The Blog with periodic updates
Here is a grid of the blogs featuring articles on each day's status and progress.
A Brief Background
This is an awesome and exciting journey. A first for a canoe, and a first for me. This almost 2,500km will be the longest canoe journey by an Indian ... ever, with more than a few milestones that might be crossed along the way. It will be the first, and therefore the fastest descent of the Ganges in a canoe, the longest canoe journey by an Indian
Take a look at the video below to get an idea of the why behind this expedition, the gear that I will be carrying, and the route.
A look at the gear and equipment that will be carried during the journey...
The proposed route...
Let us collectively do our bit to save the Planet ... one river at a time...
A look at India's holiest, and one of the most polluted rivers in the world
People bathe in its waters, pay homage to their ancestors and to their Gods. On the journey home they carry back some water. When a loved one dies, Hindus bring the ashes of the deceased to the Ganges ... or cremate them on her banks. It provides water to about 40% of India's population across 5 states, serving an estimated population of 500 million people or more, which is larger than any other river in the world. The river flows through 29 cities with population over 100,000, 23 cities with population between 50,000 and 100,000, and about 48 other towns.
A large number of cities, tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses and hospitals along the river contribute to the pollution by dumping untreated waste into it. Industrial effluents are about 12% of the total volume of effluent reaching the Ganges.
A study conducted by the National Cancer Registry Program under the Indian Council of Medical Research in 2012, suggested that "those living along its banks in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal are more prone to cancer than anywhere else in the country". Water in the Ganges has been correlated to contracting dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, as well as severe diarrhea which continues to be one of the leading causes of death of children in India.
The Ganges still has magical and mythical properties. But does that give us the right to keep abusing her, to continue to pollute her? What if she turns around one day and says, "That's enough, I've had it." It's time to go down the Ganges to save the river.
Watch a video to understand the scourge of plastic pollution.
We are raising awareness about pollution.
If we stop throwing garbage indiscriminately, we will soon become the cleanest country in the world. Let each of us take the first step to make India clean. And then let each of us encourage others to take this pledge. Will we see a cleaner India and a purer Ganges immediately at the end of this expedition? Probably not. But a start has to be made and the first step has to come from us. Cynicism is easy, action a bit more difficult.
Take the pledge and encourage others as well. We will do so through this journey.
Homage to a martyr and a friend
This expedition gives us the opportunity to pay homage to Sqn Leader Ajay Ahuja, VrC (P). He is not only a braveheart who laid down his life for the country, but we from St Paul's School Kota, Rajasthan are proud to have been his classmates. This expedition is way to remember the sacrifice of Ajay and other men in uniform who have made the supreme sacrifice.
On 27 May 1999, as part of the Kargil operations, a photo reconnaissance mission was launched. A member of the mission, Flt Lt Nachiketa ejected from his MiG-27L after an engine flame-out. Sqn Ldr Ahuja stayed over enemy positions to help rescue attempts knowing about the existence of enemy surface-to-air missiles in the area. However, his MiG-21MF fighter was hit by a shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger. Ahuja gave a radio call, "Hercules, something has hit my plane, possibility of missile hit cannot be ruled out, I am ejecting over...(location)." Indian Air Force authorities lost track of his aircraft and all communications shortly afterward. A post-mortem examination conducted at the Srinagar Base Hospital claimed that Ahuja had landed safely after ejecting from his plane, but had been killed later by Pakistani soldiers.
We, the St Paul's School Old Boys Kota 1980, are proud of you Ajay. Rest in peace brother.
in association with
and graciously supported by
My sincere and heartfelt thanks and acknowledgements to some people who have helped put this expedition together:
Abhey Thareja, Aditya Pratap Singh, Amit Goenka, Anjan Lahiri, Anubhav Mittal, Banibrata Bhattacharya, Bhaskar DK, Chandrasekar S, Col Ashok Ghoshal, Col DM Ray, Col SPS Sandhu, Col Sudeep Bhattacharjee, Deepak Saha, Dhruv Dudeja, Dipesh Narayan Ray, E Theophilus, Hem Kolachina, Julian Crandall Hollick, Kamal Gupta, Maj Gen HK Singh, Maj Gen Somnath Jha, Manu Srivastava, Mark Palmer, Mohit Oberoi, Mohit Tiwari, Nitin Goel, Nungshi Malik, Partha Roy, Prabhu Roy, Pranab Chakraborty, Pranay Kumar, Priyadarshi Mitra, Ragu Thakur, Rajeev Das, Raj Silvano, Ram Jalan, Rana Rajesh, Sam, Sam Sidana, Sandeep Kohli, Sandra Palmer, Sanjay Bali, Sanjay Dhar, Sanjay Tiwari, Shilpika Gautam, Sidhartha Guha, Sudev Barar, Sumit Sabherwal, T Anil Kumar, Tara Bagaria, Tashi Malik.
We hope more individuals step forward and support the journey and the cause behind it ... before, during and after the expedition.
I can never ever remember and document the hundreds of people I have met along the route who have made this journey so much more enjoyable. I will try and put down some of the names, but I regret that I will miss out on so many of them. My deepest apologies to anyone (and there will be many) whose names are missed.
Uttarakhand Police who escorted us to Balawali, the sadhu who lent his home at Balawali, the Village Pradhan at Mamipur and his family, Ashok Sharma (Garhmukteswar), Mahesh Kewat (Pooth), Gulfan the boatman who helped lug my boat across a sand bar, Munnu Singh (Chiyasar), the Village pradhan and her family at Chiyasar, Arvind Rajput (Chiyasar), the sadhu at Mehandipur ghat, Shubham Shukla (Gidaso), the sadhu and his wife (and the cows) at Gidaso, Maharaj Dev Giri (Gokuna Ghat), Arjun Mishra (Gokuna Ghat), Col SPS Sandhu, SM and the entire team of the Ganga Task Force, members of the Ganga Vichar Manch Allahabad, the wonderful villagers of Kanigada, Maya Sewak Nisar (Sitamarhi), Babu Khan the autorickshaw driver at Varanasi, Rahul who gave me permission to film at Manikarnika Ghat, Rajesh Nishad (Sarnath), Golu (Kaithi), and many many more people who I cannot even remember the names of.