Religious beliefs, superstitions major causes of pollution in Ganga: Bachendri Pal

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Need dedicated efforts, continued awareness to clean the Holy River

Jamshedpur, Oct. 31: River Ganga can be cleaned only through dedication, honesty and continued awareness but the religious beliefs of the people and their superstitious practices are polluting the holy river, said Mission Gange team leader Bachendri Pal.

Addressing a press meet at Centre for Excellence on Wednesday, the Chief of Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) opined that there is a need to change the mindset of the people and continued awareness is required to thwart people from casting puja material into the river. ‘Right from Haridwar to Patna we found a large number of idols, puja materials, clothes, trash et al dumped in the river. We were successful in removing 55 tonnes of waste from the Ganga over the last four weeks’, said Pal, adding, ‘cleaning Ganga is a bigger challenge than climbing mountains’.

When asked about the impact of this mission, Bachendri Pal, said, “There are several NGOs working to clean the holy river but there is a need for dedicated efforts and the Indian government is hell-bent in driving this vital mission. The mission, a joint initiative of Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) saw massive public participation of around 60,000 students and local community members from eight locations and three states and we will soon see a change”, added Pal.

India’s first woman to scale Mt Everest further said, “Many in our team have had experience of climbing Mt. Everest and they also said that cleaning the Ganges is as challenging, if not more.” Seven of the Mission Gange’s 40-member team have climbed Mt. Everest.

Hemant Gupta, senior manager of TSAF, said, two main objectives behind the mission was to indulge in cleanliness and create awareness.

“Right from Haridwar and passing through Bijnor, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Buxar till Patna we were involved in cleaning and creating awareness among the locals and school children. The students were told how to keep the river clean and not to throw trash in it. Ganga Chaupal, kavi sammelan, cultural programmes and Prabhat Pheri which included more than 500 people were held in each of the eight locations. We also had informal interaction with people in the markets and with officials of local municipal bodies, who termed it a unique mission,” said Everester Gupta.

He further informed that the team also made paintings to make people aware about cleanliness. Such paintings have been put up at river ghats in Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi.

“The Mission Gange team was accorded a warm welcome at every location and the locals praised the efforts while saying that no other team had cleaned the ghats like this ever before” observed Premlata Agarwal and added, “It was a challenge cleaning the ghats in Buxar while removing insects, human excreta from the sewers.”

The 40-member team shouted the slogan, ‘Ganga ko Swachh Banana Hai’.

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