Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India], May 23 (ANI): Ganga, which traverses thousands of miles through distinctive terrains and geographies, is not just a sacred river but also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course.
Thus, ensuring its sanctity and untainted fluidity is an unstated responsibility of all citizens.
And, in order to achieve this objective, the government has been tirelessly working for the river's conservation to free it of all contamination and rejuvenation with its tributaries.
In what could be termed an integrated effort to accomplish its mission, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has roped in nearly all stakeholders under its flagship programme 'Namami Gange'.
"We are now trying to take up a few activities, in which, one of them is natural farming on either side i.e. 10 kilometres alongside river Ganga. In Uttarakhand, we are focusing on that because we have already taken up lots of sewage treatment plants (STPs). We would like to have the non-point pollution sources like fertilizers from agriculture and other industries not flowing into the river. So, as a part of that, we want to encourage farmers to take up natural or organic farming, which means that we would like to discourage farmers from going for chemical fertilizers and go for natural fertilizers," said NMCG Director General, G Asok Kumar.
To protect the Ganga from toxic insecticides and pesticides, the government had appealed to farmers of Uttarakhand to adopt an alternate farming method. And today, just in a few years, the dominant form of farming in the region is organic farming.
These farmers in the Chamoli district of the state are being trained to produce bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides independently.
One of the farmers in Chamoli, Mohan Singh told ANI, "In 2019-20, under the Namami Gange initiative, the Gram Sabha received 100 spray machines, 100 drums, and a plastic pit to work on organic fertilizing. Earlier we used to throw dung alongside rivers, but now we are getting pure organic fertilizer due to plastic pits."
A number of such small yet significant initiatives like this have provided two-fold dividends to the farmers.
The cost of production has come down to almost nil, the health of the soil has improved, the crop yields are satisfactory, and the prices that farmers get for organic crops are higher.
And now, not only are the farmers creating and consuming organic produce but they have also been incentivized under the 'Organic Haat' initiative where they can sell it without any hindrance.
It has significantly reduced the time and effort they would invest in selling their crops.
"Organic Haat can allow us to sell our products 30 per cent ahead of a market price. From here one can get daal, vegetables, spices, pulses and many other products belonging to different parts of Uttarakhand. We got to know about organic haat in 2015 and have been a part of this initiative since then," said an organic farmer.
Another important component of Ganga rejuvenation is 'forestry interventions' to enhance the productivity and diversity of the forests in headwater areas and all along the river and its tributaries.
A massive afforestation drive to preserve flora and the fauna--by and large protecting the Ganga basin ecosystem -- has been taken up along the banks of its Ganga stream.
Apart from this the soil conservation and water harvesting projects too have revived the biodiversity of the region.
Increasing the space of Biodiversity parks at the Ganga riverfront has also proved instrumental in preserving the health and ecosystem of River Ganga.
The quality of the water of the river was already satisfactory in the Uttarakhand region but the combination of these efforts has further improved it. People say the current stream of Ganga is the purest they have seen in their lives.
The government on the other side says the job is not done as yet as it has to restore the original nature of the sacred river, which can live up to the expectations of Uttarakhand's alternate identity 'Dev Bhoomi'. (ANI)