Eco Friends conducted a massive Ganga Clean-Up Campaign on April 19 and 20, 2004. The objective was to make the 10 km stretch of Ganga in Kanpur visibly clean by removing dead bodies and other solid trash from the river. The campaign also aimed to sensitize the masses that Ganga, which is our lifeline and heritage, has been polluted beyond measure. We also wanted to attract attention of the government authorities towards the sources of Ganga pollution and evolve a long-term strategy to control growing pollution in Ganga. Also to bring to the fore that the court orders carry no meaning
DAY ONE (Apr.19)
Eco Friends fished out 25 corpses, 100 kgs of polybags and huge quantity of worship material from Ganga
Eco Friends fished out 25 corpses from a 4 km stretch of Ganga in Kanpur (Old Ganga Ghat Bridge to Massacre ghat). These decaying bodies were given a proper burial at Massacre ghat of Kanpur.
The Ganga Praharis (Ganga Keepers) of Massacre Ghat, Gola Ghat, Shukla Ganj and Dapka ghat took part in the cleaning campaign. The Ganga Praharis under the leadership of Bhagwan Das had made all the preparations a day before. 19th morning the river watchdogs started their Operation Clean Ganga and fished out the corpses they came across between Shukla Ganj and Massacre ghat. All these bodies were assembled in a huge pit and then covered with the soil at Massacre ghat.
It was Sattu Amavasya, a bathing festival, on 19th. Hundreds of devotees congregated on the banks of the river and littered the banks with polythene bags, idols, bottles, clothes and other waste materials. Eco Friends' team along with some volunteers picked up the waste and cleaned the banks. Around 100 kgs of polybags were collected from the river and its banks. We also distributed handbills to the devotees, pasted thousands of pamphlets in densely populated areas of the town and made announcements by using the PA system.
While talking to media, Rakesh K Jaiswal, Executive Secretary of Eco Friends expressed his deep concern about the pathos of river Ganga in Kanpur. He said, "People as well as government authorities are responsible for the deplorable state of Ganga. The river will soon become the carrier of only city sewage, toxic industrial effluent and dumping ground for dead bodies and all kinds of dirt, filth and trash, if urgent preventive and remedial measures are not taken."
DAY 2 (Apr 20th)
Eco Friends fished out 35 corpses, 80 kgs of polybags and 100 kgs of worship material from Ganga.
Ganga Praharis fished out 35 corpses from a 6 km stretch of Ganga in Kanpur (Massacre ghat to Sidhanath Ghat, Jajmau). The retrieved corpses were buried in a pit at Dapka ghat. 5 animals' carcasses were buried in a separate pit at the same place. Eco Friends' team also removed approximately 80 kgs of polybags and 100 kgs of worship material.
Through this campaign, we succeeded in garnering the support of the Ganga communities whom we reckon as the custodians of the river. But we failed to evoke any interest in government agencies.
The Ganga Clean-up Campaign got wide coverage through media. A team of filmmakers from Bullseye TV - Sky One (UK) also documented the cleaning program.