Pune, 28th January 2024: The three-day event, “Rights of Rivers, My Responsibility,” held from January 26th to 28th, witnessed a fervent call for river conservation and activism. Organized by the Pune River Revival Group, comprising over 60 social and environmental organizations, scientists, experts, and individuals, the campaign aimed to raise awareness about the deplorable state of rivers.
26th January: Campaign Kickoff with Eminent Speakers
On Republic Day, the campaign was inaugurated at Gokhalenagar. Internationally recognized River Researcher Parineeta Dandekar, renowned radio jockey RJ Sangram, and dynamic businessman Tanmay Kanitkar led the inaugural ceremony. Students from the Justine Dance academy marked the beginning with energetic performances on river-themed songs in Bengali, Hindi, and Marathi.
Parineeta Dandekar emphasized India’s historical reverence for rivers, citing references from the Ramayana and Rigveda. She stressed the urgent need for a third-party monitoring system for water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, and decentralized effluent treatment plants.
Tanmay Kanitkar, an E-Governance expert, drew parallels between stagnant rivers and stagnant data in government offices. RJ Sangram highlighted the increasing demand for environmental inclusion in political party agendas.
27th January: Pune River Revival’s 700th Day of Chain Fasting
The campaign marked its 700th day with a unique chain fasting movement, possibly the longest in India, focused on river revival. The movement garnered widespread support, with over 200 individuals fasting for over 90 days or continuously for 10 days. The fasters sent emails to political leaders, urging environmental consideration in election manifestos.
Various performances, including poetry and songs related to rivers and the environment, added a cultural touch to the event. Children’s performances, both instrumental and vocal, stole the show.
28th January: Conclusion with a Pledge for River Rights
The concluding day featured a gathering of organizations and individuals actively working on rivers in the Bhima Basin. Jalbiradari President Narendra Chugh, Jalbiradari Coordinator Dr. Sumant Pande, RJ Sangram, and Pune River Revival’s Mukund Mavalankar graced the event.
Narendra Chugh provided insights into river reports created by citizens with local government support, and an extension of two more years was given to civil society to formulate action plans for the rivers. RJ Sangram promised to work towards improving river conditions if elected.
Rajendra Singh, emphasizing India’s historical connection with rivers, presented three fundamental rights of rivers. He stressed the importance of maintaining the natural flow, unobstructed flow, and the health of the river, advocating for a declaration on the “Rights of Rivers.” The declaration, featuring guidelines like preserving the natural flow and avoiding sand removal during dredging, will be submitted to authorities on February 14th, 2024.
The event concluded with a promise from Rajendra Singh to support the Bhima Basin Citizens in their fight for the “Rights of Rivers.”