Cauvery Calling — What is known so far?

Now that Isha Foundation has opened up its next big project — Cauvery Calling, already the fekus in India are starting to spread fear and fake information regarding the project. And all this before even the foundation releasing official documentation regarding the project!

So, here is an attempt to provide clarity answering some of the abrasive questions coming up on social media (all information in the replies is publicly available for anyone to verify).

(1) There is not much update about Rally For Rivers itself. Why start something new now?

Something constructive happening is rarely covered in the Indian media. But even news media has been covering the Rally For Rivers updates on a fairly regular basis.

The most recent update is that as on March 5th, 2019, the Govt. of Maharashtra cabinet allotted a budget of 415 Crore rupees for the project on the Waghari river.

So far, Six states in India have signed MoUs with Rally for Rivers and more are on the way.

The milestones of Rally For Rivers teams are published on their website itself:

  • 100+ volunteers of RFR — called ‘Nadi Veeras’ have stood up for the cause of revitalising India’s rivers as a response to Sadhguru’s call during Rally for Rivers. The team is creating a forest in a six-acre land of the Isha foundation on the outskirts of Coimbatore.
  • 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.
  • From October 1st to October 14th 2018, the Karnataka team of RFR Nadiveeras conducted a baseline survey in 3 districts for the Kaveri revitalization project and submitted detailed project reports.
  • The Farmer Producers’ Organization (FPO) model proposed by Rally For Rivers has successfully been proven in Coimbatore with the Velliangiri FPO achieving an annual turnover of 7.91 crores during 2017–2018.
  • For the Waghari river rejuvenation project, RFR team had made a detailed presentation to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Forest Minister Sudhir Munghantiwar in August 2018 in Mumbai which was followed by a detailed project report submission in November 2018. The Waghari river rejuvenation project will focus on supporting farmers with community micro-irrigation, tree-based agriculture, farm producer organisations (FPOs), market development and crop diversification. The pilot project proposed by National Rally for Rivers rejuvenate Waghari river in Maharashtra has received the state cabinet nod on March 5th and Rs 415 crore allotted for it.
  • The Rally for Rivers team had organized a nine-day training program presented by Isha Agro Movement on Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) methods at S.R.M. Medical College in Tamilnadu from Feb 2 to Feb 10, 2019.

So, it is incorrect to say that there is not much happening with Rally For Rivers. If one wants to follow the latest updates on RFR project, one can follow these on the web and social media:

Anybody interested in contributing to the welfare of the nation can join hands with the Rally For Rivers team.

(2) What is this new Cauvery Calling project all about? Why should we trust that this project will work?

To briefly summarize the project, the Cauvery Calling project aims to:

· Plant 242 crore trees in Cauvery basin, with 73 crore trees in the first phase across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

· Dramatically improve farmers wealth five-fold in five years

· Increase water retention in Cauvery basin by an estimated 40%

The main thing is, as an outcome of this project, the livelihood of our farmers will become better and it aims to solve the problem of cauvery water distribution.

As to which authority says this project will work, there are several scientific studies published across the world that point in this direction:

Apart from that, several eminent scientists and ecological researchers in India have provided their approval to the means suggested in the Rally For Rivers project to revive our Indian rivers.

All details about the Cauvery Calling project are on this website:

(3) Why did you keep quiet all these years when there were problems about Cauvery for last several decades? Is this a new attempt to divert people’s attentions?

Cauvery issue has been going on for several decades. If one makes a simple Google search, it is clear that:

- People have been terribly affected by the Cauvery water issue

- Political parties have only made protests and conducted rallies

- Violence has erupted in both Karnataka and Tamilnadu over the Cauvery water distribution

- Both the states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu have been stubborn on their stance related to Cauvery water

Yet, after all these years, no constructive solution has come out for solving this issue. Sadhguru has spoken about Cauvery issue in 2017 also:

The most affected people in this whole issue are the farmers in both the states. Sadhguru has been working to bring together the farmers from both Karnataka and Tamilnadu to help bridge the issues between them and bring them to a common forum for solving the problem.

The main problems with Cauvery are:

- Cauvery has depleted 40% in the last 70 years

- Almost half the Cauvery basin suffers critical groundwater depletion

- 87% of the basin’s original tree cover has been lost

- During the summer, Cauvery is unable to reach the ocean. A desolate, sandy bed is all that millions of people see for many months of the year

This Cauvery Calling initiative aims to revive River Cauvery along with alleviating the distress of farmers.

The solution lies in replenishing the soil. If we can replenish the soil’s nutrients and carbon content, it will once again turn fertile, absorb rainwater, and feed Cauvery. This will revive the river ecology and also improve the farmer’s economic situation.

Key actions proposed as part of this Cauvery Calling project are:

- Moving farmers to take up agro-forestry along with their regular agricultural practices

- Improving farmer incomes by increasing economies of scale

- Increasing plantation cover on Cauvery bed to enrich soil organic content and water retention in Cauvery

- Working with Governments to help support the farmers in a scientific manner

So, instead of politicizing this, every concerned party should stand up for this noble cause and support it.

(4) Why are you asking for money from the Public instead of asking from the Government for Cauvery Calling?

Public participation so far on Cauvery water issues has been primarily as protests but nothing constructive. But people join protests and rallies from a deep pain in the people of Tamilnadu and Karnataka looking at the suffering of their farmers. Very few people know what to do though. Now is the opportunity for everyone to get involved, irrespective of their lifestyle or affordability.

Yes, Government support is definitely required in achieving what the Cauvery Calling project aims for. This project involves at least 12 years of work. That is a very long-term project. It also needs a certain organized working and agility that the State Governments usually lack.

Unless something becomes a public movement, it is not easy to get the Governments to work on such projects and that too when it involves constructive work. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who is spearheading this initiative himself, has explained why public involvement is much needed, in this video (watch from around 1 hour 20 minutes)…

The detailed project reports that have been submitted to the Tamilnadu and Karnataka governments are not yet in public domain. But from information has already come out in public domain:

- Farmers need upfront support for saplings which can partly be done with donations from both public and government involvement

- Farmers need ongoing support for moving into agro-forestry over next 3 to 4 years, for which the Government machinery will provide the financial backbone

If in a democracy, people think they elect a government and do not participate in the governance process thinking their job is done with voting alone, such a democracy cannot be successful. An active involvement of people in the governance processes are needed.

If people do not actively stand up for such a cause, tomorrow they might not even stand up to ask the Governments as to what happened about reviving Cauvery.

(5) The money for 242 crore trees at the rate of 42 rupees per sapling comes to over 10,000 crores. Is this going to be another huge scam to fool people?

A scam is something that people secretly do and not much information comes out about it till it’s all done. In this case, it cannot be a scam because:

- All the money collected will have digital trail and so accountability of incoming money will be there

- Isha Foundation is not going to handle any money. There is a separate board made of independent members who will handle finance for this project.

There is nothing being secretly done here in this project! The donation page is open for all at the website.

If crores of people take part in this project by direct contribution, wouldn’t those people stand up and ask the board & everyone involved on what happened to all the money collected?

Whether it is 10,000 crore rupees or 10,000 rupees, it has to be managed responsibly. As long as that happens, nobody should have a reason to complain.

Now, some people are asking why take 42 rupees when you can get saplings cheaper elsewhere.

Yes, it is probably cheaper to get tens or even hundred saplings from a road-side nursery. But what one needs to realize is that the scale of operations is humongous, and this is not just about the cost to create the sapling.

Sadhguru himself answers this particular concern:

The project aims to generate and plant 242 crore saplings (i.e.) 2,42,00,00,000 saplings along the Cauvery basin. That is a huge number — not many people can even imagine on this scale!

There is a need to establish hundreds of nurseries in both Tamilnadu and Karnataka that will create the required saplings. There are costs associated with not just creation of sapling but also maintenance of those saplings, along with the costs of managing the nurseries & their staff for the next 5 years.

After the initial 5 years when the saplings are created and planted, these nurseries will not go waste. They will continue to serve creating more vegetation across Tamilnadu.

Of course, one side-effect will be that some people who were making their survival based on politics of the Cauvery river may now feel threatened. They may raise all sorts of noise unnecessarily and make such allegations. But people can always get the latest updates on this project — so it cannot become a scam as long as it is active.



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