These NGOs are working to raise awareness and bring rivers back to life

On International Day of Action for Rivers, SocialStory looks at NGOs and non-profits that have been working to restore rivers and lakes in India.
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In India, a significant number of river waters are unfit for drinking. This is because of the discharge of untreated sewage, agricultural run-off, waste discharge by unregulated small-scale industries, etc., to these naturally occurring water bodies.

In fact, River Yamuna, one of the most prominent rivers in India, has been an industrial and domestic dumpster for a long time now, and is one of the most polluted waterways in India. Every day, the river receives about 800 million litres of untreated sewage, and about 44 million litres of industrial effluents, creating of a toxic foam in the river. While these activities not only deplete rivers, they also adversely impact the lives of the marine fauna.

Today, a number of organisations in India and from across the world are working to raise awareness about the importance of rivers and climate change. These NGOs are working hard to treat the effluents and also clear the rivers of toxicity and debris.

SocialStory lists some of the NGOs working to preserve these water bodies:

The Nature Conservancy

Representational image (Credits: Joao Luccas Olieveira)

Founded in 1951 in the United States, The Nature Conservancy is present in 79 countries across the world. It aims to create nature-based solutions for environmental challenges in these countries.

In India, TNC works with government-aligned projects such as the restoration of the River Ganga. It is also working with the Namami Gange and Namami Devi Narmade river restoration programmes, apart from other environment-related programmes.

For example, the team conducted scientific analysis of the entire Narmada river basin, and identified places where its efforts could have maximum benefits. It also launched a pilot initiative to restore 80 acres of riparian area in Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh.

Rivers of the World Foundation

Representational image (Credits: Yogendra Singh)

In order to restore the aforementioned Yamuna River, Rivers of the World (ROW) Foundation was founded in 2009, and is working to control environmental pollution and preserving the natural environment of the river. Moved by the plight of those dwelling along the banks of Yamuna, the team looks to treat the wastes that are discharged into the river. The organisation cleans up highly polluted Rivers in the US, India, SE Asia, South America, Africa, Europe, and Other Parts of the World.

In 2003, a demonstration-scale system for biological treatment was developed by the team at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Kukatpally, Hyderabad. This was later modified to treat the discharge into the river near Delhi through the Barapullah and the Kotlah Drains.

Environmentalist Foundation of India

One of the cleaned lakes in Tamil Nadu (Image: EFI)

Chennai-based Environmentalist Foundation of India is present in 14 states in India, and works on the scientific revival of lakes in the country through a community effort. The NGO works under three verticals – water, wildlife, and waste. Under the water initiative, the team has done everything - from beach cleaning to water body restoration.

Since its foundation in 2007, the team has worked on about 129 water bodies across 14 states. In fact, it has successfully restored about 75 water bodies in and around Chennai. With each restoration, it not only makes the lakes cleaner, but also more aesthetically appealing with a scientific plan.

Jeevitnadi – Living River Foundation

Representational image (Credits: Jamie Patterson)

With the motto of “My River, My Responsibility”, Jeevitnadi is aimed at involving communities in river-related initiatives. This is done by raising awareness, eliminating the causes of pollution, and developing a scientific and ecological plan for the revival and sustainability of rivers.

Jeevitnadi was started in 2014, when people came together to do something for the rivers in Pune, the River Mutha being one of the main projects. Through its nature walk programme, the organisation encourages people to help in the restoration of rivers and also tells them the value of these rivers. (in Pune’s heritage). The Muthai (another name for Mutha) River Festival is another unique activity that is celebrated with a focus on lake-revival activities.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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