New Delhi, July 10, 2023.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has taken the webinar series ‘Igniting Young Minds: Rejuvenating Rivers’ global. The 13th edition of the webinar series, now titled, ‘Igniting Young Minds: A Global Campaign’ was virtually organised on 8th July 2023 in collaboration with APAC News Network, with the objective of invoking participation from ‘Young Water Sustainers to Build Tomorrow’s Global Sustainability Leaders’. The theme of the webinar was Water Conservation. In this special session, the urgent need for rainwater conservation, collaboration with universities, and community engagement to ensure sustainable water management and river rejuvenation were discussed.
Mr. G. Asok Kumar, Director General, NMCG chaired the webinar. The panelists included Mr. B.S Yadav, Chancellor, IES University, Dr. Narayana Shenoy S, Vice Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dr. Neena Singh Zutshi, Professor and Dean Academics, World University of Design, and Mr. Arpan Stephen, Kingdom of Bahrain, E-learning Expert, Arabian Gulf University.
Delivering the keynote address, DG, NMCG highlighted the critical need for intensified efforts in water conservation and river rejuvenation. He spoke about the imperative role of public participation, calling for a collective movement and citizen responsibility to ensure sustainability and respect for water resources. He emphasized the effective management of water resources to make use of the spatial and temporal variation in rainfall in the country. “The scope of Namami Gange extends to River Ganga and its tributaries and the impact of the work done in the Ganga Basin is manifesting in the form of significant improvement in water quality and biodiversity exemplified by the increased sightings of aquatic species like Gangetic Dolphins, Otters etc.,” He further added, “The recognition of NMCG’s efforts by the United Nations further reinforces its unique position and commitment to water conservation. The positive recognition received from international stakeholders’ underscores Namami Gange’s impact. The participation of more than 20 crore people in the Kumbh Mela 2019, much more than anticipated, signifies an increasing awareness and engagement in river rejuvenation efforts in the country.”
He said that the significance of the 5 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recharge and Respect – is pivotal to combat water scarcity, particularly the agriculture sector, where water use efficiency remains a primary concern. He shed light on the excessive use of groundwater by farmers, which not only requires significant energy for pumping, but also demands more efficient irrigation methods. He said that saving water should be incorporated into all aspects of life, encouraging the reuse of water, such as utilizing rejected water from RO systems for washing vegetables, fruits, and plants. Additionally, treated water from sewage treatment plants (STPs) can be used for irrigation and other purposes, reducing the extraction of water from other sources. He noted that by adopting a circular economy of water, where water is no longer discarded but instead recovered and reused, the world can achieve sustainable water management.
He focused on the need to educate younger generations, raising awareness among students and instill a sense of responsibility to promote sustainable water usage practices. He also highlighted the importance of reusing sewage water, focusing on the technical aspects of safe sewage disposal. “Improper sewage disposal can lead to the contamination of fresh water sources, posing risks to public health. NMCG actively engages in the process of treating sewage water through the establishment of Nirmal Jal Kendras, ensuring the safe disposal of sewage water and its utilization for non-potable purposes”, he said.
DG, NMCG underscored the need to preserve rainwater and discussed the “Catch the Rain” campaign, which encourages decentralized storage of rainwater. The campaign urges communities to harvest rainwater within their localities, contributing in elevating water table levels and a reduction in energy-intensive water pumping. “Preserving rainwater is instrumental in conserving water for the summer season”. Furthermore, he noted the significance of rainwater conservation for students, as it directly influences future of forthcoming generations. “It is imperative to instill this knowledge in students, fostering a sense of responsibility and promoting mindful water usage practices”, he said.
He acknowledged the significant role that universities can play in the conservation and rejuvenation of rivers and urged universities to actively support and collaborate in the revitalization of rivers.