On 2nd October 2023, a momentous event unfolded at the sacred ghats of the River Godavari. Volunteers from over twenty-five diverse organizations converged for the launch of the Aviral Godavari Mission, dedicated to ensuring that the River Godavari flows freely in all her majestic splendour before the Kumbh Mela in 2027.
At the forefront of this endeavour was The Satsang Foundation (TSF), playing a pivotal role in inaugurating MyBhoomi, an initiative that envisages the cleaning of the environment. Over 160 dedicated TSF volunteers, amongst other enthusiastic locals, as well as NGOs from Nashik, participated in a remarkable 10+ kilometres plogging initiative from Anandwalli to Ramtirth, over a total of 17 collection points. It was a heartwarming sight to witness saints, community members, government officials, and celebrities come together with unwavering zeal and genuine enthusiasm.
The event commenced with a soul-stirring aarti offered to River Godavari, accompanied by resounding cheers from the crowd and the rhythmic beats of the famous Nashik dhol. Sri M inspired the gathering to make the 2027 Kumbh Mela entirely plastic-free, setting a historic precedent. Dr. Rajendra Singh lent his support and enthusiasm over the following two days, infusing the spirit of rejuvenation into the Godavari.
During the inauguration, numerous NGOs shared invaluable insights, with special recognition for Nashik’s devoted plogging enthusiasts. They imparted wisdom on effective plastic waste collection methods and offered practical suggestions for individuals to contribute meaningfully from their homes. The local government authorities have also provided unwavering support, significantly strengthening the initiative and this collaborative endeavour was a testament to the power of unity. Each group actively participated by collecting several bags of plastic waste and diligently sweeping the riverbanks with brooms, marking a promising beginning to the project.
One of the highlights of the event was the inspiring participation of students of schools and colleges, members of National Cadet Corps (NCC), and National Service Scheme (NSS) cadets. Students also staged street plays and sang songs, effectively spreading awareness and emphasizing the importance of environmentally-conscious values. The symbolic creation of “plastic monsters” served as a stark reminder that plastic waste is a contemporary menace, and discarding it in rivers or incinerating it indiscriminately is equally harmful. The consensus was clear: the way forward lies in sustainable reduction, reuse, and recycling, alternatives to plastic, and the ban on single-use plastics.
The responsibility to restore the vitality of River Godavari River rests squarely on our shoulders, and it is a multifaceted endeavour. This mission encompasses various facets, including fortifying her banks through tree planting initiatives and revitalizing her ecosystem. The riverbanks serve as her lungs, and without the ability to breathe freely, she ails, affecting not only her but also her children—the communities that depend on her.
Therefore, in the interest of both environmental and spiritual well-being, this comprehensive project must be embraced. Though it entails a journey spanning several years, it is entirely feasible given the already existing infrastructure for recycling as well as the coming together of communities that have already begun working towards the fruition of this endeavour.
Hope for a better future exists, but it necessitates immediate action. We have taken the initial step, and now, a sustained and unwavering commitment is paramount.