New Delhi: An umbrella group of organisations from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on Tuesday urged the Centre to float a 'Namami Gange' like programme for cleaning Cauvery and enact a law to prevent the southern river from further pollution.
Members of Cauvery Nadi Swachhata Andolan - claimed to be a non-political movement, called on Union Ministers Uma Bharti, Sadananda Gowda and BJP chief Amit Shah and expressed concerns over the "alarming" pollution level of the river.
"Like Ganga, there is another ancient river in the country -- Cauvery. We must take care of Cauvery too. At many locations, waste water from municipal and industrial drains flow into the river directly.
"Besides drinking, the water cannot be used for other purposes, including abhishek (rituals). So, we demanded the government to launch Namami Cauvery programme and enact a law for its protection," Swami Ganeshswaroopanand Giri of Sri Shankara Paramanand Trust said and claimed that the three assured that they will look into the issues raised.
He demanded the government to frame a law, form a committee and allot funds to launch the programme on "priority basis" before its too late to react.
"It will be too late if we do not wake up to the call now. Saints are concerned Cauvery should not meet the fate of Ganga," he added.
The Swami said Gowda, who hails from Karnataka, assured the delegation of looking into the law aspect of the issue, while Bharti told the Andolan members that she was aware of the concerns relating to the "holy river".
"She also assured us she will take up the issue before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprise Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar too," he said.
He added the Andolan has been taking efforts to spread awareness about keeping the river clean and involved local governing agencies, NGOs and children for the purpose.
Besides the Swami, the delegation comprised Swami Ramananda Ji of Akhila Bhartiya Sanyasi Sangham and Arul Veeramani of Annai Kaveri River Protection Trust (both from Tamil Nadu), Bhanuprakash Sharma of Shashwati Dharmika Kriya Samiti, Reena Prakash of Kaveri Nadi Swachhata Andolan and Karnataka Media Academy chairman MA Ponnappa.
In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, the delegation demanded the government to set up an 'Operation Clean Cauvery' committee, comprising officials from Centre and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments.
It claimed the river was contaminated by certain heavy metals with organic load and waste water flowing into it from municipal areas and industrial zones from both the states.
"It is estimated that the quantity of industrial waste water discharged into Cauvery is approximately 87,600 cum per day. The river has a total dissolved solid (TDS) level of 1450 mg/1, something in excess than what has been prescribed by World Health Organisation," the memorandum reads.
The delegation, in the memorandum, further claimed that the river was receiving heavy silt containing fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides used in agricultural activities.
Only a "minuscule" percentage of industries located along streams of the river have set up effluent treatment plant, it claimed.