Did You Know About This Initiative To Save A River In Delhi’s Backyard?

With a rural background, Raman Kant Tyagi had experienced the positive effects that rivers and ponds have on the lives of rural communities.  He decided, at a very young age, to dedicate his life towards society and the environment. He knew the task was difficult, but he was determined to work towards conservation of natural water resources like ponds, johads, rivers and the promotion of organic ways of farming.

Having done a heroic work of rejuvenating the Kali river, which is still ongoing, the last decade taught Raman about the innumerable aspects of revival of rivers and he could devise an actual model needed for reviving a small/big river stream.

His model focused on five fundamentals, i.e. (1) Management of liquid and solid wastes; (2) Community awareness; (3) Dense plantation; (4) Conservation of Ponds; and (5) Chemical-free farming.

He believed that if about 80% of the above fundamentals are applied, any river stream can be brought back to its original glory. Hence, a detailed plan based on these principles was devised.

It was seen that various central and state governments schemes have been running, for rivers, water, villages, agriculture, health and animals at the District, Tehsil and Block levels, but still, the rivers remain heavily polluted.

As early as in 2006, Raman had decided to rejuvenate the Hindon river, and a detailed study of the river stretch was carried out after which, the river’s first map was formed successfully.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers, a journey started in the year 2017 to find out the true origin of the Hindon river and its condition. The group found out that the river originates from the Shivalik mountain ranges and forests of Saharanpur district and passes through Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, and Ghaziabad, travelling for 355 kilometres before finally meeting the Yamuna River at Momnathal village forests situated about 500 m from Tilwada village in the Gautam Budh Nagar district. There are about 865 villages situated near Hindon and its tributary rivers.

Raman was very upset with the water shortage and water quality not only around his village but around the important towns of Western Uttar Pradesh that are close to prominent tributaries of the mighty river Ganga.

Due to the polluted waters of the Hindon and its tributaries, the underground water of villages on the banks of these rivers has also turned poisonous. Several villages have been witnessing cases of water-borne diseases. Many deaths have been reported due to deadly diseases caused straight because of polluted water consumption. Some farmers had to still use this polluted water for irrigating their crops due to the unavailability of an alternate water source which has led to the presence of banned Persistent Organic Pollutants in the field-soil and crops.

The Pithlokhar Village of Meerut District, where the Hindon and Kali rivers meet, is surrounded by 18 villages, and the colour of the water is dark and the quality is very poor and contains high levels of nickel and sulphide.  On the other bank of the river, in a village called Atali in Muzaffarnagar District, five persons died of cancer during the past five years.

Raman took a vow to do something for these villages and formed the ‘My Hindon – My Initiative’ under the Nirmal Hindon Initiative, where, along with volunteers and activists, programs have been undertaken for the restoration of the Hindon river.

According to Uttar Pradesh Water Department, 1215.43 MLD of sewage is produced from Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Budhana, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, and Noida city, which is transported through 68 drains.

About 450 MLD of this sewage is filtered in different city systems but the rest 765.43 MLD remains unfiltered due to unavailability of proper sewage treatment system. All of this ends up in the Hindon River and its tributaries.

The cleaning of Hindon river is, therefore, a mammoth task and requires the support of all stakeholders, including the government, the civil community, and the donors.

It is said, “well begun is half done”.  A beginning has thus been made and a cleanliness drive was conducted of about 15 kms stretch of the river, near the Pura Mahadev village situated on the borders of Meerut and Baghpat district. It involved hundreds of community volunteers, activists and officials of the local departments. The volunteers cleared the river manually getting rid of the dense growth of water hyacinth plants and paved way for the standing waters to flow and come back to life. The campaign went for about 50 days as part of the successful launch of the Nirmal Hindon Initiative program.

Different mediums were employed to effectively spread awareness about the River work. The benefits of Facebook, web portal, Pamphlets, Posters, newspapers (Hindi, English, regional language), stickers, banners, wall logos, documentary, etc were well harnessed to create awareness among the public.

Learning from the revival of the Kali river, Raman had understood strongly about the strength of community mobilisation and major focus was given on forming a systematic community structure to provide support to the entire movement.

A panchayat of the pradhans (heads) was held on May 11, 2018, with an objective to bring together all the villages located on both sides of the river banks in Meerut and Baghpat to the Hindon Sewa Program. The Gram Pradhans, Gram Secretaries, and Patwaris of 42 villages of Baghpat and 22 villages of Meerut which fall within one km of the river bank participated in it. Each pradhan was asked to take up cleaning of Hindon River which is in front of their village, assisted by MNREGA workers and Nirmal Hindon Samiti of the village. Each village which cleans their part of the river was entrusted to ensure that it is not polluted again.

A central committee of 5 members was formed under the Meri Nadi – Meri Pehel initiative. A Committee of 5 members was formed in each district the river passes through. In every village, within 5 kms of the bank of the river on either side, a 5-member village committee is formed. At the central level, there is a two-member media committee. District and Media committees are selected by the central committee and the village committees by respective district committees. All members of these committees are social activists who are concerned about environmental issues, subject specialists and/or retired officers.

An awareness-raising initiative was done for the 1 kilometre area on both sides of the river through Nukkad-nataks (street plays), Nukkad meetings, wall logos, school competitions, Pad Yatras from one village to another and public discussions to raise awareness among the communities.

This was done with the motive to give a reflection on reasons of river pollution and what should be done to reduce these. These programs will be conducted in all seven districts where the river flows. A documentary film is also being made.

Villagers of Lahoregarh, Mirzapur, Raasna and Pura supported the program to the extent that they had arranged for daily meals for about 250-300 Hindon volunteers for the whole duration.

To ensure regular flow of water in the river, 350 saplings of different tree species were planted instantly on the banks of the river and a Van Mahotsav was celebrated by the Forest Department and civil organisations. So far, about 30,000 tree saplings have been planted on the banks of Hindon and its tributary rivers Kali West, Krishni, Paavdhoi and Naagdeh in Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Shamli and Baghpat.

Raman intends on providing a comprehensive solution to clean water for agriculture and for drinking. Raman is already working to promote organic agriculture in the region, to make sure that the rivers don’t get polluted with chemical fertilizers.

He devised an LR compost – a trademark developed by him and has thrown a challenge to sugarcane industry who is promoting chemical fertilizers mercilessly, by providing an economic organic compost.  He also promoted the culture of growing turmeric and ginger between the rows of sugarcane fields that not only provides additional income to farmers but also helps the sugarcane crop from the growth of unwanted insects as turmeric and ginger are known to have antibiotic properties.

Raman said that there will be no let-up till the time the Government chalks out a clear road map for cleaning the river Hindon and creates a conducive condition for the health and hygiene of the villagers.

This initiative is another feather in the cap of Raman Tyagi, who was awarded by the Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India as a ‘Water Hero’.  The work Raman is doing is in line with the Earth Day Network’s (EDN’s) Great Global Cleanup program and hence EDN’s partnership with NEER Foundation appears to be long-term and EDN wishes Raman and NEER Foundation all the best in their future endeavours.

Raman Kant Tyagi can be reached at: Natural Environmental Education and Research (NEER) Foundation, Ist Floor, Samrat Shopping Mall, Garh Road, Meerut (Uttar Pradesh). Phone:  0121-4030595. Email: theneerfoundation@gmail.com

Featured Image Credit: Neer Foundation

Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below