Media Release – 20 March 2012

On the occasion of World Water Day 2012 (22 March) the Sankat Mochan Foundation is launching a new online campaign:

STOP the Sewage – Clean Ganga NOW.

The campaign seeks to use online networking tools to begin building a mass movement of people in support of the Clean Ganga cause and to petition the Government of India and UP Government to act.

The Campaign will be launched at a special event at Tulsi Ghat at 5pm on 21 March, on the eve of World Water Day.

“My dream is to see Ganga clean in Varanasi within my lifetime” said Dr Veer Bhadra Mishra (Mahantji), Founder of the Clean Ganges Campaign.

The Campaign will be launched during the annual “Human Chain”, an event organised by the Sankat Mochan Foundation each World Water Day, 22 March. The Human Chain will extend along the religious bathing areas of Varanasi from Assi Ghat to Adikeshav Ghat. People are invited to assemble at the riverfront 7am-8am. Following the Human Chain there will be a Public Forum at Rajendra Prasad Ghat from 8am-10am.

Chief Guest for SMF World Water Day events is Honourable Justice Markandey Katju, Chair of Press Council of India, New Delhi.

This World Water Day the SMF are asking people to do three things for Ganga:

  1. Attend the World Water Day Human Chain in Varanasi (or like Sewage Roko – Clean Ganga Now on facebook if they are not able to come in person).
  2. Sign the Sewage Roko – Clean Ganga NOW Petition on and ask their friends to sign it as well.
  3. Stop personal actions that pollute Ganga such as throwing rubbish and ask others to do the same.

“Ganga is our Mother” said Dr Mishra. “It is very disturbing to me to see sewage and rubbish being thrown on to Her face and onto Her body”.

Every day 8250 million litres of sewage flows into River Ganga and it’s tributaries -yet only a fraction of it is treated. Despite government commitments to clean the river in the Ganga Action Plan, Mission Clean Ganga and the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), sewage continues to pour into the national river.

Dozens of sewage treatment plants have been constructed, but they fail to capture all the sewage, remove harmful bacteria, and numerous electricity blackouts mean the power plants are often out of operation. We need a model city to demonstrate an effective solution that can be replicated.

The government has already expended over Rs.3000 crore over 20 years implementing ineffective systems while hundreds of thousands of people have contracted diseases from the polluted water. We can not let poor planning for the Indian condition continue to destroy our river on which hundreds of millions depend.

The solution is simple and it exists. What holds it back is inaction at all levels.

The central government has already given approval in 2008 for such an effective and innovative solution in Varanasi. All that is needed is for the work to begin.

Varanasi, one of the most popular yet polluted cities on the Ganga is in Uttar Pradesh where the new Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has recently won a massive majority. If the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh decides that this is a priority for the State, he can coordinate with the central government and begin work to clean the river.