A two-day convention on Ganga protection began in Haridwar on May 27 with experts dwelling on the outline of the save Ganga movement, alternatives for hydropower projects in the hilly terrains, employment avenues for people living adjacent to the Ganga and other tributaries apart from a strategy on how to take forward the movement to ensure that the Centre accepts the demands of the movement. Various sections of the society have supported the campaign launched by Sadhvi Uma Bharati to save the Ganga. A big gathering of saints, politicians, environmentalists, chiefs of Hindu frontal organisations, social workers and people from every nook and corner of the state, everyone seem united to support the Ganga movement.
Speaking at the concluding session on May 29, VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal said the Ganga is ensconced and enshrined in the national psyche as Bhagwati Goddess incarnate and millions of people celebrate this divine river right from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar and take holy dip in its water to replace in their life all negativities with positive revitalised spirit and internalise blessedness. He said Uma Bharati has been making brave efforts to save one of the ancient Shakti Peeths (Dhari Devi temple) which is threatened to get deluged under the Srinagar Dam waters. Saving the Ganga is a great duty on the part of the people of the whole country.
Shri Singhal urged the Prime Minister to accept the demands put by Uma Bharati. “Her first demand is to pass a law to declare the Ganga a “National River” and the law must take into account the full stretch of the Ganga. Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and other tributaries from the upper Himalayas together go into forming the Ganga. Both are complementary, supplementary and mutually very eco-sensitive which is why they all should be taken as a whole and not considered in a compartamentalised and segregated way. Therefore, the law to declare the Ganga national river should take into account the geological and religio-spiritual definition of the Ganga. This law would bring great acclaim to Central Government from all quarters,” Shri Singhal said.
The second demand, Shri Singhal said, is to call a meeting of the Ganga Aasin Authority to form a Board. Umaji urges that the Board should include environmentalists and representatives from religio-spiritual fraternity of Bharat. The roadmap of its vision, mission, work, principles and other necessary details must be ensured. Only this Board should be responsible to decide upon scrapping or letting run any project. Shri Singhal further urged the Prime Minister to make efforts to ensure that the Ganga is restored to her pristine glory and the present generation is blessed with the fortune to share in the great punya in saving mother Ganga. It would bring great relief to the saints and millions of people of the country who are now worried about the miserable plight of the mother Ganga. Ashok Singhal urged the entire sundry to participate in this noble cause.
He said though many such movements to save the Ganga were carried out in the past, the ongoing movement would be the one that would be successful both in its objectives and impact. “We will surely achieve success as the support of the masses is with us. I have noticed that people from various walks of life are supporting Uma Bharati’s agitation from day one. We are geared up to make sure that the second phase of the agitation to be carried out in Delhi also fructified like the first phase.”
Swami Satyamitra-nand Giri extended full support the agitation of Sadhvi Uma Bharati and said if we fail to save the Ganga today there would be no need to take any initiative tomorrow as there would be no Ganga.
Shri Swadeshi ideologue Shri KN Govindacharya said several mass agitations carried out in the past in the country had achieved success and this time too, the Central Government would have to bow down as the common man was also supporting this cause. He said: “The way hydropower projects are being carried out on the Ganga in hills and the river is getting polluted, it’s high time that we all get united to make a permanent policy that caters to the cause of the Ganga.”
Swami Chidanand Muni said we should think of the Ganga as we think of ourselves. Only then we shall be able to protect her. He said it does not require Anshan (hunger strike) to prevent the construction of hydropower projects on the Ganga rather it requires ‘action’.
Former Union Minister Swami Chinmayananad, Akhada Parishad spokesperson Baba Hatyogi Maharaj, economist Bharat Jhunjhunwala, former minister in Uttarakhand Government Shri Mohan Singh Rawat ‘Gaonwasi’, various environmentalists, scientists, geologists and social activists also addressed the convention. Vice Chairman of State Khadi Gramodyog Board Shri Prem Badakoti, Dr Padamesh Badakoti, Dr NC Mehta, Shri Sachidanand Bharati also spoke in different sessions.