Modi’s priority is clean Ganga: Gadkari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that efforts must first be made to clean the Ganga and then the question of ensuring environmental flows could be addressed, Nitin Gadkari, Union Water Resources Minister, said at the India Water Impact Summit here on Wednesday. This is a significant statement, as prioritising environmental flows — and not mere cleaning — was a key demand of the late environmentalist and seer G.D. Agrawal, who went on a fast in June demanding that the government act on its promise to clean and save the Ganga, and died on October 11. Hydropower projects He had, in a letter to Mr. Modi on June 22, demanded that all under-construction and proposed hydropower projects on the Ganga and the rivers that fed it be cancelled. This was critical to ensuring that the river remained ‘aviral’, its flow uninterrupted. The tension between ‘aviral’ and ‘swachh’ (clean) has, for long, plagued the mission to clean the Ganga. “The Prime Minister gave us a suggestion, that first you work for a ‘clean Ganga’ and then talk about ‘aviral Ganga.’ We constituted several committees of IITians and experts and concluded that ‘aviralta’ is a matter of great importance for us,” said Mr. Gadkari. Former Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar, who led the Ministry between June 2015 and December 2016, told The Hindu that treating sewage and cleaning the river was always the priority. “The Prime Minister had said that priority 1 was cleaning the river and priority 2 was ecology. We are still far from cleaning the river, and the ecological flows notification (of October) is quite inadequate,” he said.

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