True friend of a river and eminent lawyer Vikrant Sharma believes that cleaning of River Ganga depends largely upon cleaning of rivers like Hindon. “If water channels and tributaries are not cleaned, large rivers will always remain polluted”, says the Ghaziabad Coordinator of Rashtriya Jal Biradari, a movement for water. Sitting on the banks of River Hindon, Advocate Vikrant Sharma spoke to NEWS MSME Editor Anup Kumar Sinha about his experiences with the river and his plans to revive her. Excerpts:
Rarely do we see in India that a river is kept alive on annual supplements from a big canal even while the natural water stream of the river has receded from the surface. Yes, just kilometers away from India’s capital New Delhi a myth was foisted upon people that Hindon river is alive and money spinning riverside industries and residential colonies were erected in her name.
People have realized now that it is a blatant lie. The very people whose subsistence depends upon the river have almost killed Hindon. She survives somehow on annual discharge of water from Upper Ganga Canal. Industrial Units, municipal corporations, private builders—all have inflicted severe injuries on Hindon river.
Rainfed Hindon river originates in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh and is a tributary of Yamuna river. An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee study by Ashish Ranjan and Mukesh Kumar Singhal has shown that the upper stretch of the river receives large amount of untreated domestic discharge, agricultural runoff and industrial effluents. This area is now considered “the toilet bowl of Western Uttar Pradesh”.
In 2004, Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh conducted a Padyatra (walk on foot) along Hindon banks for four days. I experienced during that period that Hindon’s pollution have wreaked havoc on the people living by her side. Cancer, skin diseases, polluted crop, polluted drinking water, diseased livestock—people face all such problems. It created social problems as well. People didn’t want to marry their children in the families who lived on the river banks. I decided to join Jal Biradari to do something about it. I want to leave a better future for our coming generations.
This river faces three major problems – pollution, depleting water level and encroachment. In the last 25 years a number of sugar industrial units have developed along her banks. Farmers followed suit and started sowing sugarcane only—a crop that requires a lot of ground water. The untreated effluents from the sugar units polluted the water. Sugarcane crop in large area affected the water level of the river. Now, municipal corporations and other private companies have started developing colonies in the dried river bed. This added to the woes of the river. According to our survey, over 125 major sewage canals flow untreated in six districts along the river.
Death of Hindon is not in anybody’s interest. Industries, farmers, over 400 villages and many towns and cities need her water for survival. People have now realized that individual and collective efforts need to be made to revive the river. In Ghaziabad’s Raj Nagar Extension, some societies have set up treatment plants that treat waste water and reuse it for irrigation in parks, toilets, etc. Similarly, in Rajendra Nagar area, people use vegetable waste, etc in vermi-compost and used the same for parks. Similarly, many factories have put sewage treatment plants (STPs) of their own. Such experiments if get larger acceptability in society, we can revive this river in coming years.
The government must ensure that if Ganga is to be cleaned, rivers like Hindon that ultimately carry their water into Ganga through their parent rivers are cleaned first. Early we realize this, the better.