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Friday, December 14, 2007

Save Ganga : Campaign on Streets

Ganga Sena takes battle to save the river to UP's streets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unhappy with the government's continuing inability to tackle pollution in the river Ganga, religious groups in the state of Uttar Pradesh are taking up cudgels, quite literally, on behalf of their beloved river.

Religious groups and environmentalists have frequently been at odds in India, especially over issues like pollution of waterbodies and methods of celebrating festivals. So the formation of the Ganga Sena, a coalition of several religious organisations in Uttar Pradesh whose aim is to stem the tide of pollution in the sacred river, is certain to raise a few eyebrows.

Ganga Sena, which literally means 'Ganga's Army', will officially sound the battle cry to free the river of pollutants in January 2008. Made up of groups from cities like Allahabad and Varanasi, the Ganga Sena's methods of warfare are novel too.

To begin with, it will stop government officials from participating in the holy Magh Mela that begins on the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna in Allahabad next month. "We will prevent officials from bathing in the Ganga because it is government servants who are responsible for the present condition of the river. They have allowed the Clean Ganga drive to go awry, and have also misused funds. This is our token protest against the government's posture on the issue," says Shivendra Misra, senior member of the Ganga Sena.

Members of the Ganga Sena have taken an oath to protect the river and, so far, over 10,000 students have registered with it. Ganga Sena members will carry bamboo sticks -- their main weapon in the battle.

The Sena plans to physically prevent people from throwing waste into the river, and demonstrations will be held at the premises of industrial units that discharge effluents into the river. "We will keep a vigil on the banks of the river at various points and take action against those who pollute the river," says Misra.

Anand Giri Maharaj, a priest, adds: "We are launching a war against pollution in the river. We will do what we can to save the Ganga: for us this is not merely a source of water or a river, it is a way of life."

The decision to set up the Ganga Sena came after the Supreme Court recently pulled up the Union government and the governments of the five states in the Ganga basin for polluting the river.

The Supreme Court also directed the Centre not to release any more funds to the governments of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand until they furnished details of funds spent on the Ganga Action Plan.

The Indian government had earmarked US$ 247 million to check pollution in the Ganga, which is regularly contaminated with domestic and industrial waste.

According to conservative estimates, nearly 1.7 billion litres of effluents flow into the Ganga from various points every day; of this, nearly 1.4 billion litres is untreated. Nearly 88% of the pollution originates in 27 cities located along the banks of the river and its tributaries, while industrial effluents account for a quarter of the rubbish being thrown and pumped into the river.

Domestic and industrial pollution, combined with deforestation, use of pesticides and fertilisers and other factors have rendered the waters of the Ganga unfit to drink.

Another major cause of pollution is the cremation of bodies on the banks of the river, as well as the practice of throwing dead bodies, flowers, etc, into the river after religious rituals.

The level of pollution in the Ganga can be gauged from the fact that even holy men and ascetics refused to take their customary dip in the river during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in January this year. (ANI)

Source :

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