The United Nations (UN) has recognised the Namami Gange initiative to rejuvenate India’s sacred River Ganga as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships to revive the natural world.
Namami Gange was selected from over 150 such initiatives from 70 countries across the globe. They were selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global movement coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
UN recognition for Namami Gange
It is designed to prevent and reverse the degradation of natural spaces across the planet. The recognised initiatives, including Namami Gange, will now be eligible to receive UN support, funding or technical expertise.
“Restoring the health of the Ganges, India’s holy river, is the focus of a major push to cut pollution, rebuild forest cover and bring a wide range of benefits to the 520 million people living around its vast basin. It also aims to revive key wildlife species, including river dolphins, softshell turtles, otters, and the hilsa shad fish,” it said.
Top-10 projects globally
Other initiatives recognised by the UN are Trinational Atlantic Forest Pact, Abu Dhabi Marine Restoration, Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace, Multi-Country Mountain Initiative, Small Island Developing States Restoration Drive, Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, Central American Dry Corridor, Building with Nature in Indonesia and Shan-Shui Initiative in China.
Namami Gange Director General G Asok Kumar received the award at a function at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada, on 14th December 2022, the World Restoration Day.
Testimony to the efforts
“The recognition of Namami Gange as one of the top-10 ecosystem restoration initiatives in the world bears testimony to the concerted efforts being made by the National Mission for Clean Ganga, Government of India for the restoration of the riverine ecosystem. I hope that our endeavours provide a roadmap for other similar interventions across the globe,” Kumar said.
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Restoring Ganga and its ecosystem
“Our projects are designed to ensure that no untreated water- sewage or industrial effluent flows to Ganga river. 176 STPs with capacity to treat over 5000 Million Litres per Day are being constructed. The concerted efforts of the Mission have resulted in significantly enhanced capacity for treatment of sewage and industrial effluents in the Ganga basin; improvement in river water quality and biodiversity, manifested as increased population of Dolphins and its juveniles, Turtles, Otters, Gharials and fishes like Hilsa; and over 30000 hectare afforested among others,” he added.
Namami Gange Programme was started in 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after recognising the need to rejuvenate River Ganga.
Youth involvement in keeping Ganga clean
Kumar said that water recycling is being pushed very hard as part of the circular economy and steps are being taken to conserve biodiversity and protect spring sheds, etc.
“The youth are engaged in diverse activities through trained volunteer cadres like Ganga Praharis, Ganga Doots, Ganga Quest etc. who through sheer passion have joined us in protecting the biodiversity of River Ganga. The rescue of Dolphins by these volunteers in the Ganga Basin is a case in point which has resulted in increased sighting of the aquatic species in the river,” he said.
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