Bhopal: Union minister of state for environment and forests Anil Madhav Dave on Monday said if Narmada river was not protected, its basin would turn into cricket grounds.
Dave said this in the inaugural session of the one-day national seminar on “River, water and environmental conservation” here on Monday. Over a 100 water resources experts, conservationists and environmentalists participated in the five sessions of the seminar, coming up with various suggestions and ideas on how to protect Narmada and other rivers in the state.
Dave emphasised the importance of working on a sustained basis for protection of the rivers. He also laid stress on organic farming. He said if people want to be healthy, they will have to adopt organic farming and food. It was for the first time Dave, who has worked a lot for the protection of Narmada, participated and spoke in the ongoing five month long Narmada yatra.
Noted water conservationist Dr Rajendra Singh, who is also known as “waterman of India”, in his address said he was confident that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will give “river rights as much importance as human rights”. Singh said it was unfortunate that rivers had become waste ferrying mediums. He said rivers want freedom to flow in their natural way. He stressed on the need to protect the tributaries of Narmada as well.
Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff said protection of water resources was a must for the future generations. He expressed concern over the falling ground water levels. He stressed that all people should plant trees on special occasions and teach their children about importance of the natural resources.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his address announced that from 2018, the state government will start a campaign to protect other rivers of the state. He said a committee will be formed to work for development of Narmada. He said meditation centres will also be constructed in the coming time.
“12 crore trees will be planted along Narmada, of which 6 crore will be planted on banks of Narmada on July 2. Different types of trees depending on different types of soil and climate will be planted. We are also looking into different ways to stop mining of sand and finding alternatives to sand”, Chouhan said.
Five sessions were held during the seminar. The first three sessions focused on ‘Present situation of protection, conservation of Narmada and its tributaries: Challenges and solutions’, ‘Discussion and recommendations on action plan before protection of Narmada river by Narmada Seva Mission’, ‘Present situation and future action plan and strategy for resources of river’ and ‘Economic system based on Narmada river’”.
The last two sessions focused on ‘Present institutional system of Narmada Seva Mission and State government in reference with Narmada river, suggestions on act and rules prevailing and role of society’ and ‘Environment protection in reference with Narmada river and food security- present situation, possible challenges, strategy and action plan’.
Box: Recommendations made by experts during the seminar
•Studying impact of mining on Narmada
•Litigation guardian needs to be formed to deal with cases of Narmada since the river has been declared living entity
•Identification of pollutant source in the river and its catchment area is needed.
•Establishment of Narmada Lokpal
•Study on cumulative impact of various development projects on the ecology of the river
•Constant monitoring of various aspects of Narmada using a network of sensors , GIS maps, updated databases.