Skip to main content

Legacy of Gujarat's 13-yrs Modi rule: Three of India’s most polluted rivers, one of country's worst toxic dumps

By RK Misra*
Gujarat is the flavor of the Indian season.
Mahatma Gandhi, the man who won us independence is Gujarat’s gift to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who flagged off the country’s year long, high profile celebration of the Mahatma’s 150thbirth anniversary on October 2,2018, hails from here as does Amit Shah who runs the ruling BJP .There are two state Governors and additionally a long line of bureaucrats, technocrats and politicians from the state doing duty in Delhi and around the country.
Two days before he kicked off the India-wide celebrations, the Prime Minister spent a busy day in Gujarat on September 30 with a slew of back to back engagements. One of them was the inauguration of the world class museum at the Alfred High School in Rajkot where the Mahatma had studied. Just two kms from it is the Rashtriya Shaala, a 97-year-old school founded by Gandhiji which closed down for want of funds two months ago.
There were over a thousand students at one time but the government during the present Prime Minister’s tenure in the state did not find the primary school and the classical music school grant-worthy. Request to corporates for donations failed to get the desired response and the institution closed down. 
Interestingly, chief minister Vijay Rupani hails from Rajkot and the present vice-chancellor of the Gandhian Gujarat Vidyapith, Dr Anamik Shah is also a product of the Rashtriya Shaala. And the thrust of the Prime Minister’s speech was that past regimes had ignored Gandhi!
Inaugurating the Rs 300 crore chocolate plant of Amul, near Anand, India’s milk town, on the same day ,the Prime Minister was himself guilty of ignoring the late V Kurien, the father of the cooperative milk revolution in the country and the man who made Amul possible.
There was not even a picture of the man. Not wholly unexpected, for a piqued chief minister Modi had ensured his ejection from key positions including Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). 
Incidentally, the day Kurien passed away, Modi was present at a function in the vicinity of Anand but remained straight-faced even when informed and moved on. Old timers sorely missed Kurien when they witnessed the dairy cooperative members being given a miserly eat while the VVIPs enjoyed a Rs 2500 per person lavish meal spread,at the function!
Though Prime Minister Modi is the present messiah of the Swachh Bharat movement, interestingly, it was Mahatma Gandhi who had launched the biggest sanitation drive in the history of Ahmedabad in 1919, cleaning almost 3000 tonnes of garbage. Thirteen plus years of Modi’s helmsmanship and four years of his successors later, Gujarat accounts for three of the country’s most polluted rivers and Pirana in Ahmedabad as one of the most toxic garbage dumps.
Spread over 84 hectares this dumping yard of 1982, today constitutes three 75 feet high massive mounds of garbage each weighing 69 lakh metric tonnes. Highly toxic, spewing methane and carbon dioxide, it requires 48,000 litres of water per day or 17.5 million litres of water per year to keep under control. And 4700 tonnes of garbage is added to it every day. Air-conditioners ,5 km away from the landfill site, are developing leaks due to corrosion.
Studies reveal massive groundwater pollution in the vicinity over four decades. Please remember that Ahmedabad stands sixth in the country in per capita plastic waste generation. So it is that a 2012 consultancy study aimed at a zero-waste city by 2031 undertaken at a cost of $ 20,000 is long forgotten and gathers dust while a veritable time bomb ticks in Ahmedabad’s backyard!
On September 20, a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, quoting a Central Pollution Control board (GPCB) report had bad tidings for the state. Of the 351 polluted river stretches in India 160 were in five state of Gujarat, Assam, Maharashtra, Kerala and MP, Rajkot’s Bhadar stretch being India’s third most polluted. In Vadodara, Mahi and Dhadhar river are in death throes and domestic sewage is sending Tapi river, off Surat city into convulsions.
Gujarat is among the top lethargic states in dealing with untreated domestic sewage and industrial pollutants. The crowning irony, Gujarat was first in Asia to form a Climate Change department and was last to suggest a climate change plan in the country!
BJP has been ruling Gujarat for close to a quarter century and is thus culpable for both acts of commission and omission in the state. It’s failure in submitting Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) as mandated by the NGT, has resulted in projects worth Rs 50,000 crores being held up. This is because the NGT has directed the Ministry of Environments and Forests (MoEF) should not grant development permission in the regulated areas unless CZMP is submitted.
It is only after the hollering from the NGT on September 20 that Gujarat has finally agreed to formulate a river rejuvenation policy. Gujarat had all along chosen to be deaf to the Union water Resources ministry request for a list of lakes, water bodies and their current status. This despite the fact that in 2005,the state government had notified 44,138 lakes.
Thus, it is that the Prime Minister’s own home state and one that he projects as a model for the country, does not present a flattering view of his own rule!
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”