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#RallyForRivers With Sadhguru


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Green earth, fertile soil, healthy ecosystems and at the heart of them all… healthy rivers……………….What price can you put on all this ?……….You’re right, they are invaluable. And we are at a point in time in the history of India where we can pitch in and ensure that we as a nation take the right decisions and put in the work over the next 25 years to ensure that we pass on a “sujalam, sufalam” country to future generations, rather than simply press children to sing such words, even as they know nothing other than a degraded land.

Sadhguru is driving across 16 states, asking people to give a missed call on 80098009 to ask governments to develop a comprehensive policy on rivers. He hopes to get 30 crore missed calls.

I attended one of his events in Mumbai. I’m more or less with him on his demand for 1km wide tree plantations on both banks of all rivers. The only modification I want is this:

On government land I want afforestation with flora that is native to the local ecosystem. Round my home in Seawoods ,in recent years the forestry department has over-enthusiastically planted almond and coconut trees in the mangrove forests. Also flame of the forest, copper pod, bougainvilla and oleander plantations along the highway adjacent to the marshes are spreading into the wetlands. The danger of invasive species totally overrunning local flora and fauna is very real and an ecological disaster is waiting to happen if government agencies in a hurry to achieve aggressive afforestation targets take to growing a few fast growing species everywhere.

All evening on Monday,the Sadhguru himself didn’t utter one single word about inter-linking rivers. However, one of the celebrities to sing at the occasion did a big push sale of the idea in the name of national-amity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for water security, just as I want everybody to have access to adequate food. An access that is not in any-way mediated by the government, so that there is never any fear of government using access to basics for survival as a way to suppress its own people. I’m also not against sharing of water. It’s very much our culture to welcome people with a drink of water. The problem with the interlinking business is that it serves some powerful interests in government very well and the building industry, even as it will cause tremendous ecological damage, the price of which will mostly be paid by ordinary people.

Each river’s waters are pretty unique on account of the terrain through which the waters flow. Thus the difference in tastes. This chemical difference, means different microorganisms occur in them naturally, so different fish, snails….blah, blah,blah….so different food chains/food webs. That’s why all wild-life and flora are not the same everywhere. Also water flows at different speeds in different reaches of any river. This becomes important in view of the spawning habits of various organisms. Massive civil works change the flow speeds and cause ecological damage in addition to physical problems such as siltation. The proposed mixing of river-waters will spell death to many species of aquatic plants and animals.

What is proposed to be achieved via river-linking, ie reaching adequate drinking and agricultural water to water-scarce regions could just as well be  achieved by other less ecologically damaging ways. And without the massive human suffering. Relatively inexpensive ways by which people themselves can help themselves. The only problem is that some rather powerful people in our country will not be able to make money.

Water in reservoirs and flowing in rivers are subject to evaporation. However, if we change our thinking and store water in underground aquifers we can easily access them when needed. Even when the monsoons fail we are unlikely to be very badly affected. We could even transfer water from high rainfall areas to water-scarce areas.And this approach would cost nothing like the river-linking approach and achieve all the same objectives with none of the water-wars and land-wars.

While the Sadhguru himself didn’t speak of river-linking, he did speak of making compromises……As long as the compromises are not introducing invader species into fragile ecosystems or inter-linking rivers, both ideas that I’m 100% against, I’m happy to support the Sadhguru in his #RallyForRivers.

The Sadhguru attracts a formidable group of people round him. A few I suspect want nothing other than river-linking and so are happy to financially contribute to this rally. How to protect ourselves against a few people’s greed bothered me till I read this :Link 

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While I’ve never had an occasion to speak to the Sadhguru, and so have no personal assessment of him, or knowledge of what he might want heart of hearts or what he will sacrifice,I did once spend a day in Rajender Singhji’s company. I can be trusted to speak my mind come whatever. But its really easy to dismiss my words as that from a light-weight. I’m not wise in the ways of government…..But Dr Rajender Singhji is a totally different kettle of fish. I got to compare and contrast the difference in our skills while facing the local MP who was giving the old ’60 years of Congress mismanagement can’t be set right in a short while’ line with respect to the clean-up of the Dahisar river. Rajender Singhji was demonstrating how River Parliament is set-up and made to work.

Thankfully Rajender Singhji now has intervened to speak forcefully about the ecological damage interlinking rivers will cause.

I wonder if speaking to him about the plantation of non-native species by the forestry department will bring about a change ?Last time I spoke to him about how local people were barred by fences and gates from accessing the marshes, but builders had free access to dump building materials to choke off access to saline water and to kill off the mangroves. Now the gates stand open, allowing free access to all.

Definitely #RallyForRivers but keep a sharp look-out to ensure that a few vested interests don’t hijack our enthusiasm to leave behind a better earth to push ahead their construction projects in our name. Let’s start by locating the nearest river to home and paying it a visit. Let’s see how we can enjoy the fruits of development without wanton destruction of our natural wealth.

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About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

2 Responses to #RallyForRivers With Sadhguru

  1. Prakash says:

    I agree with you. …but rally for rivers as an idea looks good, but how far is it going to be really implemented. Planting trees on both sides of the river to save water flow has not been proved scientifically. But in coimbatore where sadguru’s asharam is located has been identified as forest land which has been grabbed allegedly.

    • Keerthika Singaravel says:

      Prakash, in many places such as Mumbai, rivers are being built over. Making certain a belt of native vegetation is planted on either side of all rivers and streams will save them from being concreted over. That’s my reason for supporting this idea. Also, these green areas can become defacto nature trails, and jogging tracts etc. Generally places where people could spend time close to nature, within the concrete jungles that are generally our Indian cities.
      On matters pertaining to hydrology, I’m more inclined to take advice and be guided by Rajender Singhji and I really think the only way to permanently rejuvenate rivers and the earth is to focus on regenerating and replenishing ground water.
      I’m a civil engineer but I’m no fan of brute exercise of force against nature. So no large scale interlinking of rivers for me. I’d rather opt for more sophisticated technologies to achieve the same purported results.
      #RallyForRivers is our political system at work. As long as it delivers something I value, I’m willing to support it. Should I see it as a cover for select group interests to drive their agenda, I’m out.
      I simply don’t know the Sadhguru well enough to know what he is about and how far he will go. But I did note he is able to influence people with both political and money power.
      Lets wait and watch what happens.

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