NEW DELHI: Rivers of India are often called its lifeline. They are revered and worshipped by people who got their identities in the ancient times by settling near rivers. Till today, many states, now metropolises, are situated on riverbanks, thriving from the resources that it provides them. Water bodies have sustained the country since olden times and continue doing so till date. However, in the past two decades, the burden of human and river ecosystem interaction have changed the natural processes of various rivers. Unsustainable and indiscriminate use have dried rivers and irreparably damaged their ecosystem. While environmentalists have been pointing to the alarming situation since a long time with research and activism both, successive governments failed to take tough, even extreme measures that were needed to both create awareness and prevent their deterioration. Thus, while Indian economy ramped up in recent years, its rivers became so polluted that life within them are dying. “The efforts to clean up the rivers ran into the sand as politicians and environmentalists differed on how to do the job, with none following the green court laws and… projects being blighted by corruption and long delays,” said Dilip Bose, an environmentalist. After coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched staunch measures which were the need of the hour to save the rivers. The prime minister himself made an emotional appeal to the citizens, turning towards mythology and tradition, to save rivers. He insisted that economic development and elevation of people from poverty would not come at the cost of rivers. River conservation was the sharp focus keeping which in mind the government set up a ministry dedicated to cleaning up of the holy Ganga river as part of its foremost measures. The prime minister appointed Uma Bharti to lead the ministry. Bharti had been advocating for long to save Ganga, approaching politicians from across all parties seeking quick and effective action, said a government official. The ministry set up basic monitoring and compliance mechanisms to ensure rules were met with. The government also attempted to address the issue with the launch of a project, which sought to increase enforcement of regulations against dumping of toxic waste into the river and increasing sewage treatment plants. As part of the proposal, the government also worked towards discouraging the release of dead bodies to the river and built crematoriums along with the river banks. Toilets were also built near the river banks to discourage people from defecating into the open, especially near the river. “It was a deep challenge staring in the face of the government when it took over in 2014. After all, the Ganga Action Plan had been launched 30 years ago and since then, two major rivers of India had died,” said S.K. Jairam, a former Delhi University professor. Published in Daily Times, October 4th 2017.