Stop Polluting The Rivers

A few weeks ago read an article in the newspaper, with the headline -‘Ganga now a deadly source of Cancer’. The holy Ganga; Ganga who washes away all our sins; our mother Ganga- it is a poisonous river today.She’s a dead river and who does she have to thank for her sad demise? Her own sons and daughters- the people of this land, who on  one hand give her the status of a Goddess, performing puja and Maha-aarti and on the other hand dump all the poisonous wastes, garbage, and worse, dead bodies, in the name of religion- have murdered her. And this is not the condition of the Ganga alone. Take any river of this country- they are either dead or dying a slow painful death.

I have an incident to narrate. Soon after our marriage, my husband and me, along with my parents-in-law, went for the customary pilgrimage to the holy lands of Lord Krishna- Mathura, Vrindavan and Mt.Govardhan. Holy river Yamuna- beloved of lord Krishna- flows through these lands, and is revered by the people just as equally as the Ganga.

One day, after performing puja on the banks of river Yamuna, the priest asked us( hubby and me) to take some river water in our hands and put it in our mouth( Aachaman). Looking at the water infested with floating garbage, plastics, mosquitoes and other insects, I was horrified at the idea. All the pious feelings flew out of my head. I could not put that water in my mouth and on the other hand did not want to look bad in the eyes of my in-laws so early in the marriage. I stole a glance at my husband and was relieved to see him equally disgusted. We both made an act of putting our hands to our lips and completed the puja. And this was 22 years ago. I dread to think what its condition might be now.

Not going very far- we live on the banks of the River Sabarmati. As I mentioned here ,(its looking clean in those pictures because that was just after the monsoons when the river had a lot of water flowing. Now with the lower levels of water the garbage has all come to the surface), its being developed as a river-front, and that’s where I go for my morning walks/jogs.The cool morning breeze, the variety of land and water birds that I get to see, all give me joy, but the condition of the river distresses me. The other day just as I was warming up for my jog, I saw two polythene bags filled with garbage land in the river, thrown by someone on the bridge.

Now, people of my country believe that anything that has been used for puja must not be thrown into the garbage bin but into a river or a major water body. So the river is full of floating flowers(at times, neatly packed in plastic bags), coconuts,pieces of fabric and all other kinds of materials- all in different stages of decay. making the river look like a giant dumping area.

I don’t claim to be a scholar of our holy texts, but I would really like to know where our religion tells us to use our rivers as a refuse dump.

During the last occasion of of Ganesh Festival, the government initially put a ban on immersing the Ganesh idols( mostly made of poisonous and non-biodegradable POP) into the river.Immediately all the Hindu outfits rose up to protest, to allow them to exercise their religious rights. The government had to relent but thankfully they prepared huge tanks on the river banks , filled with river water, where the idols could be immersed without causing too much damage to the river.

But I ask, is it also not the duty of the Hindus to take care of their rivers, to keep them clean and pristine, so they can really be called ‘Holy’.

And we can’t just leave the responsibility of keeping our rivers clean on the governments or the civic bodies. They can only do so much.We, each of us, as the sons and daughters of the rivers, have responsibility towards them. They give life to people,they nourish and sustain us. If all of us do our little bit towards keeping them clean, they will once again regain their glory. I have vowed never to throw anything into the river again.

So this Diwali, I simply collected everything after the puja and instead of throwing them into the river (as I did every year), I threw them into the bin. Feeling satisfied having done my bit, even if that means I have to burn in hell for eternity.

Posting some pictures of the river. I did not want to, because I felt it was like showing my ugly side to the world that is normally kept hidden away.DSCN0163

DSCN0168the garbage becomes a perching site for the pond heron

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DSCN0174floating coconuts

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9 thoughts on “Stop Polluting The Rivers

  1. I am shaking my head as I write this. Such a sad situation. Do people simply not think? I wonder. Sometimes, when I am driving and stopped at a red light I will see someone throw trash out their car window. They must think that once it’s out of their car the garbage no longer their problem. But it is and now it has become mine too. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to get out of my car, pick up their litter and say (sarcastically of course) “excuse me, this fell out your window.” But I don’t because I figure I will get hurt. So, when people throw things into the river do they think it’s not their problem, or because they do it in a name of a religion do they think it’s okay? I guess what I am wondering is, quite simply, do they think? It seems the answer is, sadly, no.
    p.s. you did good posting the photos. They are reality and a reality that must be dealt with.

    • Thanks so much!! I did it earlier because even I did not think and moreover did not question what was always being done. Just accepted it because it was what everyone did. Only when I saw the river did I realize what I was being a part of. And then I didn’t want to be. And the best thing is that I have a partner who agrees with me. He gives me the courage to do what I believe in!!

    • And you nailed it . I’ve felt similarly when I see someone throwing garbage out of their cars, more so because I expect that if they are moving a car, they are educated enough to realize what they are doing… sad..

  2. This is a very sad situation… but there are always surprises. We had a river near Tel Aviv… a rather small river, but it was completely overwhelmed by waste, and no one wanted to bathe in it anymore. There were no fish there anymore…And then, after the situation seemed completely lost, they started a reclamation project. And I’ve recently read that a very rare fish that was thought to be extinct has now started breeding in the river once again… and other fish are coming back. There is room for hope. And from afar, I hope for the river Ganges which is known throughout the world. May it be reborn and beautiful.

    • Thank you once again. reading here i feel that all hope is not lost. Only I wish people would think what their actions lead to. If they do then change will happen, and the Ganga and the other rivers will be restored to their glory!!

  3. It is good that you posted the pictures, because only when we do something like this, can people acknowledge what the problem is, and you just never know……maybe change will come about. It is indeed shocking to see the rivers polluted like this – I hope things improve.

    • thanks a lot! I too hope that someday people will realize what they are doing, and showing the pictures is the only way to make people aware. Even I didn’t realize what I was doing until I saw the condition of the river up close.

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