The two days round-table conference on “Agony of the Ganga: Loss of Culture & Natural Heritage” has been organized by Ganga Sewa Mission, Hazrat Saleem Chishti Foundation & India International Centre. This is an effort to bring together the govt. agencies, academicians, environmental experts, civil society, religious groups, activists and devotees of the Mother Ganga for an aviral and nirmal Ganga. The brainstorming sessions will provide an opportunity for discussions, debate and deliberations on the crisis associated with the preservation and resurrection of the river. We, the organizers, hope that the participants would share specific and concrete steps that can help to achieve effective management of the river within stipulated time frame.

The conference will be inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister has already made explicit the commitment of his government to preserve the ecological flow and cleanliness of the Ganga. We look forward to hear from him, what concrete and specific actions his government is contemplating in order to give effect to his commitments. We also hope that the process of the review of the reports of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun on the cumulative impact assessment of the dams in Uttrakhand will be set up soon to take a clear policy decision in this regard, so that continuity of the flow of the Ganga and her tributaries in Uttrakhand as well as integrity of the Himalayan ecosystem may be preserved. The cumulative assessment of the proposed run of the river dams (river diversion dams) in Uttarakhand warns the nation against its negative impact on the Himalayan ecology and free-flow of the Ganges. We would like to hear the Prime Minister regarding the plan of his govt. to save the river from impending ecological crisis.

We are hopeful of active participation of all five Ganga basin chief ministers viz. Shri Vijay Bahuguna (Uttarakhand), Shri Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Shri Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and Srimati Sheela Dixit (Delhi). We would like to hear the views of the states on the crisis of the minimum ecological flow in the Ganga—aviral and nirmal Ganga. The purpose of chief minister’s conclave is to know the concrete steps planned by the states to give effect to the commitments of the Prime Minister, as expressed in the last NGRBA meeting.

The deliberations of the conference are planned in three different sessions: (i) the comprehensive planning for river basin of the Ganges with the principle of water use for public good (and not for private or corporate good); (ii) challenges of urban governance in the river basin to prevent domestic and industrial pollution; and (iii) the options for reducing the diversion of water from Ganga river system through the canals by water conservation and other measures.

We would like to emphasize that there are no ‘for or against’ in the country for the cause of preservation of the holy Ganga. Our effort is merely to reflect on the errors of the past, which began with the acts of the British Imperial Rule in India and continued in post independence India without due reflection on the national perspective. The time has come to correct these historical wrongs and chart a new path for the nation. We will feedback the discussions and deliberations of this conference to the agencies of the state and disseminate these to the public at large. We do hope that this round table conference will be an important milestone in building the national will for the resurrections and preservation of the holy river.

The water of the rivers like Ganga and Yamuna are no longer worth achaman. The devotees think a thousand times about many such problems and the predicaments. Every year millions of people visit the holy Ganga to perform sacred rites. Recently many ignited souls launched peaceful and non-violent movements. The Ganga movement is one of the largest movements of Indian mass. Even after numerous efforts, the crisis of the Ganga is yet to be addressed properly by the government. This is an alarming situation for the entire nation that needs adequate attention of people and politicians. The conference on the agony of the Ganga is the next step of the save Ganga campaign.


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