Waterman of India Rajendra Singh in Bhopal.
Waterman of India Rajendra Singh in Bhopal.

BHOPAL: Modi government’s Namami Gange scheme is a waste of taxpayer’s money, it was like a dentist treating a heart patient, says water conservationist Rajendra Singh.

Singh, who is known as the Waterman of India, told Free Press on the sidelines of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival at Bharat Bhavan here on Friday that despite government’s grandiose claims, Ganga would not be cleaned.

“The government’s diagnosis is wrong and so the line of treatment is bound to be flawed. What Ganga needs is more flow and that would happen only if construction of new dams on the river is stopped. What they are doing instead is building STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants) and ghats. How would it help?” he asked.

Singh said that after the government drew flak over the death of Ganga activist Prof GD Agarwal, who was on fast-unto-death for making the flow of Ganga ‘aviral’ (continuous), a notification was issued in October 2019 fixing the minimum environmental flow in the river at 20 per cent.

However, four companies building huge dams over the river moved court against the decision. “What is this? Does Ganga belong to the people of India or has it been mortgaged to private industries?” he asked.

When asked whether religious rituals performed on the ghats of sacred rivers were polluting them, Singh said that industries are the biggest polluters of rivers. “Industries are the source of 50 per cent pollution in rivers,” said the Magasaysay Award winner.

He said that the only way to restore the health of the rivers to stop mixing of sewage and industrial water with the rivers and ensuring that the environmental flow is strong enough to carry silt and pollutants away. “Presently, no river in India has a healthy environmental flow,” Singh said.

Rajendra Singh welcomed the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to enact the Right to Water Act. “It is a very good initiative. It would involve the community in the management of water resources. Once people feel that they own the rivers and lakes and ponds, they would use the precious resource responsibly,” he said.

In contrast, he said, “See what the centre is doing. It has allocated Rs 3.80 lakh crore for the ‘Ghar-ghar main nal, har nal main jal’ scheme for piped water supply to households. This huge amount of money will go to companies manufacturing pipes. The people won’t benefit from it as ‘jal’ will not come out of the ‘nal’.

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