With the blessings, vision and leadership of Pujya Swamiji a meeting was held at Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh) bringing together key stakeholders and environmentalists to draft a policy that would effectively abate the rising noise pollution in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. As more and more villagers and their children move down to the plains of Uttarakhand to seek economic opportunities as well as access to the basic facilities and infrastructure. Thus, cities are becoming over-crowded. With limited resources to meet the needs of rising population there is a rise in poverty and thereby in pollution of not only air but also water and soil of the region.
Amongst the key dignitaries and concerned citizens present for the discussion were:
- H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Founder of Ganga Action Parivar and Co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
- Shri Shanta Lal Murliji, Founder of Resource Centre for Primary Health Care (RECPHEC), Kathmandu, Nepal
- Ms. Reshma Shakya, Dr. AR Mamgain, and Ziavr Rahman from Daliyon Ka Dagriya (DKD), Srinagar, Garhwal
- Dr. Mohan Singh Panwar, Dept of Geography, HNB Central University, Srinagar, Garhwal
- Dr. Arvind Darmoraji, Mountain Development Research Centre (MDRC), HNB Central University, Srinagar, Garhwal
- Shri Jagat Singh Jungaliji, Renowned Environmentalist and Green Ambassador of Uttarakhand, and his son Shri Dev Raghvendra, Environmental Sciences PhD Student from Garhwal University
- Shri Gajendra Nagar, from Municipality Board, Rishikesh
- Shri Ram Mahesh Mishraji and other Ganga Action Parivar Representatives as well as representation from State Pollution Control Board
Rishikesh is at the cusp of urban growth and development, being not only a prominent tourist destination, but also the first plain region of Uttarakhand where Ganga River enters leaving the mountains. While the Himalayas have always been long associated with peace, quiet and living in harmony with Nature, most people come to Rishikesh to catch a glimpse of this serenity (and reflection of the rest of the mountain state). However, Rishikesh is currently facing many challenges, amongst which is a rising noise pollution. Therefore, participants of the meeting believed that a successful movement and practical solutions developed here could pave the way for the rest of Uttarakhand.
The meeting concluded with the commitment of making collective action in the following areas.
- Review of Noise Pollution Control Policy as per the current need of the Himalayan State.
- Make mandatory to implement this review policy by all the sectors including government, non-government organization, religious organization and private sectors.
- Noise Pollution will affect not only for human beings but also animals and plants. Hence the law should have provision to address these issues holistically.
- Dialogue with the concerned agencies will be initiated to replace Vikram Tempo with silent battery operated three wheelers which has been successfully operating in Kathmandu by female tempo taxi drivers.
- Initiate dialogue with railway board to operate “Clean, Green and Serene” Railway from Haridwar and Rishikesh with the slogan ‘From Shor to Shanti,’ encouraging people to experience the divine journey from noisy and busy city lives to peaceful and quiet spiritual environment of Uttarakhand.
- Incentives and loans should be provided by Government/Banks for noise free and green vehicles.
- Hosting more workshops, including one in June, to address inter-related issues of male migration, livelihood opportunities and natural resource protection, etc to strengthen our Himalayan state and thereby prevent noise pollution in a holistic manner.
- A meeting of all of Uttarakhand’s Mayors was also discussed to help them address the specific challenges they face in their respective regions, and how they could be motivated and supported to create eco-villages and eco-tourisms models that encourage economic development while ensuring environmental preservation.
Meetings will be held with the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, administration and other stakeholders in June to work out a plan of action and chart the awareness programme to preserve and protect the city of Rishikesh as the peace and yoga capital of the world.