Government's announcement of "No Barrages on Ganga" fails to convince Environmentalists
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.