Frequently Asked Questions…
What is Jeevit Nadi Abhiyaan?
Jeevit Nadi Abhiyan (The Living River Project) is an initiative taken up by the students of Ecological Society, Pune for restoration of highly polluted rivers Mula-Mutha flowing across Pune city.
What is the need for such initiative?
Jeevit Nadi Abhiyan (JNA) believes that the river is reflection of the human society residing on its banks. A polluted river is an alarm to our society about our lifestyle, our approach towards environment and the way we look at future.
A river is the most important natural resource for our city because of which the development of city was possible till date. However, over last few decades the river has become so polluted that it almost looks as drainage canal now.
This affects the public health of the city as well as it seriously compromises future development significantly. Thus an initiative like this is the real need of hour to ensure a better future for our city.
The pollution is due to industries and inefficient government, isn’t it?
Partially true. But there is this big misconception that only these two factors are responsible for polluted river. In case of Pune, the major contribution to the pollution of river is actually the sewage and domestic waste water entering the river without any treatment.
It is important for us to understand that we are all equal contributors for the river pollution and if we are serious about eliminating the river pollution, we all must work collectively.
Blaming others is an easier option, but won’t help us. Rather working together to fulfill our part individually as well as collectively will go a long way.
But there are a lot of other groups / NGOs / Govt. bodies who are also trying to do the same thing.
Yes. Fortunately, there are a number of citizens who are sensitive about this problem and are trying different things through different forums.
JNA strives to bring all such groups on one platform and try to create a public movement to restore the river. JNA believes that best of the best efforts would also fail if there is no public participation in such effort.
Approx. @40-50 Lac people are directly connected to the river and unless majority of this do not feel and act on restoration of the river, this cannot be achieved.
One of the difference in our approach is emphasis on ‘Working at Source’ of pollution rather than ‘Treatment’ of pollution. If majority of people responsibly follow certain guidelines, make some small changes in their lifestyle and stick to it, we believe that the pollutants load can be cut down drastically. And this can become a sustainable solution, which can even act as a role model for other Indian cities.
Does this mean that technological solutions are of no use in this?
No. We do not mean to undermine the importance of technological solutions of effluent treatment to fight the river pollution. But we must understand the limitations of such solutions.
Today there is a large demand supply gap in the area of effluent and sewage treatment. This means the installed capacity of treatment plants is way below (@more than 40%) the actual requirement. So already there is a huge backlog on this front.
Considering the rise in population along with rising trend of use of chemicals and disposable goods etc., it is very unlikely that the said demand supply gap can ever be met in near future.
Even if this gap is met, the cost of running such plants is huge, which again puts a question mark on its economic feasibility.
So considering these limitations, it is prudent to look at the river pollution problem from a completely different perspective of ‘Prevention First’ followed by ‘Treatment’. Let us bring down the rate of generation of pollution to the level where it can be handled effectively by treatment plants.
But how is it possible to reduce the generation of pollution?
By acting at source. If we analyze our daily routine, we will find that we use a number of chemicals every day. Take examples right from tooth paste, soaps, cosmetics, detergents, floor cleaners etc. Each of this is a mixture of a number of chemicals which actually contain some of the most hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals also. Thus, all these chemicals in our daily life finally get drained in the river which causes river pollution of unprecedented level.
Another important point to note here is, these chemicals not only cause river pollution but are also responsible for damaging our health.
There are a number of healthy and natural alternatives for each of these products. These healthy alternatives are good for our health as well as good for the health of river. The river has its own capacity to mitigate the impact of naturally occurring chemicals. But it can’t handle mineral / synthetic and artificially manufactured chemicals. That’s why we need separate treatment process.
It is very much possible to drastically reduce the generation of the pollution by use of natural and environment friendly alternatives in our daily life. Their health benefit comes as an added Bonus!! And on the top of it, these alternatives are found to be much cheaper in cost!!!
Well!! Sounds interesting! Where do I get these alternative products then?
One of the focus area of JNA is to train the people in making these alternatives from the materials available in the open market. Also, those who wish to have readymade products, JNA is in process of developing a proper distribution channel for such products.
OK. What about sewage?
JNA is promoting the concept of Eco-sanitation. There are a lot of different ideas ranging from waterless urinals to dry toilets to sewage treatment based on eco-technologies which are proven solutions. Our effort is to bring these solutions in main stream.
Progressive & Decentralized Treatment would make a great difference in the quantity of sewage getting drained in the river. Implementing individual house level, society level and area level solutions appropriately would almost eliminate the possibility of untreated sewage reaching the river.
Will these initiatives make the river clean and completely pollution free?
To a large extent. But one of the major contributors to the river pollution is also the water run-off from agricultural fields which mixes with river directly from various fields along the bank. This water contains the residual chemical fertilizers used in these fields.
What is the solution on that?
JNA is promoting the concept of ‘Grow your own Food’. This does not literally mean growing everything. This is obviously not possible in urban set up. But it is all about understanding and appreciating the process of what it takes to grow our food.
This would automatically make an individual aware about the importance of organic food. If there is enough demand of organic food in the market created by such aware individuals and families, the farmers would be indirectly compelled as well as benefitted by switching to organic agricultural practices. This would then cut off the use of chemical fertilizers at source itself.
Though this may look a long and far stretched process, this is the only way to address such issues sustainably.
Let us assume that the river becomes clean by following these steps. But there is always a possibility that it will again get polluted.
Our fourth important concept – Eco Infrastructure is of relevance here. The Eco-infrastructure will cover everything needed to maintain and enhance all the above three initiatives at individual as well as social level.
So to restore and maintain the river in its natural and ‘living’ condition, JNA proposes four way plan –
- Chemical-free living
- Grow your own Food and
Well!! This is really encouraging and I find it quite important for the future of our city. How can I become a part of this initiative?
First of all, you can share your mail id and contact numbers on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will register you so that you get all the updates of various activities being conducted by us. We will send you a volunteer information sheet, which will help us understand in what way you can meaningfully engage with us.
We believe that every individual in this city can actually become a volunteer in his/her own capacity. Only need is that you share our concern about the condition of river and are ready to contribute in any capacity towards its betterment.