July 22, 2019
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Founder, Isha Foundation and members of Rally for Rivers Board launched “Cauvery Calling,” a movement to raise awareness about the plight of river Cauvery and implement on-ground action to save the dying river which is the lifeline of southern peninsula of India.
The Rally for Rivers (RfR) Board held its fifth board meeting on 20 July. RfR Board members who interacted with the media included Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat, former Supreme Court judge; Dr. A.S. Kiran Kumar, former chairperson of ISRO; Dr K Radhakrishnan, former chairperson of ISRO; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon; Pravesh Sharma, IAS (Retd) & father of FPO movement in India; Ravi Singh, CEO, Secretary General of WWF-India; Narasimha Raju, Former Principal Secretary, Govt of Karnataka and actor Suhasini Maniratnam.
Speaking at the launch of the movement, Sadhguru said, “Forever Cauvery has embraced and nourished us. A time has come when we have to embrace and nourish Cauvery. Cauvery is calling, do you have a heart to hear?”
During the campaign, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev will personally ride across the length of the river – from Talacauvery (Kodagu) to Thiruvaur to raise awareness about the urgent need to revitalize Cauvery. The Cauvery Calling campaign will be followed by the launch of the Cauvery river revitalization project.
The project will facilitate plantation of 242 crore trees in Cauvery Basin (with 73 crore trees in the first phase) which will revitalize Cauvery and enhance farmers’ income significantly. The movement will bring together farmers and riverine communities of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in a collaborative bid to revive the dying river which flows through both states. This is the second river revitalization project launched by RfR after its pilot to revitalize the Waghari River in Yavatmal district in Maharashtra.
Cauvery Calling will enlist community and farmer support to convert at least one third of farmland in the Cauvery basin into agroforestry. Farmers will be educated, trained and supported to shift into the highly lucrative agroforestry model which is a model proven by Isha Foundation in Tamil Nadu where farmers have reported a more than 5-fold increase in wealth over 5-7 years. Isha is working on the agroforestry model with 69,670 farmers in Tamil Nadu.
Cauvery Calling will be implemented in collaboration with the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments. In 2017, Karnataka Government signed a MoU with Isha Foundation to enable plantation of 25 crore saplings in the Cauvery basin to augment water flow at source and restore Cauvery’s perennial flow.
Cauvery is estimated to have depleted 40% from historic flows and sharing of Cauvery waters is at the center of a bitter feud between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The river basin is a significant source of food grain production, drinking water and irrigation. Drastic depletion in flow has resulted in the river not reaching the ocean many months in the year and causing severe agricultural distress in both states. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are currently in the grip of an acute water crisis. It is estimated that 87% of tree cover has been removed in the Cauvery basin, gravely affecting soil health and groundwater levels impacting food and water security of millions of people.