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Before Taking A Holy Dip, Keep These 4 Tips In Mind To Reduce Water Pollution

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 “I feel so blessed after taking holy dips in the river Ganges. Every sin, both from the past and present life gets washed away after bathing in it. I come here twice every year,” a young tourist told me, when I was in Varanasi and was watching the river flowing slowly like time, sitting on the steps of the Dashashwamedh ghat.

It feels good to know something about a place from someone who is a regular visitor. It’s the month of Magha according to the Hindu calendar,in which according to ancient Hindu scriptures, the value of holy dips increases with many spiritual benefits. This attracts many pilgrims from all over India to visit significant places like Kumbh or Magh melas.

However, those who are unable to visit any of them, show their devotion and seek blessings by visiting and bathing in rivers, lakes and ponds within or close to their cities and villages. Believe me or not, most of the rivers, lakes and ponds in India have interesting stories behind them, be it from mythology or history. Are you familiar with the stories behind the rivers, lakes and ponds situated nearby the place you live?

Water bodies are gifts of nature for not just humans but every living being. But we humans are the one’s who have been benefited the most, as water bodies played a significant role in the growth of human civilization. When we talk about India, the importance of water bodies grows even more as here rivers are often referred to as mothers, be it Ganges in the north or Godavari in the south. However, despite being so important both for practical and religious use, the harsh reality is that most of the water bodies in India are polluted to a great extent. Especially the rivers – namely, Ganges and Yamuna.

The major causes of water pollution in India include untreated sewage and industrial waste, while soil erosion, which takes away toxic contents from nearby areas to rivers, immersion of idols containing toxic chemicals during certain religious festivals, uncontrolled urbanization, and lack of proper implementation of sustainable development ideas simply add on to the problem. All of this only results in contaminated water giving rise to various diseases and loss of aquatic biodiversity.When we try to take a deeper look on this undeniable problem, the question which commonly arises is: who is to be blamed for this mess?

No doubt, the present situation of polluted surface water in India is largely due to the lack of proper implementation of rules and strategies on practical grounds and the careless attitude of ruling governments, industrial groups, and Indian citizens – including you and me – towards water resources.

Here are some steps to reduce the pollution level in water bodies in India –

1. Avoid Disposing Non Bio-Degradable Waste And Toxic Chemicals In Drains

What we throw in drains, ultimately reaches rivers and other water bodies. Thus, it’s important to avoid disposing non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics, synthetic rubber, etc. and other toxic chemicals in it. Such items and chemicals should be disposed through other safe methods. It will greatly help in reducing the level of pollution in fresh water sources.

2. Helping NGOs, Government Agencies And Eco-Friendly Groups

In India, many NGOs have greatly helped to achieve significant goals in various sectors, at both regional and national level. They require both funds and volunteers to function properly. Anyone who understands their responsibility towards the environment can volunteer. If you can’t, you can help by donating some amount as funds to such organizations. Don’t forget to do some research about the organization and it’s project, implementation strategies, and history before joining or donating.

Government agencies like the National Mission For Clean Ganga (NMCG) and various others working at regional or national level, require help in the form of donations and workforce. Eco-friendly groups help in their own way by spreading awareness regarding environmental issues and working on small-scale projects. These organizations can collectively help each other in reducing water pollution by formation and monitoring the function of sewage treatment plants near every city in India.

3. Using Eco-Friendly Idols On Religious Occasions

The use of toxic chemicals, paints and other materials in idols often adds to water pollution. Thus, it’s important to take it into consideration that our beliefs and faiths shouldn’t pose a threat to nature. It’s our duty to take care of nature and the environment not just as part of our devotion, but also as responsible humans. Eco-friendly idols greatly helps in fulfilling devotion and keeping the environment safe at the same time.

4. Planting Trees On River Sides

Planting trees not only helps in reducing global warming, but also improves the river’s health by reducing soil erosion, floods and water loss. In this way, we can help the environment. One such initiative was taken by the Isha Foundation, with a goal of planting trees along one kilometer of every river in India. It’s called “Rally for Rivers”.

We shouldn’t forget that water sources don’t have just religious value, they are also an important asset of nature. It’s high time we focus on sustainable development and work efficiently on reducing, and gradually removing the problem of water pollution.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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