We considered our rivers as mothers, but they are polluted, they considered rivers as rivers, and they are clean, why so ….? I encountered this hurting truth in my journey to New York, U.S.A where I had an opportunity to visit many rivers during my stay at the Waterkeeper international conference held from 6 to 10 June, 2018. Almost 500 waterkeepers and associates of the WKA from 28 countries participated in the conference and shared their work details on their respective rivers.

Americans don’t consider their rivers as mothers, they think of them as only life giving rivers and so they have made sure their rivers stay clean and pure. But we in India, even after worshiping rivers and placing them on place of life giving mothers, have caused tremendous pollution that the rivers are now dead or dying.

At some point, even their rivers faced high pollution, but the government carried out strict actions fairly which have resulted in maintenance of clean rivers. Rules and restrictions were enforced for the sewage and industrial waste which were put in force with full integrity by the government officials. They faced many difficulties and the community’s support to the government gave them strength.

Better techniques were used for filtration of the wastes. Strict laws were enforced for punishment as well. Government installed sensors for putting a check on wastage flow which also allowed control on outlets. These outlet gates were closed if the industry didn’t follow the rules which led to waste being held in the industry itself. Other such actions were also taken where heavy pollution creating production industries were closed down.

Similar steps were applied to city sewage where latest technology was put in place to filter the liquid waste and any unfiltered wastage was strictly stopped from passing to the river. To maintain the river’s purity and cleanliness, some rules have also been put in force such as restriction on river bathing, boating, and stepping into river water or even touching the waters. The community has followed these restrictions loyally for their rivers.

The Potomac River which divides Maryland and Virginia states and flows in a big city Washington which is the capital of the country, is still very clean.

This does not happened with magic but community and government’s persistence as this river was once included in most polluted river list in 1970s.

The objective for participation in the International River Conference

Almost 500 representatives from 28 nations participated in this conference. They all are involved in programs and different projects to improve health of the river bodies in their region.

Whenever I receive an opportunity to visit out of the country, my utmost observation is towards their environment, water and community efforts. It can be understood from any region by studying their rivers, forests and water systems that how much the government and society cares.

The condition of American rivers & which all rivers were observed

During the stay, I have visited eight rivers namely Buffalo, Niagara, Erie Canal, Hudson, Genesee, Potomac, Anacostia and Rock Creek. One can drink water from any of these rivers. These are different kind of rivers.

Genesee and Anacostia are wide rivers which flow from dense forests. Niagara, Buffalo and Erie Canal are Port Rivers and Hudson in New York and Potomac in Washington flow between large cities. Therefore, irrespective of river’s type or location, no kind of pollution is allowed in any river. Even touching the waters is not permitted in a wide river such as Genesee.


How can the rivers of India be compared to America’s rivers?

Comparing their rivers to Indian rivers will be not fair. Here we fake our actions but there, they do with loyalty towards their rivers. Indians placed their rivers at mother’s place but have polluted them without thinking twice but in America or Europe, their citizens treat rivers as rivers but have maintained their purity as a river should be.

Can any of their rivers be compared to Kali, Hindon or Yamuna River here?

The Potomac River of Washington city was once so polluted in 1970s that it could be said same for Hindon and Kali today. But their government took action so stringently and followed it, that it took only a decade to free the river from all pollution. But here we have taken only one step ahead to improve these rivers.


Why objection on constructing River front of Gomti River when their rivers also have river fronts?

Our Ministers and officers visit other nations on name of research but do not even observe their work at all. The rivers which have river front built on them are all port rivers there, which are constructed using wood and stones. But at Gomti River we are using cement to construct a wall in the river’s basin. This has damaged the river’s basin!


What has actually being done for their rivers are so wonderfully clean?

They have put in force strict laws and rules to maintain cleanliness of river waters which are being loyally followed by the government itself. Especially sewage system and industrial waste restrictions are taken stringently. There is no show business on legislation. The government is dutiful towards its environment and is supported by the community wholeheartedly on such laws.

Can Kali, Hindon and Yamuna rivers also become so clean and pure?

It is only possible when the actions are loyally taken. The government creates strict laws and regulations which are carried out without any outside pressure. If the society considers our rivers as mothers then it is time take on responsibility and support the government to follow such laws.


What can be done about Holy Ganga River?

This is quite disturbing that the national river which has been providing resources to about 400 million of population has not been cleaned in last 30 year’s efforts. The setback in this scenario is the lack of political and national trust.

The decision making powers are removed from the designated officials and instead are practiced by political figures. Corruption is at peak in the country since few decades.

On the ground level, not much difference can be found on the river’s health at all.

As we discuss Ganga’s pollution, but reducing waters in Ganga are also an upcoming concern. Its tributary rivers are either drying up or have turned into drains to carry heavy polluted wastes.


In the End

If we really desire to see fresh flowing rivers in our country, then our government must take strict actions and establish laws about it, officers should carry out necessary actions without pressure and community should be supportive of the government.