The Times of India News Service
July 14, 2000
NEW DELHI: It’s not just a question of Ram teri Ganga maili ho gayi. If the construction of the Tehri Dam is not stopped, it’ll be a situation of Ram teri Ganga hi nahin rahi.
On Thursday, Vishwa Hindu Parishad working president Ashok Singhal appealed to the BJP-led coalition at the Centre: stop the construction of the Tehri dam immediately and assure Hindu society that it will never be constructed on the Bhagirathi.
The Centre has been all for the dam, so has the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. Work has been on for years. And the project, conceived 20 years ago, is almost three-fourths complete.
Singhal’s argument is simple: If the dam is built, four-fifths of the water in the lake created will consist of rainwater. Only 20 per cent will be Bhagirathi water.
So, as Singhal put it in Thursday’s appeal to Union water resources minister Arjun Sethi, “The holy Gangajal that devotees take from Har ki Pauri (Hardwar) will no longer be the same non-polluting Gangajal but will be like any other water. As such, the real Ganga will be no more for devotees.”
Singhal says crores of devotees have to be told of this – or “it will be a great betrayal of trust”. He refers to a two-day workshop last month in Roorkee on the Ganga ecosystem, its problems and management, and says it was clearly evident scientists didn’t have a clue about why the Gangajal had remained unpolluted. “No other river in the world has this unique quality of self-purification,” notes Singhal.
Singhal’s advice: “Take courage, cancel this project and modify it” so electricity is generated by a run-of-the-river scheme that would yield much the same result as the dam.
And, save the holy river. “For, if the Ganga is lost, its purity is lost, the Teerthas on the Ganga will be lost and the great Hindu culture will be lost.” Copies of the appeal have been sent, for “information and necessary action”, to Prime Minister Vajpayee and home minister Advani. Neither Sethi nor senior water resources ministry officials were available for comment.
And what if the government doesn’t agree? Then, says PTI, the VHP will launch an agitation to keep the Ganga pure.