By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 7 Dec: Student activist group, Making a Difference by Being the Difference (MAD), has accused the State Government, at a press conference, of making hollow promises on Rispana rejuvenation. Pointing out that not an inch had moved to rejuvenate Rispana since July, the students said that senseless pollution of natural resources was unacceptable to them. The group has announced that it plans to start cleaning small stretches of the river on its own and has announced a hundred-member clean up on Sunday in Deepnagar, one of the worst stretches of the river.
For the last seven years, MAD has been campaigning for the rejuvenation of Rispana and Bindal rivers and was instrumental in getting sanctioned the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, study that first said Rispana has potential for revival in 2014, following which the Union of India declared the two rivers part of the Ganga basin and marked a copy of the same to MAD in 2016.
When the State Government accepted MAD’s petition to work on Rispana rejuvenation and involved it in the planning of the same, the group claimed that it did not know that the efforts would completely cease after the July 2018 plantation. Instead, when the High Court asked the State to clear encroachments on river beds, the State came forward with an anti-environment ordinance. The move has not gone unnoticed by nature lovers, claims MAD.
Pointing out how, earlier this year, the Chief Minister had publicly remarked that MAD was responsible for bringing Rispana’s renewed future up-close to city residents, MAD members stated that throughout the latter part of last year till the middle of this one, there were monthly meetings that were convened on Rispana’s rejuvenation by no less than the highest bureaucrat of the State – the Chief Secretary. All departments were in attendance. Every single time, MAD yearned for concrete steps such as cleaning of the river, tapping of drains, recharge of springs, further hydrological inputs, implementation of the NIH Report, etc. Every time when the tea cups were sipped out of utility, departments shouted for money, and more money. One wanted to ‘beautify’ Rispana’s source like Sahastradhara. Another wanted to dam it. Amidst all the cacophony, there was some hope, MAD had thought. In late November 2018, when MAD members inspected the areas where plantation was carried out in July, it was noticed that in areas near Tapobhoomi Ashram, no maintenance had been done and most plants were lost.
Gayatri whose message on Rispana was echoed by the Prime Minister in Mann ki Baat is also an active MAD member and she echoed the sentiment that despite the Prime Minister’s appeal, the State has not moved with the right intent to tackle chronic issues. MAD hopes that its renewed movement on Rispana will wake the Government out of its slumber and bring some attention back on the river’s rejuvenation. Members also appealed to Dehradun to actively join efforts to rejuvenate Rispana. Those who addressed the press conference included members Gayatri, Vinod Bagiyal, Chetna Bhatt, Mohit Arora among others.