Report on the "Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting- cum- Panel Discussion" held on 12th March, 2012 at Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi
Discussions at the "Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting- cum- Panel Discussion " convened by Smt. Rama Rauta, Member NGRBA and Convener, Save Ganga Movement on 12th March, 2012 at Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi on the occasion of the 82nd anniversary of Gandhji's Dandi march. The function was attended by the following:
1. Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh, MP
2. Smt. Rama Rauta, Convener, Save Ganga Movement
3. Dr. Mohini Giri, President, Guild of Services
4. Dr. Vandana Shiva, President, Navdanya Movement
27. HH Brijraj Sharanji, Maan Mandir, Varsana, Mathura
28. Dr. Vinod Bhatt, Navdayna, New Delhi
29. Er. Vinod Km Aggrawal, Mokshda PEVSS, New Delhi
30. Smt. Chitra Kesarwani, Mokshda PEVSS, New Delhi
31. Dr. Vikash Shukla, Comm. Coordinator, NMCG, NGRBA
Many other distinguished scientists and social activists were also present in the function.Dr. Mohini Giri, President, Guild of Services chaired the seminar. Prof. Paritosh Tyagi, Chairman, Scientific Research Committee, NGRBA, chaired the Panel Discussion in the afternoon session. Shri M C Mehta, Advocate, Supreme Court gave the keynote address. Shri Rewati Raman Singh, MP, was the Chief Guest. He gave the first speech. The gist of views of the speakers in the seminar is given below.
Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh MP:
--Save Ganga Movement is at a stage of do or die
--Main issue is to save Ganga. Pollution is the secondary issue.
--Mandakini River has almost dried due to dam on it. The whole valley is endangered.
--If there will be no mass movement, Ganga will not survive.
--The flow in Ganga is almost nil because of the dams. In Prayag, Ganga is just like a drain. In Himalayas, in the upper reaches of Ganga, there is a plan for construction of 350 dams for hydro projects. This is highly sensitive quake-prone zone. If Ganga will not survive, the nation will not survive.
--I would like a group of representatives to meet Prime Minister.
Mr. Hemant Dhayani:
--Mr. Dhayani made a PPT presentation (film) on "Challenges for Ganga-Himalayas with the current development issues".
--The presentation covered Maneri Bhali (I) & (II), Tehri Dam, Koteshwar Dam and a number of other proposed dams. The presenter claimed that because of dams, tunneling and other related construction activities the up streams in the Himalayan region have either dried up or very lean. The water level has gone down and it has critical impact on wildlife as no water is left for wild animals. The wild life is facing psychological trauma. The muck created out of the construction activities have been directly dumped into Ganga.
--Development at the cost of Himalayan eco-fragile zone must not be permitted and all the activities related to dams' construction must be immediately shut down. All the proposed dams in the Himalayas must be cancelled with immediate effect.
Smt. Rama Rauta:
--The seminar is dedicated to Prof. GD Agarwal who is on fast last two months and has left even the water since 9th March, 2012 to save Ganga.
--We will give a representation to the Prime Minister on the basis of resolution in this seminar.
We demand that-
(i) No wastewater/ effluents from the industries should be allowed to flow into the river.
(ii) Treated wastewater should also not be left into the rivers.
(iii) River and Sewer shall be separated.
(iv) Hazardous chemicals from agricultural run-off into the rivers must be prevented through promotion of organic farming.
(v) NRCD must have a monitoring mechanism to regularly monitor the water quality of --Ganga at the entry and exit points of each state.
--Govt. has no will power and moral to take up the task.
--Uttarakhand should be declared as "ecologically fragile zone" and its river be declared "wild rivers" and all steps must be taken to protect them and the natural eco-systems they support.
--All the hydro power projects in Uttarakhand must be stopped immediately.
--Ganga should be constitutionally declared as the National River.
--Development should be based on Gandhian non-violent means.
--Ganga and all other rivers must be saved as they belong to every living being on this earth.
Dr. Mohini Giri:
--How to prepared mass movement is a bigger question?
--Need a strategy to control/pressurize Govt. on the issues of Ganga.
--There should be a non-partisan approach to such great issues.
--We must introspect why success was not achieved on the issue of Ganga.
Mr. MC Mehta:
--The Govt. of India is not serious about Ganga. Prime Minister is the Chairman of the NGRBA but he has no time to call its meeting. He has called two meetings in three years where NGRBA members have been given very little time to speak. This indicates seriousness on the Authority.
Now the basic issues are-
(i) Damming of Ganga in higher hills of Himalayas
(ii) Municipal Pollution
(iii) Industrial Pollution
--Sanctity of the river Ganga should remain intact as Ganga is our cultural heritage.
--Dams which are being setup at Alakhnanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi have threatened the very existence of Ganga. It is just like cutting the head of Ganga.
--Upper reaches of the Himalayas should be declared eco-fragile zone. Mr. Jairam Ramesh has promised but nothing has been done yet.
--There should be law enacted by the Parliament to declare Ganga as a National River.
PM should resign as the Chairman of NGRBA as he has no time and/or he should appoint a vice-chairman for full time for NGRBA's activities. Members of the NGRBA do not have any powers. Their role must be clearly stated. A resolution on this must be sent today.
--There should be law on Ganga Zone to be regulated by the Authority.This should be a statutory Authority accountable to the Parliament. The Chairman of the Authority must be elected by the all the parties.
Dr. Shyam Asolekar:
--He made a brief presentation on Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP).
--Referred to article 48 (A) of the Constitution of India, stating that protection with improvement is the duty of every citizen with regard to environment.
--It is a fight for justice to the river. The purpose of the Ganga programme is to have an integrated approach to give back to Ganga its ‘Wholesomeness" that is continuous flow and clean flow. For this we should use modern technology with traditional wisdom (Gyan Dhara + Jan Gyan). Approach should be multi-disciplinary.
Dr. Vandana Shiva:
--We have three emergencies - first is the Water flow in Ganga, second is the Food and third is of Prof. G.D. Agrawal. Some solid action has to be decided.
--First emergency is that there if no flow in Ganga. If there is no flow, there is no Ganga. Each river in Delhi is only a drain. In next 2-3 years Ganga would also become a drain.
--Damming of Ganga is a major emergency.
--River linking project is not scientific and is anti-ecological to rivers. Government is planning a wrong project. River linking project will bring 8 linked rivers to Delhi. Why rivers and the whole country pay for the misuse and abuse of water by Delhi-ites?
--We must stop limitless consumption of water in Metros. Water is scarce. Ban car washing with fresh/potable water. Use treated water for such work.
--Let Delhi live with Delhi's water. Ganga should not be brought here.
--Flow reduction in the river is an issue. Kumbha is next year. The crisis of Ganga and response to it should be on emergency footing.
--There should be a white paper on Clean Ganga Action Plan including the reasons of failure of GAP and YAP.
--Emergency of food: Sewage should be turned into fertilizers and flow of sewage to the river should be stopped immediately. All human waste is a source of energy.
--Because of chemical fertilizers and debts thereon, 2.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide till now. Every fourth individual is malnourished.
--Chemical fertilizers (as run off) in Ganga are an issue. One million people die every year due to contaminated water in Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi.
Prof. Paritosh Tyagi:
--There are three issues: One on Aviralta, second on Nirmalta and thirdon other matters.
--For Aviralta: There should be no dam or barrage across the main stream of Ganga. All existing ones must be removed. Keep main stream free from all kind of construction. You may build along the riverside but across the main stream.
--Flow of the river is the main issue.
--There should be nothing between riverbed and sky.
--Base flow of the river which is from land to the river has been disturbed. Ground water and surface water flow balance is disturbed.
--For Nirmalta: No wastewater should be left into the rivers. STPs should not be on the riverside. It should be decentralized at available lands. STPs should be made at localized levels and should be odour free. Treated sewage can be used for toilet flushing.
--Mining on the riverbed is unnecessary.
HH Swami Avichal Das ji:
--Government is not sensitive to the issue. Public awareness is a must for mass movement. Religious leaders have to be united for this and It is their duty to make people stand for the cause. All India Sant Samiti will always be with you for this cause.
--NGRBA should have a Sadhu Advisory Committee in which Sadhus and Saints are the members.
HH Acharya Lokesh Muni ji:
--To wake up the Government pressure is a must.
--People's involvement is also a must.
--Media too can be involved to pressurize the Government.
Mr. Rajneesh Mehra:
--NGRBA project related details are available at the website.
--Now the work is not at the NGRBA level. It has gone to the Municipalities level. At municipal level Solid Waste Management is a serious business. We are the only Zero landfill company.
--There should be a decentralized STP System. PPP model would be a good option for this.
Dr. A.K. Merchant:
--We have to face this challenge united.
--Companies working on hydro project must stop the work.
--Civil society, religious leaders must join hands together.
HH RT. Rev. Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao:
--Poor is the biggest victim of environmental disasters/problems.
--Common good of all should always be given top priority.
--More dialogue is needed to motivate people to join this cause of humanity. We have to move forward united. We are always there with you as a support group.
Mrs. Tara Bhattachayra:
--Public awareness is important.
--We are facing two menaces: Carelessness and Corruption.
--People need be educated for not being careless. If people are so careless then what the Govt. could do? In schools and education curriculum it shall be taken care of.
--Cleanliness drive should be carried out at religious places.
--Ganga purification and sving it is a work of all the citizens of India and not only of the Govt.
--PM should be approached for Prof. GD Agarwal's issue.
Prof. M. Nakamura:
--Sustainability of Ganga as a water asset must be taken care of.
--Ganga river basin management is a challenge. No dramatic change is envisaged in next 8-10 years. But a long time mind set is necessary and needed.
--Challenges of Governance in the river basin management are critically important.
Swami Mohananand Lal Baba:
--Ganga nahi to hum nahi. There is a difference in what we say and what we do.
--Outcome of this seminar should be some action plan.
--You make the strategy. We are soldiers ready to fight.
Mohan Singh Gaonwasi:
--Action plan should be ready by the Rishikesh meeting.
HH Brajraj Sharan ji:
--Yamuna ki vapasi ka sankalp lein.
--Yamuna has dried up from Hathnikund Barrage onwards upto 140 kms.
--For the return of Yamuna a movement has started from 1st Feb. 2012.
Jagad Guru Hans Devacharya ji:
--Prof. Agarwal's life is very precious to us. A resolution should be sent to the PM for this.
--We will have to fight united to save Ganga. No politics is needed in it. Keep politics out of this.
--To save Ganga, we need a policy and a strategy to follow.
--Public awareness would be needed to stop people from throwing religious and other materials in to the river. Sadhu Samaj can act on this to make people change their religious practices.
Swami Chidananad Muniji: He was coordinating the session/discussions. So he kept commenting /making observations in between other speakers. His comments are being placed at one place below:
--We have to make a grand plan and then make it a ground plan. We all have to come together to join hands to save Gangaji.
--Law should be enacted for Ganga Zone to be regulated by the Authority which should be statutory authority under the Act of Parliament.
--Swami Sanand's life is very precious to us. We should make a resolution and send it to the PM.
--Treated wastewater should not be left into rivers.
--Instead of resigning, the NGRBA members should reassign themselves to fight for the cause.
--A Guru Sangam is proposed to be organized on 12th April at Vigyan Bhawan where we all Shadus and Sanyasis will be meeting the President of India on Kumbha and other issues. Kumbha is a big event involving 120 million people. We are planning for a Green Kumbha. UN is also interested in it.
--We have to build pressure on the government to act on our demands. We will be meeting in Rishikesh to draw an Action plan.
--The PM should take some concrete decisions on the issues. No further construction of Dams be allowed on the upper streams of Ganga.
--A film on "Why dams are not needed?" be made and shown to the Govt. and to the public to create awareness.
--We will be meeting in May to make further plans.
Prof. R. Shankar:
--Today there are no Bhojwasa trees in Gomukh area.
--Roads have spoiled the environment in this eco-fragile area.
--Pollution starts essentially from Hardwar.
--There are vested interest involved in big dams and barrages. Construction of all types of dams must be stopped.
--An alternative vision is needed to achieve this.
--Ghats lead to pollution activities. Yamuna has become sewage in Delhi.
--In GAP, 15 years and 2000 Crore and in JnNURM. 6 years and 1lakh Crore have not resulted in something visible.
--We have to act on four levels - Government, ULBs, Research Institutions and Community/People. The fourth level is very important.
--We have to involve our people. I am surprised that no Indian institution was involved in sewage project of Sankat Mochan. Local people and institutions have to be involved in all activities.
--Action plan should be target-oriented. Judicial Activism, RTI, Youth, Public response, efficacy of New Media shall be kept in mind. We should especially concentrate on youth in the age group of 18-35.
An appeal to our Hon'ble Prime Minister to take immediate action to accept the Save Ganga Demands of Swami Sanand ( Prof. G.D. Agarwal)on behalf of the Ganga Seva Abhiyanam (GSA) and save his valuable life was made unanimously in the National Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting- cum- Panel Discussion. Last year's Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Resolution was again unanimously passed in the Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Function and was sent to the Prime Minister along with the Appeal. The Save Ganga Demands/ Proposals of our Save Ganga Movement and of the Indian Parliamentarians Forum for Save Ganga & Himalayas and of the Ganga Seva Abhiyanam (GSA) of are essentially the same: they have a common core and are complementary to each other with reference to non-core demands/ Proposals.
Smt Rama Rauta,
Convener, Save Ganga Movement
Member, National Ganga River Basin Authority, Govt. of India