Modi Govt Betrayed Ganga and All Who Fight For a Cleaner Ganga: Environmentalist Rajendra Singh
Speaking to The Wire Hindi, he added that Modi "has not done a single good deed for Ganga."
Despite PM Narendra Modi’s 2014 campaign promise in Varanasi about cleaning the River Ganga, the river continues to be more polluted than ever.
On March 7, Dheeraj Mishra of The Wire Hindi interviewed veteran environmentalist and water conservationist Rajendra Singh, also known as the “Water Man of India”. Singh, whose work has earned him the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Stockholm Water Prize, discussed demands of social activists and environmentalists who have been constantly fighting different political regimes for keeping Ganga clean and free-flowing. Singh, in the interview, spoke about the unfulfilled promises of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in terms of cleaning the river.
Following are a few important points made by him during the course of the interview:
- Talking about the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) set up in 2016, Singh said that the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government carefully selected and appointed nine independent activists who were whole-heartedly working for the cause of a cleaner Ganga. But as soon as the Bhartiya Janta Party came to power, the NGRBA was disbanded.
- “The Modi government announced a 20 Crore Namami Gange project, but no work has been done. This government has promised things but failed to deliver.”
- In 2014, Singh recalled PM’s speeches made at Varanasi where he said “I have nothing to take from Ganga, I only have to give to her,” and asked him what he had done for Ganga. “You distributed the money to who you intended to.”
- Singh, condemning the Modi government’s apathetic conduct towards world-renowned Ganga activist GD Agarwal, said that he had been betrayed by the BJP government. He added that all others who fight for a cleaner Ganga, and the Ganga itself, have too, been betrayed. GD Agarwal, also known as Sant Swami Sanand, was a scientist and the head of Tarun Bharat Sangh for last thirty years. He died on October 11, 2018 while on a fast unto death, after 111 days. He wrote thrice to the PM to remind him of the promises he had made but in vain. He did not receive a single response.
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- “(GD) Agarwal did not die for you, Modi. He died for river Ganga. He died in his plea to remind you about the promises you made before being elected to power.”
- “India has been a foundation for religion which promoted freedom and not communalism. This party, by forming so many communal organisations in the name of religion, is only doing the work of spreading hatred, not work that will genuinely contribute to the country or the religion.”
- “The dams proposed to be constructed at Mandakini and Alaknanda will destroy the five ‘prayags’ — Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag being four of them. If they were truly working for a religion, they would have, at least, not made plans to destroy river Ganga’s five prayags.”
- “They just believe in changing names, and not in working. Changing Allahabad’s name to Prayagraj will not help Ganga’s water reach Allahabad.”
- “The Bhartiya Janta party is a contractor- and corporate-driven company. They enjoy creating work that would benefit contractors and corporates. They are making the fishermen on the banks of Ganga homeless, but benefitting the corporates.”
- In the context of PM Modi announcing that the money he received along with the Seoul Peace Prize would be donated to project Namami Gange, Singh said, “Mr Modi is number one ‘Pracharak’ — the publicist. He is the PM, the most powerful political post in the country, but he did not do a single good deed for Ganga. He’s a ‘Maha-Pracharak’. He knows how to gain political points even after failing to deliver on promises.”