Testing the Waters

Are we taking responsibility for what we drink! How clearly do we define our relationship with water!! What about the water quality at vacation rivers and beaches!!!

Elisabeth Salemme, writing for the TIME magazine (Jan.2007) wrote under ‘The World’s Dirty Rivers’ — “The Ganges, the most sacred river in India, is so gunked up with industrial and human waste that many Hindus were understandably hesitant about diving in recent weeks to ritually cleanse their souls as their faith directs. But after thousands of holy men threatened to boycott the six-week festival — one of the largest gatherings in the world — while others said they would commit the ritual suicide “jal samadhi” in protest, officials in India flushed the river with water from an upstream dam.”

Five years down the drain, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General pointed out that despite our governments’ water pollution control efforts, our lakes and rivers continue to remain highly polluted. The report, tabled in Parliament, said that there’s no attempt to compile a comprehensive list of India’s water bodies;  the process of identifying lakes and rivers for lowering pollution levels has been faulty; exacerbated by inadequate policies and lack of legislation.

Now don’t tell me you do not cross a river or pass a beach once in a while. What do you see at the shores and river-sides? How do you react to the pollution accumulating there? Do you think likewise that plastic and other garbage are affecting every waterway, sea and ocean? Aren’t we then putting our own well-being at risk by allowing our water systems to be damaged, destroyed?

Water Pollution By Plastic. Illustration By Neeraj Bhushan for neerajbhushan.comIt’s the garbage that is washing our river banks and sea shores today. Isn’t this garbage much more than an eyesore! Yes, millions have been spent (or usurped) in cleaning our rivers and shores but how do you see the clean-up acts? How recently did you vacation on a sea beach? How significantly the pollution there hurt you? Isn’t our tourism also being affected by the non-action on the part of the authorities? How frequent is the monitoring of our waters?

Do you discuss with your friends about these issues? Do you intend to make a difference? How willing are you to protect our natural resources for our own health as also that of the future generations? Take action by improving the way we govern our waters. Raise the such local issues, wherever you are, with your representatives. Clean your locality, clean your water. Live safe, drink safe.

Don’t let the situation go on the brink of ecological collapse. We can still restore the marine vitality as we grow vocal in our demands. If we can change the political systems, why can’t we change our living patterns; why can’t we change our climate, why can’t we keep our rivers clean, why can’t we make our beaches beautiful and pollution free? Must we prosper and live in healthy communities. Our right to safe and sufficient water must be guaranteed. Fight. Start Today.

Dirty water is what we get while the rich and famous are being served mountain fresh waters! Why should we languish and continue to be threatened? Fight. Stand Up.

The other day, while travelling in Delhi Metro over Indraprastha area (on the Dwara-Noida line) in India’s capital city New Delhi, I was shocked to find the polluted water flowing just behind the World Health Organisation building on the Ring Road. Shameful. The same water flows into the nearby Yamuna river, then.

As a nature lover too, I find the threats to fish, birds and wildlife ever growing today, as we treat our waterways like trash bins. Please don’t litter. Fight. Let Your Attitude Grow. Else our waterways would become reservoir of garbage. Establish your relationship with water. Improve the quality of our lives, our water. Demand Safer Water. Demand Safer Rivers. Demand Safer Beaches.

Writing for UK’s Telegraph in June 2012, Ben Fogle wrote: “We’re also a nation that relies heavily on tourism, and many visitors are attracted by our coastline, ports, harbours and seaside resorts. We need to act as a nation and safeguard these areas.” He said that volunteers in the Barefoot Beach Clean campaigns of 2011 removed 2.5 tons of litter from the UK’s coastline and river banks. And again in March, volunteers who took part in a clean-up with the charity Thames 21 cleared an astonishing 2721kg of rubbish from the river, including items dating so far back they crossed the line between litter and archaeology.

A write-up by Divya Karnad in Deccan Herald newspaper maintains that our beaches and coasts are littered; our seas and rivers have turned into reservoirs of effluents. “Will we clean up our beaches and turn our waters pollution-free, thereby throwing a lifeline to many key marine species?” it asks. According to the National Institute of Oceanography, 50 million litres of industrial waste is allowed to discharge every year, untreated into the seas around India. This is equivalent to about 20 Olympic-size pools full of effluents. The concentration of pollution is highest where rivers empty into the sea. As our rivers have become de facto carriers of urban sewage, the waste is carried along and dumped into one of the most productive and ecologically important stretches of the sea.

If you can stop a politician from reaching Parliament, you can stop pollution from reaching our waters too. Do your bit. Conduct water audits in your areas. Discuss the situation with friends and colleagues, if things seem alarming to you. Let your voice grow louder and stronger. Host clean-up days where you can volunteer to pick up trash at your local beach or river banks. A few hours of your time can make a big difference. Petition your authorities and lawmakers. Let’s clean up our waters. Let us show the world how beautiful, clear and sparkling our rivers and seas could be! They are under threat, at present. Actually.


  1. Neeraj,
    “If you can stop a politician from reaching Parliament,…” Indian elite is too intransigent besides the common person. They only hear one language, the language of batton hitting and bullets. Short of it is useless in India today. Look at the UPA II in the face of these many multi billion dollar scams, yet they give only excuses and staying in power brazen faced. Had it been any other civilised country, the govt would have been long demolished. But it is India where “sab kucch chalataa hai”…???


    • Yup. Aam aadmi is brutalised in the country today. The fact that the Indian laws are very strict as compared to any other country in the world fails to detract the looters. Enforcement of laws needs a mass awakening, for which I am determined. I am so concerned that our citizens have been turning a blind eye to every which problem, giving up every causes and are feeling lost and hence they are not able to do anything. Hence the Greater Voice.


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