Author – Saniya Virani
Rivers are our lifeline since we are completely dependent on them for our existence. Our planet consists of 70% water, but only 1% of it is potable water present in rivers. However, it is unfortunate that the majority of rivers across the globe are highly polluted. The major reason behind this alarming situation is our utter ignorance towards our environment and maintaining rivers and riversides. River Ganga, despite being the holiest of all rivers in India, it ranks as one of the most polluted rivers in the world today!
So it’s high time that we need to take some stringent actions about it. We still have the chance to save our dying rivers. The drastic change in environmental conditions clearly indicates that our world is heading in the wrong direction. If we humans want to ensure our existence, we need to protect our rivers from pollution.
Various measures to protect our rivers from pollution
● The most important thing that each individual should understand is rivers belong to all of us. It is a joint responsibility of each and every individual to keep them clean. We need to reduce water pollution at a personal level. Blaming the government will not help since pollution is caused by a single person.
● Industrial waste holds the biggest responsibility for this pathetic condition, so industries and the relevant authorities need to ensure that no industrial wastes and affluents are dumped in any water body. Environment laws are often not followed, especially in India, since the government’s main focus is to strengthen the economy and to achieve the same, rivers and other water bodies are put on stake.
● People often throw garbage like empty cans, packets, etc., directly into rivers. Further, the trash left along riverside often ends up getting dumped in the water only. We should dump the trash only in the garbage bin and keep the riverside as clean as possible. The plastic material thrown into water bodies is the main reason for the suffocation death of water animals worldwide. Further, immersing the Ganesha idols after Ganesha Chaturthi festival every year has become another major environmental hazard due to the harmful chemicals used in making those idols.
● We must make an effort to refuse, reduce and reuse plastics as much as possible. Use only those products that can be reused and recycled. Apply this mantra in your daily life. Recycled products take less amount of water than what the new ones take in the manufacturing process. This saves a lot of water.
● Stop the wastage of water. Overexploitation of water bodies including the rivers to fulfill our needs. But, in reality, a lot of water gets wasted because of the ignorance of people.
● Make minimal use of chemicals in day-to-day life since they are not only harmful to rivers and water bodies, but these are equally harmful to your own health. Instead of using chemical-based products like soaps, detergents, and toiletries, replace them with natural cleaners and herbal alternatives. Use biodegradable products since they can be decomposed easily and don’t end up in rivers. It is the most environmentally-friendly option that one can opt for. Always segregate your household garbage into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.
● Volunteer with NGOs and community groups that are working to save and protect our rivers from pollution. In this way, you will be able to learn more and can easily volunteer for the projects that are dedicated to restoring rivers. Moreover, you can also fund those projects and request other people to make the necessary donations. The good part is you can support as many conversation societies as possible.
● Build awareness among people about the deplorable condition of our rivers. You can make good use of social media platforms to reach out to a large number of people. In fact, you can come up with your own campaign to spread the word. Persuade authorities to strictly implement pollution control regulations and people should be punished if they are found polluting the rivers or any other water body.
River Rejuvenation Projects in India
Here are a few examples of NGOs and citizen communities restoring a water body in urban area or rejuvenating a river in rural areas:
● Rejuvenation of the Sabarmati River in Gujarat is considered a great success model for reviving a river flowing through a large city. Sabarmati rejuvenated during the Narendra Modi government’s rule a decade ago. The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project involved the reclamation of a 10.5 km-stretch of Sabarmati river flowing through the heart of Ahmedabad. The project involved rejuvenating the river by recharging the 11km stretch river with water from the Narmada river and beautifying the river banks by establishing places of recreation along its banks.
● The 47-km-long Dravyavati River in Jaipur had been reduced into a drain, thanks to years of negligence, haphazard urbanization and unchecked encroachment. Under the INR1,600-crore river revival project, 170 million liters of clean water would be pumped into the river every day through five sewerage treatment plants that have been set up along the riverbank. Tata group has joined hands with Rajasthan government to rejuvenate Dravyavati River in the Pink city and build about 85 dams and other safety structures, which will be constructed in a manner to keep in check the sewage being discharged into the river.
● After reviving private sector participation in the infrastructure sector, the India government’s hybrid-annuity model will be put to the test at the Ganga’s cleaning and rejuvenation program. This hybrid annuity contract model for setting sewage treatment plants has been adopted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation for creating sewage treatment infrastructure in 97 towns across the country. The list of 97 towns includes 20 big cities situated on the Ganga River banks including Kanpur, Allahabad, Haridwar and Patna.
● The Ministry for Environment & Forests has signed an agreement with a Japanese agency to revive the Mula and Mutha rivers flowing through Pune. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has agreed to offer financial assistance of INR1,000 crore for pollution abatement in the Mula and Mutha rivers. To reduce the pollution of the two rivers, 11 sewage treatment plants will be built to kickstart the project.
● After numerous attempts over several decades to clean up the Musi river in Hyderabad failed, the Government of Telangana has decided to develop a model riverfront for 3 km within the capital city. Currently, the 57 km-long river flowing through Hyderabad today resembles a sewer more than a river. Spearheaded by the Musi River Development Corporation, created by the state government last year, the plan entails checking of untreated sewerage that flows in to the river, clearing the river banks up of all encroachments, and setting up of a riverfront similar to Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati riverfront for a 3 km stretch from Puranapul to Chaderghat.
● Disintegration of sewage lines is a major issue especially for cities like Mumbai where the population has already crossed all the benchmarks. The recent upgradation of Mithi river sewage lines in Mumbai is one such example when the stakeholders have understood the gravity of the situation and have decided to add new sewage lines from Vihar Lake to Powai. The deepening of the Mithi River relieves the population from severe repercussions and ensure a safe life for everyone.