance of water in the community so that mindset, attitudes, and habits change proactively rather than wait for legislation and regulation. Together we must work to see that waste of this precious resource is minimizes and we are able to conserve fresh water for future generations.

There is need to grab the water problem by the scruff of its neck. Enough has been written, discussed about the problem, hardly anybody takes a look at the solution. Residents of the locality blame it on the government; government on the other hand overlooks it as a seasonal or short term problem. Therefore, there is a need of a paradigm shift from problems to the solution, from despair to problem solving, form now to future. This is what the youth movement of water warriors will be about.

The water warrior campaigns, ultimate goal will be to see a world as an agglomeration of ecological – water harvesting – democracies.

While writing this essay I, myself is gulping marketed mineral water, because the water supply in my locality is not safe for drinking, but after completing the essay its assured that we as Water Warriors will promise the world of pure and ample water.

http://www.ezilon.com/articles/articles/1766/1/Water-Problem-in-India-and-How-to-Solve-it

ब्लॅकआऊट.. पर्यावरणप्रेमाचा फार्स ?

मानवी हस्तक्षेपामुळे पृथ्वीच्या हवामानात झपाटय़ाने होऊ लागलेला बदल रोखण्यासाठी आता कृतीची गरज आहे, हे ओळखून ऑस्ट्रेलियातील सिडनी

switch off lights for just one hour !
switch off lights for just one hour !

शहरातील नागरिकांनी २००७ साली ‘अर्थ अवर’ ही संकल्पना मांडली. त्यानुसार, सिडनीतील २० लाख नागरिकांनी एका संध्याकाळी एक तासासाठी दिवे बंद ठेवले. ‘अर्थ अवर’ची ही संकल्पना उचलून धरत २००८ मध्ये ३५ देशांतील ३७१ शहरांनी एक तासासाठी दिवे बंद ठेवले. आणि ‘विश्व प्रकृति निधी (डब्ल्यूडब्ल्यूएफ)’तर्फे देण्यात आलेल्या माहितीनुसार, यंदा दिल्ली आणि मुंबई या शहरांनी या उपक्रमात सहभागी होण्यास तयारी दर्शविली आहे. ‘अर्थ अवर’अंतर्गत २८ मार्च रोजी रात्री ८.३० वाजल्यापासून पुढे एक तास स्वेच्छेने दिवे बंद ठेवायचे आहेत.
‘डब्ल्यूडब्ल्यूएफ’च्या अंदाजानुसार यंदा या उपक्रमात ७४ देशांतील ३७७ शहरे व त्यातील ५० लाख नागरिक सहभागी होतील. त्यामध्ये किती दिल्लीकर, किती मुंबईकर या उपक्रमात कृतीशील सहभाग नोंदवतात हा पुढचा प्रश्न. तत्पूर्वी गंभीर समस्येवर शहरी मानसिकतेतून आलेल्या उपाययोजनेविषयी ‘मुंबई वृत्तान्त’ची ही खास टिप्पणी..
वाचकहो, हवामान बदल रोखण्यासाठी आता प्रत्यक्ष कृतीची गरज आहे.. म्हणूनच की काय, ऑस्ट्रेलियात सुरू झालेल्या ‘अर्थ अवर’ या संकल्पनेत यंदा मुंबई आणि दिल्ली ही भारतीय शहरे सहभागी होत आहेत. या उपक्रमांतर्गत येत्या २८ मार्चला रात्री एक तासाकरिता शहरातील दिवे स्वेच्छेने बंद ठेवायचे आहेत.
एरव्ही ३६५ गुणिले २४ तास विजेचा भरमसाठ वापर करणारी महानगरे वर्षांतून फक्त एक तास दिवे मालवून फार मोठे पर्यावरण संरक्षण साधणार! केवढा मोठा त्याग! भारनियमनग्रस्तांना इच्छा असूनही या ‘त्यागा’ची संधी मात्र मिळणार नाही. विजेच्या इतर उपकरणांबाबत कोणताही उल्लेख या उपक्रमाच्या माहितीपत्रकात नाही, म्हणजे बहुदा फक्त दिवेच बंद ठेवायचे असावेत. (तरी काय झालं.. अंधारात बसून टीव्ही बघणं कित्ती कठीण आहे. पण हो, ‘कॅण्डल लाइट डिनर’ची चांगली संधी आहे, विथ म्युझिक!)
प्रस्तुत प्रतिनिधीचे सोडा, पण एकूणच शहरवासी पर्यावरणाच्या समस्येचे गांभीर्य पुरेसे लक्षात घेत नसावेत. म्हणूनच की काय ‘डब्ल्यूडब्ल्यूएफ’ला या उपक्रमासाठी वलयांकित व्यक्तींचा पाठिंबा घेणे आवश्यक वाटले असावे. होय महाराजा! या उपक्रमाला नोबेल विजेते आर्चबिशप डेसमंड टुटू, ऑस्कर विजेती अभिनेत्री केट ब्लँचेट आणि बॉलीवूड अभिनेता आमिर खान यांचा पाठिंबा (हा पाठिंबा सक्रिय की कसे याबाबत पत्रकात उल्लेख नाही) आहे.
तुम्ही तुमच्या घरातले दिवे बंद ठेवणार की नाही ते ठरवायला तुम्हाला अजून पुरेसा अवधी आहे. मात्र, २८ मार्चला रात्री ८.३० ते ९.३० या दरम्यान पुढे दिलेल्या कंपन्यांमध्ये शक्यतो काही काम काढू नका. ‘विप्रो’, ‘आयटीसी वेलकमग्रुप’, ‘इंडियन हॉटेल्स’, ‘हुडको’, ‘एचएसबीसी’, ‘गुगल’, ‘स्टॅण्डर्ड चार्टर्ड इंडिया’, ‘एच पी’, ‘पीव्हीआर फिल्म्स’ या कंपन्यांमध्ये.. अहो, का काय विचारताय? या कंपन्यांनीही ‘अर्थ अवर’ला पाठिंबा देण्याची प्रतिज्ञा केली आहे!)
थोडक्यात काय तर या उपक्रमात सहभागी होऊन पर्यावरणाच्या समस्येचे गांभीर्य आणि कृतीची गरज असल्याची जाण शहरवासीयांना व्यक्त करता येईल! तेव्हा मुंबईकर हो, आता तुम्ही ठरवायचे आहे, की २८ मार्चला एक तास दिवे बंद ठेवून पर्यावरण समस्येची जाण व्यक्त करायची की हा उपक्रम वर्षांतून एकदा ‘डे कल्चर’सारखा राबविण्यापेक्षा आपली जबाबदारी ओळखून शहरवासीयांनी स्वतहूनच वीजेचा वापर कमी आणि काटेकोरपणे करण्याचा संकल्प यंदाच्या ‘अर्थ अवर’ला सोडायचा…

साभार लोकसत्ता.

http://loksatta.com/daily/20090213/mv05.htm

Highest Dam in India !


Highest Dam in India

Tehri Dam on Bhagirathi River is the highest dam in India. With a height of 261 meters, Tehri Dam is the sixth highest dam in the world. Tehri dam is the main dam of the Tehri Hydro Project, a major power project located in the state of Uttarakhand. The dam’s projected capabilities include an power generation capacity of 2400 MW, stabilise irrigation to an area of 6,000 km² and a supply of 270 million gallons of drinking water to Delhi and cities in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Tehri Dam was approved in 1972 and its construction was started in 1978. The dam was in the controversy due to environmental reasons. The main dam will produce 2000 MW of electricity when completed. There is another smaller dam 14 km downstream at Koteshwar that will produce 400 MW of electricity.

Trouble in Tehri

The closure of two tunnels of the Tehri dam in the Ganga basin heightens tensions in the Tehri valley.

A FRESH stand-off appears imminent in the Tehri valley following the closure of two crucial tunnels in the Ganga basin by the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC). The tunnels were closed after the Union Power Ministry gave the green signal. The water level in the valley has risen to 30 metres and the closure of two more tunnels, which are at a higher level, will lead to the complete submergence of Tehri town. The closure of these tunnels has been delayed owing to unresolved issues relating to rehabilitation.

A view of Tehri town, which is facing submergence.

Since December 9, Sunderlal Bahuguna, environmentalist and founder-leader of the Chipko movement, has been leading Aa relay hunger-strike launched by several families to draw the government’s attention to the issue of rehabilitation. Missing this time, however, are the leaders and activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which attempted to give a religious twist to the issue in March (Frontline, April 27, 2001), when Bahuguna went on a fast protesting against the inadequate measures taken to rehabilitate people who would be affected by the construction of the 260.5-metre-high earth-and-rockfill dam. The construction of the dam is expected to result in the formation of a reservoir over 42 square kilometres, fully submerging Tehri town and about 20 villages and partly affecting 74 villages.

For Bahuguna, the support of “anybody and everybody” was welcome as long as it met the aspirations of the displaced people of Tehri. But the VHP’s interest in the issue appeared to be short-lived. It failed to gain any significant support from the people of Tehri for its “Gangatva” campaign, which was aimed at preventing the “taming” of the Ganga, “a source of inspiration and salvation for Hindus”, and it was a matter of time before it would withdraw from the agitation. The protest, after all, was hinged on an emotive issue that was divorced from the more realistic problems such as displacement and rehabilitation.

The volte-face of the Sangh Parivar has left Bahuguna and his followers in Tehri high and dry. For the Parivar, if the anti-dam posturing failed to fetch the intended result, then it was time to take a pro-project stance, especially in the context of the impending elections to the Uttranchal Assembly. Such a change of strategy was evident from the claims being made by the Uttranchal government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The construction of the Tehri dam, the “world’s fifth and Asia’s largest” dam, is an achievement, says the government. The closure of the tunnels, according to a THDC official, is a milestone in the history of the project.

Tunnels 1 and 2 of the Tehri dam.

On December 23, the Information and Public Relations Department of the Uttaranchal government released full-page Badvertisements in several national dailies proclaiming the closure of the two tunnels (T3 and T4) as a “new chapter in development”. The advertisement acknowledged the “able leadership” of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the “guidance” of Union Power Minister Suresh Prabhu, and the “constructive efforts” of Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. It highlighted the salient features and benefits of the project, the status of the rehabilitation measures, and so on. It said the people of Tehri had made a great and unforgettable sacrifice that had enabled the construction of the dam. “The government was dedicated to the full and proper rehabilitation of the people of Tehri town and surrounding villages and also to the development of regions beyond the dam that are affected. In the first phase of rehabilitation, 3,251 urban families and 2,583 rural families have been rehabilitated. In the second phase, 2,604 families from the villages in full submergence and 3,663 families from the villages in partial submergence will be rehabilitated,” it said.

According to government figures, of the total number of 2,409 affected rural families, 301 are yet to be rehabilitated in the first phase. In the second phase, of the 6,441 affected families, 2,303 are to be rehabilitated.

The people in Tehri town had been asked to vacate their homes by the end of March when the tunnels were to be closed. It was then that the VHP entered the picture with the slogan “Ganga aviral bahati tahe” (Let the Ganga flow unhindered eternally). VHP leader Ashok Singhal announced his plan to “save the purity of the Ganga” and threatened to go on a fast against the closure of the tunnels.

The VHP called off its agitation after the Central government set up a 10-member committee headed by Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to study the project and submit a report within three months. Its members included R.A. Mashelkar, Director-General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; C.D. Thatte, former Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources; Ravi Shankar, Director, Geological Survey of India; and Dilip Biswas, Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board. The committee was asked to look into two aspects of the project: its safety (from the seismic point of view, in the context of the earthquake in Bhuj) and its impact on the purity of the Ganga. Its terms of reference did not include the issue of rehabilitation. The people of Tehri saw through the charade. The setting up of the committee itself was seen as a move to placate the VHP and the anti-dam protesters from the valley.

The partially submerged hut of environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna.

Talking to Frontline over telephone from Tehri, Sunderlal Bahuguna said that the agitators’ main demand was just and fair rehabilitation. “Two acres of land is nothing without meeting the requirement of fodder, fuel and green vegetation,” he said. Bahuguna also said that the THDC’s claim that local manpower was being used in the project was false. According to him, mostly labourers from Bihar, Orissa and even Nepal were being used and that many of them were bonded.

A REPORT brought out in November by the South Asia Network on Dams, River and People (SANDRP) gives a clearC picture of the extent of rehabilitation. According to it, the government has not met even the basic requirements of a rehabilitation process. For instance, it does not have a database on the number of people affected and their incomes and livelihood patterns. Nor does it have a comprehensive policy that takes into account all aspects of displacement, the availability of suitable land and the need to settle village communities as social entities that are intact.

There is no master plan for resettlement and rehabilitation and the project-displaced people are not involved in the rehabilitation process, the report says and points out that the current package is inadequate for people to return to their original standards of living. While the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the project estimated the number of affected people at 97,000, the THDC puts the figure at 67,500. Only a limited extent of land is available for some project-affected persons and even that is of questionable quality, the report says. In some cases the land belonged to other communities.

41

By- T.K. RAJALAKSHMI

Volume 19 – Issue 01, Jan. 05, – 18, 2002

Photos By- PRAVEEN KUMAR

http://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&q=tehri+Dam&start=50&sa=N

गंगा के लिए आमरण अनशन ! – Introduction of Ganga.

G.D.Agarwal

Prof. G.D.Agarwal

6 फरवरी 2009/ आमरण अनशन का आज 24 वां दिन है।

गंगा हमारे देश की पवित्रतम् नदी है। उसी के इर्द-गिर्द हमारी संस्कृति और सभ्यता फूली-फली। पर भौतिकवादी सोच के चलते हमारे देश के योजनाकार गंगा के अस्तित्व को ही समाप्त कर देना चाहते हैं। बांधों की अतंहीन शृंखला में गंगा कहीं गुम सी हो गई है। अकेले भागीरथी पर 10 बांध है। इन बांधों से गंगा का नैसर्गिक प्रवाह पूरी तरह रुक गया है। वैज्ञानिकों का मानना है कि ग्लोबलवार्मिंग के चलते गर्म होते तापमान से हिमालय के पिघलने का खतरा बढ़ा है। कहा तो यह भी जा रहा है कि सुरक्षा का प्रतीक हिमालय पूरी तरह 2030 तक पिघल जायेगा।

इन्हीं खतरो को भांपकर देश के जाने माने पर्यावरणविद प्रो. गुरुदास अग्रवाल ने पिछले साल 13 जून को उत्तर काशी के मणिकर्णिका घाट पर अपना आमरण अनशन प्रारम्भ किया था। इसके परिणाम स्वरूप 19 जून 2008 को उत्तराखण्ड सरकार द्वारा दो परियोजनाओं भैरव घाटी (381 मेगावाट) तथा पाला मेनेरी (480 मेगावाट) पर तत्काल प्रभाव से काम रोक दिया। पर गंगा रक्षा की लड़ाई पूरी नहीं हुई थी।

इसी बात को समझते हुए गुरुदास अग्रवाल बीते 23 जनवरी से दिल्ली में फिर अनशन पर बैठ गए। उनकी प्रमुख मांग यह है कि एनटीपीसी द्वारा बनाई जा रही परियोजना लोहारी नागपाला (600 मेगावाट) का काम तत्काल प्रभाव से रोका जाए। जब 30 जून 2008 को जीडी ने अपना अनशन तोड़ा था तो उस वक्त केन्द्र सरकार के ऊर्जा मंत्रालय ने तीन महीने के अन्दर एक्सपर्ट ग्रुप बनाकर उचित कार्यवाही करने का आश्वासन दिया था।

उस वक्त अशोक सिंघल, स्वामी हंसदास, मदनलाल खुराना, पंकज सिंह, बाबा रामदेव (संयोजक, गंगा रक्षक मंच) और स्वामी चिदानंद ने अनशन समाप्त करने का आग्रह इस वायदे के साथ किया था कि वे जी.डी. की मांगों को पूरा करने के लिए सरकार पर दबाव बनाएंगे। पिछले छ: महीनों में इन्होंने अपने वायदे के अनुसार क्या किया, यह इन लोगों से पूछे जाने की जरूरत है।

pala-manneri-dam

पाला मेनेरी (480 मेगावाट)

30 जून, 2008 को अनशन समाप्त होने के बाद एक जांच कमेटी बनायी गयी। उस कमेटी में स्वामी हंसदास की ओर से पारितोष त्यागी और स्वरुपानन्द सरस्वती जी महाराज की ओर से राजेन्द्र सिंह नामित किये गये। उस कमेटी में प्रो. गुरुदास अग्रवाल का भी नाम था और अब भी है। लेकिन अपने नाम के ऊपर आपत्ति गुरुदास अग्रवाल ने पत्र के माध्यम से दर्ज करा दी। फिर भी उनका नाम नहीं हटाया गया। प्रो. अग्रवाल उस जांच कमेटी के गठन पर ही सवालिया निशान खड़ा कर रहे थे। उनका संदेह सही साबित हुआ।

लगभग 6 महीने के बाद 11-12 जनवरी 09 को जांच दल बांधों का निरीक्षण करने पहुंचा। उस समय बांधो के बंधे जल का प्रवाह जानबूझ कर बढ़ा दिया गया ताकि रिपोर्ट अपने मनमाफिक बनायी जा सके। जांच दल को काफी स्थानिक विरोध का सामना करना पड़ा। स्थानीय भुक्तभोगियों का कहना था कि पहाड़ों में सुरंगों के चलते धंस रहे गांवो को भी आप देखो। जांच दल ने अपनी ओर से नामित सदस्यों के तर्कों से सहमत होने के बाद भी रिपोर्ट का जो खाका खींचा है, वह आश्चर्य जनक है।

इस रिपोर्ट में बताया गया है कि गंगा में पर्याप्त मात्रा में जल आ रहा है। रपट कहती है कि बांधों से कोई भी नुकसान नहीं है। वास्तव में जांच कमेटी की रिपोर्ट झूठ का पुलिन्दा है। इससे सरकार की मंशा पर ही सवालिया निशान खड़ा होता है। इस जांच दल की रिपोर्ट में नामित सदस्यों में पारितोष त्यागी, राजेन्द्र सिंह और रवि चोपड़ा के तर्को को अभी तक शामिल नहीं किया गया। जिसकी वजह से राजेन्द्र सिंह और आर. एन. सिंह ने इस्तीफा दे दिया। उल्लेखनीय है कि आर. एन. सिंह सरकार की ओर से नामित सदस्य थे। उनका कहना था कि 20 क्यूसेक प्रवाह होना चाहिए। वे 16 क्यूसेक तक प्रवाह भी स्वीकार करने को तैयार थे लेकिन उनकी भी नहीं सुनी गयी और उन्हें इस्तीफा देना पड़ा।

केन्द्र सरकार की ओर से 4 नवम्बर 2008 को गंगा को राष्ट्रीय नदी बनाने की घोषणा प्रधानमंत्री ने की। पर अभी तक राष्ट्रीय प्रतीक अधिनियम के अन्तर्गत कोई भी ठोस कार्यवाही नहीं की गयी है। इन सभी शंकाओं से परिचित होकर ही प्रो. गुरुदास अग्रवाल ने दिनांक 14 जनवरी 2009 से अपना आमरण अनशन दिल्ली के हिन्दू महासभा भवन में प्रारम्भ कर दिया है।

प्रो. अग्रवाल की मांग बस इतनी ही है कि गोमुख से उत्तर काशी तक गंगा का नैसर्गिक प्रवाह रहने दिया जाए। ताकि हम अपनी आने वाली पीढ़ी को गंगा मईया का नैसार्गिक प्रवाह दिखा सकें। उनका कहना है कि मेरी मांग गोमुख से उत्तर काशी की है, लेकिन गोमुख से गंगासागर तक गंगा का प्राकृतिक प्रवाह बना रहे तो सबके लिए बहुत अच्छा होगा।

प्रो. अग्रवाल देश के जाने-माने पर्यावरणविद् होने के नाते अपना कर्तव्य समझकर यह संकल्प दुहराते हैं कि मैं अपने जीते जी यह नहीं देख सकता कि पूरे भारत की आस्था की नदी, जो कि 65 करोड़ लोगों की आजीविका का साधन है, वह नदी अपने लिए जल को तरसे। आज जरूरत इस बात की है कि प्रो. अग्रवाल के इस पुनीत संकल्प में हम सब अपने-अपने स्तर पर कुछ ना कुछ सहयोग करें।

-हरपाल सिंह

साभार –भारतीय पक्ष

साभार : इंडिया वाटर पोर्टल (हिन्दी)

Dr. G.D. Agrawal to continue his fast : 30th day

Dr. G.D. Agrawal, who is on a fast-unto-death against the construction of any project on the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi has rejected the Union Ministry of Power’s request to end his fast saying that he could only do so once the natural flow of the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi is guaranteed by the government and all works on the Loharinag-Pala HEP are stopped.

Meanwhile, recent reports in Dehra Doon’s local newspapers, attributed to highly placed sources, suggesting that the state government is likely to soon resume work on the Pala-Maneri and the Bhaironghati, hydro electric projects on the Bhagirathi, have been challenged by Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, People’s Science Institute, Dehra Doon. “These reports are contrary to the stated policy of the Government of India,” says Dr. Ravi Chopra.

Giving details Dr. Chopra said, “In a letter dated February 5th to Dr. G.D. Agrawal, the Union Ministry of Power states that the GoI has confirmed that no further hydroelectric projects will be undertaken on the Bhagirathi.”
Dr. Chopra also dismissed the claims of these highly placed sources that the Government of Uttarakhand would soon resume work on its suspended HEPs once the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) for 4 cumecs environmental flow downstream of the Loharinag-Pala HEP were accepted by the Government of India. “This recommendation of the HLEG has clearly been rejected by the Government of India. Referring to a meeting held with Union Minister of Power, Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde and the Minister of State Prime Minister’s Office, Shri Prithiviraj Chavan, among others, the above-mentioned letter states that it has been agreed that the minimum flow of water from Lohari Nagpala barrage in the river bed during the lean period shall be ensured at 16 cumecs or as may be decided by the Ganga River Authority, which is under formation. The so-called highly placed sources appear to be highly motivated and are deliberately trying to mislead Uttarakhand’s people and decision makers,” charged Dr. Chopra.

http://www.indiawaterportal.org/blog/2009/02/15/dr-agrawal%E2%80%99s-fast-update/

Introduction  of Ganga

The Ganga  is a major river of the Indian subcontinent rising in the Himalaya Mountains and flowing about 2,510 km (1,560 mi) generally eastward through a vast plain to the Bay of Bengal. On its 1,560-mi (2,510-km) course, it flows southeast through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. In central Bangladesh it is joined by the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. Their combined waters (called the Padma River) empty into the Bay of Bengal and form a delta 220 mi (354 km) wide, which is shared by India and Bangladesh. Its plain is one of the most fertile and densely populated regions in the world. The Ganges alone drains an area of over a million square km with a population of over 407 million. Millions depend on water from the holy river for several things: drinking, bathing, agriculture, industry and other household chores.
Ganga river known as Ganga Maata or Mother Ganges is revered as a goddess whose purity cleanses the sins of the faithful and aids the dead on their path toward heaven. In most Hindu families, a vial of water from the Ganga is kept in every house. It is believed that drinking water from the Ganga with one’s last breath will take the soul to heaven. Hindus also believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganga at least once in their lifetime. Some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious congregations are celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga such as the Kumbh Mela or the Kumbh Fair and the Chhat Puja.  Kumbh Mela is  the largest religious gathering on Earth for Hindu peoples, where around 70 million Hindus from around the world participated in the last Kumbh Mela at the Hindu Holy city Prayaga (also known as Allahabad).
The upper Ganges supplies water to extensive irrigation works. The river passes the holy bathing sites at Haridwar, Allahabad (where the Yamuna river enters the Ganges), and Varanasi. Below Allahabad the Ganges becomes a slow, meandering stream with shifting channels. Because of its location near major population centers, however, the river is highly polluted. The Ganges collects large amounts of human pollutants as it flows through highly populous areas. These populous areas, and other people down stream, are then exposed to these potentially hazardous accumulations.

Ganga India’s national river
The mighty Ganga is not only the river but much more to the millions for whom the Ganga is a symbol of faith, hope, substance and sanity. Therefore the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared on November 4, 2008 that henceforth the Ganga would be known as India’s ‘national river’.
The Prime minister has also announced the proposal to set up a separate high powered Ganga River Basin Authority to stop its pollution and degradation. Chaired by the Prime minister, the authority would have as the members the chief ministers of states through which the river flows, besides working closely with ministers of water resources, environment and forests, urban development and others as well as agencies working on  river conservation and pollution management.

Source of Ganga River
In the Uttarakhand Himalayas where glacial water flowing from a cave at Gaumukh, is the origin of the Bhagirathi river.  Gaumukh has been described as a desolate place at an altitude of about 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). Twenty-three kilometers from Gaumukh, the river reaches Gangotri, the first town on its path. Thousands of visitors come to Gangotri each year, from every part of the world. The river which joins the Alaknanda river at Devaprayag, also in the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to form the Ganga. The Ganga then flows through the Himalayan valleys and emerges into the north Indian plain at the town of Haridwar.
Recent pictures taken by Google Earth via satellite have confirmed that an eight-km stretch of the Bhagirathi river has dried up. The river is shown snaking through the Himalayan mountains as one long, sandy stretch minus any water. Other rivers emanating from the Gangotri glacier, including the Bhilangana, the Assi Ganga and the Alaknanda, all tributaries of the Ganga river, are also drying up.
Since the river Ganga (Bhagirathi) is still emanating from the ice cave (Gaumukh) of Gangotri Glacier, no steps are required to be taken at present for bringing back the flow of river Ganga. As far as the recession of the glacier is concerned it is a part of natural phenomena and cannot be stopped by using short term artificial measures. This information was given by Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Kapil Sibal, in a written reply to a question by Shri Vijoy Krishna in the Lok Sabha on April 29, 2008.

Ganga River in plains
On its 1,560-mi (2,510-km) course in plains, Ganga flows southeast through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. The Ganga passing  some of the most populous cities of India, including Kanpur , Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, and Kolkata.  The Yamuna, which originates less than a hundred miles east of the Bhagirathi, flows parallel to the Ganga and a little to the south for most of its course before merging with the Ganga at the holy city of Allahabad, also known as Triveni Sangam. New Delhi, capital of India, and Agra, site of the Taj Mahal, are two of the major cities on the Yamuna river.
The largest tributary to the Ganga is the Ghaghara, which meets it before Patna,
in Bihar, bearing much of the Himalayan glacier melt from Northern Nepal. The Gandak, which comes from near Katmandu, is another big Himalayan tributary. Other important rivers that merge with the Ganga are the Son, which originates in the hills of Madhya Pradesh, the Gomti which flows past Lucknow, and then meets with the river Chambal.
On its way it passes the towns of Mirzapur, Varanasi, Patna and Bhagalpur.  At Bhagalpur, the river meanders past the Rajmahal Hills, and beings to change course southwards. At Pakaur, the river begins its first attrition with the branching away of its first distributary, the River Bhagirathi, which goes on to form the River Hooghly. Close to the border with Bangladesh, the Farakka Barrage, built in 1974 controls the flow of the Ganges, diverting some of the water into a feeder canal linking the Hooghly to keep it relatively silt free.
After entering Bangladesh, the main branch of the Ganges is known as Padma River
till it is joined by the Jamuna River the largest distributaries of the Brahmaputra. Further downstream, the Ganges is fed by the Meghna River, the second largest distributaries of the Brahmaputra and takes on its name. Fanning out into the 350 km (220 mi) wide Ganges Delta, it empties out into the Bay of Bengal. The delta of the Ganga, or rather, that of the Hooghly and the Padma, is a vast ragged swamp forest (42,000 sq km) called the Sunderbans.

Pollution in Ganga River
Today, over 29 cities, 70 towns, and thousands of villages extend along the Ganges’ banks. Nearly all of their sewage – over 1.3 billion liters per day – goes directly into the river, along with thousands of animal carcasses, mainly cattle. Another 260 million liters of industrial waste are added to this by hundreds of factories along the river’s banks.  Municipal sewage constitutes 80 per cent by volume of the total waste
dumped into the Ganges, and industries contribute about 15 percent. The majority of the Ganges pollution is organic waste, sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the Ganges have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged. Recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal-coliform counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.
The sacred practice of depositing human remains in the Ganges also poses health threats because of the unsustainable rate at which partially cremated cadavers are dumped. In Varanasi, some 40,000 cremations are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganges. In addition, the carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year. An inadequate cremation procedures contributes to a large number of partially burnt or unburnt corpses floating down the Ganga.
The industrial pollutants also a major source of contamination in the Ganges. A total of 146 industries are reported to be located along the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. The major polluting industries on the Ganga are the leather industries, especially near Kanpur, which use large amounts of Chromium and other toxic chemical waste, and much of it finds its way into the meager flow of the Ganga.  From the plains to the sea, pharmaceutical companies, electronics plants, textile and paper industries, tanneries, fertilizer manufacturers and oil refineries discharge effluent into the river. This hazardous waste includes hydrochloric acid, mercury and other heavy metals, bleaches and dyes, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls highly toxic compounds that accumulate in animal and human tissue.
However, industry is not the only source of pollution. Sheer volume of waste – estimated at nearly 1 billion litres per day – of mostly untreated raw sewage – is a significant factor.  Runoff from farms in the Ganges basin adds chemical fertilizers and pesticides such as DDT, which is banned in the United States because of its toxic and carcinogenic effects on humans and wildlife. Damming the river or diverting its water, mainly for irrigation purposes, also adds to the pollution crisis.

Ganga action plan
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was initiated by the late Prime Minster Indira Gandhi, who called for a comprehensive survey of the situation in 1979. In 1985, the government of India launched the Ganga Action Plan, which was devised to clean up the river in selected areas by installing sewage treatment plants and threatening fines and litigation against industries that pollute.
The 2006 official audit of the Ganga Action Plan has revealed that it has met only 39 per cent of its sewage
treatment target. Moreover, the plan is behind schedule by over 13 years. According to the legal counsel, Central Pollution Control Board, Mr Vijay Panjawani, even after spending Rs 24,000 crore, the Ganga remains as dirty as ever.
A total of Rs.740.11 crore has been released to different States so far for implementation of schemes for the river Ganga under Ganga Action Plan (GAP). The GAP Phase – I, the first attempt of the Government of India to undertake pollution abatement works in the river Ganga, was launched in the year 1985 with the objective of treating 882 million litres per day (mld) of sewage and improving its water quality to bathing class standards. This Phase was declared completed in March, 2000 with the creation of sewage treatment apacity of 865 mld. Since GAP Phase – I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP Phase – II which includes plans for its major tributaries namely, Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda, besides Ganga, was approved in stages from 1993 onwards. The above two phases of Ganga Action Plan have continued since their inception with GAP-I having been completed in 2000 and GAP-II is presently under implementation.
A total of 146 industries are reported to be located along the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. Of the grossly polluting industries in U.P., 82 industries have installed Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) and are reported to be complying with the standards, 27 industries, though have installed ETPs are not reported to be complying with the prescribed standards and 35 industries are reported to have been closed. The Central Pollution Control Board has issued directions to the State Pollution Control Boards under Section 18 1(b) of Water Act, 1974 for taking appropriate legal action against the defaulting industries. In the State of Uttrakhand, of the 2 Grossly Polluting Industries, one is reported to have installed the ETP and the other is reported to have been closed. As regards the number of drains falling into the river in the towns covered under the Ganga Action Plan and number of identified Gross Polluting Industries which discharge their effluent in the river between Rishikesh and Prayagraj, the same is given in the Annexure.
GAP Phase-I was declared closed in March, 2000. Since GAP Phase-I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP Phase II which included Plans for Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda besides Ganga was approved in various stages from 1993 onwards. The present sanctioned cost of works for Ganga river (main stem) under GAP Phase-II is Rs.564 crore against which an amount of Rs.373.58 crore has been released to the State Implementing Agencies. Out of a total of 311 schemes sanctioned, 185 schemes have been completed so far and the balance schemes are in different stages of implementation.
A citizen-based Sankat Mochan Foundation, started in Varanasi in 1982, has made great strides toward a lasting clean-up of the Ganges. With a dual identity as Hindu priest and civil engineer, the organization’s founder, Veer Bhadra Mishra, has approached the problem from both a scientific and  a spiritual perspective. In collaboration with engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, Mishra has proposed an alternative  sewage-treatment plan for Varanasi that is compatible with the climate and conditions of India. The advanced integrated wastewater oxidation pond system would store sewage in a series of ponds and use bacteria and algae to break down waste and purify the water.
On June 23, 2008  West Bengal has been allocated Rs 249.68 crore under the second phase of Ganga Action Plan, (GAP-II) to cover 196 schemes in 31 towns of the state as part of the ongoing efforts to clean up the River Ganga. The schemes devised by GAP-II, which now falls under the National River Conservation Development (NRCD), would include interception and diversion of raw sewage, construction of sewage treatment plants, crematoria, river front development, afforestation and public participation. The GAP was a programme launched by the Centre in April 1985 in order to reduce the pollution load on the river Ganga.

History
The Ganga is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. The Ganga is mentioned in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west. In RV 6.45.31, the word Ganga is also mentioned, but it is not clear if the reference is to the river.RV 3.58.6 says that “your ancient home, your auspicious friendship, O Heroes, your wealth is on the banks of the Jahnavi (JahnAvyAm)”. This verse could possibly refer to the Ganga. In RV 1.116.18-19, the Jahnavi and the Gangetic dolphin occur in two adjacent verses.
During the early Indo-Aryan Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati were the major rivers, not the Ganga. But the later three Vedas seem to give much more  importance to the Ganga, as shown by its numerous references. According to the Hindu Purans, Goddess Ganga used to exist only in Heaven. Then prince Bhagirath worshipped Ganga to descend on earth. This is why Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. In the Mahabharath this story is also mentioned. In fact, Ganga is a major character in the Mahabharath, where she’s the mother of Bhisma.
Another version of the myth tells us that Ganga descended to earth to purify the souls of the 60,000 sons of
an ancient ruler, King Sagara, who had been burnt to ashes by an enraged ascetic.

Ganga in Hindu religion
According to Hindus the river Ganga  is sacred. It is worshipped by Hindus and personified as a goddess, who holds an important place in the Hindu religion. Hindu belief holds that bathing in the river on certain occasions causes the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. Many people believe that this will come from bathing in Ganga at any time. People travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga; this immersion also is believed to send the ashes to heaven. Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the river Ganga, including Haridwar and Kashi. People carry sacred water from the Ganges that is sealed in copper pots after making the pilgrimage to Kashi. It is believed that drinking water from the Ganga with one’s last breath will take the soul to heaven.
Hindus also believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganga at least once in their lifetime.
In most Hindu families, a vial of water from the Ganga is kept in every house. This is done because it is auspicious to have water of the Holy Ganga in the house, and also if someone is dying, that person will be able to drink its water.  Many Hindus believe that the water from the Ganga can cleanse a person’s soul of  all past sins, and that it can also cure the ill. The ancient scriptures mention that the water of Ganges carries the blessings of the Lord’s feet. Hence mother Ganges is also known as Visnupadi (Emanating from the Lotus feet of Supreme Lord Sri Visnu). Some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious congregations are celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga such as the Kumbh Mela or the Kumbh Fair and the Chhat Puja.
Around 70 million Hindus from around the world participated in Kumbh Mela at the Hindu Holy city Prayaga (also known as Allahabad). The most important city sacred to Hinduism on the banks of the River Ganga is Varanasi or Banaras. It has hundreds of temples along the banks of the Ganga which often get flooded during the rains. This city, especially along the banks of the Ganga, is an important place of worship for the Hindus as well as a cremation ground.

Tehri dam
The most controversial Tehri dam is the main dam of the Tehri Hydro Project on the rivers Bhagirathi (one of the major tributary of the river Ganga) located near Tehri in Uttarakhand. It is a multi purpose river valley project, towering 855 feet (261 m). The main dam at Tehri is the 8th tallest dam in the world. The dam’s projected capabilities include a power generation capacity of 2400 MW, irrigation stabilization to an area of 6,000 km², an additional area of 2,700 km² of irrigation stabilization and a supply of 270 million gallons (1.23 million cubic metres) of drinking water  to industrialized cities in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The dam project was approved in 1972 and construction was started in 1978. The dam is  operational since July 2006.  Until March 2008, a sum of Rs 8,298 crore had been spent on the dam, far outweighing the initial planned costs. Its projected power generating capacity was 2,400 MW. Currently, it is generating only 1,000 MW, less than half its capacity.
According to Hindu mythology, river Bhagirathi is the actual Ganga, though the name of Ganga is assumed only after the river Bhagirathi meets river Alaknanda at Devprayag. Cutting off the water supply of Bhagirathi to such low quantity means that after travelling more than 80 km from this point, water of Bhagirathi will be hardly reaching Ganga. It is predicted that after 20 years  the mighty Ganga will be reduced to  a trickle and cease to exist for the 150 million people in this region.
The Tehri dam is located in the Central Himalayan Seismic Gap, a major geologic fault zone. This region was the site of a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in October 1991, epicentred 50 km from the location of the dam.

Khumb Mela
The Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on earth, is held every 12 years on the banks of the Triveni Sangam – the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The Mela alternates between Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar every three years. The one celebrated at the Holy Sangam in Allahabad is the largest and holiest of them. The Mela is attended by millions of devotees, including Sadhus. A holy dip in the sacred waters is believed to cleanse the soul.
The Ardh or ‘half Kumbh’ Mela, is held every six years on the banks of Sangam. Second only to the Kumbh in sanctity, the Ardh Kumbh also attracts devotes in the millions, from all over the world. Magh Mela is an annual event held at the Sangam.
In Hindu religion Kumbh is the symbol of spiritual awakening. It is the symbol of the confluence of nature and humanity. Kumbh is the source of all energy. Kumbh makes humankind realize this world and the other, sins and blessings, wisdom and ignorance, darkness and light.

Economy
The flora and fauna found along Ganga banks are vital to nutrient and water conservation, and control of soil erosion.  451 million people living in its basin are directly and indirectly dependent upon the Ganga. Watered by the monsoons, this silt-enriched land produces a significant portion of the rice, wheat, millet, sugar, and barley needed to feed the world’s second most populous nation. The rain feds the land, dilutes the river’s muddy stream, flushes out excess sediment and suspended matter, and revitalizes the river where its flow was sluggish.  The Ganges and its tributaries provide a perennial source of irrigation to a large area. The Ganges can swell a thousand-fold during the monsoons.
Haridwar, Allahabad, and Varanasi are the the source of tourism and  attract thousands of pilgrims to its waters.  Thousands of Hindu pilgrims arrive at these three towns to take a dip in the Ganges, which is believed to cleanse oneself of sins and help attain salvation.

Ecology
The Ganga has been described by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the world’s top ten rivers at risk. It has over 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species, and five areas which support birds found nowhere else in the world. According to studies reported by environmental engineer D.S. Bhargava of the University of Roorkee, the Ganges decomposes organic waste 15 to 25 times faster than other rivers.  The Ganges has an extraordinarily high rate of reaeration, the process by which it absorbs atmospheric oxygen. When organic waste is dropped into it, as much as 60 per cent of the BOD is processed within an hour. The water quality samples also suggest that the Ganges retains DO much longer than does water from other rivers.
In a recent finding, the scientists have observed that various species of fishes which helped in keeping the river water clean are facing extinction. In its place, numerous marine species are thriving in the river. Marine species like Sea Bass, Rostellascaris, Xenentodon Cancilla, Clarius Gariepinus or Thai Magur have been found in the fresh water of Ganga in Allahabad and its surrounding districts.

Ganga delta and Ganga in sea
The delta of the Ganga, or rather, that of the Hooghly and the Padma, is a vast ragged swamp forest (42,000 sq km) called the Sundarbans the world’s largest delta , home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The river courses in the delta are broad and active, carrying a vast amount of water. On the seaward side of the delta are swamplands and tidal forests called Sunderbans which are protected conservation areas in both Indian and Bangladeshi law. The peat found in the delta is used for fertilizer and fuel. The water supply to the river depends on the rains brought by the monsoon winds from July to October and the melting snow from the Himalayas during the period from April to June. The delta also experiences strong cyclonic storms before and after the monsoon season which can be devastating.
The delta used to be densely forested and inhabited by many wild animals. Today, however, it has become intensely cultivated to meet the needs of the growing population and many of the wild animals have disappeared. The Royal Bengal Tiger still lives in the Sunderbans and kills about 30 villagers every year. There remains high fish populations in the rivers which provides an important part of the inhabitants’ diet. Bird life in the Ganges basin is also prolific.

Ganga in Kolkata
The main branch of the Ganges, the Padma, passes through the Farraka Barrage, a gigantic barrier designed to divert the Ganges waters into the Indian Hooghly branch, and away from the Padma. Completed by the Indian government in the early 1970s, it was intended to help flush out the increasing silt deposits in the Hooghly, to improve navigation, and to provide Kolkata with irrigation and drinking water.
About 150 large industrial plants are lined up on the banks of the Hooghly at Kolkata. Together, these plants contribute 30 percent of the total industrial effluent reaching the mouths of the Ganges. Of this, half comes from pulp and paper industries, which discharge a dark brown, oxygen-craving slurry of bark and wood fiber, mercury and other heavy metals which accumulate in fish tissues, and chemical toxins like bleaches and dyes, which produce dioxin and other persistent compounds.
CNN-IBN-Outlook State of the Environment Poll has found that 77 per cent people have voted cleaning of rivers by government as the top priority. The findings are especially significant in Kolkata as its main river Hooghly is congested with solid waste and effluents. It is said that the character of a city is best judged by how well it maintains its sea or river front.

Kosi River – The Sorrow of Bihar
The River Kosi also called the sorrow of Bihar is one of the largest tributaries of river Ganga. After flowing  58 km in Nepal, it enters the north Bihar plains near Bhimnagar and after another 260 km , flows into the Ganges near Kursela. The river travels a distance of 729 km from its source to the confluence with the Ganga. Due the current floods in Kosi river, the situation in Bihar is the worst witnessed for hundreds of years.

Now Ganga threatened by Expressway
Lucknow, January 14, 2008: The UP state government will select a developer for the ambitious Rs 30,000- crore Ganga Expressway project within a couple of days after a committee submits a report to the state Cabinet. Financial bids from five companies for developing the 1,047-km project, linking Noida and Ballia, have been referred to an empowered committee headed by the chief secretary, state Industrial Development Commissioner. The expressway promises to reduce travel time from Ballia to Noida to about 10 hours.
Ganga Expressway is anti-Hindu, says BJP and it will hurt Hindu sentiments by compounding pollution in the Ganga.  “Ganga is the most sacred river to every Hindu. But the project that entails development of industrial pockets edging the 1,047-km Greater Noida to Ballia expressway will aggravate the pollution in the river. We will fight out the Expressway both on streets as well as in state legislature,” state BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi told mediapersons. “Till now, industrial units and leather tanneries in Kanpur were dumping pollutants into the river, but industrial pockets along the expressway will result in more industrial effluents flowing freely into the Ganga,” he added. The state party president further said, “We will not let the project take off as it will not only pollute the sacred river, but also result in widespread displacement of rural population as well as destruction of agriculture by converting farmers into landless labourers. Other opposition parties including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party,  are also planning to protest against the expressway. The CPI leaders said that thousands of acres of fertile land in UP was being acquired for the Ganga Expressway project that was bound to render thousands of farmers homeless and jobless.

Ganga threatened by climate change
The Ganga is also one of the rivers most threatened by climate change. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (The UN Climate Change Conference in Bali) looking at the threat from climate change to human development and the environment, “only the polar icecaps hold more fresh water than the Himalayan glaciers”: “If the current trends of climate change continue, by 2030 the size of the glaciers could be reduced by as much as 80 per cent,”  warns the report, titled “Up in Smoke — Asia and the Pacific”, released here in November 2007.
Some of India’s most important rivers are fed by the Himalayan glaciers. But rising temperatures means that many of the Himalayan glaciers are melting fast due to Global  Warming and could diminish significantly over the coming decades with catastrophic results. In the long run, the water flow in the Ganges could drop by two-thirds, affecting more than 400 million people who depend on it for drinking water. The report warns that in the short term the rapid melting of ice high up in the Himalayas might cause river swelling and floods. The formation of
glacial lakes of melt-water creates the threat of outburst floods leading to devastation in lowland valleys.
Ganga a national heritage
On September 22, 2008  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured giving river Ganga a national heritage status, a statement by the Hardwar-based Ganga Raksha Manch said. The prime minister pledged to revive the glory of the river and look into the issue of pollution in the river along its stretch from upper reaches in Hardwar to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal.  More than 300 people held a rally on September 18 organised by the Ganga Raksha Manch, whose convenor is Swami Ramdev to demand that the river be declared a national heritage. The rallysist submitted a letter to President Pratibha Patil with a list of
demands.
The first PM of India Pandit Jawaharla Nehru said: “The Ganga especially is the river of India’s age-long culture and civiastion, ever changing., ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.”  Ganga is both goddess and river. The name of Ganga appears twice in the Rig Veda, references in Puranas, Valmiki Ramayana,  Devi Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and Hindu religious Granthas as mother Ganga. .
In other parts of the world great rivers have been referred to as mothers.  Volga is Mat Rodanya that is Mother of land. Ireland’s river Boyne is worshiped as a goddess, The Thai river is Mae-nau taht is Water Mother. In ancient Egypt the Nile was considered as the tears of Goddess Isis.
Save Ganga campaign
NEW DELHI, August 18, 2008: A group of 250 spiritual heads representing most of the religious sects and Hindu organisations across India on Sunday launched the Save the Ganga campaign in the capital. The campaign, Awiral Ganga, Nirmal Ganga: From Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, aims to clean up the river right from its source in the Himalayas to where it drains into the Bay of Bengal at Ganga Sagar in West Bengal by reducing pollution and demanding national heritage status for the river.

Source- gits4u.com

http://www.gits4u.com/water/ganga.htm#Ganga%20in%20Kolkata