H. Subramaniam
April 5, 2016

The Clean Ganga project is one of the most challenging and complex environmental engineering project in the world. A lot of time and attention has gone into developing the right technology and execution framework for involving public and private entities in the project. We have discussed many times on the same, and will leave that issue aside in this column.

Such a gigantic project needs to become a movement. Ganga has had a deep emotional and cultural connect with millions of people. As the most populated river basin in the world, the river provides sustenance to over 400 million people. From time immemorial, it has been at the core of civilization and development for the population along its banks. Perceived by people as a sacred entity, the river is respected and worshipped by millions as "Ma Gange".

Any initiative to clean the river must take into account the age-old practices, attitudes and behavior patterns of diverse set of people. Adequate level of awareness about issues, harmful impact, options available and anticipated gains must be driven through. This must lead to a high level of people's participation making this a truly community initiative.

There is a need to have a strong communication and IEC effort to drive people's participation. This needs to move to a sub-conscious and multi-level approach, in order to be successful. A number of initiatives are needed for the same.

The Namami Gange Theme Song was launched in February this year. Composed by Trichur Brothers, the song includes Adi Sankara's Gangashtakam (in Sanskrit), which reflects on our culture. A group of 20 musicians feature in the video, whose visuals would cover the communities on the coast of Ganges starting from its origin - the Gangotri - to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal. The anthem leaves a deep spiritual impact on the listeners.

Field level photo exhibitions have been organized at Haridwar, Allahabad, Garhmukteshwar and Anupshahr. Nirichhan Abhiyan has been started at Garhmukteshwar and Anupshahr with activities like painting competition, water quality training, plantation, Ghat Sewa and Ganga Chaupal. Exhibitions and other activities were organized during the Magh Mela, Allahabad and the Ardh Kumbh, Haridwar.

Various stakeholders like religious leaders, NGOs and private organizations are being involved in this movement. That will ensure that the Clean Ganga movement becomes multi-dimensional and can enter the fabric of life and thought in these areas. That will be essential to bring about behavioral and attitudinal changes in the communities along the river.

The Ganga Rejuvenation Project has to go beyond refreshing the river. It needs to rejuvenate the minds and thoughts of the millions of people that depend on the river. Such freshness in ideas and approach is needed to make this initiative a success.

H Subramaniam H. Subramaniam is Editor, EverythingAboutWater magazine. He can be reached at

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