French girls Laure de Rotalier and Agnes Saule after traveling
several countries came to Kanpur on April 12, 2004 to study Ganga
and its religious significance. Their curiosity to know more about
Ganga drew their attention towards Eco Friends. Before coming
to India they collected information about Eco Friends and its
activities through net. They spent 3 days with Eco Friends and
shared their experiences with us.
de Rotalier did her Scientific Baccalaureate when she was
18 years old. Then she spent 6 years in an Engineering School
(ESCOM), which is a Superior High School of Mineral and Organic
Chemistry. During her engineering she spent one year in a company,
which produces paints. She studied ways to degrade colors by the
method of Fenton (Iron + Peroxide) in Barcelona, Spain. She specializes
in Biotechnology and Environment. She completed her Diploma in
Chemical Engineering in September 2003.
Saule did her Literature Baccalaureate when she was 18 years
old. Then she went for a 5 years degree course in Political Science.
She specialized in Journalism and Management of Projects in developing
countries. Simultaneously she did her Masters in English from
Sordonne University, Paris.
is the objective of your tour and which places will you be traveling?
had opportunities to know different places and cultures during
our school days. We always dreamt of traveling to different places
and learning new things. In the year 2001 we decided to travel
for 12 months with an objective to learn different cultures and
lifestyles and we selected water as a subject of our study. We
aim to make French students realize the importance of water.
kind of water problem you have in France?
Laure: The major sources of water supply are rainwater, ground water
and river water. The quality of water is better than what is found
elsewhere. Problem is over-consumption. The extraction of ground
water is very high which leads to shortages during summer. French
pay water tax according to the quantity they consume i.e. around
100 Euros for 4 people in 3 months.
Agnes: The use of pesticides by the farmers is a major concern. The pollution
level of our ground water is going up. Nitrate has been reported
in the ground water of some areas.
countries have you been to and where will you go next?
have been to Morocco to study the use of water in deserts and
how nomads live in scarcity of water. We went to Lebanon, Jordan
and Syria. These countries face conflicts over sharing of rivers’
waters. In Kenya we found that people were afflicted with several
water borne diseases like typhoid, malaria etc.
go to China to study the issues related with pricing of water
and dams. In Chile we’ll study the quality of water in cities
and in Peru the quality of seawater.
will you make use of your experiences?
different schools in and around Paris sponsor us. These schools
want us to educate their students on water issues. When we go
back we’ll sensitize the children of France on water issues
of the world. We’ll teach them the importance of water and
involve them in environmental issues. Children of France do not
care for water, it’s important for them to realize the importance
of water and evolve strategies to save water for future.
also sensitize a group of 400 friends and family people whom we
met during travel. We’ll do this through:
and Presentations on water
all experiences and data on website
on websites, dissemination of articles etc.
also want to increase the efforts of Kenyan NGO (VVIEW) working
for water quality improvement and sponsor an NGO in India working
for the protection of river Ganga.
places did you visit in India? What are your experiences about
been to New Delhi, Agra and Fathepur Sikri. In order to study
the cultures prevailing along Ganga and quality of Ganga waters
we went to Varanasi, Allahabad and Kanpur.
of the three towns we found Varanasi to be most religious place
with several beautiful temples. In Varanasi we realized the importance
of river for Indians. But one thing we found quite paradoxical
that the people who worshipped the river also polluted it. People
wash clothes, bathe, use soaps and detergents in the river. In
Varanasi Ganga can be seen littered with worship materials like
flowers, garlands, incense sticks, candles, plastic bags etc.
At Allahabad, Ganga looks smaller than Yamuna. This we found contrary
to our imagination that Ganga was a huge river. But we liked Sangam
(the meeting point of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarswati).
is horrible in Kanpur. It’s polluted beyond imagination.
We read about Ganga as a holy river. But we feel sad to see the condition of Ganga. We could have never imagined that such a sacred
river would be so polluted. We don’t understand why people
throw dead bodies in the river. They should come and see that
dogs and pigs eat these bodies. It’s disgusting. Fishermen,
washer-men and leather industries add immensely to its pollution.
Ganga in Kanpur looks bad with dark viscous water and also it
smells bad. People pollute the river and they don’t care.
are happy to see an organization, which is struggling hard to
bring some changes in the society. We appreciate Eco Friends for
its efforts to de-pollute Ganga by involving various stakeholders,
especially children. It’s nice to see people who try to
make changes. We’re happy to see Eco Friends working in
villages for getting them clean water and improving their life
was your imagination about Ganga before you saw the real Ganga?
had imagined Ganga to be a clean and beautiful river.
are lucky to have such a nice river with beautiful temples, ghats,
and a lot of activities, festivals. You should preserve it.