“Reviving the Sabarmati: Drishti Foundation Trust’s Visionary River Cleaning Initiative”


In the heart of India’s western state of Gujarat lies the picturesque Sabarmati River, a vital lifeline that has nourished the land and culture of the region for centuries. However, like many rivers around the world, the Sabarmati had been facing the dire consequences of pollution and neglect. In 2018, the Drishti Foundation Trust embarked on a remarkable journey to breathe new life into the Sabarmati River, undertaking a monumental cleaning initiative in association with ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) as a CSR partner. This initiative has been nothing short of transformative, setting an inspiring example of environmental stewardship and community engagement. In this blog, we delve into the Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative of the Drishti Foundation Trust, exploring its significance, impact, and the path towards a cleaner, healthier Sabarmati.

The Sabarmati River – A Precious Heritage

The Sabarmati River has always held a special place in the hearts of Gujaratis and the people of India. Its rich history and cultural significance have made it a symbol of the state’s heritage. Flowing over 370 kilometres, the Sabarmati has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, the birth of cities, and the evolution of society. However, over the years, industrialization and urbanization have taken their toll, resulting in pollution, encroachment, and degradation of the river. The Sabarmati’s transformation from a pristine waterway to a polluted and neglected resource was a cause for concern.

The Birth of Drishti Foundation Trust

Drishti Foundation Trust was established with a vision to create a sustainable and ecologically balanced environment. The trust’s founders were deeply concerned about the deteriorating state of the Sabarmati River and its devastating impact on the ecosystem, as well as the lives of the communities living along its banks. This concern spurred the trust into action, leading to the launch of the Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative.

ONGC’s CSR Partnership – A Collaborative Effort

One of the most crucial aspects of the Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative’s success was the partnership with ONGC, one of India’s largest and most prominent public sector companies. ONGC’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) played a pivotal role in financing and supporting the project. This partnership brought together the financial strength, technical expertise, and resources necessary for the massive undertaking of rejuvenating the Sabarmati.

The Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative – A Comprehensive Approach

The Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative was conceived as a holistic program addressing multiple aspects of river restoration and rejuvenation:

Waste Removal and Cleaning: The project began with the removal of solid waste, plastic debris, and pollutants from the riverbed and its surroundings. This phase required the mobilization of manpower, equipment, and technology to ensure the riverbanks and waters were free from contaminants.

Sewage Treatment and Pollution Control: A crucial part of the initiative involved the establishment of sewage treatment plants along the Sabarmati’s course. This helped in controlling the discharge of untreated sewage into the river, a significant source of pollution.

Afforestation and Green Belt Development: To promote the natural rejuvenation of the river ecosystem, the initiative included the planting of trees and the development of green belts along the riverbanks. This not only improved the aesthetics of the river but also enhanced biodiversity.

Community Participation and Awareness: Drishti Foundation Trust engaged local communities and volunteers in the cleaning and restoration efforts. Awareness campaigns, workshops, and educational programs were organized to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among the people living along the Sabarmati.

Infrastructure Development: The project also focused on infrastructure development, including the construction of riverfront promenades, recreational spaces, and cultural centres. This not only enhanced the quality of life for residents but also attracted tourists, contributing to the local economy.

Environmental Impact and Rehabilitation of Ecosystems

The Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative brought about significant environmental improvements. The removal of pollutants and the establishment of sewage treatment plants resulted in cleaner water. The afforestation efforts rejuvenated the river’s ecosystem, providing habitats for various species of birds, fish, and other wildlife. Water quality improved, making it safe for aquatic life and human consumption. The transformation of the riverbanks into green spaces enhanced air quality, providing a breath of fresh air for the urban population.

Socioeconomic Benefits and Community Empowerment

Beyond the environmental impact, the Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative had far-reaching socioeconomic benefits. The development of riverfront promenades and recreational spaces created new opportunities for businesses and tourism. Improved water quality led to an increase in fisheries, benefiting local fishermen. The revitalized riverfront attracted investment, boosting the local economy and creating jobs.

Moreover, the involvement of local communities in the initiative fostered a sense of pride and responsibility among the residents. This empowerment not only contributed to the success of the project but also had lasting positive effects on the community’s well-being.

The Ripple Effect – Inspiring Change Beyond Sabarmati

The success of Drishti Foundation Trust’s Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative did not go unnoticed. It served as an inspiring example of what could be achieved through concerted efforts, corporate partnerships, and community engagement. Similar initiatives began to sprout up in other parts of the country, addressing the pollution and neglect plaguing India’s rivers. The Sabarmati’s transformation inspired a nationwide movement for river conservation and rejuvenation.

Challenges Faced and Lessons Learned

While the Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative achieved remarkable success, it was not without its challenges. The removal of waste, treatment of sewage, and community engagement required meticulous planning and execution. Environmental challenges such as water quality maintenance and ecological balance also demanded continuous monitoring and adaptation of strategies. The experience of overcoming these challenges provided valuable lessons for future river restoration projects.

The Future of Sabarmati and Beyond

The Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative was a milestone in the journey towards restoring India’s rivers and water bodies. It demonstrated that with determination, collaboration, and the right approach, it is possible to reverse the damage done to our natural resources. The trust’s commitment to the Sabarmati continues with ongoing maintenance and sustainability efforts.

Looking ahead, the success of this initiative has set a precedent for river cleaning and rejuvenation projects not only in India but also around the world. It serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that even the most polluted and neglected rivers can be revived to their former glory with concerted effort and community involvement.


Drishti Foundation Trust’s Sabarmati River Cleaning Initiative, in association with ONGC as a CSR partner, is a testament to the power of collective action and the transformative impact of environmental stewardship. This visionary project has not only revitalized a historic river but has also brought about positive changes in the lives of the communities it serves. The Sabarmati River now stands as a symbol of hope and inspiration for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future, not just for Gujarat but for the entire nation and beyond. This initiative serves as a reminder that when individuals, communities, and corporations join hands for a common cause, they can achieve remarkable results and leave a lasting legacy of environmental preservation for future generations to cherish.

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