Sunday January 26, 2020
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Haryana’s BJP government to spend Rs 500 million to promote mythological river


Chandigarh, Purported signs of existence of a river considered sacred in Hindu mythology and a religious-minded BJP government being in power in Haryana are sufficient factors to try and “revive” the invisible Saraswati by spending a whopping Rs.50 crores ($7.5 million) in public money.


Buoyed by the recent “discovery” of water at just seven feet in Rohlaheri village of Haryana’s Yamunanagar district during digging work to find the mythological river, the Haryana government has pledged Rs.10 crore from the corpus to establish the Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had in April announced the Rs.50 crore project to revive the river.
“The Board will conduct meticulous field work to unearth and understand the past and the present content of the Saraswati heritage in Haryana for exposition of cultural patterns and values. It will help to preserve and promote the various archeo-cultural facets of the Saraswati Heritage Area,” said a note of the state cabinet, which approved the setting up of the new board and release of funds for it.
A provision of Rs.10 crore has been made for establishment and smooth functioning of the Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board which includes a provision for recurring expenditure of Rs 2.42 crore for petty expenses, payment of salaries and wages, a senior Haryana government official told IANS.
Khattar, who heads the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state and has been a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, and other BJP ministers have been quite inclined to dig up the mystery behind the mythological river, given its significance in Hindu mythology.
The Saraswati river finds several mentions in ancient Hindu scriptures like the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and others, giving credence to the belief that the river existed during ancient times when it was held in great reverence.
“In Yamunanagar district, there are several places where there is tell-tale evidence that the river flowed in the area at one time,” Sohan Lal, a septuagenarian from the area, told IANS.
The Haryana government has drawn up elaborate plans for reviving the river through the new board.
“The Board will aim at revitalizing sacred places in the Saraswati Heritage Area. It will create effective linkages between tourism and cultural facilities by developing tourism circuits and conservation of natural resources in the area. It will develop and revive the existing Saraswati creek for irrigation, sanitation, recharging of ground water, plantation, development of herbal parks, landscaping to preserve and protect the environment and to ensure soil conservation,” the state government’s plan states.
The board will associate with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), UNESCO and other related national and international institutions for the project.


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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)