Saints under the banner of Ganga Raksha Manch warned the UPA government to stop work on NTPC hydropower project in Uttarakhand before Sharad Purnima (October 4), otherwise they will be forced to organise a march to Luhari Nagpala where the Ganga has been arrested in a 16 km tunnel by the NTPC. “The UPA government will be responsible for any untoward incident, if occurs during this agitation,” warned Shri Rajendra Pankaj, co-convener of the Manch while talking to mediapersons in New Delhi on September 15. “The UPA government declared the Ganga as National River before general elections. But no concrete step has been taken so far to clean and preserve the holy river. Rather by not stopping the construction work at hydropower projects being constructed over it, the Government has shown that it is bent upon arresting the free-flow of the ‘National River’. In fact, the declaration of Ganga as National River was nothing but eyewash. The Ganga Basin Authority and the Expert Committee that the government has recently formed lack experts, saints and environmentalists who has knowledge about Ganga. The Authority is nothing but a centre of the politicians who give priority to their political interest than preservation of the Ganga,” said Shri Pankaj.
He said the saints had urged the government in advance to accommodate some saints, acharyas and experts also in the committee/authority formed for the protection of the Ganga. Since the government failed to do it, we again warn it to accommodate the saints, acharyas and experts in the authority before Sharad Purnima, otherwise the satins will be forced to start agitation. “Ganga is being targeted intentionally. Otherwise similar dams could have been built over the Sharada river which also originates from Uttarakhand and has similar quantity of water,” he added.
Swami Parmatmanand, co-convener of the Ganga Raksha Manch, said the government must enact rules for the protection of the National River Ganga as have been enacted and enforced for the protection of peacock and tiger as national bird and national animal respectively. “The saints are not against dams and development. We just want that the government should explore alternative resources for meeting the energy needs. Construction of micro dams could be one alternative. We are against big dams but not the micro dams,” he said.
VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal said the Uttarakhand Government-led by former Chief Minister Shri BC Khanduri had stopped work on its hydropower projects when Prof. GD Agrawal started an indefinite fast in Uttarakashi. That work is still pending under the present Uttarakhand government, that has been confirmed by Dr Nishank himself in a conversation with him recently. It is a fact that no tempering is being done with the Ganga by the Uttarakhand Government, but the construction work over the projects run by the Central Government still continues,” Shri Singahl said adding that the experiment of micro projects has been a success all over the world and more energy can be produced through such projects than the big dams. He said the government could take the help of NRIs in setting up micro projects. Alleging that the large portion of the money spent on big dams goes to the pockets of politicians, engineers and other people associated with the projects he said the people who have been appointed in the Ganga Basin Authority are known corrupt and the saints would not accept it at all. “Now we see that the declaration of the Ganga as National River was nothing but an election announcement and it had no seriousness. The whole Parliament should resolve for the protection of the Ganga as it had resolved to take back the PoK,” he added.