'Ganga Maiyya ki Jai': Uma Bharti at the Ganga Mahasabha

Listen to (and read the text of) Uma Bharti, the Minister of Water Resources, talk about her Ministry's plans for the Ganga including riverfront development.
Boats on the ganga
Boats on the ganga

Banaras has always been identified with Baba Vishwanath but Modiji said that he had been called here by the Ganga. Ganga was thus present in the election atmosphere. When he extended the cabinet, he established a ministry for the Ganga. Some unprecedented things have happened in these elections. This is the first time in the world that a Ministry has the name of a particular river in its title.

The Ministry: Now the Ministry of the Ganga has been formed, and the Ganga  River Basin Authority  is a part of this Ministry. On September 22, the Prime Minister made a change to the Ganga River Basin Authority. He appointed a deputy, since he himself is the chief of the Authority. This deputy was given the right to call a meeting of the Ganga River Basin Authority, to make decisions, and to implement these decisions. In this way, the Water Resources Ministry became the head of the Ganga River Basin Authority.

On October 20, there was a meeting of the Empowered Steering Committee in which they prepared an agenda which was approved in a meeting of the Ganga River Basin Authority. In this meeting, representatives of all five concerned states as well as of all concerned Ministries were present. In the end, we took some decisions about the Ganga's aviralta (unimpeded flow) and nirmalta (unpolluted flow). We will begin to implement these decisions in 45 days. The impacts of these will be seen over varying periods, with some making themselves felt in one-and-a-half years and the others in twice that time.

Minister Uma Bharti speaking at the Ganga Manthan (Image: SANDRP)Unimpeded flows: Today an important issue has been raised - that of unimpeded flow. A committee has been formed for this, and will give us its report by December 15. I have asked for three things: for river-specific, site-specific and rainfall-specific ecological flows.  
At the same time, we are also looking at sandmining. Removing the accumulated sand is necessary, but it needs to be scientific and river-friendly. There is a committee for that, and they too will be giving me their report. Sandmining is connected with the unimpeded flows of the Ganga.

Unpolluted flows: Today I went along the Ganga from the Pontoon bridge just before Assi to Varuna - which is  essentially the extent of Varanasi - along with officials in my Department. I wanted the confidence to determine whether we could achieve this goal or not. Many technologies from all over the world have been presented to me. I have studied all of these. After this study, I have determined to inspect a few of these technologies being used in other countries.

Riverfront development: I  went to see the Sabarmati - to see the riverfront development that Modi-ji has done in Gujarat. He stopped the drains, stopped chemical discharge, released ecological flow, and did some beautification. He restored the 'look' of the river and packaged it.

I invited the man who had created the original concept to Delhi and organised a meeting with officials there. Now, I will organise a meeting where all the corporators of the cities along the Ganga from Gangotri to Gangasagar will be invited. A presentation on the Sabarmati will be done, which will show them how this riverfront development needs to be done.

I have determined that this riverfront development will be done (in Varanasi), keeping in mind all  the respect that is due to this city. All the components that go together to comprise an unpolluted river will be looked after.

Expectations and support: There is a tendency to expect immediate results. This is difficult. It is necessary to follow procedure. We cannot trifle with the Ganga. Whatever work is done should be sustainable and eternal. Therefore, we seek the boon of time and courage from you.

We have determined that the treated and untreated waters will not enter the Ganga. We have requested the industries to present us with their pollution treatment plans. The state and national Pollution Control Boards have also met. I asked them to tell us how pollution can be prevented from entering the Ganga. The Ministry is ready to give any assistance that is needed but the pollution must be stopped.

I have had a very clear talk with the industries. The Kanpur tanneries and slaughterhouses have extended their full support to making the Ganga pollution-free. They have put forward the challenges they are facing and I have directed the state Pollution Control Board to pay attention to these challenges and work towards relieving them. So far, the governments of all the five states concerned have extended their support to the Ministry and have entered into the minutes that they will follow all its directions.

I say that this unity and this cooperation has been brought about by Ma Ganga and not by us. I am just the face of a massive dedicated effort and many blessings.

Mapping: In a meeting of the Ganga River Basin Authority, a budget of Rs 300 crore has been allocated to plotting the previous and present courses as well as the status of the Ganga and all its tributaries, whether existing or lost, using a Geographical Information System. All of the world will be able to determine the number of rivers that comprise the Ganga Basin, where they emerge from and what their status is in the next three years.
The Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, is a globally-significant institution that conducts research on water and allied topics. Banaras is in the middle of the Ganga's course, and a branch of the CWPRS should be located here. It will be a University of rivers, of water.

I will again say that after Bhagirath, Modi-ji has been born to work for the Ganga. With these words I do pranaam to all those on the dais and my namaskaars to the audience.

'Ganga Maiyya ki Jai'.  
 

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