"Modi’s claim of clean Sabarmati river is hollow": Dr Sandeep Pandey

Photo credit: CNS
 Socialist Party (India), which believes in sustainable environment being integral to development justice on lines of ‘Green Parties’ in Western nations, stated that BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is not the first person to talk about cleaning the river Ganga. Arvind Kejriwal had also made similar claims and Rajiv Gandhi had initiated the Ganga Action Plan in 1986.

Dr Sandeep Pandey is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and national vice president of Socialist Party (India). He also serves as guest faculty at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar Gujarat, and as a visiting faculty at IIT Banares Hindu University (BHU).

Dr Pandey said: If Kejriwal and Modi were really serious about water issues then why are they both silent on the most significant people’s campaign on water rights in Varanasi? Coca Cola bottling plant in Mehndiganj, Varanasi, has been siphoning out millions of litres of water daily and denying access to water to local communities of farmers and weavers.

Socialist Party believes that Modi’s claim that he will clean Ganga (over 3000 km long) on the lines of clean Sabarmati river (371 km long) is on hollow grounds. The population pressure that thrives on the banks of Ganga is incomparable with that of Sabarmati.
Photo credit: Jittima Jantanamalaka

Reality of clean Sabarmati: Dr Pandey said: The real intention of Modi was not to clean Sabarmati river rather to provide a riverfront to middle class urban people for evening entertainment. But very little water in Sabarmati and that too polluted, made it a huge challenge. Central Pollution Control Board till recent few years had listed Sabarmati as one of the three most polluted rivers in the country (BOD level 103mg/l maximum, and Choliform level more than 500 per mpn).

Dr Pandey said: So Modi solved this problem by releasing 60-100 crore cu.mm. water annually from Narmada river canal into Sabarmati which was flowing close to the upward stream of Sabarmati in Gandhinagar, twin city of Ahmedabad. So in reality Narmada waters flow in Sabarmati river. Narmada, is a long and clean river as apart from Jabalpur neither there is any major township nor there is any polluting industry on its banks. Modi managed to find the clean Narmada waters which was actually meant for farmers to divert into Sabarmati in Gujarat, but in UP where is he going to bring clean water for Ganga?

Dr Pandey said: On the downward stream of Sabarmati, its waters are held by a Barrage made in Vaasna so that it gives a perception of a lot of water flowing in Sabarmati through Ahmedabad. In a way it can also be said that Modi has converted Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad into a lake of 10.6 km. Dirty polluted water from Ahmedabad city and industries is released in Sabarmati after the Barrage in Vaasna so that Sabarmati looks clean in Ahmedabad. But for the region in the downward stream of Sabarmati, it is perhaps even more polluted river than Ganga because there are lot more industries in Gujarat than UP. Also there is no information where did those people go who were residing in hutments and got displaced during construction of Sabarmati riverfront? One thing is certain that if Modi comes to power his way of cleaning Ganga will only displace large number of poor and marginalized people and deprive them from their livelihoods.

Dr Pandey said: Mayawati’s close associate Satish Chandra Mishra also had this obsession to develop Gomti riverfront in Lucknow on lines of Sabarmati riverfront. First action he took in 2009 was to bulldoze makeshift houses of hundreds of families living on Gomti’s banks. What Modi is projecting as a development model will actually prove to be a devastation for many poor and marginalized people. This is the truth of Modi’s Gujarat model.

Dr Pandey said: The manner in which Modi has claimed to clean Ganga gives an impression as if he has control over nature. This exposes not only his false sense of pride but also his poor understanding.

Citizen News Service (CNS)
10 May 2014