• This is not the time to fight over sharing of river waters. It’s time to think what we can do together to save our rivers. Because if there is little, or no water, left in our rivers, what will be share. This was the message which Esha Foundation head Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, who is spearheading a nationwide campaign “Rally for Rivers”, left for us to ponder at a event organised at Tagore Theatre here to drum up support for the cause of reviving our rivers. Punjab and Haryana, as well as UT Chandigarh said a resounding “Yes” to the Sadguru’s initiative. Officials of the Punjab Government and Esha Foundation also exchanged a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the cause on the occasion.

Accompanying Sadguru on the dais to strongly endorse the need for adopting a long term national policy on creating one km wide green belts along both sides of all rivers in the country, were governors of Punjab and Haryana, VP Singh Badnore and Kaptan Singh Solanki, Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal and Member of Parliament from Chandigarh Kirron Kher. Though not on the dais, Preneet Kaur, wife of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, deputised for him in his absence.


Photo By: Life In Chandigarh

 Doing some plain speaking, Sadguru wondered whether we had a plan for the country, or are we convinced that we are going to be the last generation to exist on this planet. While conceding that after independence the country was in a survival mode and desperate measures were taken by governments then, which at that point of time they considered best for development and overall interests of the people, he asserted that subsequently to satisfy our greed, mother earth was plundered of its natural resources and in just over 50 years be brought it down on its knees.

 
 
Today the environment is no longer a talk confined to the bedrooms of the elite, it is the business of all our 1.3 billion population, he said, adding that we need to act, and act fast. He informed that for the first time parties from all sides of the political spectrum were agreed on one thing, that the revival of river waters was absolutely necessary for our very survival. He said it was heartening to note that during his 8300 kms rally across the country, starting September 3, 2017 from Coimbatore, as many as 12 states had assured their full support for the initiative and more were joining the bandwagon.
 
Sadguru appealed to the masses to continue to support the cause by making missed calls on 8000980009 so that the Union government, which was already positive towards the initiative, was empowered with the people’s overwhelming mandate to go ahead with framing a long term national policy on reviving river waters.
Emphasising on the enormity of the task ahead, he said several legislative, legal, administrative and other complexities would need to be overcome before the initiative gets off the ground. Even if the process of framing a long term national policy is completed in a year, it will take another 10-15 years to create the proposed green belts along the rivers and still 4-5 years more to see positive outcome of the efforts to start showing.   
 
Dwelling on the issue of farmers’ suicides across the country, Sadguru said while it was true that increasing indebtedness and inability of farmers to repay their farm loans were causes for the members of the community to take the ultimate step, he said unless we are able to provide the farmers with rich soil and adequate water they cannot be extricated from the vicious cycle.
 
Asked for his views on the continuing construction of dams, Sadguru felt that the dams were perhaps relevant at the time these were planned and erected, but with rapid climate change there was a need to have a fresh look at their efficacy. But he was against the idea of dismantling the existing dams, which he felt would cause greater social tensions in regions benefitted by them.
 
Expressing his government’s unflinching support to the initiative, Haryana CM Manohar Lal informed the gathering that though there was not a single river which flowed exclusively through the state, his government was doing its utmost to keep the rivers clean by installing sewage treatment plants all along their courses. He also highlighted the concerted efforts being made by the state government to revive the legendry Saraswati river, which is believed to have flowed from the state into Rajasthan and Gujarat before entering the sea.
Governors Badnore and Solanki, while lauding Sadguru’s initiative and wishing it all success, said any policy decisions by the government need mass support and participation from the people to succeed.
MP Kirron Kher wore a green and blue saree combination (representing trees and water) to the function to demonstrate her support to the initiative.    
 

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