“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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.