Experts flush out India’s ‘sewage’ rivers
Urban India is treating its rivers as a pipeline for water, a dumping ground for all kinds of sewage, industrial effluents and solid waste and, its floodplain and riverbed as land available for encroachment.
This was the gloomy perspective presented by Himanshu Thakkar, a social activist at the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People.
Speaking at the two-day ‘Dialogue on Urban rivers of Maharashtra’ at Yashada on Friday, Thakkar said that India needs a national urban water policy in which the sustainable existence of urban rivers have a key place.
“This dialogue is an important step in that journey,” he said at the conference organised by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach, Pune Chapter) and the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People.
Inaugurated by noted ecologist Prof. Madhav Gadgil, a number of prominent environmentalists are participating in this conference.
Gadgil, in his inaugural address urged the people to use the internet to empower and bring about a change in the policies to help save the rivers of Maharashtra.
The keynote address was delivered by Manoj Mishra, convenor, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. He presented a case study on Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan’s efforts to save Yamuna river.
“The idea of the conference is to initiate a dialogue between various activists, NGOs and like-minded people who believe in saving the rivers,” said Sarang Yadwadkar of Intach, Pune. “The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise on our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future,” he added.
Thakkar said most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are affected by problems like pollution, encroachment, dumping of waste and mining. Urban Industrial effluents and unplanned development and encroachment of the floodplains and the riverbeds are affecting the rivers. “So, we are experiencing floods and flash floods with increased intensity and frequency. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains,” he said.
While Environmentalist Himanshu Kulkarni spoke about the importance of ground water in urban India, D M More, a retired officer from the irrigation department said that the policy making process needs to be reformed, to save rivers.
The conference aims to bring about a framework of a river policy at the state level and formation of a network of individuals and groups who could work for the cause of the rivers. The dialogue hopes to bring out inputs for framework of a River Policy at State Level and formation of a network of individuals and groups towards the cause of our rivers.