Magsaysay recipient Rajendra Singh urges government, civil society to save the rivers
Renowned water conservationist Rajendra Singh, better known as Waterman of India, urged the State government to implement a river rejuvenation policy.
Addressing a press conference organised by the Arkavati-Kumudavati River Rejuvenation Committee here Friday, the Magsaysay Award winner said 70 per cent of Karnataka’s rivers are dry and 78.8 per cent of the State is declared ‘drought prone’. “The State should understand the seriousness and speed up rejuvenation work,” he said, adding that such a project should not be just government-oriented but should involve civil society organisations.
Expressing unhappiness over the delay in the Arkavati-Kumudavati rejuvenation work, Mr. Singh said for the past three years, not much work has been done and what has been done is not on the right track. The government should ensure the project is not contractor-driven. “The Arkavati needs ecological flow. Engineers who are involved in the work should respect ecological flow of the river,” he said.
He pointed out that civil society groups are ready to render help and this should be welcomed. “I have asked like-minded organisations to create public awareness, particularly in the villages along the river’s course. Local populations have to be encouraged to take up tree planting and removal of silt from lakes in the river’s catchment,” he said.
He said he had launched the ‘Jan-Jal-Jodo’ campaign promoting river rejuvenation work across the country. “I want to see at least one river in each State rejuvenated,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, H.R. Jayaram, rejuvenation committee president, said once the Arakavati and Kumadvati had a catchment of more than 1,750 tanks as well as 12,000 canals and streams. The rivers flowed over 200 km before joining Cauvery at Sangam.
“Uncontrolled urbanisation, industrialisation, illegal mining, pollution due to discharge of untreated industrial effluents, changing agricultural practices, shift to water intensive crops, over exploitation of groundwater and agriculture have contributed to the death of rivers,” he said.