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June 05, 2011

Page: 14/36

Home > 2011 Issues > June 05, 2011

Uma Bharati on fast in Haridwar for protecting Ganga
From Ravindra Saini in Haridwar

SENIOR leader Uma Bharati is on fast in Haridwar for the protection of Ganga and historic Dhari Devi temple. She started hunger strike on May 10 raising prominently three issues—saving of Dhari Devi temple from submersion in the 330 MW Alaknanda hydro project reservoir, constitution of a separate Ganga Board to maintain the sanctity of the holy River and to look into the construction of hydro power projects and the involvement of experts and saints in the proposed Board.

On persuasion by saints and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’, who accepted one of her demands of protecting the Dhari Devi temple, Uma Bharati broke her hunger strike on May 18. But her agitation still continues. She is now taking only liquid (rasahar). On May 18, Dr Nishank visited Uma Bharati and assured her that no harm would happen to Dhari Devi temple due to the hydro power project.

Talking to Organiser, Dr Nishank said Uma Bharati’s demands are genuine and the state government supports her movement. He assured that Dhari Devi temple would not be demolished because of the ongoing hydro power project and some other alternatives would be chosen. Uma Bharati said the initiative taken by the Uttarakhand government proves that faith and development can go together.

Talking to Organiser Uma Bharati said she would continue her fast till her demands by Prime Minister and Union Environment Minister are accepted. The first phase of her campaign for Ganga would continue till Ganga Dusshera i.e. June 12.

It is to be noted that under the aegis of Maa Ganga Sewa Abhiyan, Uma Bharati initiated a countrywide campaign to save the Ganga from April 1. In the first phase, which lasted for 11 days, the saints and the Ganga devotees recited Shiv Nam 1.25 crore times in Haridwar. She said till the proposed Board is constituted and that reviews the hydro power projects on Ganga, the work on the projects should be suspended completely.

She demanded that to preserve the heritage of the historic Dhari Devi temple the height of the power project should be reduced. Dhari Devi is revered as life saving deity by the pilgrims who visit the temple. Hence, it is imperative to conserve the temple by all means. Dhari Devi temple is the seat of faith for countless Hindus not only in the country but for those settled across the world. This ancient temple that has also withstood the vicissitudes of time and is now under threat of submersion or relocation from the GVK hydro power project in Srinagar. “With profit-making at play, the company talks of elevating the temple. However, for its devotees the site of the shrine is sacrosanct. We cannot just let our house of worship be relocated at the hands of builders,” she said.

Resting on a rock, about 20 meters high, by the tranquil waters of the Alaknanda the unassuming temple of Dhari Devi has a mystic charm of its own, deriving from the interesting legend passed over generations among the mountain people. In order to reach Dhari Devi shrine, one has to travel 19 kms to Srinagar (Pauri Garhwal) on the Srinagar-Badrinath highway to Kaliya Saur then trek down around half a kilometer towards the Alaknanda. The village near the temple is named after the deity and is known as Dhari village.

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