Ganga Praharis: How WII’s initiative is helping in cleaning of the River Ganga?
You can’t address the cleaning up of River Ganga without mobilizing the people of India and encouraging them to do their bit. For a water body as vast as the one that is born at Gaumukh, gushes through the mountainous terrain of Uttarakhand, spreads out into Uttar Pradesh, crosses Jharkhand and Bihar, to finally traverse through West Bengal and merge into the Indian Ocean at Ganga Sagar, this mighty river’s clean-up campaign needs unconditional support from all, especially those living in these five states.
About Ganga Prahari Programme:
The biodiversity of the Ganga River is under stress due to reduced water availability, habitat degradation, pollution and unsustainable resource extraction. To conserve the ecological integrity of the Ganga River and, reduce the direct dependency of the local communities on the river, the National Mission for Clean Ganga-Wildlife Institute of India (NMCG-WII) project ‘Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation’ is aiming to involve members of the local community as guardians of the river and will be known as the “Ganga Praharis”.
The aim of this initiative is to establish a motivated cadre of “Ganga Prahari to support the local level institutions and monitor the quality of the natural resources of the river by mobilizing local communities at the grassroots level. These praharis are the volunteers from among the local community, who have a common objective of conservation of the aquatic life of Ganga, by maintaining the river’s Aviral and Nirmal Dhara. The creation of this cadre of Ganga Prahari was visualized in the framework of participatory conservation efforts, where people involved in the process usually live in communities with considerable social cohesion and regularly work together on shared projects of community concerns.
“Ganga is a living river. It is what it is because of its rich biodiversity and an example of the circle of life. It is essential to have community participation to preserve it,” says Dr. Ruchi Badola (Programme Advisor) one of those who are spearheading the Ganga Prahari campaign.
Role and Responsibilities of Ganga Prahari:
1-Mobilizing the local communities in their respective villages for maintaining the integrity of the Ganga River ecosystem.
2-Liaising with the local forest department staff at their respective villages in maintaining a clean and vibrant Ganga River.
3-Assisting NMCG-WII teams in preparation, coordination and implementation of village level micro plans for sustainable development in alignment with Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
4-Act as the convergence point for development activities, livelihood programmes and biodiversity conservation at a village level.
The campaign’s first capacity-building workshop was held from March 11-13, at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. The three-day workshop had nearly 220 participants from the five states that River Ganga passes through, who cut across all demographics – students, working professionals, retired personnel, educated, semi-literate, men, women. The common strain: the pledge to lead by example when it comes to cleaning and conserving River Ganga. The praharis will encourage others in the community to keep the river clean and also sensitize them about actions that can pollute the water and/ or threaten the biodiversity of the river. With the motto of Inform, Inspire, Transform (IIT), these Ganga Praharis also have to live up to the promise of “Each one make ten”, which is, each Prahari will initiate ten more in the program, with the network widening with every new entrant.
Gati Foundation was grateful to be invited for the workshop and wishes Ganga Praharis good luck!
Author: Prerna Raturi (Sustainable Development and Community Outreach, Gati Foundation)