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Centre may soon ban all construction on Ganga

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New Delhi: All new construction activities may soon be banned on the banks of Ganga and all its tributaries to protect the ecology of the holy river and maintain its minimum environmental flow.

An in-principle decision towards this was taken at an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) meeting that was held last month. The decision was taken after reviewing the report submitted by an Expert Body that gave clearance to hydroelectric power (HEP) projects that have been proposed to be built on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in Uttarakhand.

According to reports, a final decision will be taken after IMG-constituted five-member committee chaired by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar submits its comprehensive report on the issue. The committee is likely to examine all the aspects of the issue, ranging from environmental flow to longitudinal connectivity in the two rivers.

Shekhar has severely criticized the Experts Group report for giving clearances to five out of six HEP projects. The six proposed HEP projects are: NTPC’s Lata Tapavan, NHPC’s Kotlibhel IA, GMR’s Alaknanda, Super Hydro’s Khirao Ganga and Bhyunder Ganga, and THDC’s Jelam.

He has further conveyed to the IMG that the requirements of environmental flow and longitudinal connectivity proposed by the Experts Group are very inadequate and may leave the rivers without any water during non-monsoon seasons.

The IMG is comprised of Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Power Minister Piyush Goyal.

After the devastating floods in Uttarakhand in 2013, the Supreme Court had put a temporary halt on all new HEP projects, and had asked the government to examine the feasibility of the HEP’s and submit its recommendations.

The next hearing of the Supreme Court on the issue is scheduled for January 20. Shekhar has been given a month’s time to complete his recommendations so that the government can take a final decision and convey it to the Supreme Court on January 20.

(Photo: www.gangarights.org)

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Cleaning of Ganga is not impossible, but it is very difficult.

The holy river is also one of the most polluted river

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Ganga in Haridwar
A pile of garbage lies on the riverbank along the Ganges riverfront known as "Har ki Pauri," the most sacred spot in the Hindu holy town of Haridwar where devotees throng. VOA

– Saket Suman

About five years ago, when Financial Times journalist and author Victor Mallet began living in Delhi, he was shocked to discover that the Yamuna — “this beautiful river of Indian legend and art” — was chocked with untreated sewage and industrial waste after it had passed through the city on its way to Mathura, Agra and on to join the Ganga at Allahabad He wondered “how a river so sacred to so many Indians could also be so polluted and neglected” and then set out to record the plight of the Ganga.

His exhaustive journey led him to various key locations on the river, including its source at Gaumukh and Sagar Island and the Sunderbans at its mouth in the Bay of Bengal. This culminated in the publication of “River of Life, River of Death” (Oxford University Press/Rs 550/316 pages).

“My conclusion is that it is not impossible (to clean the Ganga) — but it is very difficult. Narendra Modi is the latest of several Indian prime ministers to announce plans to rescue the Ganga — in fact, I would say he has been the most fervent — but like his predecessors, he has struggled to implement these plans despite the availability of funds from India itself and from international donors such as the World Bank and Japan.

“Clearly, the Ganga has enormous problems of physical pollution from sewage, industrial toxins and pesticide run-off. Too much of the water is diverted for irrigation in the dry season, which can leave parts of the river without water before the monsoon. But with political will and public support — I don’t think anyone in India objects to saving the river — it can be done,” Mallet told IANS in an email interview from Hong Kong.

The important thing, he maintained, is to change mindsets and he noted in this context that it is quite common among devout Hindus to say: “Ma Ganga is so spiritually pure that nothing we throw in the river will sully her or make a difference.”

The author said that sensible holy men and environmentalists who care for the Ganga term this as nonsense — and the reason it’s not true is that the Ganga’s very spiritual power arises from its physical properties as a life-giver, as a provider of water and fertility.

“That’s why rivers have always been worshipped in ancient times, including in England. So if you destroy the river’s life-giving qualities through pollution, you destroy the source of her spiritual importance,” he added.

In the book, he also states that it is not impossible to clean the Ganges, “as river clean-ups in Europe and America have shown”.

Elaborating on this, he said: “When I was a child living in London, my mother always told me not to fall in the Thames because the river was so filthy that if I fell in I would have to go to hospital and have my stomach pumped! Yet today the Thames is clean — muddy, but virtually free of industrial pollution and untreated sewage — because successive governments and water and sanitation companies have stopped the pollution.

“The same is true of the Rhine in continental Europe and the Chicago river in the United States. The great thing about rivers is that you don’t have to scrub them clean — you just have to stop polluting them and the natural flow of the river does the rest.”

Mallet maintained that the record on the Ganga has so far been disappointing in terms of implementation, but hoped that there will be a change now that there is a new minister in charge.

“If you clean the Ganga by improving sanitation, you not only save the goddess, you also create thousands of jobs in infrastructure development, and save the lives of thousands of children who die each year because of bad water, poor hygiene and stomach bugs. Likewise, if India curbs its greenhouse gases — and this seems to be happening anyway because alternative energy such as solar power is now very competitive on price — then that will also help it to reduce the kind of air pollution that has recently been afflicting Delhi and the whole of North India,” he maintained.

Mallet went on to add that he learnt a lot about the mythology and the history of the river — and the history of India — in the course of his research for the book.

“In a way, India is so rich in civilisations and stories that you can never say you have completed your work as a researcher and writer. You can at least make a start, and also explain the contemporary political, social, religious and environmental issues that affect the river and the country as a whole,” Mallet said. (IANS)

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Rishikesh: The World Capital of Yoga is in India

Many tourists visit Rishikesh every year in search of attaining peace and spirituality

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Rishikesh
Ganges River at Rishikesh. Wikimedia

Aug 12, 2017: Rishikesh, also known to be a holy city is a perfect destination to endeavor spirituality. It is one of the most sacred places in the country and what’s enticing about this destination is its unique charm and religious culture.

Rishikesh is the mother ground for Ayurveda and yoga, not to forget it is being called as “The World Capital of Yoga” Click To Tweet

It is also perceived as a medium to attain moksha while practicing yoga in the embrace of nature in Rishikesh. Many tourists visit here every year in search of attaining peace and spirituality.

Places to visit in Rishikesh: 

  • Lakshman Jhoola
Rishikesh
Ram jhoola bridge over Ganga river. Wikimedia Commons

 It is a famous milestone in Rishikesh which is 450 ft length and connects two districts via the iron bridge over holy river Ganga at Rishikesh. This one is worth a watch!

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  • Ganga Aarti
A night arti click of holly river name as Ganga. Wikimedia Commons

The sight of Ganga Aarti is breathtaking and phenomenal as the holy river Ganga is worshipped at various Ghats. Ganga Aarti is also the heart of Rishikesh.

  • Neelkanth
The photo is of Neelkanth Mahadev Temple near Rishikesh. Wikimedia Commons

Neelkanth is a holy temple of lord Shiva surmounted at the height of 1300 meters. The temple located 32 km far from Rishikesh, is known to be the sacred place where Lord Shiva consumed poison and placed it in his throat at the time of Samudra Manthan.

  • Triveni Ghat
Triveni Ghat view at Rishikesh. Wikimedia Commons

Triveni Ghat is a sacred ghat popular for glimpsing Ganga Arti. Triveni has a spiritual whiff and outlasting ambiance.

Also Read: Yoga empowers People to take control of their Lives and achieve Better Health: UN forum 

  • Parmarth Niketan
Morning Yoga class at Parmarth Niketan, Muni Ki Reti. Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the top yoga centers in the country. Many tourists visit this place for spiritual healing, music therapy, exercises. The ashram is open to all irrespective of the race, color, gender, and religion. It also offers over 1000 rooms equipped with all the modern facilities.

  • Byasi
Village near Haridwar. Wikimedia Commons

Byasi is a village situated on the outskirts of the river Ganga popularly known for adventurous water sport because of the constant flow of river Ganga.

  • Muni ki Reti
Ghats on the Ganges near Parmarth Niketan, Muni Ki Reti. Wikimedia Commons

Muni ki Reti is another known pilgrimage for meditation and yoga. It has a literary meaning “sand of sages”, denoted as a place where sages used to mediate during archaic times.

There is nothing as serene as connecting with the tranquility of Holy River and pilgrimage of Rishikesh to devise spirituality.


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Indian subsidiary of French naval major DCNS contributes to Clean Ganga Fund

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River Ganga, Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 24, 2017: DCNS India, the Indian subsidiary of French naval major DCNS, on Friday said it has contributed to the Clean Ganga Fund.

“DCNS India’s contribution will enable to tackle major challenges posed to Ganga, holy river of India, in a comprehensive approach adopted by Government of India, through four different modes – wastewater management, solid waste management, industrial pollution and river front development,” said a company statement.

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The firm’s contribution was handed over to Upendra Prasad Singh, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga.

In his remarks at the occasion, DCNS India Managing Director Bernard Buisson said: “DCNS India is proud to contribute to Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, in order to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of Ganga.

“As major partner of MDL and the Indian Navy through the P75 submarines programme, DCNS Group endeavours to create long-term added-value in its activities while respecting environment and ocean protection. The Group places corporate responsibility at the heart of its sustainable growth.”

The Scorpene submarines are being built by Mazagon Dockyard Ltd at Mumbai under Project 75 with transfer of technology from DCNS. Out of the six vessels, two submarines are ready. (IANS)