Rally for Rivers: What next?

Source: IBTimes India

The vote campaigns for Sadhguru’s ‘Rally for Rivers’ came to a close on October 2, following which a 761 page draft for the revitalization of rivers in India has been submitted to the prime minister Narendra Modi.

The draft proposes to normalize rainfall, prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, and recharge groundwater by planting trees for 20,000 kilometers in 1 km strips on either side of India’s rivers. It received mixed reactions from ecologists and environmental experts. While it was lauded for its ‘good intention’, it attracted criticism for its simplistic nature and lack of scientific grounding:

1. Normalize rainfall

The connection between planting more trees and receiving more rainfall is contested because increased rainfall has only been observed when land-use change and ‘afforestation’ is at much larger scales. A 1 Km buffer of trees on either side of the lake would be unlikely to affect rainfall.

2. Prevent soil erosion

Trees can help prevent soil erosion, but only in places which are prone to flash floods.

3. Improve water quality

Trees can trap some pollutants, but when industrial effluents and domestic sewage is dumped directly into rivers and streams (as is the case across India), the sheer magnitude and nature of contaminants will not be abated by trees.

4. Recharge groundwater

One of the key reasons a river dries is because of the over-pumping of groundwater. As the groundwater gets increasingly sucked dry, any inflow of water into a stream goes into the ground. And watershed development only works when there is a consensus among user groups to use less water.

Sadhguru aims to receive 30 crore missed calls in support of the campaign by the end of October. The draft is now available on Isha’s ‘Rally for Rivers’ page and is open to suggestions from the scientific community. Here is the path the campaign is likely to take, in Sadhguru’s own words:

“We will share the draft on river revitalization with all the states, prominent environmentalists and media houses.
We will give them three months to share their wisdom, knowledge and experience. There is no absolutism when it comes to environment.
There are always better ways to do certain things. Once this is over, the legislative, legal, cultural and administrative challenges will take another 6 to 12 months.”- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Read more about the ‘Rally for Rivers’ and the support and criticism it garnered here.

Source: The News Minute, The Hindu, Down to Earth

By: Manogna