The National Mission for Clean Ganga hosted the 8th edition of the ‘Igniting Young Minds, Rejuvenating Rivers’ webinar series yesterday (8e July). The topic of the webinar was “Reforestation”. The webinar series is organized with the aim of connecting with young people on the critical issue of Ganga Rejuvenation.
Asok Kumar, chief executive of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, chaired the meeting. Dr Bhushan Dewan, Vice Chancellor, Sridhar University, Pilani; Professor Dharam Budhi, Vice Chancellor, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun; Dr. Sudesh Kumar Sohani, Vice Chancellor, IES University, Bhopal; and Dr. Nand Kishore Sinha, Vice Chancellor of Maharaja Agrasen Himalayan Garhwal University were among the panelists.
Asok Kumar, Managing Director, National Mission for Clean Ganga, delivered the keynote address and discussed the various steps taken to achieve the Nirmal (pollution reduction) Ganga and Aviral (maintaining electronic flow in the river) Ganga taking a basin-level approach. To ensure that no untreated sewage flows into the Nirmal Dhara. There are 161 sanitation infrastructure projects that have been sanctioned, with 83 completed and the rest at various stages of completion. Kumar said biodiversity conservation and reforestation are also linked to this component of the Namami Gange program, and targeted efforts are being made in both areas.
He underlined the importance of public participation in the success of the Namami Gange program. “We want to turn Namami Gange into a mass movement so that it can be supported.” Simultaneously, through Arth Ganga, we are making river-people connections via an economic bridge to ensure the sustainability of the project. He said programs such as Rafting, Incredible Ganga Walk, Ganga Run and Ab Roz Hoga, Ghat Par Yoga are organized to bring people together.
Kumar described afforestation as a “very important aspect of the Clean Ganga project”, highlighting the role of plantation in preventing soil erosion, water availability and combating climate change. Last year, over 47 lakh rainwater harvesting structures were constructed and over 36 crores of plantations were planted as part of the Catch the Rain campaign. He said so far the planting has been carried out in an area of about 33,000 hectares under the Namami Gange scheme.
He stressed the importance of planting native species suited to a given ecosystem, and he suggested creative ways to encourage young people to do so, such as Adopt a Tree and Planting on Birthdays. He said that we must protect these natural resources, which are a gift from our ancestors.
Dr. Bhushan Dewan spoke about the importance of integrating environmental science into all curricula. Using Ganga Praharis as an example, he said university students should be involved in river rejuvenation projects such as Namami Ganga and expressed his commitment to the cause. Professor Dharam Buddhi urged everyone to participate in the reforestation program to preserve biodiversity. He believes that collaboration between academia and government will benefit the cause.
Dr. Sudesh Kumar Sohani said that while we work to revitalize and conserve rivers, we must first educate people about the importance of forests. He shared his experiences in river conservation and reforestation in various states. Dr. Nand Kishore Sinha said that under the new education policy, children should be connected to environmental science to spark interest in reforestation among the younger generation.
First published on: July 09, 2022, 09:21 IST