By Somya Singh:
The way Delhi treats Yamuna, you’d think it’s of no use. But 75 % of the city’s population is dependent on the river for drinking water! It is the lifeline to some 60 million people.
Delhi constitutes only 2% of the total catchment of the Yamuna basin, but contributes to 80% of the pollution load. The river is virtually dead on this stretch; only drains flow into it, giving off a corpse like stench. Thousands of people living on the banks in jhuggi colonies, deprived of civic amenities, are compelled to use the polluted waters for domestic and drinking purposes. Hundreds of children bath daily in the river and the Agra Canal. They inadvertently gulp the waters which make them the victims of water borne diseases.
While citizens of Delhi remain mute spectators, occasionally blaming industries for releasing toxic waste into the river, the fact of the matter is that 90% of the waste being dumped by the city is domestic sewage.
The need of the hour is to spread awareness about Yamuna’s condition amongst the people who survive off it; they must be made aware of the effects of the pollution they are causing. The citizens of Delhi must be encouraged to come out of their houses and volunteer their time and efforts towards cleaning the river. Governments and professionals try to meet everyone’s needs, but it’s impossible for them to do it all. This is why people become volunteers; they can make a difference at places where someone or something needs help. India, in particular has had a rich and inspiring past of communities and individuals volunteering their time and resources for the development of others and to foster change, both social and political. The very essence of India’s freedom struggle and the subsequent task of nation building was a result of thousands of individuals giving their all for a cause they believed in, and a vision they strove to achieve. With the largest population of young people in the world, India and Indians hold immense potential to achieve unimaginable goals using their agency and time to volunteer towards different issues and causes.
This year, Swechha, UNDP, UNV , The Ministry of Youth affairs and Sports, along with several volunteer involving organisations have come together to celebrate International Volunteer Day 2014. International Volunteer Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism.
An event promoting volunteering for a cleaner environment and river will take place on the 14th of December in the city of Delhi. The event starts with a Cyclothon which will be flagged off from Kudsia Ghat (opposite ISBT Kashmere Gate) on an 18 km cycling trail through Delhi University and along the river. This Cyclothon will bring together more than 1000 volunteers, sending out a strong message of volunteering for a cleaner Delhi to citizens along the route.
The cyclists will then re-converge at the ghaat where a shramdaan (manual clean up) dedicated towards cleaning the river will take place. Volunteers and participants will clean a section of the banks of Yamuna at Kudsia Ghat. The Yamuna clean-up is a symbolic and effective way to illustrate to the citizenry their complicity in polluting the river, and ways by which they can reduce its abuse further. The ghaat will also play host to an NGO Mela where interested volunteers can sign up with different NGOs and groups and work with them in the future.
The event will close with a music concert on the banks of the river where Swarathma, Mame Khan and Tritha will perform.
This event is the perfect platform for everyone to come out and make some noise. With the second largest volunteer workforce in the world, citizens of India are actively taking part in such events across the nation. Be a part of this movement, join us on the 14th of December and help us in our mission to clean the Yamuna. Almost every plastic bag that you dispose lands up in the river, clogging the last remaining hope. So act fast and make change happen.