“This is an appreciation for combined effort of all of us volunteers. It will
boost our campaign further,” said Ranjan Panda after receiving the prestigious
recognition and designation.
The Mahanadi River Waterkeeper has been
dedicated to the cause of advocating conservation of Mahanadi. Convener
of Water Initiatives Odisha, a two decade old active and vibrant network
on water, Ranjan will now have added strength to advocate for the
Mahanadi and her tributaries, protecting and restoring water quality
through community action and enforcement.
“Mahanadi River Waterkeeper’s aim,” said Ranjan Panda, “is to provide strong
advocacy that will result in an improved quality of life for all citizens
whether they rely on it for drinking water or irrigation, or whether they simply
value the rivers’ continued well-being.” “It will also be to improve ecological
health of Mahanadi”, he added. Ranjan is now campaigning in different ways for
the every child’s right to clean water while leading the activities of water
activism body 'water Initiative Odisha'.
“Ranjan will have a big job. Waterkeepers defend their communities against
anyone who threatens their right to clean water from law-breaking polluters to
irresponsible governments,” stated Marc Yaggi, Executive Director, Waterkeeper
“Until our public agencies have the means necessary to protect us from polluters
and the will to enforce our laws, we need to stand up with grassroots advocates
like Ranjan and fight for our right to clean water,” Yaggi added.
The Mahanadi Waterkeeper will work on
watershed-related issues of Mahanadi in Odisha and join up forces with
others who are working in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh on
issues impacting the same river. He is already known to be the Water
Man of Odisha apart from remaining the leading voice of Mahanadi and
other rivers of the state.
Ranjan’s major task would be to profile
the river and its pollution and then link communities to the river to
revive and restore it through participatory ways. Along with volunteers
and communities of Mahanadi, with whom he is already working, he would
identify threats of pollution from mining; industries, thermal power
plants, from ill-managed urban sewerage and garbage; and, also, from
threats of climate change including that of sea rise and changing river
beds, so on and so forth. He will work to organize communities and
advocate with government and regulatory authorities to save Mahanadi
from its current dying state.