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Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan works wonders for villagers

Source: Times of India, Date: , 2013

NEW DELHI: Two years ago, 10 small villages along Yamuna were selected for a river restoration project. The Nadi Mitra Mandalis were given an action plan that included natural and organic farming, waste water management, improvement in sanitation, catchment restoration, and assessment of the river and village health. Children were involved through a school outreach programme.

On Friday, Kanalsi village, on the floodplain of the Somb and Yamuna rivers near Yamunagar, was recognized for carrying out the most successful project. The village has moved largely to chemical-free farming and planted 1,700 saplings in the past two years besides improving sanitation and waste water management. Ramra village near Panipat was adjudged second best, while Hamirpur came third.

The project has been financed by the Thames River Restoration Trust from the money it won under the Theiss International River prize for the efforts made in cleaning Thames over the past 60 years. The prize money is being used for community work along Ganga and Yamuna. Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan supported the project, helped by WWF, which conducted biodiversity activity in one village along Yamuna.

 Dr Robert Oates, executive director of the TRRT, said the work of the mandalis proved that resource-intensive projects were not the only way forward for projects like river cleaning. People's participation was important, especially at the grassroots level. "In rural areas, people have real control over land, so they feel a greater sense of responsibility. They are also more dependent on nature. We want bring this model to the cities," he said. Manoj Misra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said that while common defined targets were given to each grid or village, specialized activities were taken up in keeping with the areas's geographical demands.

 The 10 villages, from Yamnotri up to Allahabad in the plains, raised 6,000 plants, assessed the river's health every month through water quality and biodiversity.