Atulya Ganga: The power of 3 ps to revive Ganga - Parikrama, Pollution & People
New Delhi, Nov 23: The waters of the Ganges quench our thirst, nourish the food we eat and when we die, the river assimilates our ashes. It is not far from the truth to say the Ganga courses through our bloodstreams. And yet this ancient, and one of India's holiest rivers lies wasted today. Now, a team of Indian Army Veterans who put their lives on the line for the country have taken it upon themselves to revive India's greatest lifeline.
Restoring the lost glory of Ganga is a herculean task, but this team of Army Veterans is determined to leave no stone unturned toward their goal. Ganga basin is home to more than half a billion people as every 12th human lives here, and yet the masses are almost blind to the misery of this sacred river that is marred by pollution. Atulya Ganga- an epic Journey on foot, is set to script history when they begin their journey on 15th December.
The Atulya Ganga initiative has been founded by Lt. Col Hem Lohumi, Gopal Sharma, and Col Manoj Keshwar. It rests on the three strong pillars of Parikrama, Pollution, and People. These veterans believe that these 3 Ps can transform the face of the river if applied with utmost sincerity.
This project is a unique combination of nature, adventure, culture, mythology, and history Col Manoj Kehwar tells, ''The idea is to create awareness among the youth who are the backbone of the country. In the past 1,600 years, nobody has accomplished the Parikrama which requires one to comply with the rules when undertaking this journey across the length of the river. It's a tradition that dates back to the Vedic times.
There are around 20 such long treks across the world, but India is yet to discover that. This 5000 Km journey will give India its first-ever long trek that will prove to be a major attraction for the adventure lovers.''
The other pillar, Pollution is the bane of Ganga, unchecked dumping of industrial and sewage waste is a harsh reality that needs immediate action.
There is careless exploitation of the entire river system. ''The Indian Government has responded to the situation with a sense of urgency by making Ganga rejuvenation a key project. The real cleaning of the river can only be done by the Government. We can only create awareness and motivate youth to work towards preserving our key rivers. Once we map the pollution and highlight it, the accountability is the next step,'' says Col Manoj.
Atulya Ganga is a people's movement that will commence on 15th December and will conclude on August 10th, 2021. It is an 11-year project from 2020 to 2030 with two 5-year-plans. They will visit over 5000 villages, 45 cities in 220 days. The original idea was to engage as many people as possible but due to Coronavirus precautions, there will be 6 permanent walkers while 150 relay and over 20,000 mini walks will be conducted by people joining the trek.
There will be sampling and testing of Ganga Water, groundwater, and the soil, every 5 km. They will also carry out a plantation drive of Banyan, Neem, and Peepal trees.
The hike with a purpose also aims to create awareness and engagements on many other issues that lay hidden. Col Manoj says that the plight of Bhojpur which is the cancer capital of India needs to be told. ''No. of people suffering from Cancer in Bhojpur is 10 times the national average. It is the arsenic poisoning that has led to this grim situation.
Due to the overdrawing of the groundwater, arsenic that once may have been deposited by Ganga in the river bed is now getting mixed with the drinking water. We need to urgently highlight this issue,'' he says.
The team laments that India still lacks an environmental temper. Indian youth needs to wake up and take charge of the situation before it goes completely out of hand. This project will act as a precedent for many other rivers in India like Yamuna that are reeling under the same abysmal state. The time bomb is constantly ticking in the background and people need to wake up to it as soon as possible. Nothing binds Indian culture more strongly than the holy Ganga, yet the pitiable state of our sacred river is a grim reality. But with these Army Veterans ready to toil, it reignites hope and inspiration.