Around 500 volunteers carrying jute trash bags scourged the banks of Dikrong River to participate in the ‘Dikrong River Clean-up’ carried out near the weekly Saturday market here Tuesday.
Hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi University Research Scholars’ Forum and Youth Mission for Clean River, the river cleanup saw a huge participation from the students from RGU, NERIST, Venkateshwara Open University, local people residing nearby and volunteers from Saturday Market Group and Doimukh Market Committee.
Briefing about the goal and purpose of the clean-up event RGU’s Social Work Department’s Assistant Professor John Gangmei said the idea of the event is not to work ‘for’ but ‘together’ with the community so that the cleaning becomes a habit and not a one-day stunt.
Stressing on the need to have a better world, cleaner water and a great ecology, he said “Today we are here at Dikrong, we are not the only one affected. We have the upstream and downstream so the river problem does not end here. The problem exists till it reaches the bay of the Bengal, joining the Brahmaputra in Assam and so on.”
Gangmei said the duty of protecting the river does not only lie on the Government, but on the local dwellers here that the river provides. It is the essential duty of the market committee, shopkeepers, daily wage earners, picnickers, students, civil organizations and various other stakeholders to weekly or monthly organize such clean drives.
YMCR Chairman S D Loda applauding the huge turn up that came to clean the river today, shared that when he first started the movement in 2017 he did not think that it would get such popularity and mass participation.
Addressing the volunteers, Loda said children and youths should be involved in such initiatives to inculcate awareness about River cleanliness from a young age itself.
“Growing up as a young boy in Itanagar, I used to see a lot of streams and rivers which nowadays have become extinct due to human encroachments. This is the saddest thing that one can do to a River, which has played a very important role in our ancestors’ civilization and our development,” Loda said.
He appealed the people of the state to realize the vanishing of rivers and take up voluntary initiatives to protect it.
“It really saddens me to see the conditions of our rivers. People have mistaken our water bodies as garbage dumping areas,” Loda lamented. “With the groundwater depletion in various parts of the country, keeping our rivers clean is the need of the hour and people should start taking it seriously before it is too late, he added.
“There is no point of planning about your children’s future if you cannot ensure them a safe and healthy environment to live with. If the maximum of rivers gets depleted someday and there is no source of drinking water we should be answerable to our upcoming generation,” the YMCR Chairman said.
Also present on the occasion, Saturday Market proprietor Nabam Tade thanking the volunteers who took the concern to clean the trash said earlier he himself took up several initiatives to control the inflow of picnickers in the riverside so that less litter is dumped.
“But later after the establishment of Saturday market which became a hub for vegetable and other household items for RGU, NERIST, ITBP, NDRF, NIT, Nirjuli and the local people here it became quite an impossible task to keep an everyday check of the river bank. By this time, it had become a public utility place which often needs huge manpower and govt attention to care for it,” Tade said.
He also expressed Govt apathy over no fund provision to construct protection walls along the river banks which is very necessary. He shared that he did not get any Govt aid to build the protection walls that he has constructed.
Doimukh Market Committee General Secretary, Naga Taha said the river is not only polluted due to polythene or garbage dumping but due to earth cutting as well. He expressed hope that in days to come more of such cleanup drives would come out from their locality.
RGURSF General Secretary Prem Taba said one of the prime objectives of the mass drive is to make the local residents and other stakeholders along the banks of the river to realize the importance of the river and avoid dumping near it or into it.
Taba informed that a week before the clean-up, a door-to-door campaign was conducted in Doimukh inviting people residing nearby to help clean the litter from the riverside.
“Leaflets were also distributed to spread awareness. This exercise was carried out as our agenda is not just to clean the river for a day, but to engage local communities, get them to participate and help them to begin organize hence achieving a sustainable model of waste cleaning,” the RGURSG GS informed.
As a beneficiary of the Dikrong River, we believe that a river is a river that must flow, but sadly this is not true for Dikrong. Over the years, this once a pristine river is experiencing severe degradation due to unchecked festival rituals, mining and other commercial activities, he added.
Exuding hope over the mass participation, he said these huge turn up within a few days of declaring the event is evidence that there are people who dump garbage recklessly and people who are concerned about it and will take initiative to set it right.
“I hope today’s cleanup triggers a chain reaction among other people who reside near the rivers in various parts of the state and other organizations, inspiring them to participate in such awareness events and help in saving our lifelines,” Taba said.
Yura Bathey RGURSF co-convenor mentioned that Government should also think about constructing waste treatment plants to meet the amount of garbage that are produced and collected every day.
The collected garbage about two trucks was handed over to the Urban Development and Housing Department, YupiA. No single-use plastic was used on the occasion.
The event was organized by RGURSF and YMCR. Supported by DMC, NRSA, RGUSU, SUN, Renu Beverage and VoU.