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Interfaith group cleans Indian lake

Catholic priest hopes others will join to restore popular tourist spots

Father Norbert Herman, third right, with other members of his interfaith group clean Lake Swaroop Sagar Father Norbert Herman, third right, with other members of his interfaith group clean Lake Swaroop Sagar
  • Mariola Sequeira, Ajmer
  • India
  • January 5, 2011
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An interfaith group led by a Catholic priest recently joined a television channel to clean up a lake in Udaipur, a tourist center in Rajasthan state.

Father Norbert Herman of the Sarv Dharm Maitri Sangh (all-religious harmony group) said only 10 people participated on Jan. 3, but they had set an example for others.

Prakash Paliwal from “IN-NEWS TV” said they undertook the clean-up campaign after local authorities ignored several public appeals.

The interfaith group cleaned Swaroop Sagar built some 150 years ago.

The lake is one of several built by Udaipur’s former rulers since the 17th Century to ensure a regular water supply for their people.

The lakes have become a popular tourist attraction. More than 700,000 tourists visited Udaipur last year, according to government statistics.

Paliwal said 12 government agencies are tasked with maintaining the lakes, but over the years, unregulated commercialization, increased pollution and government indifference has led to their deterioration.

Local people made several attempts since 1980 to get the lakes cleaned of water hyacinths. In 1997, a local NGO approached the Supreme Court seeking judicial intervention.

Despite all this, the lakes have remained polluted with droughts worsening their condition, Paliwal told ucanews.com.

He said his television channel, which promotes “creative community welfare ventures,” decided to seek the support of Father Herman’s group.

The Divine Word priest told ucanews.com on Jan. 4 that his group explores “every avenue to foster interfaith dialogue.”

Started 10 years ago, the group holds media training workshops in schools and conducts prison visits.

Father Herman said he is hopeful more people would join the campaign to weed out water hyacinth from the lakes.

Related reports
Catholics´ visit to Hindu leader expected to boost relations
Catholic Bishop Initiates Dialogue With Hindu Party In Rajasthan State

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