By Brij Khandelwal
Ahead of the world rivers day on September 27, the river activists in Agra cleaned up the Yamuna riverbank, opposite the Etmauddaula tomb and planted saplings of Kadamb, a favourite of Sri Krishna.
Green activists of an NGO ‘India Rising’ led by Sandeep Agarwal, spruced up the river bank and cleaned up the Etmauddaula viewpoint park, which is a favourite spot of the tourists visiting Agra. Agarwal told IANS: “The plight of Yamuna is pathetic and when you realize that best Mughal monuments along its banks are dependent on the river water to strengthen the foundations and control air pollution, you wonder what the government agencies have been doing all these decades.”
Members of the River Connect Campaign have been mobilizing public opinion to pressure the state government to speed up work on the Yamuna barrage, downstream of the Taj Mahal. Eminent environmentalists say ,”We want the Yamuna to be cleaned up, dredged of its pollutants and a minimum flow of water in the river assured by the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department.”
On the World Rivers Day, we will organize a rally and conduct special ‘puja’ of the Yamuna river to appease Yam Raj, the god of death and brother of Yamuna maiyya, said Pandit Jugal Kishor.
The world rivers day will be celebrated on Sunday, September 27 which also is the World Tourism Day, by millions of people. Thousands of events around the world will mark the day.
This day has become one of the largest environmental celebrations on the planet.
With many of the world’s rivers facing increasing pressures associated with climate change, pollution, and industrial development, close to 100 countries will participate in this year’s festivities.
The theme of this year’s event is “waterways in our communities” with a special emphasis on the need to protect and restore urban waterways which are often under great pressure.
“The importance of clean fresh water has been essential to the fight against Covid-19, so World Rivers Day is a timely opportunity for literally millions of people around the world to come together to commemorate the importance of healthy vibrant waterways,” said Mark Angelo, the founder and Chair of World Rivers Day.
The World Rivers Day commemorates the many values of rivers and encourages river stewardship and conservation around the globe — massive worldwide event involving up to 100 countries — has its roots in British Columbia Rivers Day, which celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Events this year will include those of either a virtual or physical nature depending on local Covid-19 circumstances. Many events will focus on educational and public awareness activities while others will include socially distanced river cleanups, habitat restoration projects, and community riverside events. Activities of a digital nature will include school projects, art festivals, the launching of new campaigns, online essays and poems, digital photo contests and galleries, new research projects, live-stream panels, and virtual film initiatives, among other examples.
This year is the 15th annual World Rivers Day, which has its roots in the great success of BC Rivers Day, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Canada’s western-most province and which Angelo founded in conjunction with the Outdoor Recreation Council. “World Rivers Day strives to increase public awareness of the importance of our waterways as well as the many threats confronting them,” said Angelo, founder of both BC and World Rivers Day and Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
“Rivers are integral to all life,” said Angelo, who has paddled more than 1,000 rivers in over 100 countries, perhaps more than any other. Angelo’s life-long commitment to river conservation, including the founding of World Rivers Day, is also the subject of the upcoming feature-length film, “Last Paddle; 1000 Rivers, One Life”.
Endorsed in its inaugural year by the United Nations University and the International Network on Water, Environment, and Health, and with groups such as the Sitka Foundation and Pacific Salmon Foundation, as lead sponsors along with the support of the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Vancouver Sun and Province, World Rivers Day events will take place across six continents in countries ranging from Canada to England, the US to India, Australia to Bangladesh, Austria to Nigeria, and from French Guiana to Caribbean nations such as Dominica; the list goes on and on.