Seventeen-year-old Shantanu Adhicary is a 12th class student of Sheiling House School, Kanpur. His honest and committed efforts as a Ganga Ambassador made us to delve deep into his mind.

Here is what we found out after interviewing him.

Where did you spend your childhood?

I grew up in the once-green ambience of Azad Nagar, Kanpur. When I was a child we had territories of our own where we could play. Now the vehicular traffic and mushrooming apartments have left us with no space.

How did you get inclined towards environmental issues?

It came naturally to me. Since standard fourth I have been taking part in exhibitions related to pollution issues. I think I have responded to the changing atmosphere. The problems that I saw being created by increasing traffic fleet, drinking water contamination, consumption of pan masala and smoking forced me to think about environment destruction.

How do you see the changes taking place in Kanpur?

I think Kanpur has progressed industrially. But morally and environmentally there has been a downslide. The people here have detached themselves from nature and environment.

On the surface, vehicular traffic has increased manifold, garbage dumps have also mushroomed and the pan masala culture has taken the Kanpurites in its grip.

What do you think about Ganga?

When I used to go to the Ganga for Durga idol visarjan, I used to take note of the pollution in Ganga. Then I had a chance to visit the pollution hotspots of Ganga when Eco Friends organised a two-day workshop on October 23-24, 2002. I was really alarmed to see the sorry state of the river. Eco Friends revealed to me something which I couldn’t have discovered on my own. It showed to me the Sisamau drain, the TB drain finding its way into Ganga and the condition of water intake point near Bhairon ghat.

Whom do you blame for the sorry picture of Ganga today?

We ourselves are to be blamed as much as are the industries. We throw garbage, polybags and toxic-laden idols in it and these go a long way in polluting the river. Today, it has become very important that the faith people associate with Ganga should be used in such a way that they start realising that their religious practices are actually polluting the river.

What do you feel about Eco Friends concept of Ganga Ambassador?

It is a very good concept. Actually, the good thing about this is that we children feel important as we are entrusted with a major responsibility. The badge of Ganga Ambassador, the very name enthuses us to work towards safeguarding the Ganga from pollution.

But I also feel that these badges have been given to children who do not deserve wearing it. They hardly think about the Ganga.

According to you, what is the role of Ganga Ambassadors?

To spread the message of protecting Ganga from pollution. Ganga Ambassadors cannot go about picking up polybags floating on the river or retrieving dead bodies. But they can ask their families and their neighbourhoods not to profane the Ganga by throwing garbage into it. Even if you are able to change one person, it would make a difference somewhere.

How far do you think you have been successful in spreading the message of Ganga depollution as a Ganga Ambassador?

I think I am performing my duty as a Ganga Ambassador pretty well. I have been trying to mobilise my friends and teachers from other schools to join the movement of Eco Friends. Whenever I am campaigning for Eco Friends, I ask people what they think about the Ganga pollution and tell them how they can contribute in making Ganga clean.

How does environmental protection figure in the career that you would pursue in the future?

Pollution affects us all wherever we are. So whichever career I pursue, I will endeavour to incorporate environmental protection in it and make it a top priority.


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