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Cauvery Calling – The rebirthing of an Indian river

by Madhu Priya Murugan

      When I was ten years of age, my father took me to see the almost flooded, overflowing river from over the bridge. The bridge was crowded with people watching the river roar in its full glory. Little did I know that I would never see her that glorious ever again. Today all there is, is a patchy-dry land with some little ponds of water here and there. I am an Indian. I come from the southernmost state of India, called Tamil Nadu, where water has very much become a commodity. We buy water. Not just for drinking, but all the domestic purposes. We hustle harder every morning to hand pump and store as much water as possible for the next two days. The struggle is real! So real that the future looks scary, with little hope that something will change. And with India being an Agricultural nation, should I even begin to explain a farmer’s plight?

We buy water! Not just for drinking, but all the domestic purposes.

My childhood had always felt so raw, wild and care-free having raised in a rural region. Playing on the streets, climbing trees, stealing mangoes from gardens and sometimes even jumping into Wells – Wells that used to be brimming with water. These are the Wells that were dug by people ages ago, to have access to the groundwater. During the monsoon season, these reservoirs used to fill up, and act as a water resource for many more months to come. Over the past 20 years or so, the groundwater level has gone down so low, that all these Wells are nothing more than deep pits now. What hurts me so much is that there may be no nature left, for the next generations to experience the wilderness of it. It bothers me that they only get to see the diffused seasons and a confused ecology. 

We in India, for a long time now, have debated on how to improve our infrastructure for water management. From inter-linking rivers to massive pipeline networks for water supply, rainwater harvesting, etc. I wonder if it would even matter if we have no water left. Major cities are predicted to hit zero groundwater level by 2020, and our rivers are dry for most of the year. I think jumping from one infrastructure to another, consumes only more of what needs to be preserved. There needs to be a paradigm shift – a shift from all consumption mentality to a more sustainable way of living. And also, it is time we recharge and restore our water bodies. And the time is now! 

Rally for Rivers 

Rally for Rivers is one of the world’s mammoth ecological campaign started by Sadhguru, during the fall of the year 2017 – A campaign to create awareness that our rivers are depleting and to make a call for an immediate action. The rally culminated by presenting a policy proposal and mandatory laws that will support river revival and sustenance, to our Central Government. 

The policy suggested that, to replenish our rivers there needs to be a green cover for about one kilometer on the riversides (and half a kilometer for tributaries). If it is government land, it can be turned into forests, while agroforestry can be done on private farming lands. Thus farmers can double their income by switching from short-term crops to long-term plantations. 

“This is a campaign to raise awareness, that our rivers are depleting. Everyone, Everyone who consumes water must rally for rivers”. – Sadhguru  

Sadhguru is the founder of Isha Foundations, a non-profit, volunteer- driven organization, with more than 7 million volunteers from all over the world. The Rally for Rivers is a massive undertaking, requiring a lot of physical labor. It is carried forward by full-time and part-time volunteers. Experts from across the country, train the volunteers on various agricultural aspects. From farming, horticulture, Agro-Horti Forestry, animal husbandry, soil-water conservation to many field visits for witnessing successful organic farming. And many more aspects that are related to river revitalization. One can volunteer for Rivers here or other volunteering opportunities here

Cauvery Calling 

Cauvery is one of the seven perennial rivers in India, which is turning out to be endangered. The campaign “Cauvery Calling” is happening at this very moment in India, is a call to act upon, by donating 42 Rupees for a tree sapling (0.53 cents), aiming for 242 Crore trees. With Rally for Rivers, a detailed plan was drafted for reforesting the Cauvery basin with 250 million trees and now starts the on-ground work. 

We would be grateful, if you could kindly help us ‘tree-populate‘ the river basin by donating some tree saplings here.

“Humanity has the intelligence, and for the first time, the competence to fix things on this planet like never before. Let us make it happen” – Sadhguru  

Though it might take more than a decade to even witness any changes, I want to believe that with every step taken in the right direction, we can somehow breathe life back into our rivers. Nature is never destroyed, nor can it ever be. It has only been changed and depleted for human needs. It is time we act before it is too late. If not for us, atleast for the future generations. Nature has been crying out loud for attention, for a long time now! 

Dear Self,

I want you to know the joy of creating something beautiful, something much larger than yourself. A crisis is always an opportunity for human beings to rise and perform in a way that is normally not possible. We are in that crisis now.

Cauvery is an immense life, way bigger than you and me. She has been flowing for a million years, but today we have really made her go down on her knees.

We must leave abundant water and a rich soil for future generations. I beg every one of you that we as a generation do what needs to be done for the wellbeing of our children and the nation.

Let’s make it happen.


Software Developer by profession, and a seeker by nature, Madhu (29 y.o from Köln) reflects on her life in her blog and instagram. Also, she enjoys painting, reading books, and getting lost in the mysteries of life.

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