Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eminent members of National Ganga River Basin Authority resign

New Delhi, March 13, 2012:  Outraged over Government’s insensitivity towards fast-unto-death by Dr G D Agarwal, now known as Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand, three eminent members of UPA government’s much touted National Ganga River Basin Authority, Magsaysay Award winner Mr Rajendra Singh, Mr Ravi Chopra and Mr Rashid Hyatt Siddiqui today announced their joint decision to resign from the body. They charged the Centre with gross negligence towards worsening state of the holy river.
Another Magsaysay Awardee and noted environmentalist Mr M C Mehta has also come out in their support. He said “it is very difficult to find a person of Dr Agarwal’s integrity and dedication. We must all strive to save him by protecting river Ganga. But the government has been very indifferent towards him and has not taken any step in addressing the concerns raised by him.”
Mr Singh, an internationally acclaimed activist popularly knows as the ‘waterman of India’, said the government was not serious towards Ganga as evident by it’s attitude towards the movement undertaken by Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand. This indifference is also clear if we see how it handled the fast by Swami Nigamanand. We see it as our moral responsibility to resign as members of the NGRBA.
“The government has neither political will nor any executable plan. During the three and a half years of NGRBA that was formed to restore the ancient place of pride and respect to Ganga, it met only twice. Even the allocation of members’ responsibility was not done, reflecting a non-serious attitude.
He also questioned the seriousness of chief minister members towards the issue.
“Our demand for declaring Ganga as National River was met. We had hoped the formation of the NGRBA would be free of Centre-state politics but CMs of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal did not attend the meetings even once.”
In a letter to Prime Minister on November 20, 2011, seven members of the Authority unanimously wrote to the PM for allocation of responsibilities.  A meeting was ordered by him for a meeting on February 16, 2012. It was, however, postponed due to Assembly elections. The members asked the Environment Minister that a meeting of the Authority be convened at Haridwar on March 5, 2012. But there has been no response from the Government side so far. The three members, in view of this and the criminal ignorance towards Dr Agarwal felt it was morally unbearable to continue on the panel and have sent their resignations.
Echoing similar views, Mr Siddiqui said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s declaration of Ganga as National River is nothing but an exercise in tokenism. The officials seek suggestions from us but pay no heed to us. If they had to continue with their own ways towards exploiting and polluting the river, what was the need to form NGRBA. It has become a joke.”
Mr Chopra said Dr Agarwal is the best expert on matters of constructing dams and protection of rivers. The government should not remain adamant on its positions and talk with him.
Mr Mehta said that Dr Agarwal, a former professor of IIT, Kanpur has been on Tapasaya since January 15, 2012 to restore  respect to Ganga. He has stopped consuming water from 9th March 2012. It is a matter of great concern but
the government remains totally unmoved.
 Mr Singh said the original glory and purity of Ganga will remain a dream in the absence of a strong policy and a law dealing solely with the great river. This was the mandate for NGRBA but it failed comprehensively. The government’s insensitivity is also glaring by the fact that the final notification for declaration of 135 km of upper Ganga region as eco-sensitive region is still awaited.
“We hope his resolve will urge people to rise from slumber and inaction, forcing
them to take right and appropriate steps towards protecting the ancient river that binds the nation,” he added.

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