The Rally for Rivers campaign that Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev started from Coimbatore on September 3, after passing through 13 states reached Chandigarh on Friday to a welcome reception. Speaking at the Tagore Theatre the Sadhguru said the rivers of this nation were dying and an immediate public support and government commitment was urgently needed to save them.
He said that everyone who consumed water must contribute towards the revival of the rivers.
Addressing the local people on the preservation and rejuvenation of Indian rivers as part of his campaign, he said rivers must be treated as national treasure and not private property.
He pointed out that this was the first time that all political parties had agreed on this plan for the revival of rivers.
The Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar and the Governor, Kaptan Singh Solanki, the Punjab Governor, r. VP Singh Badnore, and local MP, Kiran Kher were present on the occasion.
Khattar assured the Sadguru of his state’s full support, while Mr. Solanki said the public awareness campaign is essential at this time as we are headed for a national water crisis.
The Punjab government and Isha Foundation have also signed an MoU for water recharging and plantation around rivers.
Earlier, the Sadhguru interacted with students at Panjab University.
Meanwhile, the Union Government has red-flagged a sharp decline in the groundwater level in Punjab. As per the study conducted in May, 94 per cent of the state has shown a decline in the water level when compared to the level from 2007-16.
Despite that, the Punjab Government was adamant on keeping the ‘politically sensitive’ free power to agriculture consumers going - a major reason for excessive tubewell connections that drain the groundwater. There is also no action plan to wean away farmers from water-guzzling paddy crop.
The results of the study, which the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, had commissioned to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), and now shared with Punjab government, have shown a decline in water in 89 per cent of the observation wells. These cover 94 per cent areas.
The study that mapped aquifers (up to 300 metres) has shown an alarming fall of over 4 metres in 10 per cent of the observation wells, covering 8 per cent of the state.
It also reveals that 26 per cent area has seen its water table fell by 2-4 metres, while 60 per cent seen a fall of up to 2 metres.
Though the Centre has asked Punjab to invest in strengthening ground water monitoring; implement a water security plan; promote micro-irrigation and crop diversification, besides having separate feeder lines for agriculture and non-agricultural uses, it remains to be seen if the state will have any affirmative action plan.
The study has also brought to light another concern - higher value of electrical conductivity (reflection of chemical constituents in groundwater which may have deleterious effect on health). The study has brought to light much higher levels of fluoride, arsenic, and nitrate (beyond permissible limits), while asking the Punjab Government to act immediately to ensure safe drinking water is provided to all. The higher levels of these chemicals are related to the growing incidence of cancer.