Apart from rejuvenating rivers and waterbodies, cleaning them is another area where The Art of Living is working actively. Says Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “It is important to ensure that the river waters are kept clean. These days a lot of industrial waste is also let into the rivers. The Prime Minister has taken up the project to clean our rivers. For such national projects to be successful, the government’s involvement is vital as also that of NGOs.”
In 2010, the Art of Living launched the Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna campaign to draw attention to the pitiable condition of the river. A staggering 3.6 billion tons of untreated sewage flows daily into the Yamuna and the river supplies 60% of the water needed by the Delhi region. Led by Gurudev, a large crowd of people descended on the ITO ghat in Delhi on March 17, 2010, to clean the Yamuna. The group went into the river in a boat and fished out plastic, clothes, rotting debris, and images of worship from the waters. The team continued to clean the ghats for the next few months, including the Wazirabad, Nizamuddin and Kalindi Kunj 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 the Yamuna river cleaning drive. Millions of Delhi citizens came together to support this project. Several NGOs, corporates, and ministries also extended support to the Yamuna river cleaning.
- 500 tonnes of waste removed
- Promoted environment care through talks to thousands of people, including farmers, parents, professionals and over 200 village representatives
- Many other programs were launched such as the 'Health Walk' and the 'Clean Delhi Drive'
- 108 Lakshmitaru saplings were planted and nurtured
- Immunization programs and medical camps for slum dwellers around the ghats were organized
During his visit to Chennai in May 2017, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar announced the launch of Namma Ooru Namma Kulam - a pond cleaning program. Under this, The Art of Living will clean and rejuvenate 423 water bodies in Chennai. The initiative involves strengthening the bunds of the ponds, removing solid waste, planting trees along the bunds and reaching out to the community through specific engagements.
Himanshu Kalra is the COO of The Art Of Living foundation. He was formerly the VP of Deutsche Bank and an IIT Delhi graduate. He is currently heading one of the country's 'River Rejuvenation' program and is also the initiator of the 'Startup Rekindle' program for entrepreneurs.