“President of India: Ganga”

Post By – Vimal Bhai

In his address in the Parliament, President said that the government has set a goal for making Ganga uninterrupted and clean by 2022. However, the Ganga has been bound in dam projects from the origin of her main streams in the mountains. The Alaknanda Ganga has been shackled by the Vishnuprayag dam, while the Bhagirathi Ganga has been dammed from Maneri Bhali to the giant Tehri dam. The Ganga and her tributaries have been stricken with about 56 major dam projects.

Due to the fasting of Sant Swami Sanand (formerly Prof. GD Agrawal), the Manmohan Singh government stopped the construction of three dams, namely, Loharinag-Pala, Pala-Maneri and Bhairon Ghati in order to leave the Bhagirathi intact for 100 kms.

Stopped project of Lohari Nagpala

At the same time, after many long battles, the courts also began to respond. In 2008, on an appeal filed by economist Bharat Jhunjhunwala and Vimal Bhai, the National Environmental Appellate Authority canceled Kotli Bhel Phase-1B on the Alaknanda. Where people understood the reality of the dams, they stopped the construction of the dam on the ground. For example, Matu Jansangathan and Bhuswami Sangharsh Samiti have managed to stop the construction of the proposed Devsari dam on the Pinder Ganga for almost 10 years.

But on issues such as mining, the administration comes across as completely anti-Ganga. In Haridwar, Swami Sivananda ji of the Matri Sadan has been fighting legal battles against mining on the Ganges as well as keeping long fasts for the same.

The present government started the Namami Ganga project with a Rs. 22,000 crore budget. At the same time, it is preparing to run large cruise and cargo ship on the Ganga. The harbors have been constructed.

Ramnagar terminal on Ganga for Ships

In August 2013, the Supreme Court on its own setup a committee to examine the role played by the dams on the Ganga in the Uttarakhand disaster. The government then created a new committee to weaken the recommendations of this Ravi Chopra Committee. A committee was also formed by the Central Electricity Authority. However, in the last 5 years, the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Power have been unable to file a unanimous affidavit in the courts.

Minister Nitin Gadkari had stated that the government has decided to not allow any new dams to be built on the Ganga. The Prime Minister’s Office also held a meeting on issue of dams on the river Ganga at the end of February 2019. A team was also sent to look at the status of seven under-construction dams. The committee also went to the sites, but its report has not been made public to this day. The Environment Ministry had to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court on the basis of this report, which it has not done yet.

This same intention was stated in the letter received from the government by the Matra Sadan’s young sanyasi Brahmachari Atmabodhanand, who had been sitting on fast in order to fulfil the resolution of Swami Sanand ji, on the occasion of his fasting for 194 days on May 4, 2019. On this basis he gave his fasting a rest. However, on June 16th, Matra Sadan gave the government two months’ time after which the fasting will be resumed.

The head of President’s government is the same as in 2014. They have now received the mandate for another term. So will he do something substantial for the Ganga or will the words and deeds of President lose all value?



Vimal Bhai – Matu Jansangthan {working in Uttarakhand since 1988 on the issue of environment and People’s rights}