Sarayu Roy leads residents of Chulhapani village and Save Rivers activists gather to offer prayers to the Damodar on the occasion of Ganga Dussehra in Lohardaga on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture
Hundreds gathered on Wednesday to worship the 592km-long Damodar at its point of origin at Chulhapani in Lohardaga district on the occasion of Ganga Dussehra.
Those present included members of Damodar Bachao Abhiyan and villagers of Salgi gram panchayat.
The river, considered the lifeline of Jharkhand, originates from the Boda-Kamar Hill in Chulhapani village, which is 50km away from the state capital.
“For the first 45km, the river we know as Damodar is called Deonad, and it originates from an ancient Pakanr tree on the hill. The hill today is eroded. We have decided to conserve this spot as it is blessed with scenic beauty and is the place of origin of Jharkhand’s most important river. We will later explore ways to go about it,” said former MLA Sarayu Roy, chief of Damodar Bachao Andolan.
Roy said a trust — Deonad-Damodar Trust — would be formed to work for the river at its origin as well as set up a temple of Lord Vishnu (also known as Damodar) in Chulhapani village to added to the sanctity of the place.
“We will urge the state government to declare it a tourist spot,” Roy said.
The Damodar runs through Chandwa, Khalari, Giddi, Patratu, Bokaro, Gomia, Bermo, Phusro and Dhanbad before joining the Hooghly near Kalna in West Bengal.
The river, however, is also one of the most polluted in the country.
Nearly all coal washeries, located on either side of the river, let their waste into it, turning its water very dirty and poisonous too.
On the occasion of Ganga Dussehra, Damodar Bachao activists and villagers took an oath not to pollute the river water.
“By worshipping rivers, we give it the status of something sacred. Once the residents start looking up at rivers as sacred, they will abstain from polluting it and hence the reason behind today’s prayers,” said Ganesh Reddy, another activist.
Other than Chulhapani village, prayers were also offered at 20 places along the river’s route.
Elsewhere around the state, villagers worshipped rivulets and streams running through the area.