A double postgraduate in public administration and later in political science, 52-year-old Vikas Chandra a.k.a. Guddu Baba was born in Allahabad in 1964. Guddu Baba says that he has purposefully dedicated his personal life to the cause of cleaning the river, Ganga. “My education has helped me a lot. Information about public administration has given me a vivid idea of people and governance,” he said. Although his brother expressed displeasure over his activism streak, Guddu Baba found support in people who still walk shoulder to shoulder with him. He has become a beacon of hope for saving the Ganga, having served the holy river for the past two decades.
“Apart from the Rs 5 lakh that I received as prize money in 2009, I have never received any help from anybody, but that money is still helping us,” he says, while concluding that the lack of funds has never acted as a roadblock for him or his teammates even when they decided to fish out corpses to clean the waters of holy rivers.
It was the ritual of holy dip being performed by a devotee at Patna’s Bas Ghat that spurred Guddu Baba to discover his great cause in the year 1998. “At the crematory grounds of Patna, I saw a man bathing in sewage that was flowing on the sides of dried Ganga. When I approached him, he told me that he did not have the money to go to other side of the river and reach its main stream, which was cleaner. He chose to perform his wife’s last rites where it was more feasible for him in economical terms,” recounts Guddu Baba.
Often hailed as ‘Ganga Ma’ (Mother Ganga), India’s longest river supports lives of hundreds of millions of people in the country who depend on it for varied needs including irrigation, livelihood and power production. Guddu Baba, who lost his mother at the tender age of four, has been the role of a dutiful and devoted role of ‘son of the earth’ by contributing in the cleanliness of ‘Ganga Ma’, reports DNA.
Guddu Baba organises rallies and awareness campaigns to save the holy river. His focus has been the dumping of medical waste. Now, an incinerator has been installed for the treatment of waste near PMCH. He has also played a pivotal role in reviving three dysfunctional sewage treatment plants set up in 1986. Today, the STPs at Beur, Saidpur and Pahari are functional. “These three plants treat 105 mld sewage water every day. Since these plants are very old, their capacity has decreased over time, but it is still better than having them lying dysfunctional,” points out Guddu Baba. Today, he is not alone in his cause. There is an army of equally dedicated volunteers who work with him on a regular basis to keep the holy river clean. Together, they ensure that people do not defecate near the river. These volunteers also pick up plastic and other waste from the riverbanks and support Guddu Baba in all his endeavours.
The activist admits his journey has often been a challenging one. “I have received several threats and been pressured to stop, but I am determined to make a difference and nothing can stop me from doing that,” he stressed, reports Daily Hunt.
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