3rd January 2012
Respected Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister - Indian Government
President - National Ganga River Basin Authority
7, Race Course Road
New Delhi - 110001
Your government has emphasized in many statements the central importance that Holy River Ganga holds in our culture. You have given an assurance to esteemed Gurudev Jyotishpeethadhishwar and Dwarka Shardapeethadheeshwar Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Swarupanand Saraswati jee Maharaj on 16-10-2008 that Holy River Ganga would be given the status of a national river and that a National Ganga River Basin Authority would be formed to protect it from further harm. The river binds together the Indian identity and culture Your breach of these assurances proves your lack of concern for the holy river.
The Indian Government has shown a lack of regard for the welfare of the holy river, especially in the past three years. Some examples:
In an advertisement dated 4th November 2008, from the Prime Minister's office, the Environment and Forest Ministry brought out notification No. 328. This notice states that the Ganga will be given the status of a rashtriya nadi as opposed to the promised status of rashtranadi. Ganga is thereby being refused the honour of being the primary national symbol among rivers.
The Authority that has been formed for the purpose of efficient management of the river has given prime importance to the short sighted economic plans of the government. In the past three years only two short meetings have been organized. No meaningful discourse has taken place on the fundamental questions concerning Ganga and no significant protective plans have been made. The failure to carry out the above mentioned promises only emphasizes the lack of sincerity of such an Authority. The enclosed document (Appendix-1) expresses the disappointment of the nongovernmental bodies towards the lack of response from the government and its River Authority to the letters and appeals made on behalf of the Holy River Ganga by these organizations.
According to the Hindu scriptures and folk-culture, river Ganga travels through Lord Brahma's kamandal and Lord Shiva's tresses, and as it rides on the chariot of Bhagirath it begins to flow as Bhagirathi touching the feet of Bhadrivishal. It then flows as Alaknanda through Panchprayag located at Alaknanda (Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karn Prayag, Rudhra Prayag, and Dev Prayag) and the main tributaries of river Ganga come together at these prayags [Dhauli (Vishnu) Ganga, Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi.] All these places are of great importance as religious and holy places. We will not accept any harm and damage done to these places. Despite repeated opposition and objections from the people, including a dharna, jail yatra (Sushila Bhandari, Jagmohan Singh etc.), fasts (Leader Umashri Bharti); construction work continues to go on at Tapovan-Vishnugaadh, at Dhauli Ganga, Fata-Biug and Singauli-Bhatwari, Vishnu Prayag-Peepal Koti and Shrinagar Project. These projects have disrupted the flow of the Ganga's streams and rivulets. The government has taken no steps to stop the same. In fact, yet another hydroelectric project has been flagged off at river Alaknanda near Badrinath by Environment Minister Jayanti Natrajan. This is an insult to our religious sentiments, to river Ganga and our national identity. According to Aadi Shankracharya Bhagwatpaad, Alaknanda is the most important stream in the Jyotirpeeth, and we will not tolerate any damage to the same.
Six months ago, on 9th July 2011, we had demanded that the flow of water be increased in the most important areas where the river flows (from Narora to Prayag). We have yet to receive a response to the letters we wrote in this regard. The Authority has not called a meeting to discuss this issue and taken no decision on it. The Magh Mela at Prayag is approaching but the government does not have a clear policy on the issue of the flow of river Ganga. (Refer to Appendix - 3)
The polluted water coming through the drains from towns and industries flows directly into the holy Ganga waters despite the presence of innumerable laws and promises by the state and central government to control pollution.
The government has shown an absolute lack of concern and attention to the sacrifice made by Swami Nigamanand, an ardent devotee of river Ganga. (He was poisoned to death in a government hospital while on an indefinite fast to stop the illegal mining in the Ganga river bed in the Kumbh Kshetra at Haridwar).
Government's has given no response nor has it taken any action on the proposal, report and indent of 20th December 2011 sent to the government on 14th December 2011.
We are left with no other alternative than to protest and voice our grievances against the government's anti-Ganga policies. Indian culture lays great emphasis on the importance of tapasya. We may not have the political clout or powerful people's support but our faith is deeply rooted and all important. Our ancestors had, in the past, succeeded in moving the power balance in the courts of gods through their determination and sacrifices. We will follow their example through the sacrifice of our lives. Our devotion, dedication and sacrifices will not only be an eye opener but will also shake the foundation of your system of governance.
We resolve to start our fast unto death under the leadership of Jyotishpeeth from Makar Sakranti, Magh Krishna Saptami Sanwat 2068 Vikrami (15th January 2012, Sunday) for the protection of the interests of the sacred Holy River Ganga. We will not hesitate to sacrifice our lives until our demands are fulfilled. Our demands and program are given in Table-1.
We hope that Mother Ganga grants you the wisdom to understand the gravity of the situation and take desired actions.
Our Immediate Demands
1. All the under-construction projects going on at Alaknanda Ganga, Vishnu-Ganga, Nandakini Ganga and Mandakini Ganga should be immediately stopped / cancelled. The government must ensure that no such projects are undertaken on the national river (Ganga and its tributaries, Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi) that disrupt the flow of the water.
2. The speed of the flowing water from Narora to Prayag should not be less than 100 cubic meters per second. At festive sites such as Magh Mela, Kumbh and Parv-Snaan, the speed of water should be, at a minimum, 200 cubic meters per second.
3. The government should stop the sanction of loans passed for development work in the name of river Ganga. The work should be immediately stopped and the issue should be analyzed. The analysis should be done keeping in mind the interests of the river.
4. The industries that emit poisonous and polluted water into the river should be removed from their current location and allowed only outside a radius of fifty kilometers from the river.
5. River Ganga should be officially declared the national river and a strong law should be passed in the parliament to ensure efficient and proper management of the river.
On Behlaf of Ganga Abhiyaan
Translated from Hindi into English by MANUSHI