Green Kumbh initiative must continue even after the mela, says Swami Chidanand Saraswati

Even as lakhs of devotees took a holy dip at the Sangam on Paush Purnima on Sunday, Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, the force behind the Clean Ganga campaign, expressed his satisfaction over the ongoing ‘Green Kumbh’ initiative.

Terming it a “great beginning” to a clean and green Ganga, the organiser said the change was visible on the second ritual bathing of this Kumbh.

“During the Makar Sankranti Shahi Snan, the Ganga was littered with polythene bags. I just returned from the snan and today, it was different. We saw more hands than polythene. There is a change and we are positive it will continue,” he told The Hindu, at his camp on the banks of the Ganga.

However, he added that for sustainable change the initiative would need to continue after the mela.

“Just a few tents and some people are not enough. Our initiative is from gali [street] to the Ganga. I urge the people to make their homes, temples, mosques and villages green. For this I have even invited spiritual leaders from across the world to undertake a green pledge,” he said.

Meanwhile, while honouring the parents of Lieutenant Manoj Pandey, who was killed during the Kargil War, Swami Chidanand said 21 saplings would be planted at different locations at the Sangam in honour of all the Param Vir Chakra holders. Pandey, who was killed during an attack in the Batalik sector of Kargil in 1999, was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award.

“This State [Uttar Pradesh] gives our country most of its soldiers and water. The Kumbh mela is a sangam [confluence] of that desh prem [patriotism] and dev prem [devotion to god],” Swami Chidanand said while presenting a sapling to Gopichand and Mohini Pandey, the deceased soldier’s parents.

Cleaning drive

Earlier during the day, the organiser coordinated a cleaning drive on the Ganga, which saw participation from hundreds of volunteers from 45 countries. On Republic Day, the group marched to the Sangam as part of an environmental parade against pollution and to pay homage to India’s war heroes. The Green Kumbh 2013 initiative includes a massive sapling plantation drive under the ‘Kumbh Smriti Van’ proposal and distribution of the saplings, waste-water and solid waste management, use of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic and polythene, and eco-friendly toilets.

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