Ganga is not merely a river, but it is also the symbol of devotion and identity of the Bharatiyas. With a view to protect her form and decorum; her stream should not be obstructed; her purity and sanctity be maintained; and her pristine purity of water should not be allowed to get polluted, a “Shri Ganga Raksha Samiti” was formed under the Presidentship of the former MP Swami Chinmayanand on 08 February 1997. Following activities were decided as the objectives of the Samiti :
* Enlisting and offering co-operation of/to various governmental, non-governmental, social and sev- eral other organisations in maintaining Shri. Ganga intact and totally free from pollution right from her source till she merges in the ocean.
* To awaken public for preparing plans for keeping Shri. Ganga pollution-free. Extend co-operation to governmental and non-governmental organizations. To strive to remove the obstacles in her path and oppose construction of dam of any type on Ganga.
*To organise scientific seminars for the purpose of above works; To write articles in the papers and journals; to publish literature; to prepare Audio-Video films.
*To maintain Ganga pollution-free and to maintain the Ghats all along her length clean and dirt-free by forming Citizens Committees in the villages, cities and pilgrim centres on her banks.
*To do research work regarding the medicinal values of Ganga Water by undertaking scientific study of the glaciers, water sources and water-falls from Gomukh to Ganga Sagar.
*To arrange reliefs to the people of villages and cities along the bank of Ganga during the natural calamities like floods etc. To prepare welfare schemes and programmes for them and to partici- pate in all activities undertaken to ameliorate their afflictions.
*To help make available pure potable water especially to the economically backward brethren in every village.
*To assist the people coming from all over the country as also abroad for immersion of the Asthis.
*To form citizens committees and parliamentary forums at important places on the banks of Ganga.
*To strive for educational and social upliftment of economically backward caste people, whose live lihood is Ganga-based.
Tehri Dam Project
Tihri Dam is being constructed at a height of 8,000 sq. ft. Total height of the Dam would be 2,60.5 meters. It would create a water body of 42.5 square K. Ms. It would destroy 126 villages. 85,000 people will be rendered homeless, 5,2000 hectacre of lands would be innundated. It is likely to produce 2,000 mega watts of electricity and irrigate about 2.6 lakh hectacre of land. Duration of the dam is 50 years and estimated cost is Rs.12,000 crores. 80% of the dam water would be used for irrigation and 20% would be allowed to flow. The Dam storage would be 90% from rain waters and 10% from Ganga Water.
Uttar Kashi has already suffered a heavy earth-quake of 6.6 on the Richter scale in 1991. If it comes with 7 and above, it would cause an explosion equal to 90,000 TMT and this dam would crumble. The entire dam water would be emptied in 22 minutes; water of 260 meter level would reach Rishikesh in 63 minutes; 220 meter level water at Haridwar in 70 minutes; 9.85 level water would reach Meerut in 7 hrs and 25 mts; 8.5 meter level water to Bulandshahr in 12 hrs. Delhi also would be inundated. All the pilgrimages on her banks and all the precious herbal medicinal plants would be totally destroyed. Ganga also would disappear like Falgu of Gaya, Kshipra of Ujjain and Saraswati.
Scheme to Finish Ganga
Taking all this into consideration, a number of well meaning thinkers in the country have beenadvising all these years not to block the flow of Ganga, which has been sustaining 1000 villages and cities through its mighty flow of 2,560 Kms. Over 90 crore liters of sewage (polluted waste) water of over 30 crores people is being laid into Ganga every day. Over 1,150 lakh tonnes of chemical waste, 2,600 tonnes of chemical fertiliser and poisonous pesticides are added to Ganga every year by 287 big industries. This scheme is factually a scheme of finishing Ganga.
Many scientists, religious thinkers and ecologists say electricity could be produced by constructing small barrages / dams on its tributaries and the country could be benefited by them to a very great extent. Hence the construction of Tehri Dam must stop forthwith.
Opposition and Awakening
Once the British had tried to construct a dam on Ganga in Harihar in 1914. But they had to give it up because of stiff opposition by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, who had sat on Dharana. But the Govt. of independent Bharat is hell bent upon construction of this Dam, in spite of opposition by entire country.They are not bothered about the damage and loss it would cause to the country and its people.
The Farakka Dam constructed on Ganga is already causing great loss to the country. The depth of Ganga has been reduced (at Farakka it is 3 ft. from its earlier depth of 73 ft.). The fish produce is depleted by 75%. The Hugli port has been rendered useless. Ganga is not able to lead its water in the sea; and since her depth has been reduced, waters are thrown back into the river during monsoon down pour.
Opposition by the Sants
The Sants were opposing the proposal of Tihri Dam through their Pravachans at various places right from the beginning. But they passed a resolution in the Magh Mela Kshetra at Prayag on 31 January 1998 and clarified their view.
The salient points of the resolution are
*Cancel the Tihri Dam Project,
*Ganga should be declared as National River,
*The Ganga Water Sharing Agreement should be abrogated,
*Steps should be taken to prevent waste materials and dirty sewage waters from being led into Ganga,
*Leaving dead bodies, waste materials, and sewage waters etc. should be declared as the cognizable offence,
*Ganga Development Plan should be prepared to clean, beautify the Ghats and pilgrim centres on the banks of Ganga,
*First phase of Ganga Action Plan should be investigated by the water scientists and then alone its second phase be started, (8) While preparing the Second Action Plan, Water Scientists and Voluntary organisations should be taken into confidence,
*A separate scheme for pisciculture, germiculture, and fisheries should be prepared and fishermen, boatsmen should be provided financial assistance,
*Financial assistance should also be given for the cleanliness at Ghats and burning of the unclaimed dead bodies,
*Remedial measures should be taken for preventing recenssion of farm lands on her banks,
*The Water Authority of Bharat should be made more effective and determination of a fixed depth of Ganga for maintaining inter-state water-ways intact.
Ganga Sanrakshan Jagaran Yatra
The Kendriya Prabandh Samiti of the VHP passed a resolution on 01 April 1998 to cancel the Tihri Dam Project. The Parishad has already done efforts in this direction. It had taken out a Ganga Samrakshan Jagaran Yatra. This Jal Yatra, first of its kind; and full of fatal risks, arranged by the VHP taken out for public awakening became more successful than what was expected of itA Ganga Sanrakshan Jagaran Yatra was taken out from Bag Bazar Ghat in Kolkata on 16 October 1997 by ritualistically installing an idol of Goddess Ganga Mata in a well-decorated boat Rath. Shri. Ashok Singhal showed it a green flag. This boat with 15 Sadhu-Sants, 8 crew members and 26 workers entered the Rajmahal city of Bihar in the evening on 23 October 1997 after traversing important cities on the banks in Bengal like Kolkata, Barrakpur, Brahmapur, Murshidabad and Malda. During the course of one week Yatra, 22 massive public meetings were held with public participation ranging between 15 to 25 thousand each. The Yatra reached Bhagalpur on 24 October 1997, where a grand reception was accorded to the Yatra by the City MLA Shri. Ashwini Choube and Opposition Leader in the Bihar Assembly Shri. Sushil Modi and Shri. Anil Prakash of the Ganga Mukti Abhiyan alongwith their thousands of supporters. On the next day, the Yatra reached Patna on the morrow of Deepavali via Ajagaivinath (Sultanganj), Monghyr, Mokama, Simaria Ghat. Several programmes were held in Patna on that day. The participants of the Yatra then called on the Governor of Bihar in the evening on 31 October 1997. He was requested to make the current of Ganga pollution-free, providing financial assistance to boatsmen and fishermen for fisheries and germiculture; as also plying their boats, etc. and ensuring remedial measures for preventing the waste materials and sewage waste being led into Ganga. As enthusiasm and delight went on growing on with every public response through receptions and public meetings held from place to place; it also created a deep sense of depression after seeing the actual pitiable plight of the river Ganga. A deep feel of dejection set in after seeing the nasty, stinking waste sewage water from the cities, other waste materials from the factories, floating dead human and animal bodies; and the vultures and crows hovering over them. The most surprising thing was that when the Yatra was reaching those places, no sewage water outlet was seen entering the Ganga and nothing of the sort was found anywhere during the entire water-way of the Ganga; as though some water treatment plants had already been installed at all those places. At some places, electric crematorium was there; but all without any exception were in defunct condition.The Secretary General of VHP Acharya Giriraj Kishor, Rajamata Vijayaraje Scindia and Sadhwi Uma Bharati attended the concluding programme of the Yatra at Prayag. This Yatra was organised by Shri Ganga Raksha Samiti under the patronage of VHP. Shri. Jiveshwar Mishra was the National Convener of the Yatra. At all those places, the people were given the oath that was first given in Sanskrit at the seventh Dharma Sansad.
*I shall not allow this Path (stream) of Bhagirath to parch away; so long this Bharatvarsha lives, and I am alive.
*I am the devotee of Bhagirathi, I bathe in the source of Ganga. I shall not tolerate her bondages any more.
*It is my firm commitment and determination that I shall not allow any Dam on Ganga.
*I shall liberate Muktidatri, Bhuktidatri and Shreya-Preya Pradatri (one who blesses liberation, sus- tenance, material welfare and spiritual wellbeing) Ganga from the pollution of all types.
*Never shall I allow to perish the Ganga, who adores the head of Lord Shiva, the enemy of Kama; who removes all the miseries and worries of all men and women just in a moment; and who flows from the mountain peaks.
Even after this, resolutions were passed in various meetings, Sammelans and other programmes for awakening the consciousness of the public and to caution the Govt. But the Govt. never took any cognisance of this penchant of Bharatiya people. While discussing about the propriety and utility of the Yatra, Shri. A. R. Kidwai assured his co-operation in this important task. Association of the Bihar Pradesh BJP President Shri. Ashwini Kumar, Rajyasabha Member and other people’s representatives from time to time proved to be the morale booster for the Yatri Dal. It remained for about 11 days in Bihar and public meetings and reception programmes were held at 36 places. Pujya Mahant Avaidyanath joined the Yatra from Patna and Pujya Mahant Dr. Ramvilas Das Vedanti from Buxar. A rousing reception was accorded to this Yatra by a well-known Sant Bhaktimali Pujya Shrimannarayana in the Tapobhumi of Rishi Vishvamitra.
The Chhapra MP Shri. Rajiv Prasad Rudi and legislator Shri. Swaminath Tiwari gave an emotive send-off to this Yatra on behalf of entire Bihar at Chousa on 4 November 1997. On reaching Uttar Pradesh, the first public meeting was held at Gaon Sherpur (Gazipur), the village of freedom martyrs, where the Yatra was accorded a grand reception by the MP from Gazipur Shri. Manoj Kumar Sinha. After halting there for the night, it reached Saidpur on the next day. Several reception meetings and functions were held. One such reception was attended by the Minister of state of U. P. Shri. Mahendranath Pandey. On the eve of Surya Shashthi, the Yatra was given a thundering welcome at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi by the local MP Shri. Shankar Prasad Jaiswal along with thousands of his supporters. A public meeting was held on Tulsi ghat, presided over by Pujya Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth Shri. Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Maharaj. It was attended by several water scientists and research students in large numbers. This programme was organised by Ganga Pradushana Mukti Abhiyan Samiti, Varanasi. After Varanasi, the Yatra reached happily its destination Prayag via Chunar-Mirzapur, Sitamurhi-Sirsa.