In four months, millions of people will take a holy dip in the Godavari river during the Mahakumbh mela in Nashik. The religious gathering has put the focus back on cleaning India’s second longest river.
Civic authorities in Nashik are using boats to clear the river of flowers thrown during pujas, and are patrolling the river bank to stop people from washing their clothes. The focus on the river has also helped make Nashik residents aware of the need to keep the Godavari clean.
“We have begun diverting waste water from nullahs – which usually flows into the river — to the seven sewage treatment plants (STP). Two more STPs are yet to be developed,” said UB Pawar, superintendent engineer, Nashik Municipal Commission.
The Nashik civic body’s clean-up drive is a new phenomenon, according to Rajendra Singh, water conservationist. The last time the mela was held at Nashik, in 2003, there were no efforts to clean the river or the city, before or after the mela, he said.
“After a meeting with the district collector, municipal commissioner and divisional commissioner, work has begun on cleaning the city, its outskirts and the river. The government has roped in a number of NGOs. My team and I are also involved,” Singh said.
“The government and residents must join hands to clean up the river and restore its glory. They must continue working together to maintain it after the mela,” said Praveen Gedam, municipal commissioner, Nashik municipal corporation.
The administration has also decided to remove encroachments from river banks, which no city has done so far. “The river banks will be no-development zones and will have plantations to create a green buffer zone,” Gedam said.
The NMC will set up portable toilets for pilgrims to ensure there is no pollution. “Cleanliness is next to godliness. We would like to see the entire community participate to keep the river clean,” said Vandana Krishna, chief CSR, Nashik Kumbh.