Driving a massive river cleaning drive
Delhi depends on the Yamuna River for more than 60 percent of its water-related needs. The river is greatly significant for the economic and ecological needs of the region and its people. However, over the years huge amounts of chemicals, plastic and other non-biodegradable pollutants have disturbed the ecological balance of the river. More than half of the estimated 3.6 billion tonnes of sewage produced daily in Delhi flow into the Yamuna untreated. Numerous attempts to rectify this have not had much success.
River cleaning campaign
On March 16, 2010 at PuranaQila (Old Fort), New Delhi, thousands of people from Delhi, senior government officials, dignitaries and artists, pledged their support of an environmental project, ‘MeriDilliMeri Yamuna’ (My Delhi My Yamuna) launched by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of The Art of Living. The aim was this project was to mobilize the citizens of Delhi to clean the river.
Addressing the gathering, Sri Sri said, ‘‘We have always used the water of holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna to purify ourselves, but today we have reached a point where we have to purify this water. So we are waging a war against the pollution in the Yamuna. Millions have been spent on cleaning the Yamuna but nothing has happened. It’s not only the government that can do it. We will have to come together. I invite industry, civil society, Delhi government and Government of India to take it as an emergency.’’
The event started with ‘Shankhnaad’, where people blew conch shells along with Sri Sri, followed by a musical play by Ability Unlimited, depicting the current state of the Yamuna and the consequences of this, ending with a film about how other rivers have been cleaned up.
Cleaning the river bank
The following morning, on March 17, 2010, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar personally started the cleaning of the ITO ghat. The cleaning of the ghats went on for eight days and took place at a different venue every day, including the ghats at Wazirabad, Nizamuddin, KalindiKunj, Kudesiaghat, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Yamuna Bazar and Okhla Dhobi ghat.
Volunteers worked round the clock to spread awareness about this campaign. They ran free breath-water-sound workshops for villagers, special workshops for children and gave talks to create awareness and encourage people to join in. Millions of Delhi citizens came together to support this project.
Partners in this initiative included UNESCO, Ability Unlimited, Delhi Jal Board, Ministry of Forests and Environment, Max Healthcare, Philips, The Times of India, Star News, State Bank of India, Bajaj Allianz and PVR Cinemas. The project is now a full-fledged Citizens' Action Plan.
Some of our activities
- Motivated 2150 children to participate in MDMY through special workshops
- Promoted environment care through talks to 1,300 people including farmers, parents, professionals (National Thermal Power Corporation), 200 village representatives
- Held customized workshops for 525 people from underprivileged sections, to encourage greater participation
Under the MeriDilliMeri Yamuna initiative, many other programs were launched such as the 'Health Walk' and the 'Clean Delhi Drive.'