On the ‘World Photography Day’, ‘Gangajal’ presents to you some of the pictures taken by our President
Shri Vijay Mudshingikar.
The most serious problem today is the destruction of our environment. General population is ignorant about it. Pollution, drought, flood, soil and water problems are not natural but they are consequences of uncaring and selfish attitude of mankind. Not only present but future generations too will suffer due to the ill-effects of this. Gangajal Nature Foundation is making an effort to awaken people from their deep slumber.
We appreciated the work done by Hon. Shri Rajiv Ji Gandhi on the Dying Ganga. River Ganga is declared as a National River of India by Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh in 2008 which was ‘International Year of Rivers’
Gangajal Nature Foundation is working hard for last four years towards awakening and educating people about upkeep of rivers and lakes by organizing photo exhibitions, screening of the documentary, by holding national level competitions in essay-writing, photography and documentaries. So far around seventy thousand sensible citizens have visited the eleven exhibitions.
We are trying to spread awareness about water pollution, through the medium of ‘Gangajal photo exhibition’ since last four years. We are exhibiting Photographs of India’s National River The Ganga clicked by our Founder President Mr. Vijay Mudshingikar from the year 2001 to 2006. Our ‘Gangajal’ documentary film based on these photographs as tools to spread awareness.
The youth is more interested than anyone else in the future.
Until very recently, the discussion revolved around the kind of society we would have. Today, the discussion centers on whether human society will survive.
These are not dramatic phrases. We must get used to the true facts. Hope is the last thing human beings can relinquish. With truthful arguments, men and women of all ages, especially young people, have waged an exemplary battle at the Summit and taught the world a great lesson.
It is important now that Cuba and the world come to know as much as possible of what happened in Copenhagen. The truth can be stronger than the influenced and often misinformed minds of those holding in their hands the destiny of the world.
If anything significant was achieved in the Danish capital, it was that the media coverage allowed the world public to watch the political chaos created there and the humiliating treatment accorded to Heads of States or Governments, ministers and thousands of representatives of social movements and institutions that in hope and expectation traveled to the Summit’s venue in Copenhagen. The brutal repression of peaceful protesters by the police was a reminder of the behavior of the Nazi assault troops that occupied neighboring Denmark on April 1940.
But no one could have thought that on December 18, 2009, the last day of the Summit, this would be suspended by the Danish government –a NATO ally associated with the carnage in Afghanistan– to offer the conference’s plenary hall to President Obama for a meeting where only he and a selected group of guests, 16 in all, would have the exclusive right to speak.
Obama’s deceitful, demagogic and ambiguous remarks failed to involve a binding commitment and ignored the Kyoto Framework Convention. He then left the room shortly after listening to a few other speakers. Among those invited to take the floor were the highest industrialized nations, several emerging economies and some of the poorest countries in the world. The leaders and representatives of over 170 countries were only allowed to listen.
At the end of the speeches of the 16 chosen, Evo Morales, with the authority of his indigenous Aymara origin and his recent reelection with 65% of the vote as well as the support of two-thirds of the Bolivian House and Senate, requested the floor. The Danish president had no choice but to yield to the insistence of the other delegations. When Evo had concluded his wise and deep observations, the Danish had to give the floor to Hugo Chavez. Both speeches will be registered by history as examples of short and timely remarks. Then, with their mission duly accomplished they both left for their respective countries. But when Obama disappeared, he had yet to fulfill his task in the host country.
From the evening of the 17th and the early morning hours of the 18th, the Prime Minister of Denmark and senior representatives of the United States had been meeting with the Chairman of the European Commission and the leaders of 27 nations to introduce to them –on behalf of Obama– a draft agreement in whose elaboration none of the other leaders of the rest of the world had taken part. It was an antidemocratic and practically clandestine initiative that disregarded the thousands of representatives of social movements, scientific and religious institutions and other participants in the Summit.
Through the night of the 18th and until 3:00 a.m. of the 19th, when many Heads of States had already departed, the representatives of the countries waited for the resumption of the sessions and the conclusion of the event. Throughout the 18th, Obama held meetings and press conferences, and the same did the European leaders. Then, they left.
Something unexpected happened then: at three in the morning of the 19th, the Prime Minister of Denmark convened a meeting to conclude the Summit. By then, the countries were represented by ministers, officials, ambassadors and technical staff.
However, an amazing battle was waged that morning by a group of representatives of Third World countries challenging the attempt by Obama and the wealthiest on the planet to introduce a document imposed by the United States as one agreed by consensus in the Summit.
The representative of Venezuela, Claudia Salerno, showed with impressive energy her right hand bleeding from strongly slamming on the table to claim her right to take the floor. Her tone of voice and the dignity of her arguments will never be forgotten.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba made a vigorous speech of approximately one thousand words from which I have chosen a few paragraphs to include in this Reflection:
“The document that you, Mister Chairman, repeatedly claimed that did not exist shows up now. […] we have seen drafts circulating surreptitiously and being discussed in secret meetings…”
“…I deeply resent the way you have led this conference.”
“…Cuba considers the text of this apocryphal draft extremely inadequate and inadmissible. The goal of 2 degrees centigrade is unacceptable and it would have incalculable catastrophic consequences…”
“The document that you are unfortunately introducing is not binding in any way with respect to the reduction of the greenhouse effect gas emissions.”
“I am aware of the previous drafts, which also through questionable and clandestine procedures, were negotiated by small groups of people…”
“The document you are introducing now fails to include the already meager and lacking key phrases contained in that draft…”
“…as far as Cuba is concerned, it is incompatible with the universally recognized scientific view sustaining that it is urgent and inescapable to ensure the reduction of at least 45% of the emissions by the year 2020, and of no less than 80% or 90% by 2050.”
“Any argument on the continuation of the negotiations to reach agreement in the future to cut down emissions must inevitably include the concept of the validity of the Kyoto Protocol […] Your paper, Mister Chairman, is a death certificate of the Kyoto Protocol and my delegation cannot accept it.”
“The Cuban delegation would like to emphasize the preeminence of the principle of ‘common by differentiated responsibilities,’ as the core of the future process of negotiations. Your paper does not include a word on that.”
“This draft declaration fails to mention concrete financial commitments and the transfers of technologies to developing countries, which are part of the obligations contracted by the developed countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change […] Mister Chairman, by imposing their interests through your document, the developed nations are avoiding any concrete commitment.”
“…What you, Mister Chairman, define as ‘a group of representative leaders’ is to me a gross violation of the principle of sovereign equality consecrated in the United Nations Charter…”
“Mr. Chairman, I formally request that this statement be included in the final report of the works of this regrettable and shameful 15th session of the Conference of the Parties.”
The representatives of the countries had been given only one hour to present their views. This led to complicated, shameful and embarrassing situations.
Then, a lengthy debate ensued where the delegations from the developed countries put a heavy pressure on the rest to make the conference adopt the abovementioned document as the final result of their deliberations.
A small number of countries firmly insisted on the grave omissions and ambiguities of the document promoted by the United States, particularly the absence of a commitment by the developed countries on the reduction of carbon emissions and on the financing that would allow the South countries to adopt alleviating and adjustment measures.
After a long and extremely tense discussion, the position of the ALBA countries and Sudan, as President of the G-77, prevailed that the document was unacceptable to the conference thus it could not be adopted.
In view of the absence of consensus, the Conference could only “take note” of the existence of that document representing the position of a group of about 25 countries.
After that decision was made, –at 10:30 in the morning Denmark’s time– Bruno, together with other ALBA representatives, had a friendly discussion with the UN Secretary to whom they expressed their willingness to continue struggling alongside the United Nations to prevent the terrible consequences of climate change. Their mission completed, our Foreign Minister and Cuban Vicepresident Esteban Lazo departed to come back home and attend the National Assembly session. A few members of the delegation and the ambassador stayed in Copenhagen to take part in the final procedures.
This afternoon they reported the following:
“…both, those who were involved in the elaboration of the document, and those like the President of the United States who anticipated its adoption by the conference…as they could not disregard the decision to simply ‘take note’ of the alleged ‘Copenhagen Agreement,’ they tried to introduce a procedure allowing the other COP countries that had not been a part of the shady deal to adhere to it, and make it public, the intention being to pretend such an agreement was legal, something that could precondition the results of the negotiations that should carry on.”
“Such belated attempt was again firmly opposed by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. These countries warned that a document which had not been adopted by the Convention could not be considered legal and that there was not a COP document; therefore, no regulations could be established for its alleged adoption…”
“This is how the meeting in Copenhagen is coming to an end, without the adoption of the document surreptitiously worked out in the past few days under the clear ideological guidance of the US Administration…”
Tomorrow our attention will be focused on the National Assembly.
Lazo, Bruno and the other members of the delegation will be arriving at midnight today. On Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be able to explain in details and with the necessary accuracy the truth of what happened at the Summit.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 19, 2009
गंगा नदी सध्या पावित्र्यापेक्षा प्रदूषणामुळे जास्त गाजते आहे. नद्यांच्या पाण्याचं शुद्धीकरण, किना-याचा विकास आणि प्रदूषणमुक्त निसर्गासाठी ‘गंगाजल नेचर फाऊंडेशन’च्या माध्यमातून आम्ही अनेक वर्ष काम करतोय. माझा पिंड मुळात फोटोग्राफरचा. गंगा नदीचे फोटो काढताना, ‘गंगापुत्र’ असल्याच्या भावनेतून या नदीच्या प्रेमात पडलो. पण नदीच्या सौंदर्यापेक्षा तिच्या भयंकर प्रदूषणामुळे मी मुळापासून हादरलो. हे सारं सर्वाना कळावं, या नदीचं आणि पवित्र समजल्या जाणा-या पाण्याचं महत्त्व प्रत्येक भारतीयाला समजावं या हेतूनं मग हे काम सुरू केलं.
हे काम सुरू केल्यापासून गंगानदीचा सर्वागानं शोध घेत भटकलो, वेगवेगळे उपक्रम राबवले. अजूनही शोध संपलेला नाही आणि अजूनही जनजागृतीचं प्रचंड काम बाकी आहे. आज ‘प्रहार’मधून याच प्रश्नावर वेगवेगळ्या अँगलनं तुमच्यासारख्या सुजाण वाचकांशी संवाद साधण्याची संधी मिळाली आहे. या संधीबद्दल मी ‘दिल से’ आभारी आहे. ‘विजय मुडशिंगीकर हा फोटोग्राफर किंवा गंगाजल अभियानाचा माणूस’ एवढी माझी ओळख ठेवलीत तरी चालेल, पण खिशाला चाट लावून चाललेला माझा प्रामाणिक उद्देश, काम आणि तळमळ-कळकळ याबद्दल मात्र गांभीर्यानं बघा, असं कळकळीनं सांगावंसं वाटतं.
गंगा नदी ही देशाची प्रमुख नदी असली तरी प्रदूषणाच्या बाबतीतही ती अग्रेसर आहे. मॅगसेसे पुरस्कारप्राप्त डॉ. राजेंद्रसिंह यांच्या ‘गंगा नदी बचाव’ अभियानाची पुढची पायरी म्हणजे ‘जनजोडो गंगा यात्रा’. गंगेच्या किना-यावरील २५ महत्त्वाची शहरं निवडून तिथल्या लोकांना पाण्याची किंमत कळावी आणि जलप्रदूषणाला आळा घालण्यासाठी त्यांच्याकडूनच पाठपुरावा करावा हे या उपक्रमाचं मुख्य उद्दिष्ट आहे. त्यासाठी गंगेच्या २ हजार ५२५ किलोमीटर प्रवाहाचं स्वच्छता अभियान, लघुपट तसंच चित्रांचं व छायाचित्रांचं प्रदर्शन, पथनाट्यं, सायकलस्वारांची जलजागृती यात्रा, पर्यावरणतज्ज्ञांची व्याख्यानं, शिबिरं, कार्यशाळा असा व्यापक जागृती कार्यक्रम आहे. ‘गंगा कृती योजना’ राबवणा-या सरकारची भूमिकाही यानिमित्ताने सरकारी अधिकारीच स्पष्ट करतील. या अभियानासाठी जल, भू आणि वायूमार्गे ‘गंगासागर ते गोमुख’ असा गंगेचा उलटा प्रवास आम्ही करणार आहोत. आजवर छायाचित्रांच्या माध्यमातून गंगेच्या प्रदूषणाचा प्रश्न मांडताना मी कित्येकदा या नदीला भेट दिली. प्रत्येक वेळी मला नावीन्याचा, नव्या प्रदूषणाचा, नव्या दुर्लक्षाचा आणि सर्वात महत्त्वाचं म्हणजे चीड आणणा-या लोकांच्या उदासीनतेचाही प्रत्यय आला. गंगा नदीचा प्रवास करताना खटकलेल्या गोष्टी अनेक आहेत. नदीत सोडलं जाणारं मलमूत्र, सांडपाणी, निर्माल्य, अस्थी, कारखान्यातील दूषित रसायनं, मृतदेह, जनावरांची कलेवरं, किना-यावरील अतिक्रमणं, पाण्यातील नष्ट होणारे जीवमात्र यांचं दाहक चित्रण कॅमे-यात बद्ध केलं. गंगोत्रीपासून गंगासागपर्यंतच्या प्रवासातली ही सारी छायाचित्रं फक्त हौस म्हणून प्रदर्शनात ठेवली नव्हती तर भारताच्या राष्ट्रीय नदीचा होत असणारा -हास पाहून झालेली घालमेल व्यक्तही करायची होती. या नदीची महती मांडायची होतीच, तिच्यावरचं अतिक्रमणही थांबवायचं होतं. त्यासाठी जनजागृती आवश्यक होती. म्हणून ठिकठिकाणी ‘गंगाजल’ हे प्रदर्शन सादर केलं. काढलेल्या ५ हजार ते ६ हजार छायाचित्रांतून निवडक १२० प्रदर्शनात ठेवली. त्याला चांगला प्रतिसाद मिळाला, लोकांमध्ये विशेषत: तरुणांमध्ये गंगेबद्दल आत्मीयता वाढली आणि मुख्य म्हणजे या प्रश्नाची दाहकता सर्वासमोर आली.
साभार – प्रहार
सौजन्य – प्रहार
Our president Mr. Vijay Mudshingikar recently felicitate for his exemplary conurbation for environmental concerns in protecting our Mother Ganga. By ‘Rotarians of RI District- 3140’ in the ‘Rotary Green Earth Summit – 09’ at hotel ‘Leela’ on 13th Sept 2009.
‘Foto Circle Society, Thane’ felicitate to Mr. Vijay Mudshingikar, for the same purpose on ‘World Photographer Day’
One ardent lover of nature and photography read an article called “Bhagirath Teri Ganga Maili” (Bhagirathi’s dirty river Ganga) in the book “Himyatri” (Traveler in the Snow) by well famous nature-writer Sureshchandra Warghde. 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. Mr. Vijay Mudshingikar. He is also the founder of Gangajal Foundation. When he did these trips, he was an ordinary worker in Crompton Greaves 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.
Gangajal Nature Foundation, Mumbai is a Non Government Organization (NGO) founded by Mr. Vijay N. Mudshingikar. Through the medium of ‘Gangajal’ photo exhibition we are trying to spread awareness about water pollution. We are doing it for last six years. We are using Photographs of polluted Ganga and Documentary film based on these photographs as tools to spread awareness.
Though Saving Ganga is our most important project, our scope of activities are not limited with only Ganga. We are mainly a group of nature lovers and researchers trying to save environment by activities like awareness programs, cleaning camps etc…
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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।
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।
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Gangajal Nature Foundation is extending helping hand to victims of Bihar flood disaster. Our president Mr. Vijay Mudshingikar along with our Honorable member Shri. Shyam Manchekar, Shri. Sureshchandra Varghade and Dr. B. P. Kadam are on the way to Bihar with clothes, medicines and some more helpful appliences. They will be there for 4 days and will carry out distribution of these goods by themselves.
Prakash Dnyan Shakti Kendra, Badlapur has contributed huge amount of chaddars and clothes. We will be distributing these things also.
Maharashtra Bhavan at Gaya will be a major source of help for us. We take this opportunity to thank our member Shri. Achyut Marathe who is manager there.
We are well aware that its still small amount of help as compared to what is required. We have done our best in collecting this and will provide it to the people need this the most. Thank you all who have contributed to this activity by us.
We are just transporters and distributors. May all the needy people get enough food, clothing and shelter as soon as possible. May not anybody sleep hungry there. May disaster like this not happen ever….