Date: July 26, 2019
October 22, 2018
Lucknow, October 30, 2018
पांच राज्यों से होकर बहने वाली गंगा के प्रवाह क्षेत्र में देश का लगभग 26 प्रतिशत भूभाग आता है। इसकी सफाई पर अकूत धन खर्च करने के बावजूद यह नदी आज भी प्रदूषित है। इससे भी बुरी बात यह है कि प्रदूषण अब उन हिस्सों में भी पाया जा रहा है जो पहले साफ माने जाते थे।
Floods are destroying vast parts of the country because of how we have mismanaged our floodplains
When I look back at 2013, I hear a cacophony. There was huge dissent about the way we are mismanaging coal reserves; the Supreme Court shut down iron ore mining in Goa; there was outcry about rampant sand mining and the havoc it is wreaking on rivers. There were equally loud calls for the need for green clearance to all projects, from hydropower projects in the Himalayas to mines in dense forests of central India. One side wanted to shut everything; another wanted to open up everything.
The outrage over the suspension of an official, Durga Shakti Nagpal, for simply doing her job—check illegal sand mining in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh—has highlighted a crucial issue. It is now evident that illegal mining of sand from rivers and beaches is rampant and the underbelly of this industry (I’m calling it industry for want of a better word) is powerful and connected. Worse still, all this is happening in violation of the orders of the apex court of the country.
Engineers require re-training, not the Ganga. This is where I had left our conversation last fortnight. Why did I say this? The inter-ministerial committee I participated in as a member was discussing how much the ecological flow—the water that should be left in the river for ecosystem and livelihood purposes—should be at all times. How much water is needed for the river to be a river; and not a drain?
Hydropower is important. But how important? Is it important enough to dry up stretches of our rivers? Or is there a way to balance the need of energy with the imperative of a flowing, healthy river? I have been grappling with these issues for the past few months. But now that the committee (of which I was a member) on the hydropower projects on the Ganga has submitted its report, let me explain how I see the way ahead.