Study tour begins on impact of climate change on Ganga
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 23:47
Mumbai: A team of ecologists, adventurers and travel enthusiasts have come together for a 35-day expedition tour to the Ganges, beginning from Rishikesh to study the effect of global climatic changes on the holy river, and also provide sustainable solutions.

Supported by boat manufacturer AB Inflatables, environmental organization Green Cross International and Kuoni, a leisure travel and destination management company, the 'Ganges Expedition' launched yesterday, will travel 2,500 kilometres from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.

The expedition is a unique opportunity where environmental concerns and sustainable solutions are a common denominator for all partners, said Adam Koniuszewski, Chief Operating Officer of Green Cross International.

"We look forward to using the images and video footage from the origins of the Ganges in Gangotri to its end in the Bay of Bengal in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit and beyond," he said.

"This expedition will help raise scientific knowledge and public awareness about impacts that climate change will have," said Prof Mohan Munasinghe, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for work on global warming and sustainable development and is also an envoy of Green Cross International.

Coping with water stress will be a central challenge in the years to come. Seven of the world's largest rivers originate in the Himalayas, including the Yangtze and the Ganges, supplying water to 40 percent of the world's population, Munasinghe said.

With the Himalayan glaciers in retreat, stringent precautions must be taken to avoid undesirable climate change impacts that are likely to take place, he said.

Our team has already travelled on some of the world's other great rivers like the Amazon, Mekong and Zambezi, said Expedition Leader Andy Leemann.

"But the Ganges is special for us in many ways. We are going to camp on the banks of the stream or sleep in temples. Everybody is looking forward to a close encounter with India's holy river," he said.

Three inflatable boats carrying 15 people including the expedition crew, experts and journalists will stop at various points to document the state of the river and visit pilot projects of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which have been developed to protect the endangered Ganges River Dolphin and to test new technology to treat water and improve water quality.

Also, the journey aims to showcase the unique natural pulchritude of the river and the fascinating diversity of cultural traditions on its banks. It also seeks to promote sustainable tourism, for both conservation and economic development.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 23:47

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