As part of Earth Day Network’s Great Global Cleanup Campaign, a citizen-led initiative was launched to clean the river Ganga.
The Ganga is one of the largest rivers in the world with a length of approximately 2525 km. Unfortunately today, this river which is considered holy by many Indians has the ignoble distinction of being heavily polluted with all the waste and the chemicals that go into it.
The river is a source of livelihood for millions of people living on or close to the banks of the Ganga, its many tributaries and its major distributary – the Hooghly. The Central Pollution Control Board reports that the use of chemicals affects anyone who uses water from the Ganga for drinking, bathing, or cooking, and also affects the crops grown in fields irrigated with it. The high pollution levels are also killing large populations of fish and other forms of aquatic life in the river.
Taking cognizance of this, Earth Day Network–India launched a landmark citizen-led cleanup of the river Ganga as part of worldwide plans to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We launched The Great Global Cleanup in Devprayag on April 13, 2019, on the auspicious occasion of Vaisakhi—the New Year for many in India.
With less than 100 days to go to #EarthDay2020, what are your plans to commemorate #EarthDay? This is the 50th Anniversary, so think big. Be part of the #GreatGlobalCleanup and organise cleanliness drives in your neighbourhoods. Earth Day Network-India has been creating awareness to #EndPlasticPollution all along the Ganga River with volnteers doing cleanups. Share your plans with us on firstname.lastname@example.org to get recognition on our FB page and internationally. Mobilise for the Earth. Mobilise for the Earth
Posted by Earth Day Network-India on Wednesday, January 15, 2020
It is here that the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi merge to form the River Ganga. Led by Earth Day Network-India and our partner organisation, the Lok Paryavaran Shiksha Sansthan (LPSS), the campaign saw a nine-day rally that ended at Haridwar. It was flagged-off by the renowned environmentalist, Padma Shri Dr Anil Joshi.
Thousands of students, villagers, ashramites, and community groups took part in creating awareness among tourists, residents, traders, and the public to not litter plastic and other waste around the river banks. Multiple cleanup drives resulted in 10,000+ kgs of plastic waste collected and handed over to the Municipal Corporation for scientific disposal.
On October 2, 2019, a 28-km padayatra (foot march) from Rishikesh to Haridwar reminded people of the need to #EndPlasticPollution. Awareness campaigns that followed intensified outreach to 5,000 students and teachers.
In addition, with public support, 10,000 trees were planted along the banks of the river to increase the green cover. Also, 10,000 cloth bags were distributed free to the public, to provide an alternative to single-use plastic bags. With the multiple usages of cloth bags, a reduction of around 2,50,000 single-use plastic bags has been foreseen.
Other spots on the river have also seen cleanup drives, including Varanasi, Patna, and the river’s delta in the Sunderbans. Some 25 initiatives have brought together 11,000 volunteers to clean up the banks of the river’s distributary – the Hooghly – as it passes by Kolkata.
Campaigns have also taken place near river Ganga’s many tributaries in Uttar Pradesh. A unique community-led initiative saw unprecedented success, as the Kali River, a tributary that had died as it was choked with garbage, was brought back to life! Villagers at the expected source of the river donated their land so that the debris could be cleared to enable water to flow again. And it did!
Aside from cleanups and increasing the green cover, campaigns to protect endangered species are also part of the initiative, for example, to bring the Gangetic River Dolphins back to Varanasi.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, many more cleanups will take place across the world. We appeal to you, as a citizen of the Earth, to do your bit to help clean up our planet.
Record your efforts here and inspire others across the globe. The site also provides information on cleanups that have been planned in several places that you can join.