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Why Our Rivers Need Help

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Spreading like wildfire all over the internet and the media is a movement by the non-government organisation, Isha Foundation. The head of the foundation, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev kickstarted a campaign, not labeling it as an agitation but a call to all the citizens of India, to save the depleting rivers of the country. Rally For Rivers is a people’s participation movement, which has garnered a lot of attention from all corners of the country. It aimed to raise awareness about the rivers and their deteriorating condition, and it has. The youth, politicians, farmers and workers and the working class have started talking about this issue. A lot of state governments have also pledged their support to the initiative.

The campaign appealed to many corporate houses for support. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited has vowed to support the cause of the depleting rivers of the country and to ask the government for a positive river policy.

What Rally For Rivers is proposing is to bring in a minimum of 1-kilometer-wide tree cover on riversides and half a kilometer for tributaries. This will help in allowing the soil to absorb rainwater and slowly feed the river through natural underground channels. This is a natural inhibitor of floods and soil erosion. It also ensures that the river flows year-round, providing farmers with a continuous water supply even during the dry season. Trees normalize rainfall through a process called transpiration, making rains more predictable for farmers to grow crops.

The perennial rivers of the country like Krishna, Godavri, Ganga and Narmada are becoming seasonal due to the pressure of development and urbanisation. The increasing deforestation and water pollution are only adding to the existing problems. The Ganga is one of the most endangered rivers in the world. The Godavari was dry along much of its length in 2016. The Kaveri has lost 40% of its flow. Krishna and Narmada have lost around 60%. This issue, in the long run, will have a lot of effect on the domestic lives. According to data, 65% of the water for household needs comes from the rivers. Agriculture also requires large amounts of water. Many of the states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have a severe water shortage. That has led to farmer suicides, drought, and food crop damage over the past decades.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an $87 billion scheme to link 60 of the country’s biggest rivers, including the Ganga. This move was made to save the farmers of the drought-prone states so that they don’t have to depend on fickle monsoon rains. This project is also supposed to generate hydroelectric energy on a large scale. Environmentalists have, however, warned of ecological damage if rivers were disturbed in this way. They advise of investment in water conservation instead.  

It is evident that the issue is a big one and it will grow with time. There needed to be a voice to remind the citizens of their responsibility towards the rivers. This campaign has succeeded in starting the conversation. The use of social media has succeeded in conveying the information and increasing participation of the people. There has been speculation that this campaign could make the condition worse, but only time will tell if it’s a boon or a curse.

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Regards,
The CSR Journal Team

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