AHMEDNAGAR: Social activist Anna Hazare today launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Smart City Mission, saying it was against the Gandhian philosophy of village-centric development and would lead to environmental catastrophe.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Hazare also noted that even after two years in power, the government was yet to appoint Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states.
Speaking to PTI at Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare said he wrote the letter after Modi said while launching schemes under the Smart City Mission in Pune four days ago that urbanisation should not looked upon as a problem but as an opportunity.
Like Gandhi, Modi was also born in Gujarat, he said, adding, "the question that I have now is whether what Modi said was right, or what Mahatma Gandhi used to say is right."
The letter said that according to Gandhi, the urban development achieved by exploiting the nature is not sustainable.
The urban development was producing more and more carbon dioxide which was leading to illness, overcrowded hospitals, and the rise in temperatures which presents a threat to the very existence of all living things, it said.
The global warming was leading to melting of ice, rise in sea levels, posing threat to coastal towns. "This is what the scientists say. Still, you say `urbanisation is not a crisis but an opportunity’," Hazare said in his letter.
In an agrarian country like India, water needed for farming was being diverted to the cities, the letter said, adding that "it is a disaster".
While the water need of cities is growing, the dams are getting filled with silt, which reduces their capacity, he said.
Due to the lack of effort to prevent soil erosion in the catchment areas, all dams would "die" due to silting in 200-300 years if not sooner, he said.
Hazare said even after 68 years of independence, improving the economy of cities has not helped in improving the economy of the country and cited Gandhi's stress on development of village economy.
"Although I know that you (Modi) do not reply to my letters, I am writing this letter to you. Because this country does not belong to any individual...Every voter is the owner of this country. It is the right of the owner to say that this is my country and no harm should be done to it when the servant of the country is indulging in something that is causing harm to the country," the letter said.
"Just as you show keen interest in smart cities, you should have also shown equal interest in the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayuktas....Two years have passed but the common man is utterly fed up with corruption.
Nowhere does work get done without bribing. This is the reality of the nation.
Therefore laws like Lokpal and Lokayukta are made. It is necessary to implement them," said Hazare, whose agitation for Lokpal bill caught the nation's fancy during the UPA regime.
The social activist said Modi's remarks that urbanisation was not a crisis but an opportunity "caused my mind much distress".
"You have said many times that true democracy will not be established unless there is real power in the hands of the people through decentralisation of power. You talk but you don't act. This is what the people think....When I spoke words of truth for the good of the society and country, you got upset and hence perhaps could not even reply to my letter.
Please excuse me if you think I have erred," Hazare said.