NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti had once vociferously opposed the construction of dams on rivers, but at the National dialogue on Ganga on Monday, the firebrand BJP leader was seen supporting dams citing “advance technology” that allows co-existence of dams and minimum ecological flow in rivers.
Asked if the Centre was planning to limit the number of dams on the Ganga to ensure uninterrupted flow, Bharti said that latest technology could ensure free flow of rivers through dams.
She opined that even the existing dams could be changed using the same technology and no river in the country would be destroyed.
Her statements raised eyebrows at the National Ganga meet, which was convened to carve out a strategy to clean the river.
Both environmentalists and technocrats, who were part of the one-day long ‘Ganga Manthan’ said it was not possible to ensure uninterrupted flow in any river if dams were being built on it. Even officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) who were present at the meeting said this co-existence of dams and river is only possible in very small capacity hydroelectric projects and not major projects.
The minister, however, assured the gathering of saints, public representatives and scientists among others that there won’t be any shortage of funds for the Ganga Rejuvenation programme.
“We have had series of discussions with various stakeholders on the issue and will soon arrive on some positive outcome. People from every section of society, irrespective of their faith, are committed to this cause and we will make all the rivers in the country clean,” she said.
Slamming former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh for accusing the NDA Government of turning clean Ganga project into a ‘Hindutva project’ and trying to polarise politics, Bharti said people wanted the Ganga to regain its lost glory and leaders should refrain from doing communal politics on the issue.
The Centre last month announced setting up of a committee of secretaries (CoS) under the Ministry of Water Resources to prepare an action plan for a pollution-free Ganga.
The committee has members from the Shipping Ministry, Environment Ministry and Tourism Ministry and will look into the development of inland waterways and tourism along the banks.
The Centre has also decided to develop the river as a tourism destination, means of transport, fisheries development and power generation.