Wednesday, February 15, 2012
AN APPEAL TO INDIA'S PRIME MINISTER - SAVE THE GANGA
By Manuwant Choudhary
The other day a freind took me out for lunch to Bankipore Club in Patna located on the banks of the river Ganga but when we got there there was no Ganga, for miles we could see just mustard fields and now only during monsoons does the Ganga touch Patna...it got me worried...and I immediately recognised that there was insufficient water in the Ganga and that is the reason why the Ganga changes course.
But our elected representatives do not see this.
They believe in building dams and destroying our natural resources.
NOTE: Everything the government touches is bound to be destroyed and so it is with building dams...the governemnt thinks that by harnessing the energies of the river...they can control it..but what they don't realise is that governemnts are simply useless..they create more problems than solve.
Governments often are the problem.
And now in a few days Nitish Kumar is inviting the Nepal Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattaraii to be Chief Guest a Global Meet only to impress upon him to build a high dam in Nepal to prevent floods in Bihar.
I am not really sure how this will help.
Maybe in the years to come Bihar will beg for water from Nepal.
What Bihar needs to do is harness its catchment areas and build an irrigation network not using large canals but smaller iron pipelin which will criss-cross Bihar and water will be pumped to farmers making Bihar the granary of India and the world.
So when I got this petition I felt immediately connected to the cause. Swamy Gyan Swarup Anand is on a fast unto death to save the Ganga and activists are now holding candle-light vigils outside the Prime Minister's House.
But notice even in UP elections politicians do not even mention this great river.
Rahul Gandhi wears a beard to win Muslim votes and talks about never leaving UP until it changes (government changes).
Priayanka twitches her mother Sonia Gandhi's cheeks and praises BJP ruled states.
Maya behenji..talks of how the people should never vote for the Congress and just vote for her until she becomes Prime Minister.
BJP and Mulayam are all interested is somehow getting a share of the UP pie.
No mention of the Ganga.
So this citizens initiative on the Ganga focusses on a real issue that determine India's future.
Dear Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh,
We the undersigned express solidarity with the tapasya of Swami Gyan Swarup Anand involving fast unto death to save river Ganga from total destruction.
We are deeply pained by the fact that you have failed to honour your promise of giving the protection due to Ganga after it was officially declared as the "national river".
We are disturbed by the fact that the high powered National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) headed by yourself has failed to live up to its mandate and proved as effete as the earlier Authority created for implementing the Ganga Action Plan.
We condemn the wasteful and non transparent manner in which thousands of crores of rupees are being mis spent or siphoned off under the garb of “Cleaning Ganga”. This sacred waters of Mother Ganga need no cleaning. All that is needed is that the government agencies stop destroying the river in the fragile Himalyas by building bumper to bumper dams and polluting it with sewage and industrial effluents.
We demand that:
Ganga waters be allowed to flow freely in the Himalayas and plains: Ganga ko aviral behne do — in order for its water to retain their purity. Blocking their flow through dams and an endless series of tunnels deadens the water. Even aquatic life does not survive in such waters. River water retains its purity by constant exposure to the sun, air and its own riverbed.
Scrap with immediate effect all the under-construction projects at Alaknanda Ganga, Vishnu-Ganga, Nandakini Ganga and Mandakini Ganga. The government must ensure that no such projects are undertaken on Ganga and its tributaries--Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi-- that disrupt the natural flow of its waters.
Ensure that the speed of the flowing water from Narora to Prayag is not less than 100 cubic meters per second. At festive sites during special sacred occasions such as Magh Mela, Kumbh and Parv-Snaan, the speed of water should be, at a minimum, 200 cubic meters per second.
Stop diverting through canals 90% of the river water for irrigation purposes because that destroys its ecological flow. Only a small fraction should be diverted for irrigation.
Stop the sanction of grants passed for the supposed cleaning of Ganga till such time as an honest review is undertaken of the money thus far spent and a transparent and accountable system for using the funds in a purposeful manner has been put in place.
Stop pouring sewage into the sacred waters of Ganga. Let sewage water be treated and used for non-domestic purposes.
Shift the industries that pour poisonous and polluted waters into the river from their current location to at least fifty kilometers radius away from the river. Their effluents should not be allowed to come anywhere near Ganga waters even after treatment.
Undertake massive reforestation of the highly denuded and endangered Himalayas in order for them to sustain the various rivers that originate there and prevent landslides.
Declare immediate moratorium followed by a total ban on land use change of Ganga's, including its tributary Yamuna's, flood plains.
Undertake massive greening and beautification of the banks of river Ganga and its sister river Yamuna in all the cities and towns through which this holy river passes.
Make it mandatory for every city, town and village to undertake systematic water harvesting. This will ensure that the bulk of their water requirements are met from what they have harvested locally and that the upstream towns and cities will not need to suck away all the fresh waters of our sacred river.
Treat Ganga with the respect it deserves after being accorded the status of "National River" (Rashtra Nadi) and nurture it as the most revered symbol of Indian civilization.
Enact a strong law in parliament to ensure it gets the special care and concern appropriate to a national river. The law should force the governments of all the states through which Ganga passes to take necessary steps for the efficient management of the river and protection of its waters.