Ganga Utsav: The 7th edition of Ganga Utsav was organized today by National Mission for Clean Ganga in New Delhi and was inaugurated by Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee, in the presence of Special Secretary and Director General, NMCG, Shri G. Asok Kumar. The event also marked the release of 33rd edition of Namami Gange Magazine, the new Chacha Chaudhary series and the Voyage of Ganga Booklet, based on Ganga Pustak Parikrama in collaboration with NBT.
The 2nd edition of Ganga Pustak Parikrama was also flagged off today by Ms. Debashree Mukherjee, and Mr. G. Asok Kumar. Ganga Pustak Parikrama will commence its 3-month long journey from Gangotri on 7 November 2023 and pass through all cities and towns on the banks of River Ganga – Uttarkashi, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Bijnor, Meerut, Aligarh, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Chhapra, Patna, Begusarai, Sultanganj, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Baharampur, Kolkata, and Haldia – before ending its journey at Gangasagar on 11 January 2024.
Addressing the gathering, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee expressed that the Ganga is not merely a river but a profound emotion that resonates with all of us. She expressed her satisfaction in witnessing the remarkable progress in the Ganga Rejuvenation efforts, especially in collaboration with the new generation. She drew attention to the beautiful connection between Ghalib and the Yamuna, emphasizing the deeply rooted cultural significance of our rivers.
She stressed that the preservation of rivers is a shared responsibility of everyone. She reiterated that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi always emphasizes that ‘Water is Everyone’s Business’ and has underscored the pivotal role of water in the sustainable development of our nation. In this context, she highlighted the pressing need to address the issue of solid waste contaminating our water bodies. Each one of us, she insisted, must step forward and contribute to safeguarding our rivers. She underscored the urgency of tackling the flow of sewage into water bodies and advocated for enhanced solid waste management, particularly emphasizing plastic waste control.
Water conservation was another focal point of her address, as she highlighted its critical role in the rejuvenation of rivers. She called for collective action and collaboration, stating that water conservation and river rejuvenation are fundamental responsibilities that we all share. She emphasized the pivotal role of the Jan Andolan (people’s movement) in the noble cause of river rejuvenation.
Special Secretary and Director General, NMCG extended a warm welcome to the attendees and emphasized the profound significance of the Ganga in India. Shri Kumar informed that Ganga was declared as the National River of India in 2008, which led to the establishment of the National Ganga Day. He further elaborated on how each year, this auspicious day unites a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, including children, in joyous celebrations and activities. Shri Kumar underscored the significance of Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, where “Catch the Rain” campaign was launched by the Hon. Prime Minister during which he addressed Sarpanchs from all corners of the nation, emphasizing the critical role the Ganga plays in our shared heritage.
Shri Kumar highlighted the remarkable recognition by the United Nations to Namami Gange as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships dedicated to the rejuvenation of the natural world during the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada on 14th December 2022. Shri Kumar expressed that this accolade is a source of immense pride for our nation and the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
He informed that Ganga Utsav 2023 was also celebrated by various District Ganga Committees across the Ganga Basin. In recent years, Namami Gange has advocated for the decentralization of Ganga-related activities with District Ganga Committees conducting regular meetings marking a substantial achievement. He noted that these meetings are instrumental in fostering a deep connection with the people, paving the way for positive steps in people\’s participation through Ganga Praharis, District Project Officers, Ganga Doots etc.
He noted that International Yoga Day witnessed the participation of at least 5 lakh people, demonstrating resounding support for the Namami Gange Mission. “Our efforts have evolved from the engineering-oriented mission, which focused on the construction of sewage treatment plants to Arth Ganga model, emphasizing community involvement, educational activities, and livelihood generation for local people”, he said. This paradigmatic shift marks a shift from a highly engineering-oriented program to one that prioritizes the connection of the river with the people with employment generation opportunities.
He noted that the population of Ganges River Dolphins has shown a notable increase in Ganga and its tributaries. NMCG has also forged strong partnerships with international organizations, a collaborative effort to transform NMCG into a vibrant ecosystem for the Ganga River. Highlighting the vital role played by a group of dedicated women volunteers along the riverbanks, he mentioned how they have been instrumental in spreading the message of a clean Ganga.
Shri Kumar drew attention to the Dilli Haat-Jalaj project, which showcases products crafted by these women residing in the Ganga Basin, contributing to economic sustainability. Shri Kumar emphasized that NMCG remains steadfast in its commitment to focusing primarily on the tributaries of the Ganga, with a particular emphasis on the Hindon, Kaali Nadi, and Yamuna. He highlighted the recent expansion of the member-cities in the novel initiative River-Cities Alliance.
Ganga Utsav 2023 commenced with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp and Namami Gange Anthem. The event witnessed Flute Recital by acclaimed artist Pt. Ajay Prasanna which enthralled the audience. The audience was captivated by a series of performances, including the enchanting “Yamuna Song” presented by the Bhartandey Group, a traditional Folk Dance from Uttar Pradesh performed by Raag Nritya Kala Manch dance, and a mesmerizing new rendition of the “Namami Gange” song by Mr. Jeet Paramanik.
As part of the celebration, a diverse range of activities were organized to foster a deeper connection between people and rivers, as well as to raise awareness about river rejuvenation. Ganga Utsav 2023 was a vibrant fusion of music, dance, knowledge, culture, and dialogue. Ganga Utsav 2023 concluded with a captivating performance of fusion music by Pandit Siddharta Banerjee.