Press Release

28.03.2015: Union Minister of Shipping Nitin Gadkari may have retracted from his earlier stand of construction of barrages to revive Ganga waterway, yesterday in the recent meeting of NGRBA. But, experts find it hard to believe that government is giving up the idea so easily. In June, last year Nitin Gadkari announced that his government will revive the National Waterways-1 to facilitate cheaper transportation of goods, which will help greatly the coal based thermal power plants in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Minister cited the study by Danish Hydrological Institute. The study was primarily based on desk review which proposed that to provide a depth of 3 meters in Ganga to make it fully navigable from Haldia to Allahabad for barges carrying 1500-2000 tons of loads and construction of 4 barrages- 3 barrages between Allahabad-Varanasi and 1 in Ghazipur. The announcement became a matter of great concern not only for the environmentalists, but for all the Ganga-bhakts who are against any such activity which obstructs the aviral-ta (free flow) of the river. Consequently, this resulted into creation of a strong union of institutes, activists, monasteries and people, especially in U.P. and Bihar who came together against the plan of the Centre of obstructing water of Ganga by construction of barrages. Added the pressure from Supreme Court which showed its lack of confidence over the government’s plan to clean Ganga, the government was indeed under a great pressure.
 
I am not confident that this cancellation is real. Government can make these announcements to deflate the opposition. So I intend to carry on my efforts in the form of redesigning of Farakka Barrage. Moreover, the news leaves open making barrages between Allahabad and Varanasi, said Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala whose representation to GoI and World Bank last year is believed to be one of the reasons, the NDA government is forced to rethink over the idea of construction of barrage. 
 
Dr. V.N. Mishra, of Jharkhand Vigyan Manch stated, “I do not find much reason to be happy with this kind of statement by politicians having a volte face in 6-8 months. It appears to be an eye wash.” According to him Gadkari's comment is loaded with a negative political statement and he warned that the decision can be reversed if BJP comes in power in Bihar.  
 
While many people see it as a mere political stunt of BJP to improve its impression, few experts also believe it is also due to the increasing pressure from RSS, a right wing Hindu organization which is so far the greatest supporter of BJP. 
Conflict between RSS ideologues who want Ganga flowing and BJP corporate proponents will engender doublespeak on environment, said journalist Ms Anuradha Dutt.

 

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GWIC, 17th January, 2015, New Delhi: A compensation application related to cumulative losses to biodiversity and livelihood of fishermen from abstraction of excessive amounts of water for irrigation and from alteration of Ganga by Farakka Barrage Project and hydropower companies was filed before the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi on 31st December, 2014 by a group of environmentalists and activists from across the river basin which includes noted environmentalists like Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, social activists like Shri Anil Prakash (Ganga Mukti Aandolan), Debadityo Sinha (Vindhya Bacahao Abhiyan), Om Dutt Singh (People's Union for Civil Liberties) and others who are working for conservation of River Ganga. The matter was listed before Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal headed by Justice Dr. P. Jyothimani on 16th January, 2015.

The bench has issued notice to the Respondents which include Inland Waterways Authorities of India, Kolkata Port Trust, Department of Irrigation of Government of UP, Farakka Barrage Project, and four Hydropower companies from Uttarakhand.

The applicants have sought compensation for drastic reduction of fish population after construction of Farakka Barrage, dredging activities for navigation, abstraction of water by barrages. Compensation is also sought for the loss of biodiversity, salinity intrusion and land erosion owing to reduced sediment delivery in Sundarban area; and for the loss of aesthetic and cultural value of the Ganga due to construction of barrages & dams that lead to break in flow of the river. Total compensation of Rs. 13,101 Crores per year is claimed from the respondents.

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