Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Feb 22 : With a three-pronged objective of saving the imalayas from ecological disaster, cleansing the River Ganges of pollutants and also saving the cow, 5000 volunteers who have embarked upon a 'Ganga Yatra', have reached Rishikesh.
The rally termed as 'Ganga Yatra' commenced on February 11 from Gangotri Dam and will end on February 28 in New Delhi, where the Government will be persuaded to take steps to save the region from ecological damage.
"We will strive for the protection of the holy cow, the holy river Ganges and the Himalayas. These are the basics of our journey," said Gopal Maniji Maharaj, a volunteer.
"The Ganges has been forced to change its course with bridges and tunnels being built across it, and as a result, the sanctity of the river has been destroyed," Maharaj added.
The cow is regarded as the saviour of mankind, and its slaughter can threaten India's entire population, he claimed.
"The cow, Ganges and Himalayas have not received adequate attention needed for their preservation. And whatever little has been done, is not sufficient. The cow is being sacrificed often and this is not right," said Subhash Sharma, one of the organisers of the Ganga Yatra.
"For 24 years, Gopal Maniji Maharaj has been monitoring the situation and following an analysis. He has suggested that around 5001 people should come forward and begin the holy journey to draw the attention of the Government to these issues, so that they may take relevant steps to protect them," Sharma added.
According to a recent official report, only 39 percent of the primary target of the Ganga Action Plan, which the Central Government had started in 1985, has been met so far.
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was originated from the personal intervention and interest of the late Prime Minster Indira Gandhi, who requested a comprehensive survey of the situation in 1979.
After five years, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published two comprehensive reports, which formed the base from which the action plan to clean up the Ganga, was developed.