Mountaineer Krushnaa Patil part of international trek along Ganges to raise awareness

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Krushnaa Patil, the youngest Indian mountaineer to have scaled Mount Everest, says she has an “awesome responsibility” as part of an eight member international team that set off from Goumukh on a 55-day, 1,500 mile trek along the Gangesh to raise awareness, incide advocacy and ignite action for the global water crisis.

“It’s an awesome responsibility to represent Indian women on the team. I hope to improve communication with the locals we willl meet along the way,” the 26-year-old Patil, the only Indian woman to have scaled six of the world’s seven tallest mountains, told IANS on the phone as she readied for the first Access Water Expedition on the Ganges, an effort that will be repeated on each continent every few years, ending the Access Water series with a journey to Antarctica.

“I absolutely hope to continue with this effort. Just imagine rafting down the Amazon or the Nile. The chance of sailing down one at least one major river on each continent is just too exciting,” the Mumbai-based Patil, who has a number of awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Puraskar (2009) said.

“We chose the Ganges to begin the Access Water series because the area represents a great example of a deep-rooted dependence on water for human existence,” said Ann Bancroft of the US, an educator, explorer and team co-leader. “There is a critical need to educate students and local communities about the water crisis that not only affects overpopulated areas like India, but to also connect the same problems to their own backyard.”

The team includes co-leader Liv Arnesen of Norway, Olfat Haider of Israel, Cindy Jiaojiao Hu of China, Marcia Gutierrez of Chile, Kim Smith of South Africa and Lisa te Heuheu of New Zealand.

The team will pass through a variety of communities and important cities including Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna before concluding near Kolkata and Delhi in early December.

With education being the foundation for the team’s work, they will work with essential partner organizations like TERI, WAGGGS, UNESCO, Young Pioneers of China, Google, Norwegian Embassy, Percept Profile and Tunheim, to explore the river to find how communities and organizations are working to demand cleaner water and inspiring others to do the same, a statement said.

“The team hopes to show how the water and environmental issues along the Ganges river are similar to other places around the world and stress the significance of innovative solutions that are vital to the future of this planet,” the statement added.

Chetan Krishnaswamy, head of public policy at Google India, said the internet search engine has partnered with the Access Water Expedition to raise awareness about the Indian government’s Clean Ganga Project. T

“There is mythology, history and legend associated with this great river, which has been India’s lifeline. Google believes that all of us need to do our bit to preserve the sanctity of this river and conserve its rich riverine ecosystem,” Krishnaswamy added.

Speaking on the occasion, Bancroft said: “Our dream as educators of connecting with millions of students cannot be achieved without the strong partnerships and shared values to actualize Access Water. Google is powering the stories we discover along the shores of the Ganges to millions of young people”

“We’re a group of women leaders, with a shared vision to create a better tomorrow by inspiring the future leaders to demand safe, clean water for everyone,” Arnesen said: “Whether you want to be an engineer, work on a farm or become a doctor, water touches each and every person’s life. We wish to bring about a through process which could help make instrumental changes in the way we operate so as to create a better world in which we live, and that’s what the Access Water series hopes to accomplish.”

Norwegian Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvag said on Friday: “The Norwegian embassy is a proud host of the launch of Access Water and pleased to receive Liv Arnesen and the international members of the expedition at the embassy before they embark on their journey. Water security is an important issue to address and take action on. Raising awareness on the issue combined with education are vital elements of the long term solutions of these challenges.”

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