‘Namami Gange Programme’ is an integrated conservation mission to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of our National River Ganga. It’s implementation has been divided into Entry Level Activities, Medium Term Activities, and Long Term Activities. A few of the main objectives include Afforestation, Riverfront development, Ganga Gram and so on. ‘Ecologically Responsible Cremation’ is a thoughtful step that has yoked these objectives together.
Addressing the growing number of trees that are cut down:
In our country, the use of wood for burning pyres need to be addressed. Since approximately 80% of people follow rituals that demand burning pyres, it accounts for around eight deaths per minute. That amounts for eight trees being chopped down every minute to bid farewell to the parting soul. Ganga is born in Uttarakhand where thousands of pyres are burnt each day by her banks and tributaries. The various ghats of Haridwar alone see 1200 to 1500 cremations a month. In these times, when all over the world natural resources are difficult to come by, it seems paradoxical that the deceased is a ritualized reason to deplete the resources of the living.
Focus on the Ganga Grams:
However, to combat the problem of deforestation a initiative proposes to build ‘green’ cremation centers in Ganga Grams. Rishikesh, Haridwar, Gangotri, and Uttarkashi are the villages that shall see the development of green crematories. It aims to cut down carbon emissions and reduce deforestation caused due to burning pyres. The cremation would be done in a special ‘pyre oven’ which will use 100 kgs of wood. It is 6 times less than what is conventionally required. Despite the staggering fall in the amount, it would create enough heat to burn the bodies effectively.
“The special pyre ovens are designed to direct maximum heat towards the head and the waist since these body parts require more time and intensity to burn’’, said AK Saxena, technical advisor of the National Ganga River Basin Authority who oversees the project. Swami Chindanand Saraswati, the helmsman of the Global Interface WASH Alliance says, “The ecosystem of Ganga is greatly endangered and needs urgent attention. After making banks along the river ODF (open defecation free) the next step is zero cremation by the banks of Ganga’’.
The Namami Gange Programme allows us to value the precious services offered by the biological diversities. It reminds us that, “The nature of our future depends on the future of our nature.’’
Picture courtesy: National Geography, YouTube, New Bharti.