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Source: PTI | 05:03 PM,Mar 23,2012 |New Delhi |
Environment scientist – Ganga activist Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (Prof G D Agrawal) today broke his fast after the government promised to convene the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) next month. Agrawal, who was on a fast-unto-death since March 8 to press for cleaning of Ganga, decided to take water and liquid food after he was informed about the government’s decision to convene the meeting of NGRBA on April 17 by Union ministers Sriprakash Jaiswal and V Narayanasamy. “I will keep taking liquid but will not consume any solid food till any concrete work happens for cleaning of Ganga river,” the 80-year-old activist told reporters here at AIIMS where he was admitted two days ago in a critical condition. Demanding that the issue of Ganga should be put in the “priority list” of government, Agrawal said, “I am not in condition to wait too long. I would be happy if it happens before the Prayag Kumbh scheduled to take place in January, 2013.” Attacking the government’s slow approach in preserving the river, he said, “All river can not be placed in the same category with Ganga. Scientific studies have proven that Ganga water has several qualities. But government’s attitude can be ascertained as one minister increases the (rail) fare and the other reduces it.” The biggest problem faced by Ganga is that 90 per cent of its “blood” (water) is sucked by dams and other illegal activities taking place at its banks, Agrawal, who is also known as Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand, said. Stating that the Prime Minister has taken a note of the Sanand’s fast, Jaiswal said, “A consensus emerged that the next meeting of NGRBA will take place in New Delhi on April 17 and a delegation of Ganga Seva Abhiyanam will be invited as special invitee there.” The agenda proposed by Ganga Seva Abhiyanam will be discussed in the NGRBA meeting and it shall be placed for discussion on priority, the minister said.
Dinesh C. Sharma | New Delhi, March 22, 2012 | India Today.
It may sound a bit strange but that’s what is happening in India of the twenty first century. The green politics is getting a dose of saffron or you may say saffron politics is acquiring a green hue. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the fountainhead of all Hindu politics in the country – passed a resolution at its Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur last week, criticising the draft National Water Policy 2012 on key ecological and economic grounds.
The arguments put forth in the resolution would gladden the hearts of any environmentalist, but for the excessive focus on maintaining the sacredness of ‘rivers like Ganga and Yamuna’ by cleaning them up and the need to revive the ancient Saraswati. At the same time, it is ironical to see that holy men and women have had to fight the now-ousted BJP government in Uttarakhand to retain the sacredness of the very same Ganga and its tributaries.
One of them, Swami Nigamanand, even had to give his life up fighting against illegal mining in the Ganga riverbed allegedly by a company owned by a RSS member.
Another swami, Gyanswarup Sanand, a former professor at IIT Kanpur, is still on hunger strike fighting for stopping work on all hydroelectric projects in Himalayan river valleys. He had to be forcibly shifted from Varanasi to Delhi this week.
A closely linked issue, which has cropped up once again thanks to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, is the interlinking of rivers. It was a pet project of the BJP-led NDA government in early 2002 and was wholeheartedly supported by the saffron brigade.
The interlinking was seen as a nationalist project. The ecological fallout of constructing a series of dams across the country to interlink rivers was conveniently overlooked. Hopefully, at least now the saffron parties and their wings will now be able to appreciate green side of this grandiose plan which was vocally supported by President APJ Abdul Kalam then.
One can have no quarrel with anyone taking up any environmental issue, be it river pollution, impact of hydroelectric dams or the need for water conservation. But support to green causes should not be selective and blinkered.
That’s what bothers mainstream environmentalists. If RSS is against market-based mechanism for water pricing, as it professes in its latest resolution, why are states run by its political wing – the BJP – pursuing this very approach most aggressively?
The Congress stand too seems to be ambivalent when it comes to the Ganga. In response to the fast of Swami Gyanswarup two years back, the central government stopped work on a major hydroelectric project in the Alaknanda valley citing the need to preserve holiness of the Ganga. Yet, the same government continues to give green clearances in other river valleys in the state and constantly ignores pollution in the river flowing in the plains.
Is the river less sacred in the plains or is the reverence shown by the government limited to just one state? Green and saffron can certainly co-exist but let the green override all narrow political concerns.
Varanasi | Mar 23, 2012 | Star News: On the 15th day of his fast-unto-death for the Ganga, Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand (noted environmentalist Prof GD Agrawal) ended his fast in New Delhi after he received a written agreement from the Government of India on Friday. He, however, made it clear that he had not ended his ‘tapasya’ (austerity) and would take only liquid food till the promises were fulfilled.
In the meantime, in continuation with the ‘Ganga Tapasya’, another Ganga devotee in Varanasi, Ganga Premi Bhikshu, began a fast unto death sans water at Kedhar Ghat on Friday.