BY AAKANKSHA KHAJURIA
New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Ex-Armymen, who are slated to embark on a 5,000-km Ganga parikrama next month in a bid to map the pollution of the nation’s third largest river, are now facing cash shortage and could have to cancel the seven-month-long walkathon if the funds do not start trickling-in.
These daring veterans were to start their journey on November 25 from the holy river’s genesis ‘Gomukh’ to ‘Gangasagar’, the point at which it merges into the sea in the Bay of Bengal, and then return to the starting point.
“While we were doing fine up until the pandemic started; post the reopening, we are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain it. Many have come forward from different religions and countries but the response from within India has been tepid,” said Colonel Manoj Keshwar, Founder of Atulya Ganga told IANS.
He added, “We will try to manage it for few weeks, if the funds do not start trickling in even by then, we may be forced to cancel the parikrama. We do not want to give up or stop until we have covered 5,000 km track up and down the Ganges, but we cannot do that without financial support.”
Colonel Manoj Keshwar further said that the team has approached the Tourism Ministry, Jal Shakti Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board and met with various ministers and stakeholders to seek help.
‘Mundaman Parikrama’ will take around seven months to complete, during which the veterans plan to hold public meetings to mobilise participation of more people living along the river towards the cause that has both environmental and religious significance.
The team plans to hold public meetings and visit schools along the river course for creating mass awareness.
A tracker will be developed to keep a tab on an increase or decrease in pollution in and around the river. A report in this regard will be handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office and other ministries concerned.
As per the rules of ‘Mundaman Parikrama’, the person engaged in the exercise is not allowed to cross the river at any point, except at Gomukh and Gangasagar. The person can move away from the banks for only a maximum of one yojan or 13 km and must see the holy river once in 24 hours.
The team will undertake the Parikrama for at least 10 years. Records will be maintained to cross check on progress in pollution reduction in and around the river.
“Even when we were in Army, we always thought of Ganga as a saviour, the source of nourishment for millions living on its banks. It was perhaps this strong sentiment towards the river that motivated us to organise the first ever Mundaman Parikrama. The aim was to make ganga cleaning a fun activity, while making it a great learning experience as well,” Keshwar added.
(Aakanksha khajuria can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
BY AAKANKSHA KHAJURIA