New Delhi: Armed with a message to keep Ganga clean, personnel of paramilitary force ITBP today embarked on a month-long rafting expedition on the Holy river charting 2,500kms from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar.
The first of its kind attempt to chart the river from its origin to its destination will be covered by a team of 21 ITBP troopers traversing through five states and fifty cities.
The mission was flagged off today by Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh from the headquarters of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) here, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired an important meeting on the environmental issues concerning the vital river of the country.
"Ganga is a river that we consider holy and it provides life to many people. The rafting expedition team, during their course, will create awareness amongst the people on keeping the Ganga clean.
"I have requested the ITBP to send me a report of their experiences once they complete their tour and the ministry will go through it," Singh said after he wished the ITBP team good luck and inspected their adventure sports gear to be used during the rafting expedition.
The expedition has been christened `Ganga punardarshan` (revisiting Ganga) and the ITBP personnel will also collect garbage and other effluents polluting the river during their about 2,525km voyage.
The team will reach Gangotri on April 24 and after criss-crossing various banks of the river it is expected to finish the expedition on June 20 at Ganga Sagar which empties into the Bay of Bengal, ahead of Diamond Harbour.
During the flag off ceremony, ITBP chief Ranjit Sinha said the force has undertaken Ganga rafting voyage not only to create awareness about the river but also about the border guarding force which guards the difficult and icy 3,488-km long Sino-Indian frontier.
"The National Ganga River Basin Authority, the Union Environment ministry and various states are extending their support to this adventurous voyage which is the forte of our force," Director General Sinha said.
The team is led by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) S S Mishra.
The mountain-trained and the adventure sports experienced force has earlier undertaken 20 rafting expeditions in various Indian rivers including Ganga and Brahmaputra.
The activity is part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the force being celebrated this year.
The ITBP was raised in 1962 in the wake of the Chinese aggression.
A similar squad of force personnel has recently begun an expedition to summit the world`s tallest peak Mount Everest and ski down from the Chinese side.