Cuttack, 22nd December 2023 — Sri Sri University (SSU) proudly hosted a National Conference titled ‘Environmental Challenges and the Way Forward for Mahanadi River’ in collaboration with the Ministry of Jal Shakti, under the esteemed patronage of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Esteemed figures such as Prof. (Dr.) Tej Pratap, Former President of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), and Guest of Honour, Dr. Lingaraju Yale from Sri Sri Institute of River Rejuvenation and Prof. Sanjay Patnaik, professor of Sambalpur University, Prof. Anil Kumar Sharma, Dean of Academics from Sri Sri University graced this notable academic conference, alongside other dignitaries from Sri Sri University. Professor R. N. Satapathy extended a cordial welcome to the esteemed guests, and Professor J. P. Bhatt, the Chief Organizer, provided the opening remarks during the event.
The Mahanadi River stands as a crucial lifeline for both Chhattisgarh and Odisha, serving as the primary water source for farmers and citizens. According to the results of the study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Public Health Association (APHA), the quality of water in the Mahanadi River slightly deviates from potable conditions at certain stages. This concerning trend of rising pollution in the Mahanadi has prompted a concerted effort for action.
The conference offered a platform for diverse presentations and research reports, addressing critical Mahanadi River issues while emphasizing pathways for its sustainable revival. Delegates drew inspiration from global initiatives, exploring nature-based solutions for the river’s environmental rejuvenation. Discussions delved into strategic solutions, including extensive research on sand mining regulations, and other complexities aimed at unlocking the river’s potential for future generations.
Key Discussions revolved around charting a holistic course for Mahanadi’s rejuvenation, encompassing unique island ecosystems, mangrove preservation, and a collective mission for a healthier river in which valuable insights were shared by Prof. B. R. Sharma, the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of Sri Sri University and a Patron. The Sri Sri Institute of River Rejuvenation presented forward-thinking approaches for sustainable river management, stressing the need for dynamic strategies to ensure the river’s well-being.
Prof. (Mrs.) Rajita Kulkarni, President of Sri Sri University said, “The conference was a transformative endeavour of the Art of Living River Rejuvenation team, breathing life into over 72 rivers. She emphasized on the global acclaim garnered by Sri Sri University in the Times Higher Education SDG Ranking and UI Green Metric Ranking reflects a profound commitment to substantial contributions toward Sustainable Development Goals.”
Prof. Tej Pratap, Former President of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), highlighted the crucial link between civilization and societal awareness in preserving the Mahanadi saying “Mahanadi, our vital lifeline, demands collective dedication for preservation, ensuring its protection for generations to come. Reflecting on my early career in Europe, where I learned valuable lessons on resource protection which says that it’s our responsibility to secure this precious resource, transcending borders and cultures for a sustainable and shared future.”
Panelists, including Dr. Samita Sarkar, Scientist D, Central Ground Water Board, Odisha, and Ar. Saeed Anisa Azharunnisa, highlighted the critical significance of conserving the Mahanadi River in Odisha during their discussion. Delegates highlighted collaborative efforts as pivotal in addressing conflicts and pollution, advocating for collective action to nurture a healthier Mahanadi for all stakeholders’ benefit.
The conference was concluded by the (Prof.) Dr. Sanjay Samantrai and vote of thanks was given by Me. Satyajeet Arya and Dr. Rachna Chandra on behalf of Faculty of Science, Sri Sri University.