Dr Pravin Togadia
A few days back, the world got shocked to see Ganga disappearing from Her origin- Gomukh in Himalayas. Hindus in Bharat and worldwide were heartbroken to see that Gomukh was closed as a large stone fell off the base that supports Gangotri Glacier. It was not as if some little piece has obstructed Ganga flow in Gomukh. It was a closure as if Ganga chose it to be that way because She neither crushed that stone under Her flow nor did she encircle that stone to yet appear through Gomukh. She chose to change the track and flow from Nandan Van—over 5.5 meters away from Gomukh.
Many had many versions of why, how, what next, etc. Devout Hindus not only got shocked but also angry as mostly all knew this was coming some time soon. Those who have been to Char Dham Yatra recently just like me, have noticed with sheer horror the big red rods shoved deep within the entire Himalayan Mountain range of Gadhwal. This is the governmental mountain blasting system. Every now and then large chunks of this mountain range are blasted to make them fall. This rubble is used for the number of power projects from Gangotri to Hrushikesh at Karn Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Vishnu Prayag, Joshi Math, Pipal Koti, Maneri – you name it and these huge stone crushers, big construction machines and many strange looking vehicles are very much there en route Char Dham. They blast mountains around them, use the crushed stones to make route down and up rivers like Ganga, Alaknanda, Mandakini and Yamuna. The sand that these blasts create and the residue of the crushed stones is dumped in the waters of these rivers and in the river beds to either close the flow or to change the direction of the flow. Many villages on the banks of these rivers have already lost the rivers – much away from their villages – so much that they do not have drinking water.
This cruel blasting is not enough for the river butchers. Very systematically, the oldest trees are burnt. How so? ‘Suddenly’ it is noticed that the tall trees standing deep rooted on the mountains, on the banks of the rivers in this range and at the hilly road sides start burning a little after sunset. From Mansa Devi temple at Hardwar to deep inside the forest roads of Dharasu, Dundi, Uttar Kashi, Karn Prayag, Rudra Prayag, etc this is happening. The roots are so deep inside the stones of these mountains that despite strong blasts the mountains do not fall. So the river butchers burn the roots of the oldest trees. With this, the trees fall. The roots loosen up and there is a state sponsored man made land slide everywhere in Gadhwal. This helps float fresh contracts for road making fooling pilgrims that the wider roads will be made for their convenience whereas the lakhs of fallen burnt trees are used to block river flow by placing them on the rubble that has already been placed cruelly on the river beds. All this may sound crude, but I felt a strange shiver in my spine when I saw all this with my own eyes there. I have clicked many photos there! Many pilgrims spoke to me as to how shocked and sad they were to see all that.
Then there are those huge mountain tunnels specially created to ‘make’ Ganga and other rivers flow within those tunnels. They are not in the natural path of these rivers. Ganga is forced to flow through them by changing Her natural flowing path to suit the power companies building huge power generation plants. Lohari-Nagpal and many others are such river butchering places. With strong efforts of the Hindus and Sadhu-Saints the Lohari-Nagpal projects is halted but not yet cancelled. Even now, there is a huge tunnel across the Gadhwal mountain range. The big iron gate on the entrance of it shows the horrible site within that tunnel – standing there imagining that Mother Ganga was to be forcibly pushed inside that dark long tunnel the way cows are pushed in the slaughter houses, was so very disgusting that we all could not help but to remember Skand Puran’s Kashi Khand line Kalou Durlabha Ganga meaning, in Kaliyuga, Ganga will be rare (disappear). With the cruel mountain blasts even thousands of natural channels and sources of water existing in the Himalayan Mountains are also drying up!
I am aware that there is also the other side of it. While Hindus worship Ganga, Yamuna and other rivers there is also a dire need for the electricity. I also met many people in the villages in that range who had stars in their eyes and dreams of affluent life just like cities like Mumbai, Delhi! They thought that the huge power plants being created there will not only give their houses, shops, hotels, flour mills and little factories 24 hours electricity but also will create many jobs locally so that their youth will not go to the cities to earn. This is a hollow dream shown to the villagers there by the governments and power companies so that they do not oppose the projects – instead, they oppose those who oppose power projects on Ganga, Yamuna, Alaknanda, Mandakini, etc. Villages also fear that the meager compensation to some of them (NOT all) have got for giving up the river side fertile land will have to be returned to the companies! Such is the scare and the magic of the hollow dream that they are almost forced to agitate against the rightful protestors against the power projects there! Vidarbh area knows well how they never get any electricity created in Vidarbh by snatching their land!
Every village in Bharat should get 24 hours electricity but is it really necessary to kill our rivers for this? There are many ways for Bharat to get Electricity: Solar power, Wind Power, Run of the River small power generation etc. The same river water while keeping the flow intact can be used for great power generation and there are people in Gadhwal range who have already proven this!
It is easy and nowadays fashionable to ridicule Hindu sentiments about temples, rivers, etc. Just splash a label on Hindus who protest against such power projects on Ganga, Yamuna, etc as ‘anti-development’, manipulate a few national media against them and instigate local people against them showing either hollow dreams or using local politics. All this is temporary.
Ganga has started to go away. The mountains have become so hollow there that even with the heavy traffic of pilgrims or with little rains, there are big landslides killing many.
When Saraswati river disappeared a few thousand years back, there could have been a natural calamity like an earthquake or so. But now with these man-made calamities, Ganga has already started to leave us. Blaming Hindus for Ganga pollution also is a fad these days. A mid-sized American company run by an Indian have an interesting product to clean and de-odorise polluted water. The ingredients in it are the same that Hindus use to offer Ganga, Yamuna, etc in the worship! Rice Bran, Milk, Camphor, Turmeric, etc. So-called seculars and development freaks should stop such environment-butchering projects and Govts should strictly stop sewer and industrial inflows in rivers rather than blaming Hindus for river pollution.
Today, Ganga has stopped flowing from Gomukh; tomorrow Ganga will stop fully just like Saraswati. Final alarm has rung! Wake-up!
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