NATIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION, PUNE
A GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENT MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT
Ganga symbolizes all rivers and water bodies; Giriraj Himalaya symbolizes all mountains, forests and wildlife; Gandhi symbolizes a culture of Truth and non-violence, i.e. a culture of pursuit of ethical perfection as the ultimate goal of life and pursuit of selfless ethical life of universal love as its means.
Report on the Save Ganga & Save Himalaya Meeting-cum-Panel Discussion on 12th March, 2016 at Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi
TOPIC: REJUVINATION OF THE NATIONAL RIVER GANGA: WHAT WE MUST DO?
The Save Ganga & Save Himalaya Meeting-cum-Panel Discussion was organized by NATIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION, PUNE in collaboration with GANDHI SMIRITI& DARSHAN SAMITI, RAJGHAT, NEW DELHI AND CHINMAYA MISSION, NEW DELHI on 12th March 2016, as a part of our Save Ganga Movement, to pay tribute to our beloved Bapuji on the occasion of the 86th Anniversary of his Dandi Yatra. Its co-organizers were RAMAMANI B.K.S. IYENGAR YOGA INSTITUTE, PUNE, AHIMSA VISHWA BHARTI, DELHI, MOKSHADA, DELHI; it was assisted by KKHADI &VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION GRAMODYOG and VINIYOG PARIVAR, MUMBAI, SAI FRIEGHT PRIVATE LTD, MUMBAI.
Smt. Rama Rauta, Founder & Convener, Save Ganga Movement, Former Expert Member, National Ganga River Basin Athority, GOI ; Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee, Chairperson , Save Ganga Movement, Former Vice-Chairperson, Gandhi Smiriti & Darshan Samiti, Delhi; Prof A.K. Gosain ,HOD, Civil Engineering IIT, Delhi & Member of Consortium of 7IITs Preparing the NGRBMP; Shri Paritosh Tyagi, Former Chairman, Pollution Control Board, Govt. of India; Dr. Devendra Bhargava, Retd. Prof., IIT, Roorkee; Parampujya Swami Nikhilanandaji, Regional Head, Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi; Parampujya Acharya( Dr.)Sri Lokesh Muni, President, Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, New Delhi; Rev. Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa, International Ambassador of Sikh Dharma; Rev. Shri Dewakinandan Thakurji Maharajji, Shanti Sewa Dham, Vrindavan; Revered Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam, All India Imam Organization, New Delhi; Dr. Mohan Singh Rawat Gaonwasi, Former Minister of Uttrakhand, Expert Member NGRBA; Shri Ajay Jain Bhutoria, National Finance Committee & National Leadership Council -AAPI for Hillary Clinton; Dr.B.D. Joshi, President, Indian Academy of Environmental Sciences, Haridwar; M .K. Chaturvedi, Scientist & Head, NEERI(CSIR) Delhi Zonal Laboratory, Delhi; Dr P.Pushpangadan, Ex. Director, NBRI, Lucknow, Director General & Senior Vice President, RBEF, Amity Institute for Herbal and Biotech Products Development (AIHBPD); Shri Vinod Kumar Agrawal, Mokshada, New Delhi; Mr. B.K. Jha, Retired Scientist from Delhi; Mr Sanjit Burman, C.A., Kolkata. Many other distinguished persons from different streams of life were also present in this Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting.
Smt. Rama Rauta, and Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee, chaired the morning session. Dr. B.D. Joshi, chaired the afternoon session. Shri Rajdeep Pathak of Gandhi Smriti &Darsan Samiti Gave the vote of thanks.
SUMMARY OF THE SPEECHES
Smt Rama Rauta: 1. An Act is needed for National River Ganga like the National Flag Act.2. It has to be ensured that there is zero discharge of pollution into Ganga.3. Rejuvenating the Ganga is doing the river much healthier than making it aviral / nirmal. At least an adequate flow of natural fresh and clean water with sediments must be allowed to flow on the Ganga bed and the Yamuna bed throughout the stretch of the rivers throughout the year.4. Next year on 12th March, we shall have Save Ganga March to PM and President in addition to having Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Discussions.
Prof A.K Gosain: Where water comes from is more important than what is available in the river. Sources can be snow melt, run off, direct rain, groundwater and effluent.2. Excessive withdrawal of groundwater lowers the water table, which reduces base flow and may even reverse the direction of flow.3. Recharge groundwater to increase base flow in the river. 4. Only 30% of water is utilised in flood irrigation, which can be increased to 70 or 75%. This will save water, reduce demand and make water available in river. Irrigation consumes over 80% of water drawn from the river.5. Quantity and quality have to be addressed together. 6. Pollution has converted small rivers into dirty drains. Keeping them clean will automatically clean the main river.7. 45% of area of Delhi is unsewered, much of it is served with water. This mismatch results in river pollution. 8. Delhi has 21 drains, three are main: Najafgarh, Barapulla and Trans Yamuna. Cleaning them requires₹3500 crore to be utilised in 3 years. 9. Industrial effluent interferes with functioning of STPs. They need CETPs but industries located within dwellings are hard to identify and deal with. 10. Entry of storm water into sewers causes silting and overflow of sewers. 11. At 300 points in Delhi, sewage leaves a sewer and flows or is made to flow into open drains. At some points, drains are made to flow into sewers.
Shri Paritosh Tyagi: 1. Ganga has been declared as National River. This is not adequate, like National Calendar has no status. Compare with National Flag, which has an Act. 2. National Environment Policy mentions ‘Unique Entities’. Tiger and Taj Mahal are cited as unique entities. See how they are protected. Self-preservation quality of the Ganga itself is unique as also the esteem for it. 3. Inland Navigation Act has been passed by Parliament on 09 March 2016 in less than 2 years of the formation of present government but River Regulation Zone has not been notified in more than last 10 years though encroachment on Yamuna is continuing and disaster at Kedarnath has opened everybody’s eyes in June 2013. 4. Notification is much easier than enactment. CRZ Notification already exists for more than 20 years. River Regulation Zone can be notified with the help of experience gained for CRZ. 5. River is a living system akin to human body. Flow is like blood in a body. How can Yamuna be totally diverted by Delhi Jal Board at Wazirabad or more than 95% diverted from Ganga at Narora? 6. We have National Environment Policy and National Water Policy. We need National River Policy. Ganga rejuvenation and creation of national waterway on Ganga are being planned as independent programmes and in some ways in conflict with each other. Policy will resolve such conflicts. 7. Ganga ji can be protected with provisions made for protecting women and their dignity. This is not new; Newzealand has enacted one river to be given the status of a lady.8. Correct legislation can be evolved only when we understand river: She is an Eco-system, a living system, in fact a living body. Her health has to be given full attention. 9. Actionable offences against river can be defined to resemble offences against women, eg molestation, rape and murder referring respectively to encroachment, pollution and dam or barrier across river.10. River development is not river bank development. River development should improve the health of the river.
Dr. Devendra S. Bhargava: 1. Power of Ganga is from rocks and soil, not from medicinal plants of Himalaya. 2. Aquatic flora and fauna can indicate the nature and extent of pollution.3. Decisions are not in the hands of competent persons.4. Exploit self-purifying capacity of the river by putting treated wastewater in the rivers.
Pujya Acharya Dr.Lokesh Muni: 1. What is done now will make it easier to achieve the goal. (It is not the last drop that cools a hot plate)2. Ganga is an identity of our country. 3. Where blessings of religious leaders, cooperation of media and clarion call of a lady (Rama Rauta) are together, success shall be achieved.
Pujya Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa: 1. Cleanliness is common to all faiths and religions.2. Nothing is achieved without action.3. Religious leaders are given more respect and have therefore greater moral duty.4. Sikh religion gives great importance to water. Pawan guru, pani pita, mata dharat mahaan. 5. Ganga is our identity: ham us desh ke wasi hain jis desh mein Ganga bahti hai.
Pujya Swami Nikhilanand ji:1. Move to the point up to which light shows the way.2. We should be able to take aachman from Ganga.
Pujya Swami Devakinandan Thakur: 1. Science and religion do not appear compatible but scientists and religious leaders are together for Ganga.2. Not a drop of Yamuna reaches Vrindaban.3. Ganga jal is amrit.
Pujya Swami Anand ji: Movement should spread to every lane and home.
Shri Ajay Jain Bhutoria: Clean air and clean water is a human right.
Ms.Kiran Bali: Hypocrisy is manifest as Ganga is shown respect but its pollution is allowed to continue in Ganga.
Dr Mohan Singh Rawat Gaonvasi: 1. Pollution is due to consumerism.2. Ganga March next year is endorsed.
Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee: Citizen pollute, only citizens can clean.2. Creator may forgive but creation does not.
Dr M.K Chaturvedi: 1. Identify sources of pollution and tackle accordingly.2. Disposal of only treated effluent should be allowed into river or tributary.3. Encroachment, even if temporary, has its adverse impact on the river. 4. There is high deterioration in Ganga water quality right from Haridwar onward and that the water is totally un-potable right from Rishikesh onward. This he pointed out is also due to shortage of water. 5. Upstream user claims that there is no pollution; downstream user blames the upstream user for pollution. Solution is to monitor river quality at points of transfer/boundary. 6. Accountability is possible through measurement of water quality index.
Shri B.K Jha: 1.We must protect the purity of water and rivers. He was highly critical of water being used to flush the night soil to sewage system and to rivers including river Ganga. He emphasized that we must, of course not carry the night soil / the human latrine products over head , but that we must also not follow the flushing it to sewage to rivers. 2. We must promote dry toilet. A vacuum based system can be evolved to process the night soil which can be converted into organic manure or methane to use. Digest faeces with ash and bacteria and when container is full, transport and use as manure.
Dr B.D Joshi: 1.There should be separate channel to carry the sewage of the municipalities and the system suggested by Prof. Oswald of using natural processes of sewage water cleaning, can be tried as being used in several developing countries. It can be successful especially in the tropical countries like India. 2. The Ashrams at places like Haridwar, Allahabad, Kashi and other places must treat their own sewage, besides must follow the rain water harvesting parallel to sewage management, to keep environment more eco-friendly and water recharging of soil. He also said that in view of wide roof area available with these Ashrams they must go for Solar energy production to save and conserve electricity.3. DRDO has developed an efficient design, now adopted also by Indian Railway in their toilets.
Mr. Sanjeet Burman: Man as part of human society is normally motivated by economic returns of any program. If we can link Save Ganga Programs with economic returns then probably we can be more successful.
Shri Vinoda Agarwal: His organization MOKSHADA is trying to save our precious forest wood, which is used in funeral pyres. Half burnt bodies dumped in the river Ganga and in other rivers further deteriorates the quality of water throughout the country. He emphasized on the use of electric crematorium.
Dr P Pushpagandan: Provision of green belt and ponds should be made along river banks.
(The summery of Speeches is based on the Notes taken by Shri Paritosh Tyagi and Dr BD Joshi)
There was a general feeling of anguish for our failure to take any significant step for the rejuvenation of our national river mother Ganga even after lunching the Namami Ganga project. We are continuing to commit the same kind of mistakes which are responsible for the failure of our Ganga Action Plan Phase-1 and Phase-2 which poses serious threat of wastage and misuse of funds, although the Consortium of 7 IITs has already provided a comprehensive Ganga Basin Management plan with reference to the problem of Pollution based on a holistic comprehensive critical scientific study of various aspects of the problem.
It was generally agreed that acceptance and implementation of our Save Ganga Movement’s “Save Ganga &Save Himalayas Recommendations” made on 12th March 2015 at Gandhi Darshan, Rajghat, New Delhi, is necessary to rejuvenate and preserve our national River mother Ganga and her tributaries . (“The 12th March 2015 Charter of Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Recommendations” is available in our website, www. savegangamovement.org.)They are the results of churning critical discussions of many Save Ganga and Save Himalayas Seminars/ Meetings/ Workshops held in different parts of our country in the course of our Save Ganga Movement. The Ganga must be constitutionally declared as the National River with statutory provisions that ensure due respect and protection to her, considering her National River status. Treated or untreated sewage and industrial waste must not be discharged into the rivers, and sewage must be converted into valuable manure for organic farming, which should be promoted in a massive way for decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers from agricultural run-off into the rivers and also for maintaining soil fertility, checking the groundwater degradation, reducing water requirement of crops, producing health-friendly food, etc, which is the firm recommendation of Save Ganga Movement and also of the Consortium of Seven IITs’ Ganga River Basin Management Plan(GRBMBP). An adequate flow of natural fresh and clean water with sediments must be allowed to flow on the Ganga bed and the Yamuna bed throughout the stretch of the rivers throughout the year not only to protect and preserve their ecology but also to meet the basic water needs of the habitations on their banks, and to restore their self-purifying capacity and the bactericidal, non-putrefying and health promoting qualities of Gangajal.
The Government must take the necessary steps as soon as possible to implement the Consortium of 7 IITs’ recommendations regarding Zero discharge, and provide all the necessary help to the Consortium of IITs to complete its unfinished holistic comprehensive scientific study of the various remaining relevant issues such as (a)the problem of construction of extremely eco-hostile dams for hydropower in the highly earth quake prone eco-fragile and ecologically, aesthetically and religiously invaluable Himalaya region of the Ganga Basin, (b) the problem of construction of extremely eco-hostile barrages/dredging in the River Ganga for Navigation and (c) the problem of extremely eco-hostile interlinking of the rivers within the Ganga basin and between the rivers of the Ganga basin and the Peninsular rivers, etc. Decision on these controversial issues should be postponed till a national consensus on these issues is available on the basis of holistic scientific knowledge about the short-term as well as ong-term harmful as well as beneficial consequences of such undertakings. Our scientists have the knowledge and skill to rejuvenate our national river mother Gang and her tributaries within a few years if they get the full support and cooperation of the government.)
We must look beyond short-term economic benefits and have a holistic scientific study about the long term environmental cost of the projects whose victims would be mainly, in addition to the adversely effected local people, our future generations and our dumb and deaf fellow creatures. What we need to ensure our lasting water security is decentralized basin restoration, recharging and management approaches that consider a host of small and medium ecologically sustainable measures involving participation of local people. Methods of irrigation and agricultural practices need to be changed keeping in view of the E-flow requirements of our national river and sustainability of ground water in the Ganga Basin. Organic farming should be promoted in a massive way for decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers such as hazardous chemicals from agricultural run-off into the rivers, and also for maintaining soil fertility, checking the groundwater degradation, reducing water requirement of crops, producing health-friendly food, etc. Dependence on rivers for irrigation could be substantially reduced by making our villages self-dependent as far as possible for their water needs through storing rainwater in traditional ways in tanks and ponds and rejuvenating /creating forests wherever possible which would function as natural water tanks. In India, forest cover is around 24 percent, and we need to increase this to 33 percent to absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030 as part of our national action plan to counter climate change. Besides giving firewood, seasonal fruits, nuts, honey and material for making furniture, house etc, and reducing storm run-off and the possibility of flooding, etc., our forests will remain invaluable for us forever as the natural preserver of our invaluable water, topsoil, medicinal plants, wildlife, absorber of CO2 and producer of Oxygen and also accounting for the great majority of inland rain through evaporation & transpiration by trees.
It was generally agreed that Save Ganga Movement must try with the help of Various likeminded organizations and eminent persons from different streams of life , especially scientists and spiritual leaders of different faiths, to create save Ganga & Save Himalayas mass-awareness through Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meetings/ Seminars/ Workshops, etc to put moral pressure on the government to take decisive time bound course of actions to rejuvenate and preserve our national river mother Ganga, which would surely be a major step in the direction to save all our other great rivers which are also in the process of slow death. We must realize that saving the Ganga and its tributaries and their source the Himalayas and the Godavari and Krishna and their source the Western Ghats is absolutely necessary to ensure clean water, food¬, air¬ and health securities to our masses.
Let us not underestimate the strength of the Ganga-hostile forces. Sri Rajiv Gandhiji, Sri Atalbihari Bajpaiji and Sri Manmohan Singhiji with deep love and respect for Mother Ganga sincerely and deeply desired to rejuvenate and preserve her, but they could not succeed. Let us not underestimate the strength of the extremely eco-hostile forces of the present extremely unspiritual, inherently unsustainable, out-and-out consumerist global market culture of unlimited desires for more and more wealth and luxuries, which has caused disappearance of tens of thousands of plant and animal species and continues to cause greater and greater violence to our life and health-sustaining natural systems, which has catastrophic implications in the long run for our future generations as well as for the entire life-world. Even though thousands of crores of rupees have been spent to clean the Ganga and the Yamuna, the rivers are grasping for breath under unbearable pollution, even though we know that the Ganga is the life-line of nearly 40 % of our country’s population and crores of our people consider her to be their divine mother and that the polluted water directly or indirectly causes health hazards like cancer, respiratory diseases, renal failure and much other water born or water related diseases.
The great seers of all great religions as well as of our ancient civilization would agree with the Gandhian view that the modern Civilization’s culture of having unlimited desires for more and more wealth and luxuries and going to the ends of the earth with the help of science and technology causing great irreparable harm to earth’s life-sustaining natural eco-systems in search of their satisfaction is satanic and suicidal. We must not allow our development activities, essentially to satisfy our greed for wealth and lust for luxuries, in the name of development for the common people, to deprive the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting since ages from the Ganga and her tributaries and their source the Himalayas. It would be highly unethical to allow our development activities, in the name of development for the common people, to deprive the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting freely since ages from our life-giving & life-sustaining aesthetically and religiously invaluable natural eco-systems. Let us always keep in our mind the invaluable explicit message of the great teachers and seers of our civilization that pursuit of wealth and pleasure within the limits of ethics is essential not only for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of life, but also for lasting development, prosperity, peace and happiness in society.
We must realize that the ecological crisis of the mother Ganga is the sign/ symptom of the ecological crisis of our mother Planet Earth, and the slow death of the Ganga is the sign/symptom of the slow death of our great living ancient civilization, which is the mother of so many great religions. To what extent we would succeed to rejuvenate and preserve the Ganga would be the acid test of to what extent we would succeed to rejuvenate and preserve our great civilization, which has the moral and spiritual resources to save the world from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with its present deep rooted all pervasive moral and spiritual crisis. We must also realize that the Gandhian alternative(in terms of Gandhiji’s conceptions of village Swaraj, Swadeshi, Antyodaya, Sarvodaya, dignified body-labour, cottage industry, rural serving/centric eco-friendly industrialization and urbanization, Satyagraha, character-building ethics education, enlightened righteous simple living and high thinking, etc), to the present culture of development of modern civilization does provide the form and content of a sustainable, equitable, loving and caring non-violent form of development, which essentially involves retelling the basic ethics of our ancient civilization as well as of all great religions in the context of our technological age, and is the surest and perhaps the only solution to our impending catastrophic global ecological crisis including the problem of Global Warming and Climate Change. (For a discussion on this issue, please see the note entitled “Gandhian Solution to Global Ecological Crisis” in our website, www. savegangamovement.org.) Let us convert our villages into ideal places for leading enlightened ethical life of simple living and high thinking with dignified exhilarating and health-friendly body-labour in an atmosphere of natural purity and beauty with loving care of the invaluable countless kinds of flora and fauna of our life-giving & life-sustaining aesthetically and religiously invaluable natural eco systems, with the help of the Gandhian conceptions of village Swaraj, Swadeshi, Sarvodaya, Antyodaya, dignified body-labour, etc . Let us rejuvenate and preserve of our great ancient civilization of Truth and non-violence through completing the unfinished work of Mahatma Gandhi , the apostle of Truth and non-violence of our age, and save India and through it the world at large from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with the present all pervasive deep rooted moral and spiritual crisis.
There is no scarcity of wealth, knowledge and skill to save and rejuvenate our villages, rivers, water bodies, mountains, forests, and wildlife which are in the process of slow death. There is lack of will due to our moral bankruptcy. All great religions rightly, explicitly or implicitly, claim that any person through conscious effort can progress from evil to good life, from selfish good life to selfless good life, from selfless good life to enlightened selfless good life and from it towards ethical perfection, which is intrinsically deeply peaceful and joyful. Surely our civilization has the moral and spiritual resources to play the role of Jagat Guru and show the present spiritually dark world the path of Truth, the path of self-purification, self-enlightenment and self-realization, the path of Yoga, which essentially involves pursuit and realization of ethical perfection. It does provide profound systematic knowledge about the means to discipline ethically our senses and passions and progress towards ethical perfection, and its message of enlightened selfless ethical action of universal love with detachment to the fruit of the actions has the potentiality to save the world from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with its present deep rooted all pervasive moral and spiritual crisis. Let India, the land of many great religions, provide the world a culture of non-violence and Truth in the context of our present technological age, where all religions would grow harmoniously with reference to morality and spirituality in spite of their differences in the realm of metaphysics on the basis of the knowledge about their fundamental ethical unity and truth and the central place of ethics in religious life, where science and technology would be used for development only within the limits of ethics, where development would take place with loving care of the invaluable countless kinds of flora and fauna of our life-giving & life-sustaining aesthetically and religiously invaluable natural eco systems.
It is deeply painful that, although Yoga is essentially a science of self-purification, self-enlightenment and self-realization, in the present global market culture a multibillion dollar business enterprise is flourishing in the name of Yoga. It would be most unfortunate and highly unethical to allow our Ganga Rejuvenation Project to become a multibillion dollar Ganga-Business enterprise, in the name of development for the common people, at the cost of depriving the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting since ages from the Ganga and her tributaries and their source the Himalayas. Posterity will condemn and curse us if we fail to save our national river mother Ganga, the cradle of our living great ancient civilization, which constitute the lifeline of nearly 40 % of our country’s population and which is considered to be divine mother by crores of our people.
Smt Rama Rauta,
Founder & Convener, Save Ganga Movement
Member, Expert Advisory Committee, Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of WR,RD&GR, GOI
Former Expert Member, NGRBA, Govt. Of India
President, National Women’s Organization, Pune
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