VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy together called on the Union Minister of Environment and Forests Dr Jairam Ramesh in New Delhi on December 9 and discussed the state of the Ganga.
Shri Singhal at the outset made it clear that the VHP and all the saints are resolutely opposed to the destruction of the Ganga through ill-conceived power generation projects of the Centre from Gangotri to Haridwar. These projects will tunnel out the Ganga from its traditional path, from its source, to Haridwar and render the riverbed dry and bereft of what is today the purest Gangajal flow, he said.
Dr Jairam Ramesh told both the leaders that following the receipt of letters from them in last October, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, as chairman of the National Ganga River Authority, had in the last meeting on October 5 directed stay of all the hydro projects under construction and asked for a review by a high powered committee. That Review Report has now been received by the Authority and is being studied for action to be taken.
As far as scrapping of the projects in favour of other alternative ways of generating electricity is concerned, Dr Ramesh said it required further study which is being contemplated as to what is to be done about the construction already carried out, and what dangers to environment would it pose if the structures already in place are simply abandoned. Dr Ramesh added that as an Indian he would not like India to be transformed from a civilisation of rivers to a nation of tunnels, and hence he would seek a harmonisation of our spiritual traditions and imperatives of economic development. He urged the two leaders to wait till January end when a formal decision would be taken on how to proceed further. Till then all the existing projects under construction will remain stayed.