Rishikesh, 11 March- The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Action Parivar, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh organized a two-day Summit of Solutions for the River Ganga which brought together mayors, magistrates, officials and officers from the cities, towns and villages lining the 2500 km length of the River Ganga.
The two-day summit included rousing speeches from political, social, national and faith leaders, discussions on proven models and remedies as well as a collective pledge by leaders and citizens from five states to work together for saving India’s beloved National River. The two day Solutions Summit was inaugurated on the 10 th of March by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat in which he said, “We have awakened on time, it is not too late, and for this I appreciate the saints who have raised great awareness on this issue in India and abroad. I am deeply grateful to our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji who has brought the whole nation together in this vital pledge and added even greater momentum to these efforts.”
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarawatiji: “The purpose of this confluence is to ensure that we can all get together to do something for the Ganga, before it becomes, like the Saraswati, a mythical river only found in our history books. The Ganga should keep flowing clean and unobstructed and there are a plethora of solutions that can be implemented towards this end. Today, we are bringing both the ground plan, at the level of the people, with the grand plan, at the level of policy makers and administrators, this is the bridge that needs to be constructed. I am happy to officially announce the launch of the Ganga River Institute which will be dedicated to being this bridge, building capacity, training and educating every change agent in this process to be empowered and inspired to be the solution they want to see for an aviral and nirmal (clean and free-flowing) Mother Ganga.”
The conclusion of the Solutions Summit was graced by Uttarakhand’s Minister for Urban Development, Hon’ble Shri Madan Kaushik, who called upon the assembled leaders, administrators, experts, citizen volunteers and Ganga lovers to come up with specific technical models and innovations suitable for each different state and region.
Uttarakhand’s Minister for Urban Development, Hon’ble Shri Madan Kaushik, announced that Haridwar was on the verge of becoming the first city in the state to have 100% underground sewerage. Commenting on the great strides made in the last 4 to 5 years for the rejuvenation of the Ganga, the Hon’ble Minister said: “The Ganga cannot become clean and free-flowing by the Government’s efforts alone. The participation of citizens and communities is a must.” Thanking HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarawatiji for creating public awareness through such programmes, for more than two decades, the Minister requested that solutions should be found for the state of Uttarkhand to become a model for the whole country in sanitation and environmental sustainability.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance emphasized the importance of Ganga as both the lifeline for Indians as well as that which draws and inspires people from across the world. “It is the grace of Mother Goddess that brings peace to the chaos and noiselessness to the noise in our minds. She provides the inspiration and divine connection that we all seek….As we work morning to night to provide financially for our children, we must realize that providing the children of today and tomorrow with clean, flowing waters of Mother Ganga is just as important a responsibility!”
During their respective ceremonies, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and the Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development joined the President of Parmarth Niketan, Co-Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), Founder of Ganga Action Parivar, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarawatiji, Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswatiji, Secretary General, GIWA, and other assembled dignitaries in lighting lamps, symbolizing new hope for Mother Ganga. A symbolic Water Blessing was also held to pray and pledge for clean rivers and safe and clean water for all.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarawatiji presented a sacred rudraksha sapling and apple sapling to the Hon’ble Chief Minister during the inauguration and Hon’ble Urban Development Minister during the concluding ceremony of the Solutions Summit.
Shri Ravi Bhatnagar, Director, External Affairs and Partners, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), known for its popular Dettol and Harpic brands, announced the SITI Shield initiative that is partnering together with the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance to plant 2 lakh trees along the Ganga River Basin in the next year. After which the Deputy Secretary General of FICCI, Shri Nirankar Saxenaji, also pledged to plant 2 lakh trees with GIWA and Ganga Action Parivar in the next year. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and all present enthusiastically appreciated these commitments.
Mayors, Nagar Palika Chairpersons, Parshads, engineers and administrators representing cities and towns on the Ganga banks in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar joined IAS officers, technological innovators, development experts and representatives from industry and corporate organizations such as FICCI and RB at Parmarth Niketan for the Summit of Solutions for the River Ganga, organized by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Action Parivar with technical assistance from Water Aid, in association with the Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Ganga Rejuvenation and Water Resources, Government of India,. Over two days, the Summit participants deliberated and interacted on a range of strategies and solutions for the health and survi val of the Ganga and the lives dependent on it, including the total eradication of Open Defecation, Solid and Liquid Waste Management, Disaster Risk Reduction, beautification of cities and riverfronts, tree plantations, eco-friendly cremation practices, people’s participation, Corporate Social Responsibility and much more. In group planning sessions, the participants were assisted by water engineers from PHED Rajasthan and experts from the National Centre for Good Governance, Mussoorie, to make strategies for implementing sustainable solutions on these issues in their respective cities.
On the 2 nd day, they were joined by top officials from the National Mission for Clean Ganga, experts from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and nearly 250 volunteers from Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal for the inauguration of the Biodiversity and Ganga Rejuvenation Training Programme.