The greatest assets for conservation are the people who believe in and work towards a better planet. As we celebrate World Rivers Day, WWF-India wants to share vignettes of people who have created extraordinary stewardship for our nation’s rivers over the years. These river stewards have embraced conservation efforts and have become catalysts for awareness and community action. In the quest to protect our rivers, they remind us that every effort counts and that together, we can make a difference.

The eyes and ears of the Indus River Dolphin in the Beas
Bagha, a ferryman from Karmowala Village in Punjab, wished to contribute towards the protection of the Indus River Dolphin. He enrolled as a Dolphin Mitra (friend of the river dolphin) at the age of 22 to help monitor the health of the river and the river dolphin in the Beas Conservation Reserve and has been a pillar of the Mitras since.

Rejuvenating the Madiwala Wetland to protect the Arkavathi
Gayathri Sen had a growing concern for the waning health of the Madiwala Wetland, near which she’s lived for over four decades. The former academic counsellor understood the importance of raising awareness towards restoring the wetland for her community, and for the Arkavathi River which flows near Bengaluru. She has played a key role in inspiring students and community members of all ages to become active participants in Madiwala's restoration - first with the Karnataka Forest Department and later as a Wetland Mitra and Lake Warden. Today, she is a trustee of the Madiwala Lake Trust Foundation and a proud neighbour of a healthy Madiwala.

Gayathri Sen regularly engages with students, inspiring a new generation towards conservation

Embracing agricultural innovation for the Ramganga
Tara Devi and Chedah Lal, residents of Adalupur Village in Uttar Pradesh were both deeply concerned about the health of the Ramganga River. Ever since becoming Ramganga Mitras (friends of the Ramganga River) they have inspired hundreds of farmers to take up sustainable agriculture practices, which have resulted in increased crop productivity, reduced costs, and prevented water contamination in the Ramganga. Tara Devi champions getting women involved in conservation initiatives and Chedah Lal is a leading voice in the adoption of WWF-India’s Package of Practices (PoPs) for sustainable agriculture.

Tara Devi and Chedah Lal have been champions of the Ramganga Mitra programme in their village

Steering an industry towards change
Hemant Juneja, an industrialist from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, is one of India’s premier brassware exporters. As a Ramganga Mitra, he was acutely aware of managing the metalware industry’s footprint and was enthusiastic about the adoption of Counter Current Mechanisms (CCMs) – clean-tech systems that reduce freshwater consumption. As an early adopter, he’s been instrumental in spreading awareness about clean-tech among other industries. The 10 CCMs, his industry installed have reduced 1.5 Lac litres in freshwater consumption, between June and August 2023 alone.

Hemant Juneja’s industry is among the first adopters of the CCMs – clean-tech systems to reduce water consumption

Sparking change in the classroom
Kusum Lata from Anupshahar in Uttar Pradesh hopes for a cleaner Ganga. Like millions of Indians, she considers the river sacred and has seen the effects of pollution and unplanned urbanisation on it. As a Swarowski Waterschool educator, she has dedicated herself towards educating students with the knowledge that can bring about powerful changes at home, and in their communities.