This Campaign is starting on 5th March 2010 and will consist of “Gangajal” photographic exhibition, documentary shows, talks by experts on environment and arrangement of “Cleanliness Workshops” in various pilgrimage places, cities along the river Ganga covering a distance of 2500 kilometers..It will also include collecting and collating of data on the detrimental effects of Ganga river pollution on lives of the people living along the route of river Ganga. This data collection will be done by well-known water experts traveling by a river boat from Haridwar to Gangasagar, Bay of Bengal.
This Campaign will also compile all the information collected on Ganga River pollution and of video shooting done about the same. This compiled documentation and video shootings will be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office through the hands of Shri. Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor of Loksatta (a Marathi Daily of Indian Express Group) as an effort of common people’s participation in the Government’s “Ganga River Cleaning Programme”. This thirty days Campaign by river, and road will be a gigantic effort by the Gangajal Foundation towards the prevention of pollution of the river Ganga. Many environment-connected NGOs along the shores of the river Ganga as well as various Maharashtra Mandals have expressed their interest in participating in this Campaign. Deterioration of the environment is the main as well as serious problem of the present age. However, ordinary people are unaware of it. Various problems like pollution, droughts, floods and problems of water and land are not natural but the culmination of careless and self-centered attitude of human beings. Its bad effects will be experienced by the present generation and the generations to come. Gangajal Foundation is trying to awaken all people about this serious situation.
- Drainage in Ganga at Bellurmath, Kolkata
One ardent lover of nature and photography read an article called “Bhagirath Teri Ganga Maili” (Bhagirath’s dirty river Ganga) in the book “Himyatri” (Traveller in the Snow) by well famous nature-writer Sureshchandra Warghade. This inspired him to travel, understand and photograph the state of the river Ganga by travel ling from Gomukh Gangotri to Bay of Bengal along the river Ganga. This river is the symbol of life for Indians. As well they have eternal faith in the sacred nature of the river. This photographer also executed this task in the period of 2001 to 2006. He had only one aim: “To awaken the people about the pollution of the river Ganga which is considered very sacred by the Indians and to make them participate in increasing the efforts to stop this pollution and improve the cleanliness of the river”. This nature loving photographer is Shri.Vijay Mudshingikar. He is also the founder of Gangajal Foundation. When he did these trips, he was an ordinary worker in Crompton Greeves Company. These photography trips culminated into Gangajal Photography Exhibition which showed and brought to our notice how badly we are treating our sacred river Ganga, which occupies a position of Goddess in the minds of every Indian.
Nature-writer Shri. Sureshchandra Warghade in his article “Bhagirath Teri Ganga Maili” in the book Him-Yatri has shown strikingly how we Indians are polluting the river Ganga which has such a pious place in the minds of Indians. He has also shown how we are excessively using the water of the river Ganga for farming and how that is resulting in the deterioration in the quality of water of the river Ganga. When Shri.Mudshingikar read this article, he was suffering from slip-disc. Even ordinary tasks of walking, sitting and getting up were difficult for him. He recovered successfully only because of a surgery carried out by neuro-spinal surgeon Dr. Premanand Ramani. He could thereafter walk easily. This happened in October 1998. Three years after this operation, he started his project Gangajal in the year 2001. Taking care of his family responsibilities and his job, he completed step-by-step his project Gangajal in five years. He started from Gangasagar in the Bay of Bengal. He covered various festivals celebrated along the river Ganga. These included the Kavad Yatra, Kumbhmela at Allahabad, Dev-deepavali at Varanasi, Chat-pooja at Patna, Durga Festival at Kolkata, Gangasagar-yatra in West Bengal. He also studied the life of the people living in sixty eight big cities and hundred and fourteen small and large villages situated on the banks of the river Ganga. Forty percent of Indian farming is dependent on the waters of the river Ganga. From Haridwar to Kolkata, there are four hundred and fifty factories on the banks of the river Ganga. They pollute the river Ganga as much as or even more than the villages and cities along the river. All this was recorded by Shri.Mudshingikar with his camera. His Gangajal Photographic Exhibition beautifully and effectively depicts the river Ganga as seen in all seasons, snow-clad mountains, Gomukh- the origin of Ganga, area surrounding Ganga Mandir in Gangotri. Along with this beautiful depiction of River Ganga in Himalayas, it also depicts how the situation deteriorates rapidly as the River Ganga enters the human habitat.
The waters of river Ganga looking deep blue at Gomukh Gangotri becomes dirty deep black by the time the river
- Sacred confluence of Ganga and Alaknanda at Devprayag.
reaches Kolkata. While catching this and the natural beauty of the river Ganga in his photos, Shri. Mudshingikar shows very clearly the people’s faith (shraddha) about the river Ganga through his photos in the Gangajal Photography Exhibition. Out of his gratitude towards Dr. Premanand Ramani as well as Swamy Sunderanand and Raghuvir Singh, he has dedicated his Gangajal project to them. After completing his Gangajal Project, Shri. Mudshingikar approached lot of organisations for help towards this Gangajal Photo Exhibition, nobody offered him help. However his deep concern about river Ganga made him restless. Finally, Shri. Mudshingikar decided to take VRS (voluntary retirement from service) from the Crompton Greeves Company where he had been working for 25 years. He had to use Rs. three and half lakhs from the provident fund money that he received on voluntary retirement, for producing his photography exhibition.
The first Gangajal Exhibition took place in the Gallery of Lalit Kala Academy in New Delhi on 13th August 2006. For the inauguration Dr. Premanand Ramani visited New Delhi from Mumbai. Shri. K.R. Subanna and famous photographer Shri. Avinash Pasricha were also present. During the inauguration speech, Dr. Ramani said that an ordinary person like Shri. Mudshingikar realised his responsibility towards the society and the country and this Photography Exhibition called Gangajal is its result. Many distinguished persons praised the efforts and the perseverance of Shri. Mudshingikar. Art lovers and nature lovers of Delhi supported the efforts of Shri. Mudshingikar by visiting the exhibition in large numbers. This boosted the confidence of Shri. Mudshingikar.
With the help of Loksatta (a Marathi Daily of Indian Express Group) Gangajal Exhibition was opened in the NCPA’s Piramal Gallery in the presence of Shri. Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor of Loksatta, Swamy Sunderanand and famous nature-writer Shri. Sureshchandra Warghade. Shri. Kumar Ketkar said: “We have created a sacred feeling about the River Ganga and it has given birth to a great culture. However, we are destroying the same great culture. Really this culture is not only local culture but a great global wealth. Mudshingikar’s Gangajal Exhibition not only shows the sacredness of the river Ganga but also how badly we treat the same sacred river. Seeing this depiction, I feel ashamed instead of feeling proud of our Indian Culture”. Swamy Sunderanand said, “River Ganga is considered sacred by us Indians. But what is the state of river now? Sadhus (saints) themselves have established hotels along the shores of the river Ganga. The sewerage of the cities and pollutants of hundreds of factories are dumped in the river Ganga. Lots of trees are cut. The government is inactive in stopping all this. If it continues like this, the river Ganga will turn into a small nullah in the next fifty years.” Due to the publicity through the medium like Loksatta, a lot of art lovers and nature lovers from Mumbai and also from out of Mumbai areas like Dahanu, Virar as well as Karjat and Khopoli visited this Gangajal Exhibition. Art lovers were ecstatic looking at the photos of the beautiful river in the serene, inhabited areas of Himalayas and were equally disturbed by seeing its deterioration as it entered the human habitat.
With active support from Loksatta, this exhibition was also opened in the P.L.Deshpande Gallery of the Maharashtra Kala Academy by the then Cultural Minister Hon. Shri. Ashok Chavan (the present Chief Minister) and world-renowned photographer Sham Manchekar. The Honourable Minister praised the courageous project of Shri. Mudshingikar and his perseverance of pursuing the project to completion. There was also spontaneous response from the art lovers.
BNHS member Shri. Dilip Chawathe introduced Shri. Mudshingikar to Mumbai’s Ex-Mayor Shri. Ramesh Prabhoo. Through this introduction, the third exhibition was inaugurated at the Gallery of the Prabhodhankar Sports Complex at Vile Parle by Shri. Ramesh Prabhoo and famous photographer Shri. Shrikant Malushte on 22nd April 2007. A lot of students from various schools and colleges in Vile Parle visited the exhibition. They (the students) were happy that their knowledge about environment increased. The parents and the teachers of the students said that there should be a similar project about the rivers in Maharashtra. The then Deputy Chief Minister Hon. Shri. R.R. Patil visited this photographic exhibition and he praised the efforts done by Maharashtrian people for the preservation and improvement of the rivers outside Maharashtra. Famous actor Shri. Vikram Gokhale and famous writer Shri. Vishwas Patil also visited this exhibition.
Ganga lover Shri. Prabhakar Soman from Kalyan visited the exhibition held at Piramal Art Gallery of N.C.P.A. This visit left a lasting impression on him. He wanted this Gangajal Exhibition to be held in Kalyan also. In that context, he introduced Shri. Mudshingikar to Shri. Kaka Hardas, famous nature photographer and social worker from Kalyan. As a result of this, the Gangajal Exhibition was opened on 25th May 2007 in the hall of Yadnyavalkya Organisation by Shri. Kaka Hardas. Art loving and nature loving people from Kalyan gave an active support to the exhibition. In addition, Shri. Mudshingikar got the guidance and friendship of an able person like Shri. Kaka Hardas.
Through the help of Shri. Kaka Hardas, another exhibition was held in the Everest Hall in Dombivali on the World Environment Day 5th June 2007 and was inaugurated by Ex-Mayor Shri. Abasaheb Patwari and Professor Surendra Vajpayee. People of Dombivali genuinely appreciated the photographic exhibition and opined that there is a real need of generating awareness and involvement in nature protection and water conservation through such exhibitions.
Up till now, Shri. Mudshingikar was organising the exhibition through the help of his many friends. In this work, a lot of times, Dr. Premanand Ramani extended help. With his guidance and the help of Shri. Kaka Hardas, this project by nature “crazy” photographer was converted on 10th September, 2007 into Gangajal Nature Foundation, Mumbai as an environment- connected Public Registered Society.
As a part of celebration of the “International Water Year 2007”, Anatomy Department and Body Donation Committee of Grant Medical College together arranged the Gangajal Photography Exhibition and Gangajal Documentaries at Grant Medical College, Byculla, Mumbai on 29th September 2007. This was inaugurated by Dr. Sarode, Deputy Dean of Sir J.J. Hospital. Deputy Commissioner Shri. Dhanraj Vanjari was the Chief Guest. He said that Indian Hindu Culture developed on the banks of the Indian rivers and therefore, preservation and protection of rivers is the protection of our culture. Dr. Sarode said that public cleanliness is connected with our mind’s well being and therefore we must keep our mind clean. Similarly, Body Donation Committee’s member and social worker Shri. Umakant Sawant said body donation is a sacred gift. Every year thousands of dead bodies are immersed in the river Ganga. That is increasing the pollution of the river Ganga. Instead if these bodies are donated to various medical colleges for student study, it will help the humanity. In body donation, Maharashtra is at second spot in India. However, it is essential that such mindset needs to develop in the northern states.
- Drainage in Ganga at Varanasi
With the help of Shri. Rajesh Palshetkar, another Gangajal exhibition was organised in the Leprosy Elimination Committee’s Get-together at Neregaon, Panvel on 20th January, 2008. The villagers and Leprosy affected brethren spontaneously supported this exhibition.
Gangajal – a photographic exhibition on the river Ganga was organized on 24th and 25th January 2008 at Nagindas Khandelwal College with the help of its Geography Department. It was inaugurated by Shri. Avinash Parikh, Secretary, Malad-Kandivali Education Trust, Principal Mrs. N.C.Josh and Vice-Principal Shri. V.G. Waradkar. There was a very good response to this exhibition. In two days, more than five thousand school and college students visited this exhibition. Coinciding with this exhibition, a seminar was organised. Large number of geography experts and environment experts attended this seminar. They praised the efforts behind this exhibition. The knowledgeable people remarked that this effort of the Foundation is of conservation of nature.
With the cooperation of Shri. Kantilal Mukund Deo, a social worker from Murbe village in Palghar Taluka (Dist. Thane) an Ophthalmic Camp and Gangajal Photographic Exhibition were organised. These were inaugurated by Shri. Rajendra Gavit, President, Pradesh Congress Adivasi Sangh, Shri. Jitendra Mer of Grampanchayat at Murbe and Dr. Yadav, Ophthalmic Surgeon. Many people from Palghar Taluka visited the exhibition. Many patients benefited from the Ophthalmic Camp.
The year 2007 was observed as International Year for water. On this occasion the Foundation organised a competition for photographs and documentaries with the theme “Water is life”. If we look into the history of mankind we realize that from ancient times human development took place in the regions where water was available. The availability of water along with other natural ingredients was the main attraction behind establishment of a human colony. In fact, water became life for humans. Hindu culture which became world famous developed around rivers Sindhu (Indus) and Ganga. The river Ganga is known as life line of Indians. But the development was too fast to use the water in a planned manner or to preserve it properly. Due to this a time has come when these life giving rivers need to be brought back to life. Our nation with exploding population will certainly have to face a very serious water problem in near future.
- Secular Ganga
With this background, Gangajal Foundation organised a different kind of competition so as to bring together various organizations and persons fighting on the issue of water. This was a competition for photographs and documentaries with the theme “Water is life”. There was a spontaneous response to this from all over India. First prize was given to Shri. Abhijit Bhattacharya from West Bengal, second prize to Shri. Ramesh Pednekar from Mumbai and the third to Shri. Partha Bose from West Bengal.
Prize distribution ceremony took place on 30th March 2008 at Rachana Sansad. At that time, there was also an exhibition of prize winning photographs and showing of the prize winning documentaries. Some selected noteworthy photographs of other participants were also exhibited. Respected Chief guests for this programme were world famous neuro-spinal surgeon Dr. Premanand Ramani, Pani-Mitra (Friend of Water) Shri. Avinash Kubal, Dr. Goldene Codrose, Education Officer for Maharashtra of World Wildlife Fund (W.W.F.) and Shri. Kaka Hardas, a famous photographer and social worker from Kalyan. Well-known photographers Shri. Shyam Manchekar, Shri. Datta Sawant and Shri. Vishwas Morye were the judges for photography section whereas Shri. Avadhoot Paralkar, Shri. Suresh Tondwalkar and Shri. Arun Gongade were the judges for the documentaries section.
The Foundation has been working towards the education of our society about preservation of rivers through the “Gangajal” Photographic Exhibition for the last two years. Until now fifty thousand citizens have visited the exhibition. The Foundation is also producing a short film “Gangajal” so as to reach a wider audience. The Foundation hopes to broadcast this short film on Doordarshan and Discovery Channels. Filming of the first part covering the “Doli-Yatra” from Mukhwa to Gangotri was completed on 7th May 2008 on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Truteeya. The Foundation is planning to complete the short film series in the next two years. Shri. Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor,
- Kawaryatra, Haridwar
Loksatta (a Marathi Daily of Indian Express Group) is going to guide this project and cooperate in its production.
In north Bihar river Kosi changed its course after seventy years. Due to this hundreds of villages from fifteen different districts were inundated. Crops on about three hundred thousand hectares were destroyed. The loss is estimated to be in the range of Rs. eight hundred crores. Lakhs of people have lost their homes and many lost their lives.
Gangajal Nature Foundation took a decision to extend a helping hand to the flood affected people. The Foundation made an appeal directly to its members as well as on its website for help to these unfortunate people. Members responded by donating generously. Shri. Bapat Guruji of Gayatri Charitable Trust from Badlapur extended a hand of help. Essential items like clothes, beds sheets, footwear, biscuits, milk powder were collected.
It was not easy to take all these essential goods to the flood affected region. However, Shri. Achyut Marathe, Maharashtra Bhavan, Gaya, Shri. Ashok Soman, Maharshtra Mandal, Patna gave valuable help. It was with their help that a contact could be established with the District Collector Ashwini Thakre. The District Collector suggested that people from Saharsa District needed help urgently as they were worst affected by floods. She contacted Shri. R. Laxman, District Collector of Saharsa and arranged for security as well as administrative officers.
After this Shri. Vijay Mudshingikar, President, Gangajal Nature Foundation, Shri. Shyam Machekar, well-known
photographer, Shri. Sureshchandra Warghade, well-known nature writer and Dr. P.D. Kadam reached Patargarh in
Saharsa District on 15th October 2008. In the meantime, there was an angry reaction against Maharashtra Nav-Nirman Sena in Bihar due to its attack in Mumbai on Bihari Examinees. Despite this “Gangajal” was welcomed as it had come from Mumbai with a helping hand and there was no obstacle in the way of reaching the helpless, flood affected people. Everyone was also full of praise for the District Collector Ashwini Thakre. The Foundation took aid to the flood affected homes in villages of Golmapoorvi, Golmapaschim, Jamhar, Dhamolipoorvi, Bishanpur in Taluka Patargarh of District Saharsa. These villages had been severely hit by the natural calamity. According to Shri. Vijay Mudshingikar, the help given by Gangajal was a small portion of what was actually needed.
Gangajal Foundation is working towards the twin objectives of nature preservation and social obligations with the help from many. International Water Day was observed on 22nd March 2007. On this day W.W.F., Australia published a list of ten most endangered rivers in the world in order to draw world’s attention. This list includes Ganga, which every Indian calls Goddess and Sindhu (Indus) which gave the name India to our country. Our ancestors taught us to worship these rivers as mothers as they are our life giving sources. However, today the condition of these rivers is so pathetic that we have to bring them back to life! We are ignoring the teachings of our ancestors and destroying nature for our selfish motives. Ganga which is worshipped by crores of Indians and which is a lifeline for fifty crore people has been included in the list of rivers which are about to vanish! Sewerage water from the towns as well as polluted chemicals for factories along the banks of Ganga flows into the river Ganga. All these years the river Ganga was assimilating all these pollutants. However, now it is surely hurtling towards its own imminent death.
What is exactly the place of Ganga in the minds of us Indians? The river Ganga starts high up in Himalayas and finally meets Bay of Bengal near Kolkata. Just seeing this river, many crores of Indians instinctively join their hands in prayer. They consider water of Ganga as Amrut (Elixir of Life). We Indians strongly believe that “bathing in the river Ganga” and “drinking the water of river Ganga” opens the doors of heaven for us. One wonders why the same Indians allow the same sacred river to be destroyed.
We should allow these rivers to come back to life before it is too late. The best way to save the rivers is to bring pressure on politicians with the power of people who are united and force the politicians to pay attention to these problems. Only people will be able to save all the rivers including Ganga-maiyya and other water bodies in our country. So the Foundation thinks it is its prime duty to educate and awaken the people.
We appeal to the generosity of charitable institutions as well as individuals to extend a helping hand to our nature preservation project “Save River Ganga”. If any individuals or institutions would like to participate in our project, they should contact “Gangajal Nature Foundation”.
Gangajal Nature Foundation, Mumbai