Introduction to the Hindon Yatra
The multi-stakeholder tributary approach to river rejuvenation is gaining momentum across the country. Recent examples include the water quality monitoring stations of National Mission for Clean Ganga, World Wildlife Fund’s clean up of the Ramganga in Uttar Pradesh and the Noyyal River Restoration Federation in Tamil Nadu. The Hindon River, which is a tributary of the Yamuna River, originates in the Saharanpur district and flows across the industrial belt of Western Uttar Pradesh before discharging into the Yamuna River in Noida. Due to urban, agricultural, and industrial waste which is being released without sufficient treatment into its waters, the Hindon is now one of the most polluted stretches in the Ganga basin.
The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) was requested by Mr. Rajendra Singh in May 2015 to support a participatory process to rejuvenate the Hindon. Since then 2030 WRG has held several field missions and meetings with stakeholders from government, civil society, industry and academia. While there are multiple challenges, there are also many good initiatives on the ground. This was the genesis of the Hindon Yatra…First of all, there is a growing civil society movement for Hindon rejuvenation. Several NGOs and individuals have been active for the past 15-20 years. They have documented the state of the river basin through reports, scientific research, videos etc. They also initiated awareness campaigns and environmental education programs for children and youth in schools on the need for water conservation and pollution abatement.
The State Government has demonstrated increased interest and commitment to rejuvenate the Hindon River in an integrated and participatory manner. Proposals have been made by officers of the Irrigation Department for additional water recharge structures, rubber dams and other structural measures to be put in place to increase water availability and environmental flow in the basin. On the water quality side, a rapid assessment study is planned and the State Pollution Control Board is considering a comprehensive monitoring and information system, which will support evidence-based decision making on cost-effective measures and track progress made to rejuvenate the river in the long term.
Also local industry players, particularly paper & pulp mills, have invested in installing water treatment plants in the past 1-2 years as a result of government Charters and Guidelines. An online monitoring system has been put in place which automatically sends data regularly to the State Pollution Control Board. Paper mill owners have taken the lead in taking responsibility for pollution abatement in the Hindon basin and they are keen to show the results of their investments on the reduced water intake (recycling) and improved water quality outflow of their plants.
Traveling Exhibition and Symposium
To showcase the good initiatives currently being taken in the Hindon basin by multiple stakeholders, the 2030 Water Resources Group and its partners are organizing a traveling Hindon Yatra Exhibition & Symposium. The traveling exhibition (Yatra) will cover a period of about three months. It will be inaugurated in Lucknow , followed by a basin-wide Hindon Yatra starting upstream – near the source of the Hindon river – in Saharanpur. It will then travel downstream to visit the following towns: Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida).
In each town a local symposium and exhibition will be held to serve as a platform for stakeholders to come together and address local challenges in the Hindon. Stakeholders will be encouraged to organize a range of activities to sensitize and involve citizens around this time. The Hindon Yatra will end in Delhi with a closing symposium and exhibition, demonstrating the power of partnerships for river rejuvenation and triggering further collaboration between stakeholders in the Hindon and beyond.
The focus of these good practices is on achievements and success stories of the past, work-in-progress initiatives that are currently being implemented and pipe-line projects or plans for the near future (next 1-2 years). A high-level symposium with speakers and participants from government, civil society, industry and academia will be organized on the first day of the exhibition in each city/town. Each city has a local organising committee that is hosting the Yatra to address their local water challenges.
The Advisory Group of water experts endorsed the project, identified potential partners with good practices, reviewed the case studies and identified opportunities for scaling up such multi-stakeholder approaches to river rejuvenation. The group comprises of Rajendra Singh – Tarun Bharat Sangh, Veena Khanduri – India Water Partnership, V. Rajagopalan – Retired Secretary MoEF, Nadeem Khalil – Aligarh Muslim University, Nitin Verma – Sustain Asia, Vivek Kumar – IIT Roorkee, Karishma Bist – FICCI and R.S. Pathak – Retired World Bank Senior Water Expert.