February 19, 2019
- Hon’ble Mr. NarendraModi,
Prime Minister of India,
2. Hon’ble Mr. Nitin Gadkari,
Minister, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry,
Government of India.
3. Hon’ble Mr. Trivendra Rawat
Chief Minister, Uttarakhand
Subject: River Ganga
There is no debating that Ganga must flow free or will perish with all attendant consequences. This is vindicated by Ravi Chopra Committee in its report to the Supreme Court submitting that there has been an increase in disasters in Uttarakhand ever since the tragedy in 2013, due to the presence of big dams. The Union of India under your governments pledged to rejuvenate the Ganga including Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi and all their tributaries.
Presently, four under-construction dams namely Tapovan-Vishnugad, Vishnugad-Pipalkoti, Singoli-Bhatwari and Phata-Byung are further threatening the survival of this river adding to the damage already done by the existing dams.
To save the River Ganga, Swami Saanand fasted for 111 days to draw your attention to River Ganga’s cries for survival before he succumbed unheeded. Carrying on the baton, Sant Gopaldas fasted for 146 days when he disappeared under suspicious circumstances unheard and unheeded. Presently the 26 year old young Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand from Matri Sadan, Haridwar, has been on a fast since 24th of October 2018 determined to carry on the baton for a positive response on Ganga from your governments.
Your government must immediately engage with them ensuring that every step necessary to sustain the river is taken proactively without any further loss of life of those fasting for the River.
The Himalayas are geologically young mountains. The tunnels, dams and other parts of the hydropower projects being built have been destroying the river, its biodiversity and weakening the Himalaya mountains. Landslides are on the rise. This can be seen at the existing hydropower projects at Vishnu Prayag, Srinagar, Maneri-Bhali I and II, Tehri and Koteshwar. Further, the water of the River stagnates in the Tehri Reservoir and becomes dead without oxygen as established by the methane emissions recorded by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute.
The Government (NMCG, MoWR) notification of Oct 9, 2018 on Environmental flows (Eflows) in Ganga is not based on any scientific assessment or credible time bound compliance or any vision of Ganga. The Eflows mentioned are only 6 percent of the flow at Haridwar and 3 percent at Narora. This is completely inadequate for any river, considering that the IIT Consortium has recommended about 50 percent Eflows from hydropower projects. In fact the March 2015 joint report from MoWR and MoEF provides the right methodology for arriving at environment flow requirements for any river and the Oct 9, 2018 notification is clearly a retrograde step in that context. The notification needs to be replaced by making a statutory requirement of following the March 2015 report mentioned above.
To save and rejuvenate Ganga river please begin with:
- Stopping the following dams under construction on Ganga at Tapovan-Vishnugad on Dhauli Ganga, Vishnugad-Pipalkoti on Alaknanda and Singoli-Bhatwari on Mandakini and cancel all under construction and planned hydropower projects on Ganga and its tributaries. Big hydropower projects are in any case not even economically viable now.
- Forthwith implementing the CPCB order dated December 06, 2016 issued vide letter no. PCI-SSI/direction-DM/SSP, Haridwar/2016 prohibiting mining and stone crushers within 5 km from either side of Ganga up to Raiwala 2, Bhogpur, Haridwar, up to Raighati and issue directions to halt.
- All major interventions adversely affecting the river Ganga should require statutory social and environmental impact assessments, public consultations and appraisal. Major interventions now underway including Char Dham Highway, National Waterways, River Front Development. Dredging and even mega hydropower projects (e.g. Lakhwar) in Ganga basin are today escaping this process for one reason or another.
- Saints have and are sacrificing their lives in an unbroken chain of amaran anshan at Matri Sadan. The concerned authorities must immediately engage with them to resolve the demands.
Your governments need to urgently intervene.
Awaiting an early response,
Sagar Rabari, President, Khedut Ekta Manch (Gujarat) email@example.com
Dr. EAS Sarma, Former Secretary, Govt of India, Vishakhapatnam. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh, Pune. email@example.com
Dr Ravi Chopra, Founder, former Director, PSI, Dehradun, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Vikrant Tongad, Social Action for Forest & Environment, Noida, Uttar Pradesh. email@example.com
S Janakarajan, President, SaciWATERs, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bittu Sahgal, Sanctuary Asia, Mumbai. email@example.com
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S. P. Ravi, Chalakudypuzha Samrakshan Samithi, Thrisur, Kerala. email@example.com
Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune. firstname.lastname@example.org
J. Joy, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune email@example.com
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Dipak Dholakia, ICAN (Indian Community Activists Network), Delhi. email@example.com
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Dr R.S. Chundawat & Joanna Van Gruisen – Baavan – Bagh Aap Aur Van, Panna, Madhya Pradesh, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Debadityo Sinha, Vindhyan Ecology and Natural History Foundation, Mirzapur (U.P.) email@example.com
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Swarup Bhattacharyya, Ethnographer on Boats, Kolkata firstname.lastname@example.org
Malika Virdi, Himal Prakriti, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. email@example.com
K Ramnarayan (Conservationist & Nature Educator), Uttarakhand. firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Athialy, New Delhi. email@example.com
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Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi-110088 email@example.com