India’s sacred river Ganga is succumbing to pollution each day and even after spending thousands of crores of money by our government towards cleaning Ganga mission, there’s no sign of River Ganges’ recovery. The promise of Clean Ganga was one of the keys that brought Narendra Modi-led government to power in 2014 with an unprecedented mandate. Much water has flown down the Ganga since then — BJP’s fake love for ‘Mother Ganga’ has been brutally exposed after GD Agarwal, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and a man who devoted his life to the cause of saving river Ganga, died on Thursday after fasting for 111 days. He breathed his last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh due to a heart attack.
On June 22, Ganga Activist GD Agarwal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, sat on his fast and demanded immediate steps after criticising the government for its inaction in taking measures to make Ganga pollution-free and free-flowing. He also insisted on prohibiting all hydroelectric projects along the tributaries of the Ganga and enactment of Ganga Protection Management Act.
On the most unfortunate note, even after writing several letters to the concerned Ministry and the Prime Minister, the government that thumps its chest on being working on cleaning Ganga mission paid no heed to the veteran and hence, none of Agarwal’s letters received a response. His third and final letter to PM Narendra Modi dated June 18 stated, “It was my expectation that you would go two steps forward and make special efforts for the sake of Gangaji because you went ahead and created a separate ministry for all works relating to Gangaji, but in the past four years all actions undertaken by your government have not at all been gainful to Gangaji and in her place gains are to be seen only for the corporate sector and several business houses.”
Rehmani Group north Mumbai president Zamir Khan expressed, “The Modi government is not serious about Ganga clean up mission. Even though G D Agarwal has forwarded several letters to the PM for saving River Ganga, but he died waiting for a response.”
“Why is PM Modi Tweeting his condolences now when he had failed to respond to Agarwal’s letters? The incumbent government is not serious about development and only indulging in publicity stunts. They spend money on publicity activities instead of the welfare of the citizens,” regretted Khan.
While the Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry is ready to boast with a list of initiatives aimed at the river cleanup in a time-bound manner and its Minister Nitin Gadkari claimed to have fulfilled almost all of Agarwal’s demands, the reality on the ground says a different story. Even after his death, apart from a condolence tweet from PM Modi, no other BJP leaders bothered to open their mouths or show interest to look into this issue.
Stretching some 1,500 miles from its origin in the Himalayas to its mouth in the Bay of Bengal, the Ganga is worshiped by many Hindus and is a water source for an estimated 400 million people. It absorbs waste every day from around 144 drains and hundreds of factories in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. The Ganga crusader’s death has unveiled the bitter truth of how the incumbent government, before coming to power and during its rule, is fooling the people’s emotion and playing with the name River Ganga in parallel to many of its other unfulfilled promises.
In 2014, Prime Minister, who represents the holy city of Varanasi, launched its most ambitious Namami Gange initiative and allocated a huge fund of Rs 20,000 for the five years commencing 2015-2020. Even after sanctioning 120 projects and spending a total of Rs 12,500 crore, the project hasn’t reached any far since its inception. Nothing more can unveil the government’s lackadaisical attitude as the taxpayers’ money got wasted without any improvement to control the alarming Ganga pollution level. As per a recent lab test, bacterial contamination is now 20 times higher than the levels recorded back in 2014 at Varanasi’s ghats. Whatsoever, whenever any foreign counterparts visited our nation and especially Varanasi, the city was covered with colourful posters of PM Modi to hide its debris.
While initially the Namami Gange project was headed by then Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti, despite tall emotional claims and promises, she fell flat. In December 2017, showing her love for Mother Ganga, she went ahead announcing to launch fast unto death if the implementation of the plans to clean Ganga fails to start by October 2018 but it seems she has forgotten that too. Later, in 2017 September, the charge was handed over to Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.
Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi stressed, “The government is not serious about Ganga pollution and only misleading people. PM Narendra Modi had made several promises pertaining to the purification of Ganga River, but if one visits any Ganga ghat, they can see how impure the river is. If you visit foreign countries, you will notice how well they have maintained cleanliness.”