Uma Bharati on Ganga’s clean-up and administrative hiccups

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Uma Bharati

New Delhi: Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharati today said that there has been great difficulty in striking a balance with State governments and the bureaucracy as they fell short of expectations, when it came to implementing the Ganga clean-up programme.

Ms Bharati made this revelation by releasing a statement in public domain this afternoon. Reflecting further on the State Governments and the bureaucracy, she has said: “I would not hold any partucular state government or the Central government departments responsible,” as in her view “all of them, it appeared, were in shackles.”

At the outset, Bharati said that she would like to repeat what transpired between her and Baba Ramdev, with whom she had entered into a war of words on 1 July for what the Yoga Guru had said on Ganga on 23 June on the banks of the Thames River in London.

Prior to Ramdev, the saffron-clad Union Minister has said in her statement, Pranav Pandya of Gayatri Parivar and Sanand Swami (G D Agrawal) had already expressed their concern on the issue of Ganga. “Sanandji even sat on hunger strike”, she has pointed out adding that she has already asked him to call off his protest.

Ms. Bharati has said that the tendency to pass comments on her tweets without reading the entire text will cause harm to the Ganga Project.

Further, Ms. Bharati has stated that all are aware of the Prime Minister’s faith in the Ganga River. That is why he formed the Ganga Ministry. For three years the Ganga portfolio was with her and now it is with Nitin Gadkari.

Giving a backgrounder, Ms. Bharati has pointed out that formerly the work for cleaning the Ganga River had been entrusted to the official machinery. After the Ganga Ministry was formed in 2014, the work that has already been done was reviewed and the Ganga Mission, which was a society, has now been given a new shape. The Prime Minister has also cleared a Rs. 20,000 crore central funding for Ganga River.

It took us two years to finalise the Ganga Action Plan, Ms Bharati has stated adding in the meanwhile, the old schemes have been continued. Seven Government of India departments/Ministries and five State Governments have been involved in discussions leading to the finalisation of the finance outlay by Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) and the approval of Rs. 20,000 crore by the Union Cabinet. During this entire process, the Industry, Panhayati Raj representatives, environmentalists, scientists and the Sant Samaj (seers and saints) have been consulted.

Stating that somehow, along with Nitin Gadkari, almost all schemes under the Ganga Action Plan were started in July 2016 and many Union Ministers and chief Ministers of five states joined in this initiative, Ms Bharati has underscored that this also received wide publicity through television channels and newspapers.

Ms. Bharati has stated that that after all schemes under the Ganga Action Plan were started, it was decided to move on the fast track by replacing the Ganga society with an Authority. It took 10 months to set up this Authority. In between the clean Ganga Project almost came to a standstill when general elections were held for the State Assemblies of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the Model Code of Conduct had been enforced for three months.

Ms. Bhartai goes on to add:

“Baba Ramdev and other saints are expressing concern over something that never started. Their concern is not without basis.

When I am talking of Ganga, I am also talking of Yamuna, Alaknanda and Mandakini. The Cabinet note on Ganga mentions this in clear terms.

The Chairman of the committee constituted to prepare the Draft Ganga Act Justice Girdhar Malviya (Retd.), last year submitted the report and the Ministry of Water Resources is presently holding a discussion on it.

It is possible that Parliament may unanimouslypass the Ganga Act.”

Ms Bharati has sought patience till October this year from Baba Ramdev, Pranav Pandya, Sanand Swami, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, all the Shankaracharyas, and mahants of different Mathas and saints.

Ms Bharati’s Ministry of sanitation, after a discussion with Nitin Gadkari has already announced that a date will be fixed mutually in October to start the Clean Ganga Campaign with a “Maha-Karseva” (massive people’s involvement), she has said adding that the saints should lead this campaign.

The timing of the Maha-karseva for Ganga’s clean-up with the involvement of Hindu seers and saints ahead of the general elections to several State Assemblies and the 2019 Parliamentary election deserves to be noted. This reminds of the Ayodhya temple movement led by BJP senior LK Advani about 3 decades ago.

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