Spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today said his organisation would explore ways to rejuvenate the Ganga if the central government plans to involve NGOs in the effort. He said while rejuvenation of the Ganga was an important and sentimental issue for the country, there were hundreds of other water bodies crying for revival. “Rejuvenation of the holy Ganges is already a national mission with a dedicated attention of the central government. If the government comes out with a plan to involve NGOs, we will explore ways in which we can contribute (to it),” the founder of the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation told PTI. He said this when asked if the AOL was keen on taking up the task and whether he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard. Ravi Shankar said the foundation has taken up rejuvenation of 33 rivers and tributaries, besides revival of thousands of smaller water bodies across the country.
“We will continue to motivate communities to take up such impactful projects in association with us,” he said. The spiritual leader said rejuvenation of rivers would resolve inter-state water disputes. “The dispute between states is due to shortage of water supply. Increasing surface and sub-surface water in Cauvery catchment areas will benefit farmers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The Art of Living Foundation is trying to increase water availability in the Kumudavathi basin with the hope that T G Halli reservoir would get more water, thereby relieving the pressure on the Cauvery river to augment the water needs of Bengaluru, Ravi Shankar said. It was heartening to note the Kumudavathi river is flowing again after more than a decade, he said and claimed that the recharge structures set up by the AOL in the river basin were helping in enriching groundwater levels and sustain the flow. “Our teams are working in the Cauvery river basin in both Karnataka (Coorg, Mysore and Chamarajanagar) and Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore) to improve water availability,” he said.
Asked how the AOL raises funds, Ravi Shankar said the organisation has an administrative body in each state which does the task with the help of local communities. A few corporates have also funded some projects of the AOL, he said. “With the involvement of local authorities, community participation and hard work of our volunteers, we successfully completed some projects at a fraction of the officially estimated cost,” the spiritual leader said.
About the inspiration behind taking up such projects, Ravi Shankar said it comes from volunteers’ commitment to serve the people in need. “Most of these projects arise from a desire to do good for the society rather than strategic planning,” he said. The Art of Living foundation has planted 71 million trees globally, Ravi Shankar said, adding the organisation has undertaken a massive tree plantation drive together with the United Nation’s ‘Mission Green Earth’ in 2008.