India’s central BJP government today announced more green news to the ears of many happy environmentalist. The Modi administration said it will be planting 40,000,000 (40M) trees in the next 5 years as Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharati advocated the planting of Himalayan-based species of vegetation that will help ensure a stronger local ecosystem and cleaner river. The Ganga river is considered holy and special to many Indians of all faiths, especially Hindus native to the region.
Releasing the detailed project report (DPR), Bharati said Brahmadrav is “not a myth or faith but fact” as she insisted on planting of “suitable” vegetation to ensure ecological flow (e-flow) of the river is adequate. Bharmadrav is the name of the properties (local unique bacteria) scientists have found in the Ganga river that helps kills germs and keeps it cleaner compared to other local rivers.
“We should keep in mind which species to be planted along the river. Ganga has an exclusive property called Brahmadrav, which ensures its water remains clean. Brahmadrav is not some myth or issue of faith alone. Brahmadrav is fact. It is an exclusive property of Ganga. This Brahmadrav is made due to Himalayan native species of trees. So, we should plant species accordingly,” Bharati said.
The Minister noted Ganga cannot be cleaned by only installing effluent treatment plants and sewage treatment plants alone and stressed forestation will play a bigger part in ensuring unfettered waterflow in the river. The Minister of Water Resources also mentioned that no large river like the Ganges can be cleaned quickly and provided the example of the Rhine and Thames rivers in Europe, which she said took 40 years and 27 years respectively to be cleaned. In the same breath, the Minister though said India PM Narendra Modi is a devoted person who was willing to stay focused and work overtime to complete the Ganga cleaning work in shorter amount of time.
Bharati said Ganga water can only be considered as clean if its aquatic life is in proper shape. She said those who pollute the river by letting industrial waste and sewage in Ganga are “committing sins” by devoting the river water to their deceased ancestors (as part of rituals).
The DPR release ceremony was also attended by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar who said the Modi government’s commitment to environment protection is “complete and final” as he too batted for forestry intervention to clean Ganga. “To ensure there is no dearth of water in Ganga, it is required that its catchment area has jungle as it was there 200 years ago. This will ensure adequate water flow as trees and plants hold water, recharge, save from soil erosion, up ground water table,” Javadekar said.
The BJP government and PM Modi have inspired many locals to help clean the Ganga river using their own time and money. One of the most popular volunteers is Temsutula Imsong who originally hails from North-east India and has been recognized by the government for her great and selfless work. Temsutula and her group of volunteers regularly update their Twitter feeds with cleaning updates of the holy river. Her twitter handle is @temsutulaimsong.