Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Apr 2018 11:27:19

THAT Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) has initiated the process of inviting concept notes for rejuvenation projects for nine rivers, is good news by any standard. There is a reason to feel happy that concerted efforts are visible now as regards rejuvenation of rivers in the country. May these efforts bear good fruits as early as possible so that India starts witnessing a golden era of rejuvenated rivers that would flow with them essence of life, that is precious water in full glory.

Already, the Forest Research Institute (FRI) is a nodal agency for the rejuvenation of rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, is the nodal agency for Narmada rejuvenation. Similar nodal agencies have been appointed for rejuvenation of other major rivers like Krishna, Mahanadi, Brahmaputra, Satluj and others. These agencies have already begun their respective mandated tasks with happy initial results. May this atmosphere continue unabated all over the country so that river rejuvenation becomes one of India’s major national projects. If these projects start making sense in the next few years, India will be one of the global leaders in this regard.

The task of rejuvenation of any river is complex and involves multiple expertises. If expertise on forests plays one important role in the task, then other branches like geography, geology, irrigation, seismic sciences also have critical role to play in the overall effort. It is good to know that much work has already been initiated in respect of all the dimensions of the massive challenge of rejuvenating the rivers that are facing certain degradation due to several reasons including advance of human civilisation, decline in the geographical and geological features of the area through which the rivers flow, and finally a collective indifference to ecology by the so-called modern societies and their governments.

As India gets ready to face the massive challenge of rejuvenation of major rivers, its leadership will have to leave aside any political angle and concentrate only on the scientific aspects of the task at hand. At this particular moment, the dispute about sharing of Cauvery waters has reached an ugly peak point, threatening to create a near-permanent divide between the two States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The situation has come to such a pass because the Indian leadership could not find a non-political solution to the problem for the past fifty-plus years. All along the Government -- at the Centre and in the States -- took only the political route, which actually overshadowed the ground realities, making the Cauvery issue very complex without reason.

When India sets for itself the task of rejuvenation of major rivers, its political community will have to go past all political considerations and unite to face the challenge only from professional standpoint. So, when Madhya Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan launches his Namami Narmade project, Opposition should join hands with him without political considerations whatsoever. When such a mindset becomes our national habit, we will be able to sort out many issues amicably, let alone the river rejuvenation problem.

The nation has seen what can happen to any project -- of the magnitude of Ganga cleaning launched by the then Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi -- when politics supersedes prudence. Though the Ganga project was launched with a wonderful intention, the project fell on bad days quite soon because politics became a prime factor in its implementation. Such an approach needs to be shunned right now as India prepares itself for the massive task of rejuvenation of its major rivers. Such a task will need funding of mind-boggling proportions and involvement of generations in the most dedicated and concerted manner beyond politics. The success of the project will depend upon how much with pure heart we approach the task.