Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday launched the 'Ganga Aamantran Abhiyan', a month-long exploratory open-water rafting and kayaking expedition, covering nearly 2,500 kilometers from Devprayag in Uttarakhand to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal.
This is the first ever effort by the National Mission for Clean Ganga to raft across the entire stretch of the river and also the longest ever social campaign undertaken through an adventure sporting activity to spread the message of river rejuvenation and water conservation on a massive scale, Shekhawat said.
The expedition will draw attention to the ecological challenges being faced by the Ganga, he said.
It will cover the five Ganga basin states, namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal with stops at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sonepur and Kolkata.
A nine-member team of swimmers and rafters from the three services of the Indian Armed Forces will be led by acclaimed international open-water swimmer Wing Commander Paramvir Singh.
The team includes Squadron Leader Dipti B Koshthi, who is a Jaguar aircraft pilot and certified open Scuba Diver, trekker and Para Jumper, Sergeant Johny Vj who is an Aqua Parasailing Instructor, certified open Scuba Diver and mountaineer, Sergeant Srihari Sarripilli, who is a distinguished adventure sports enthusiast.
This nine-member team would be joined by three members from the NDRF, two members each from the Wild Life Institute of India and the CSIR's Indian Institute of Toxicology.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Shekhawat said the Narendra Modi government has carried out various initiatives to restore Ganga's flow and cleanliness during the last five years.
"It has started to show positive results but any such movement that needs sustainability cannot be achieved until and unless it becomes a public movement or Jan Andolan. In order to connect with the various stakeholders directly or indirectly connected to Ganga, this mega event is being organised," he said.
The team, during the expedition, will take up public awareness campaign on the locations at which they will stop. They will also organise mass cleaning drives, interact with students of the villages, cities along the river and will further the message of river conservation, Shekhawat said.
Apart from the awareness campaign, the team from the IITR will collect water samples from across diverse ranges of the river for the purpose of water testing, while members of the Wildlife Institute of India will undertake flora and fauna census for the year 2019, he said.
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