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(pictured above: Liv Arnesen (left) and Ann Bancroft (right))

By Shruti Tomar

Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, the first women in history to sail and ski across Antarctica, will now sail across the Ganges to seek sustainable cleaning solutions for the polluted river

Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen made world history when they sailed and skied across Antarctica’s landmass in 2001, successfully completing an amazing 94-day, 2,747-km trek. Now, they are geared to sail across the world’s second filthiest river, The Ganges (the filthiest being the Citarum River in Indonesia).

Slated for October-November 2015, the ambitious 60-day and 2,525- km journey called Access Water 2015 will witness the duo sail along the Ganges in an endeavour to find sustainable solutions to reviving the choked river. Besides being pregnant with industrial waste, sewage flow, corpse remains and urban trash, the water level of the Ganges has dropped drastically, from 60 to 10 metres deep. Thus, the aim of the initiative is to increase awareness, incite advocacy and encourage action towards the purging and renewal of the Ganges through education and subsequent action.

“We are very excited about Access Water 2015 and looking forward to coming up with workable and innovative sustainable solutions to cleaning up the Ganges. We look towards the people of India to witness and participate actively in this initiative, so we can collectively come up with the best possible solutions”

Ann Bancroft

The educational excursion will see the team delve into issues of agriculture, energy, health, pollution and solutions on key locations along the river. The objective of the programme is to understand and discuss local water issues with the youth of the country, thereby generating new ideas towards solutions. “We are very excited about Access Water 2015 and looking forward to coming up with workable and innovative sustainable solutions to cleaning up the Ganges. We look towards the people of India to witness and participate actively in this initiative, so we can collectively come up with the best possible solutions,” says Bancroft.

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Pit Stops

The expedition will commence at the base of the Gangotri glacier, Gaumukh, which is also the primary source of the river, and move towards Rishikesh, where the Ganges enters the Gangetic plains. Next, it will continue to Kanpur, and then Allahabad, which is located at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Continuing its journey, the campaign will travel to Varanasi and then to Patna, which sits on the southern banks of the Ganges. The sojourn will culminate in Kolkata, on the Bay of Bengal.

Local partnerships; student interactions at IIT Kanpur, Banaras Hindu University and Nalanda University, Bihar; farmer engagement sessions; tree planting exercises; collaborations with the ‘Art of Living’ Foundation, Azim Premji Foundation, Shanti Niketan, and ITC; and interactive activities with women weavers are components of the mission.

 

Six Continents Unite for Ganges

For the mission, Bancroft and Arnesen have joined forces with six women from six continents, each representing vital water challenges on her continent. Kim Smith (South Africa), Krushna Patil (India), Olfat Haider (Israel), Lisa Kanawa (New Zealand), Marcia Gutierrez (Chile) and Jiaojiao Hu (China) will all be part of Access Water 2015.

“We have, for years, combined education and adventure to bring about change. In order to connect with more youth, we decided to invite one woman from each continent into the project and also conduct one expedition on each continent every other year,” says Arnesen. This year’s India expedition will be followed by similar initiatives in Africa, Oceania, North America, Europe, South America and Antarctica till the year 2020.

 

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