National River Policy Sought for River Management and Rejuvenation

Bhubaneswar: People and Organisations working for conservation and protection of Rivers across the Country came forward in unison to demand National River Policy on the occasion of World Rivers Day held on September 27.World River Day is being observed world over on the last Sunday of September every year since 2005 spearheaded by United Nations as day of action to protect and conserve our Rivers.
In a joint statement after two days virtual dialogue organisations like Mahanadi Banchao Jivika Banchao Aviyan, Odisha-Chattisgarh, Zilla Banchao Sangharsha Mircha, Raigarh, Chattisgarh, Nadi Banchao Jivan Banchao Andolan, Kolkata, Gamga Bamchao Aviyan, Lok Mukti Sangathan, Odisha Ganatantrika Samukshya, South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP), Focus Odisha Foundation and several other Organisations from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttakhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have urged Government to bring a National Legislation for management, conservation, protection and rejuvenation of River Basins in the Country. The organisations also demanded for ensuring free flowing rivers to maintain ecological diversity.

While speaking at the virtual event participated by River Activists from across the country Convenor of SANDRP and eminent Scholar Himanshu Thakkar has highlighted on how National Water Policy is trivialised as River Policy, where rivers are indispensable for human life and our biodiversity..
Thakkar further added that rivers are being encroached, obstructed and polluted, that’s why many rivers are dying naturally.
River Activist and Pune based prominent Researcher Shrishtee Bajapai in her presentation spoke while de-commissioning of Dams are happening world over, we in India are opting for more Dams thereby damaging ecological character of our rivers. She stressed on rights of rivers should be ensured rivers can’t protect themselves, we need to come forward to protect our source of water.
Former IIM Bangalore Professor and Ganga campaigner Dr Bharat Jhunjhulwal stressed the need for framing River management policy and solution of both Inter-State and Trans-boundary river issues at the earliest.

River Scientist Supratim Karmakar highlighted on how frequent natural disasters harming the river-ecosystem in Mahanadi, Sunarnarekha, The Ganges and Sundarban delta, in turn it is threatening livelihoods of millions.

Director of Focus Odisha Foundation Sudarshan Chhotoray in his keynote presentation spoke on how people in Mahanadi River system especially farmers, fishermen and artisan communities belonging to both Chattisgarh and Odisha are living with uncertainty over construction of barrages in upper stream of Hirakud and lifting of Mahanadi waters for Industrial purposes and discharge of both municipal and industrial wastes.

Prominent among the participants who spoke in various sessions were
Jagriti Rahi, Ganga, Arsi and Baruna River Conservation group of Varanasi, Adhok Bharat, Bihar, Priti Ranjan, Jharkhand, Ganesh Kuchhwaha, Chhattisgarsh, Tapas Das of West Bengal, Ananta Bhai and Sisir Hue, Raghubir Pradhan Convenors of Mahanadi Banchao Jivika Banchao Aviyan.

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