Blending spirituality with environment

Pune: A day after Dussehra, about a dozen boats sailed off into the Indrayani which skirts around Alandi, the Samadhi place of saint Dnyaneshwar, on a unique river expedition to the pilgrim town of Pandharpur, carrying palanquin of the famous saint with a message of water conservation.

Christened "Jal Dindi" by its pioneer Vishwas Yeole, the start of the expedition on Friday marked the tenth year of this remarkable environmental awareness drive modelled on the famous pilgrimage on foot undertaken every year by Warkari sect devotees of Lord Vitthal to Pandharpur.

"This is a special moment for our endeavour as the little known excercise undertaken in 2002 by a group of environmentalists is now gathering support at all levels with greater participation in the downstream riparian towns which bear the brunt of a polluted water flow thanks to urbanization and industrialisation in Pune region," said Yeole, a medico by profession, in a talk with PTI from the boat he sailed in.

He, joined by like-minded environment concerned groups in the city, embarked upon the "Jal Dindi" programme roping in some students the Government Engineering College who run a boat club on the banks of river Mutha that flows through the city, with a 12-day annual scheduled voyage during which the volunteers on the boats conduct various tests to measure water pollution level collecting data that is later sent to Maharashtra pollution control board.

"We are trying to blend health, environment and spirituality to spread this message of water conservation because the problem of pollution is becoming serious with industrial development in urban areas as well as haphazard management of grabage and sewege disposal, threatening the population living along the river banks," Yeole said.