Pune hosts 3-day programme on ‘Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility’ to raise awareness on keeping rivers clean 

Pune hosts 3-day programme on ‘Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility’ to raise awareness on keeping rivers clean 

Pune hosts 3-day programme on ‘Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility’ to raise awareness on keeping rivers clean 

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Several groups in Pune came together & conducted a 3-day event called ‘Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility’ from 26 to 28 Janaury 2024 near S M Joshi Bridge in Pune.

As per further information shared by Pune River Revival, following are the details of the 3-day event:

· 26 Janaury

Pune River Revival Group, a group of more than 60 organizations working in social, environmental sector, scientists, experts and individuals launched the “Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility” campaign on Republic Day. It was inaugurated by Internationally recognized River Researcher Parineeta Dandekar, most loved radio jockey RJ Sangram who created and published a deep research report MH12 on Pune’s civic issues and a successful young, dynamic businessman, Tanmay Kanitkar. The event was flagged of by students of Justine Dance academy students with their energetic and mesmerizing performances on River songs in Bengali, Hindi, Marathi. Followed by an emotional appeal by 2 little girls, “We the future of India ask you to “stop this pollution”. We want our beautiful rivers with animals and amphibians.

River Researcher Parineeta Dandekar stated – India must lead the world for executing “Rights of Rivers”. India has always respected rivers as “Living Entities”. She gave references from Ramayan, Rugveda and also narrated Sanskrit Shlokas which defines River as – water which flows with rhythm, which makes a sound and is full of life in the water and on the banks. However our rivers are far worse than any other countries in the world. A third party vigilant monitoring system on Water treatment plants, Sewage treatment plants and also decentralized Effluent treatment plants and additional sewage treatment plants, efficient storm water drains is required. However the so called “Guardians of rivers” MPCB or any state level PCB as well as Water Resource Departments or local governing bodies do not take the responsibility.

Tanmay Kanitkar, the E Governance expert said – Just like stagnant rivers are harmful and can be a reason for it’s death, similarly in Government offices the data, information does not flow, remains stagnant on various tables. If it becomes transparent starts flowing like rivers, we will be able to revive our rivers. But such inaction causes major hurdles, roadblocks. So if information starts flowing, gets utilized, our rivers will also start flowing, living.

RJ Sangram: the best Radio Jockey and author of famous book MH12 which states various Civic issues mentioned couple of years ago people were not talking about Environment when they were asked If Environment should be part of Election Manifesto. Now people are demanding that every political party must include Environment in their agenda. None of the political parties have Environment on their Election Manifesto but now if we have to save ourselves, it must be done.

Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch reiterated the need for STPs. He said that crores of rupees being spent on beautification must be diverted to clean the rivers first. Health Card of The river – Citizens have collected samples of the rivers from Bhima Basin at different locations and are displayed at the venue which clearly indicates, “Our Rivers are dead and not suitable for either farming, animals or human consumption.”

·27 January

Pune River Revival completed 700th day of chain fasting which started on February 22nd, 2022. This probably is longest chain fasting movement in India done for reviving the rivers. Uniqueness of this movement is that these fasts are done selflessly, unitedly passing the relay of fast meticulously to the next faster without breaking the chain. More and more people are joining the movement. An email to PM, CM, Local Governing bodies, MPCB and WRD is sent by the fasters with a photo and line – why they are fasting. More than 200 members have fasted multiple times for than 90 days or continuous 10 days fasting. This involvement and commitment of people makes this campaign a unique peaceful protest against current ongoing River Front Development Project.

Inauguration of the chain fasting done at the hands of the young and old fasters- Dr. Pramod Khandekar, eldest, Omkar Ganu youngest & longest faster – Rakesh Jagtap.

This was followed by a beautiful rendition of poetry and songs based on the theme of rivers and environment by Ketaki Ghate an Ecologist by profession, Prachi working with a Corporate and veteran theater artist, writer, Chinmay Kelkar. Many volunteers came together to sing, dance and promote the connect with rivers. The day was made special by performances of young kids, who played the instruments and also sang enthusiastically. It was highlight of the whole day. Some classical songs based on rivers was beautifully presented by Radhika Joshi, accompanied by her 6 year old son Adwait.

Organisations actively participated – NAPM, JABAB DO, Manavlok- Aniket Lohia, Global Shapers, Ecological Society, Jeevitnadi, students from Fergusson College, MIT, Wadia, and many others participated in the event. More than 50 volunteers fasted on that day.

·28 January

It was the concluding day of the campaign “Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility”. Organizations and individuals working in Bhima Basin on different rivers were the present. Jalbiradari President Narendra Chugh, Jalbiradari Coordinator, Dr. Sumant pande, R J Sangram, and Pune River revival- Mukund Mavalankar were on the stage.

Narendra Chugh explained about the Program and Reports on different rivers being created by Citizens and supported by local Govt, under a GR. An extension of 2 more years has been given to Civil society to create the Action plan on the Rivers. Out of 109 rivers, Action plan for 35 rivers is complete till now. R J Sangram gave a promise to Rajendra Singh that if he is elected in coming elections, he that he will work to improve condition of the rivers. Representatives were present from different organizations.

Rajendra Singh said that Indian people have a strong relation since 12000 years with Rivers in the past. He said – India always worshipped PANCHAMAHABHOOT (5 elements of nature) God i.e. BHAGAVAN means Bha se Bhoomi(land), Ga se gagan (Akash) V se Vayu and A se –Agni (fire) and Na se Neer (water). Till we worshiped “PANCHAMAHABHOOTA”, we were the Gurus for the world. World considered us “Guru “because we knew our “Bhagwan. People worshiped the God which was within them. The God was not locked in any temple or Masjid, Church or Gurudwara and the keys were not in hands of the priest. That was the time when we were Guru to the world. He said if India keeps boasting that they can be “Guru” to the world and we do not understand the God within us, we cannot become “Guru” of the world. If we worship the God within us, the God which is human, which is living and not locked in temples, Gurudwara, Church or Masjid. The Atman (inner self) brings out “Narayan” which is Respect. Respect brings the faith and the faith brings belief. Which was in form of “Neer, Nari and Nadi (Water, Woman & River) Respect for Neer, Nari, Nadi which means “Narayan” made us “Guru”.

He spoke elaborately on River pollution. He said “A city like Pune must release the quality of water which it drinks every day. However, we do not believe in filtration quality parameters since they are not maintained stringently. So ideally “Rivers, Sewers and Effluents must be separated”.

He guided representatives of all the Organizations of Bhima basin. It was unanimously decided that A Declaration on “Rights of Rivers “will be created. All organization coming together are in process of making this “River Declaration” which will be submitted to all concerned authorities on 14th of February 2024. Rajendrasingji shared few guidelines which should be included in Declaration –

• Natural flow of the rivers including her natural silt should not be disturbed.

• No sand will be removed while dredging.

• Desiltation will be done only after Identification, demarcation and mapping.

He also hinted on the grave situation of Ground water and heavy extraction of the same. If we keep extracting the Ground water at this pace, our country will soon be identified as “Climate Refugees”. We will be losing our respect in the eyes of the world and Countries like US and Europe will blame us for Refugee migration. If we do not want this, citizens must come forward to stop 3 D’s – Displacement, Disaster & Destruction. Projects like River Front Development, insufficient capacity STPs, ETPs should be opposed by citizens. Shailaja Deshpande of Jeevitnadi & Prajakta Mahajan of Pune River Revival conducted the whole program. Rajendra Singh has promised the Bhima Basin Citizens, that he will always support the cause of “Rights of Rivers”.

Shreyas Vange

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