“THIS is a fact that rivers are integral point of our ecology, economy, spirituality, religion and truly the entire life pattern of the nation. But unfortunately we as a nation have completely forgotten the importance of the holy rivers. Criminal neglect of the rivers, perverse thinking leading to adoption of so-called development model based on maximising consumption has led to not only excessive exploitation of this important gift of nature but also made them dirty and dry. Making the things worse, big and small dams on these rivers have not only affected the free and unhindered flow of these rivers, but also have caused damage to even the basic characteristic of the rivers. It is time we must act to save the rivers, said Swadeshi Jagran Manch national convener Shri Arun Ojha. He was inaugurating a seminar organised by Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) on the theme of ‘Condition of Rivers in India’ at Jamshedpur on December 11.
The seminar was aimed at in-depth discussion on the issue and positive solutions. Former Minister in Uttarakhand government and a noted environmentalist Shri Mohan Singh Rawat ‘Gaonvasi’, national Vichar Mandal Pramukh of SJM Dr Ashwani Mahajan and former MLA of Jharkhand and a leading activist fighting for the cause of existence of rivers in Jharkhand Shri Saryu Rai also spoke at the seminar. The seminar was attended by representatives from 10 states. Geologists, geographers, economists, academicians and representatives from all walks of life attended the seminar.
Shri Ojha minced no words when he attacked the western model of development and accused the technology emanating from the present day science as the main responsible factors for the present condition of the rivers in India. He also spoke vehemently against the proposed planning of joining the rivers in the country. He said if it happens, it would be disastrous for the country. We have to challenge the western science as we cannot accept the destruction in the name of development. Mentioning the Tehri Dam, he said that very existence of the Ganga is at stake due to construction of this dam for mere 2400 MW electricity, that too after reaching full functioning of this dam.
Shri Mohan Singh Rawat ‘Gaonwasi’, who spoke in two sessions at the seminar, said the rivers have been an integral part of our lives and also our spiritualism and religious sentiments. He explained how rivers in India and the universe are so well connected with each other, that important baths in rivers are linked with the position of the stars. He said that declaration of the Ganga national river is mere a show. He demanded that Yamuna, Shipra and other important rivers should be declared national heritage.
Dr Ashwani Mahajan said the rivers are the rare gift of God to the nation. We need to preserve them at any cost. He said we need to revisit the present model of development because this model is causing havoc to the whole ecology including rivers. Developed countries are not ready to change their life styles and therefore the existence of the earth is endangered. Speaking in the session on Economics of Rivers, he criticised the basic philosophy of pursuit of individual self-interest which guides the economic theories of the day. He emphasised the need to use the natural resources for welfare of all. Supporting his point with the data he explained that the projections about the need of extra electricity generation are being given looking at the demand for electricity for the consumption of rich. He said we can electrify all villages of the country by using hardly one per cent of the projected increase in electricity generation. This implies that the rest 99 per cent extra power generation is to satisfy luxury demands of the rich. The existence of rivers cannot be put on stake for the luxury of the few, he said.
Shri Saryu Rai emphasised that today we are talking only to save big rivers but small rivers, tributaries and distributaries are also equally important. He said we talk of cleaning the rivers, but more important is to keep the rivers clean. He said the government and the bureaucrats are flouting the river policy and law of the land. We should understand that it is disastrous to divert the natural flow of rivers.
Geologist Dr Arun Kumar Singh underlined the importance of rivers in the development of human civilisation. He said development of art, culture, worship, ritual and festivals find their origin in the rivers.
A paper by Shri Hemant Dhayani was circulated among the participants. The paper demanded to declare the Gangotri Valley as a Spiritual Cultural Eco-Zone.
Chief Minister of Jharkhand Shri Arjun Munda also graced the occasion during a technical session on “Economics of Rivers”. Shri Munda expressed his solidarity with the cause of protection of rivers and promised the support of his government to save the rivers of Jharkhand.
The valedictory session of the seminar was addressed by Shri Kashmiri Lal, national organiser of Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Narrating his experience with regard to dangers stemming from building of dams on important rivers including the Ganga, affecting the free an unrestricted flow of rivers, he gave an emotional call to stop playing with the nature. He warned if we do not stop unholy play with the nature, it would not spare the humanity. (FOC)