Cover Story Related : We must trust Modi
Prof Vishwambhar Nath Mishra who is also Mahant of famous Sankat Mochan Mandir is the eminent personality of Banaras who has been fighting to save the Ganga for a long time. He is happy that Ganga has received the centrestage in these elections. But he has high hopes from Narendra Modi and he feels that he can clean the Ganga as he has done in Gujarat by cleaning the Sabarmati. Pramod Kumar spoke to him during Banaras tour. Excerpts:
Ganga has become a major issue in this election. How do you feel?
It is for the first time that Ganga is a major issue in elections. The credit for it goes to Shri Narendra Modi. What he said cannot be ignored because he is the Prime Ministerial candidate. He met me on December 20, 2013 and I briefed him the entire issue. He kept his promise that he made and dedicated half of his speech on April 24 to Ganga. After Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and Congress nominee Ajay Rai also said they would work for the Ganga. Till now whatever was said or done about Ganga was either to get publicity or to misguide the people. Fact is that Ganga does not need just our sewa bhav. The discharge of sewage into her must stop at any cost, as 95 per cent suffering of the River is only because of the sewage. Issuing statements or showing lip service will do nothing. The problem has engineering solution having three components—interception, diversion and treatment. We should first intercept the sewage, then divert it away from the Ganga and then treat it for further use. At least ecological flow of the river must be maintained so that even the acquit life can survive. The whole country seems worried for tigers, why should we not equally worry for the Gangetic dolphins, which are at the verge of extinction.
But the biggest threat to Ganga is said to be Kanpur industrial waste?
There are Environmental Laws to curb it. They all have to first install treatment plants. The plants, which do not comply norm can be sealed. But you cannot seal Banaras city. You cannot even tell the municipality to stop falling of sewage forthwith. The engineering solution has to be followed.
What did Modiji say on it?
He has clearly told me to do something concrete on this front. During nomination also he raised this issue prominently. It means he is firm and will do something honestly. After giving the issue so much hype he cannot now back out. Modiji is not a simple man, he is a man who keeps his words. He has done it in Gujarat by cleaning the Sabarmati. Let us see how he does it in Banaras. What stronger commitment can one expect from him than that ‘I have come to the lap of my mother’? It symbolises his feelings. If he becomes PM, it will be his top priority.
It means you have full faith in Modi?
Have some patience, first give him a chance. He has shown honest commitment. The atmosphere developing in Banaras is historic. We never saw such enthusiasm among voters.
What are other prominent issues?
Banaras is an ancient city securing religious, cultural and intellectual heritage of the country. Civic amenities have collapsed here. It does not need a metropolitan city type development, but the care like a temple. The facilities available here should mesmerise anyone coming here. People come here because of the Ganga and Kashi Vishawanath. Aart from Ganga the situation around Kashi Vishwanath is also very disturbing. The fortification of the temple in the name of security hurts the devotees. It should change.