Several organisations of Pune came together this year to celebrate the India Rivers Day in an unprecedented way. The events started from Nov 24 onwards and continued to Nov 28, and even on Dec. 1 morning, Jeevitnadi key persons had a 90 minutes Muthai River walk with some of the top officials (PMC Commissioner Saurabh Rao, Asstt Commissioner & all department heads) of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Jeevitnadi- Living River Foundation started celebrating Nov 28 as India Rivers Day in Pune from 2015 onwards in the name of “Muthai Mahotsav”.
This year following activities were planned.
- We have connected with 18 organizations working on ground regularly in Pune region. All organizations will celebrate ” India River Day” by cleaning of banks & removing water hyacinth (at few locations) – 4 stretches of Mutha, 2 stretches each of Mula, Ramnadi, Pawana & Indrayani on 25th Nov.
- Oath & Aarati is shared to all & also to schools & all will celebrate as per their schedule.
- On 27th Nov morning, Jeevitnadi will take Riverwalk for all these organizations + PCMC SWM (Solid Waste Management) officers.
- On 28th Nov morning River walk for all office staff of SWM, PMC.
- A draft letter is prepared which we will hand over to SWM chief in press conference.
- Vision 2020- SW free rivers of Pune will be declared in press conference & all organizations will start working as per the plan.
- Vision 2025 – Liquid waste free Pune rivers will be planned.
It all started in 2014. Looking at the current pathetic condition of the rivers 5 civil society active on rivers related work from different parts of India came together in Delhi in 2014 to start India Rivers Week (IRW), celebrating India’s Rivers: INTACH, WWF-India, Toxics Link, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (throughPEACE institute charitable trust) and SANDRP. People’s Science Institute joined later on. The main thread in all these was to understand India’s Rivers, their state and the threats affecting their health, and find solutions to solve them. IRW declared to ‘get our rivers flowing’ and from 2015 celebration of India River Day on 28th November started.
Connecting people to the river Mutha is the lifeline of Pune city. Mutha River is the very reason Pune city exists. However, like all other Indian cities, Pune city too has lost connection with its river. River has become a convenient garbage and sewage carrier. We at Jeevitnadi are set out to re-establish this lost connect by engaging people in various river-centric activities. We believe no river revival project would be successful and sustainable without public participation.
Muthai River Festival Muthai River Festival is our attempt to bring people closer to the river. It is one of its kind festival in India. All the activities in this festival are designed to involve people of various ages and various walks of life.
2015: Around 15000 people participated in the Muthai River festival 2015. (India River Day)
Muthai River Festival 2016- was organised on the occasion of India River Day (28 November). The theme for the festival was ‘Awareness and Action’. Various activities were organised to involve people from all age groups. “Exhibition about Mutha River’s Past and Present’, ‘Respect the Code Red’, “Mutha Flora Trail”, “Mutha bird count and Mutha bird watch trail’ were some of the activities conducted. ‘Conceptual Riverfront Design Competition’ for architecture students was highlight of the event. About 15 architecture colleges from across the Maharashtra State participated in this. A discussion session with Waterman of India, Shri Rajendra Singh and National Coordinator of Indian river network, Shri Kalnanad Mani was organised. ‘Manifesto to save our Rivers’ was important part of the event.
From 2017 onwards we started celebrating India River Day on river stretches adopted by local stake holders. Organizing puppet shows, Kirtan, Stories by the river, Instrumental Music and clean ups etc were organized on different stretches.
After working last 4 years in and around Pune, we have been associated with different organizations doing actual ground work on the river and there are few organizations which are supporting organizations. For eg. Jeevitnadi does regular clean ups on the banks where as Sagarmitra gets connected for plastic recycling.
There are many organizations in Pune district working on rivers. Their work is localized to their area of locality. So this year we decided to scale up celebration of India River day. We appealed all the organizations to come forward for a common vision. Vision 2020- Solid waste free rivers in Pune region. Vision 2025 – liquid waste and Toxin free rivers of Pune region. All the organizations accepted this appeal readily. So a common press conference in PMC and PCMC (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) area was arranged by Jeevitnadi.
Main Aim for celebrating together:
- To make the public at large aware about the work being done by all these organizations.
- “Vision-2020 – Make the rivers of Pune garbage free” – keeping this aim in mind, connecting the citizens of Pune to the vision.
If this aim is to be achieved, government, NGOs, people’s representatives, and the citizens of Pune need to work together.
We set up simple objectives –
- Do a symbolic major clean up on all rivers of Pune region during the week of 24th – 28th Nov.
- Create a common proposal to PMC & PCMC Commissioners, Mayors & Solid Waste Depts and submit to them with signatures from all organizations on 28th Nov, India River Day.
- Appeal the press & media to announce India River Day. A request was made to press to reserve a column for an event calendar of activities. We collectively handed over a week’s and a month’s calendar activities to press.
- Jeevitnadi will continue publishing monthly calendar of activities of all organizations on their website as well social media page. Since all participating organizations implement these activities every week. These are not one time event.
- To get attention of public in general to bring them closer to rivers.
- Appeal PMC & PCMC to provide logistics at all locations.
All the NGOs finalized a draft for achieving ‘Vision 2020 – Solid Waste free Rivers’ by collecting points from each, based on their experiences.
The Proposal submitted to press, PMC, PCMC and SW depts. Of PMC & PCMC has the following short term and long term demands, Released by All participating organizations.
Proposal from NGOs for conservation of Pune Rivers.
Main Aim Making all rivers pollution free in Pune Jurisdiction and to explore all possibilities achieve water of at least one river potable.
Last few years many NGOs in Pune are relentlessly working on Pune rivers with respect to riverbank cleanups, removal of water hyacinth and other allied works. Following key points will be submitted to the corporation, on which all NGOs will have to work together for our common goal and with indigenous expertise from each NGO, suggestions and cooperation, a work plan will be chalked out.
For immediate action to be taken by Solid Waste Management Cell:
- Once a week Clean Up on all Ghats by assigning one particular day, keeping the river as the priority.
- For all Ghats: Prohibition and punishment for Enchroachment, solid waste dumping, open defaecation for on and around each ghat and provision of Boards and displays on site.
- Surveillance with CCTV on each Ghat.
- Appropriate provision for disposal and treatment of solid waste on the banks year round and especially during festivals and other religious rituals.
- Provision of High nets on every bridge to prevent solid waste dumping in the rivers.
- Restriction on entry on Causeways or small bunds and prohibition of vehicles thereof.
- Review meeting of PMC, PCMC, Cantonment, Sarpanch of adjoining villages and all active NGOs every trimester to brainstorm on practical difficulties in the said work and further planning.
- Provision of mesh screens in the rivers to collect solid waste and frequent cleanup of the same.
- Provision of temporary immersion tanks on ghats ONLY during Ganapati, Navaratri, Durgapuja, Chaatpuja and other religious festivals and removal of the same after the festivals as they have become dumping stations for all kind of wastes afterwards.
- Displays about awareness and regulatory measures on Important Places, Public places like gardens, Railway stations, Bus Stands etc. in the city.
Proposal for possible actions to be taken in interdepartmental cooperation of Environment, waste disposal, history and heritage, biodiversity, insect pest irradiation, police and education departments of the Municipal corporations:
Actions to be taken in near future:
- Display of boards with information about importance of rivers, natural and historic heritage centers and regular cleaning of the sites.
- Patrolling/ security provision on each Ghat every day and night to prohibit the illegal activities.
- Survey on both riverbanks each month to evaluate and immediate repair any kind of damages and leakages to pipelines and chambers.
- Starting up all closed waste treatment projects as early as possible.
- Strict judicial action on every polluter and public display of such individuals in news papers with their photographs.
- Active participation in River clean up by NGOs.
- Promotion of natural heritage walks and trips along the river.
Long Term planning and consistent implementation:
- Diversion of untreated sewage water to treatment plants (for this, information regarding present status of quantity of waste water discharged in the river, treatment provisions and capacity and information about functioning of each waste treatment plant should be available in public domain)
- Make provisions to increase the number of sewage treatment plants to make our rivers pollution free, preferably decentralised and bio-remediation based.
- Amendments in environmental education courses with respect to the inflow and outflow of water for city.
NGOs in this group will cooperate with the government to implement proposals from time to time and the required planning to be done with mutual cooperation.
The participating NGOs/ individuals:
- JeevitNadi Living River Foundation: Jeevitnadi is an organisation comprising of individuals from diverse professional fields who are passionate about environment conservation. The mission of reviving rivers is our drive for all our actions. Our vision is Revival of Pune Rivers. Raising public awareness and participation, eliminating causes of pollution through “Toxin-free Lifestyle”, developing scientific and ecological management plan for revival of river and its sustainability are our tools in achieving this vision. Launched 5 Signature programs successfully.- Muthai River festival, Story of a River- Mobile Exhibition, Toxin free life style workshops with DIY recipes, Muthai River Walk & Adopt a Stretch.
- Vasundhara Swachchata Abhiyan – working on Ram nadi over a decade. Regular clean ups, plantation and associating stake holders to river. Adopted villages for “ zero budget natural farming”, greening of Baner Hill.
- Devrai Foundation: developing native plants nursery and provide native plants free of cost to all of us working on rivers
- Paradkar Foundation: Concept of Zerowaste. Workshops on composting and developing Biogas plants for individual dwelling units or societies and helping PMC
- Jaladindi Foundation: Travelling through boats and connecting villages on the banks of Indrayani through spiritual awarness
- Samagra Nadi Parivar: Governance & Policy level follow ups and proposals
- TAA SagraMitra: Plastic recyclers. A perfect program of collecting plastic at source through schools and residential colonies.
- Jaladevata Seva Abhiyan: Mapping and saving of Ground water along banks of ram nadi.
- Rotary Club of Walhekarwadi – Created a sucessful method for removalof water hyacinth, connecting corporates under CSR for clean ups and water hyacinth removal on Pawana River.
- Tellus Organization: Plastic recyclers: Reuse the plastic for making benches, road deviders, small partitions etc at source. eg. At Bhimashankar Sanctuary collecting plastic from forest and building benches from the same for visitors in association with forest dept.
- Ankur Pratishthan: Connecting various NGO’s and getting them on River banks for regular clean.
- Jalabiradari: Active on various water issues in collaboration with others at state and national level.
- Environment Conservation Association: Have connected more than 300 schools and colleges in Pimpari Chinchwad area and organizing awareness programs for protection of environment. The team has been going to every school and college for giving pledge from 23rd November. They have reached out to schools and colleges with the pledge.
- Swachch Pune – Swachch Bharat: Every weekend clean up programs in and around Pune city. Later on painting the premises. Have been doing major clean up at Kavadi paat- a down stream village on Mula- Mutha, a favourite place of migratory birds now loaded with accumilated Solid waste. SPSB is continuing clean up at same location since 1st week of November and probably will continue this month too.
- Anand Asolkar, Aurangabad – rejuvinated rivers, tributaries around Aurangabad.
- Avirat Shramadan: Working at Dehu & Alandi on River Indrayani. Removal of water hyacinth since last 12 years. A huge work going on.
- Pawar Public School, Hinjewadi: School has adopted a stream Jeevitnadi’s near the school under “Adopt a stretch” program & works regularly there. They have also adopted “Toxin free life style” DIY (Do it yourself) products.
- Hirwai: doing Plantations and nurturing the same.
Realizing the strength of all these organizations, PMC came forward to provide logistics at all stretches, even at the locations like Kavadi pat, which does not come under PMC’s jurisdiction. Their SI (Safety Inspector) & DI worked with Jeevitnadi volunteers. An introductary meeting to know your ward officers- SI & DI was set by PMC. Swach Sarvekshan, PMC is applying for rating where more marks are for public participation. PMC did not try to hide this fact, in fact their SI’s & Di’s explained about Swachata app on stretches and appealed common people to place complaints of their areas. Obviously PMC took the advantage of public participation but at the same time they also brought in more people – Ganesh mandals, Self help groups who drew rangoli, they also brought light weight spiders for cleaning in –stream solid waste. This work will continue for a month now.
Pledge to be taken in schools was prepared in Marathi & English. They were to enter River of their locality and take the pledge. It was circulated to all the schools we could reach out to. Few schools in Baramati, Satara & Mumbai also participated in taking pledge.
Muthai is my River.
I have not inherited my river but have borrowed it from my next generations.
It is my duty to liberate my river from pollution and return it to the next generations in its natural, beautiful and flowing form.
River is not flowing through my city but my city is established on the river banks.
I am proud of my city’s natural treasure formed due to my river.
I pledge to care for my river like my home to preserve it’s natural treasure.
I will never dump any garbage in the river. Also, I will sincerely try not to use any harmful chemical substances that pollute my river and also affect my health.
I resolve to use natural and organic cleaning measures for personal hygiene, clothes, kitchen and bathroom cleaning. It will enable me to contribute in keeping my river clean starting from my home.
My river is my responsibility.
In maintaining my river clean, living and in it’s natural beauty, lies my and fellow citizens’ well-being.
JeevitNadi Living River Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org)