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Vishwa Mohan| TNN | New Delhi | Oct 3, 2017:: Rally for Rivers, the river-rejuvenation initiative led by Sadhguru, concluded in Delhi on Monday. The month long pan-India rally covered 16 states, enlisting support of governments, civil society, spiritual leaders and media, creating a plan to rejuvenate rivers. This includes planting trees for at least a kilometre on either side of a river and helping farmers upgrade irrigation with professional inputs. In Haridwar on the last leg, Sadhguru spoke to Vishwa Mohan about the campaign.
What is the next step now that the rally and missed-call campaigns are over?
With the help of experts, we have prepared a draft policy on river revitalisation that is a little over 700 pages. We’ll present this to the Centre on October 3 or 4. We will share this with all the states, prominent environmentalists and media houses. We will give them three months to share their wisdom, knowledge and experience. There is no absolutism when it comes to environment. There are always better ways to do certain things. Once this is over, the legislative, legal, cultural and administrative challenges will take another 6 to 12 months.
How smooth will the implementation be, given water is a state subject?
Execution will be a big challenge. It is a legislative challenge, a legal challenge, and its execution will also have many complexities. But we have charted out as clear a path as possible. I’m happy to say we’ve been to 15 states ruled by seven different parties who have spoken with one voice. It says something about the maturity of our political system. Even in states in election mode, like Karnataka, the CM, ex-CM and possible future CMs spoke with a single voice for the purpose.
What has been people’s response?
Tremendous. We crossed 12 crore missed calls five days ago. I’ve been asking for 30 crore. We still have a month. Missed calls are like votes (in the campaign’s favour). About 30 crore is nearly 40% of the electorate. It’ll send a very strong message.
How does the missed call concept work?
It’s about setting a national agenda. The task calls for huge financial outlay, and long gestation period. We’re talking 20-25 years for rivers to flourish again. Four to five governments are likely to come and go. All governments must be focused, for which an overwhelming ‘yes’ (in the form of missed calls) must come from India, so they know so many voted for this one cause.
How will you go about the plantation drive?
We want to create a large-scale workable module. India has 20,000 km of riverine land. Nearly 25% of this is government land. This will be forested. We want to prove to farmers that their income from tree-based agriculture will far exceed returns from cropbased agriculture. This will be done in a scientific way. All support will be provided. We are speaking to CII. Baba Ramdev has said he will provide minimum support price to farmers for their tree-based produce. Farmers don’t want to shift from paddy and sugarcane, the thirstiest of crops, as these have a support price. We have to tell farmers how the shift from crop-based farming to tree-based farming can increase their income three times over. If farmers get a guarantee that their produce will be procured, they will switch over to the tree based farming. This model will work.
TNN | Haridwar | Oct 2, 2017:: The mood was upbeat on Sunday morning at the VIP ghat as close to 2,000 people, including Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, yoga guru Swami Ramdev and his associate Acharya Balkrishna as well as Swami Chidanand Saraswati, head of Rishikesh’s largest ashram Parmarth Niketan, turned up on the banks of the Ganga to express support for Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s ‘Rally For Rivers’ — a drive to generate awareness about the need to save the country’s rivers.
While CM Rawat assured the support of the Uttarakhand government for the endeavour, Ramdev announced that his organisation Patanjali Ayurved would adopt a stretch of land between 20 and 50km-long and plant one crore saplings. “We will ensure that 1 lakh saplings are planted in the next few days itself and also ensure that over a crore of our followers on social media give a missed call on 80009 80009 to support Sadhguru’s cause,” the yoga guru said.
Video: नदी अभियान – ईशा होम स्कूल के बच्चों के साथ सद्गुरु. Sadhguru with Isha Home School Children.
The ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign arrived in Haridwar on Sunday on its 29th day, after covering 14 states and a distance of 9,100km, and is set to conclude in Delhi on Monday.
“You and I will come and go but the rivers which have been flowing for a million years will remain. Today, the major rivers in the country need urgent medical attention,” Sadhguru said. Providing the example of Bengaluru, he said, “Fifty years ago, Bengaluru had three rivers and over 1,000 lakes but at present the rivers have disappeared and the number of lakes has come down to just 81. Out of these 81, 40 are polluted with chemical waste.”
Read this also: In the Land of Seven Rivers, Our Rivers Are in Danger.
Peppering his address with facts and figures, Sadhguru told the audience that out of 800 streams and tributaries of the Ganga, 470 have become seasonal and flow for only four months a year, which has led to a 44% reduction of water in the river. “In the Ganga basin — the largest river basin in country — people have removed 94% green cover in the last 50 years,” he pointed out.
Speaking about an action plan to salvage the situation, Sadhguru said, “A time has come when we do not have to approach this problem emotionally or politically but scientifically and strategically and it is for this purpose that the rally was started. Earlier, the Centre could never get all states together for a river revival policy as they were ruled by different parties.
But today, I am proud to say that India has come together for the cause of the rivers. Every party is speaking in one voice.”
“Till now close to 12 crore people have extended support to our campaign… I intend to take the number to 60 crore.”
For a permanent solution, he added that the country needs to have a policy under which people treat rivers as a national treasure.
Read this in Hindi: नदी अभियान : देखें लाइव – हरिद्वार में हुए कार्यक्रम की झलकें