Skip to main content

Ganga depletion leading to loss of indigenous livelihoods: Fasting saint tells activist

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Ramnath Kovind, President of India, Chandra Vikash, who is convener of the civil rights organization Global Academy for Indigenous (Dalit) Activism (GAIA), Delhi, has expressed the apprehension that crores of indigenous (Dalit) livelihoods would be affected if the Government of India fails to ensure “free-flow” of River Ganga and other rivers, making them “pollution-free”.
Pointing towards the 148-day fast of Sant Atmabodhanand to “protect Ganga”, Vikash says, instead of Ganga becoming “free-flow and free of pollution”, things have actually “worsened in past three years.” He jotted down a note on March 10 after his interaction with Atmabodhanand, even as the protest and solidarity march began on March 9 from Delhi to Haridwar.

Excerpts from the note:

I met Swami Atmabodhanand over last few days in Haridwar before returning to Delhi in the night yesterday. Today is the 139th day of his fast. He is a strong-willed person and would never give up his fast till his last breathe.
But the physical body is taking its own course. I am concerned as every well-wisher would be about his health. What amazed me so much that even after all these waste of fasting, he is so articulate and mentally agile.
He shared with me how so many more times indigenous livelihoods are already lost and further depleting due to the incessant damming of the rivers and all the industrial and urban effluents and sewage being dumped into this once mighty river that's only a pale shadow of its legendary glory and gust. Of farmers on its meandering catchment area in the hills and the floodplains; of fishermen folks whose catch from the free flowing river is shrinking to well-below subsistence levels; of the boating folks who would help move people and goods in a far more sustainable and ecologically friendly manner than the voracious plundering of resources that the numerous and growing road and rail bridges enable; of how the numerous wells and ponds and the "pynes" that would carry the water to near and further villages and towns are depleting and vanishing.
He mentioned how the depleting "bacteriophage" and healthy radiation of "Gangajal" that was a cure for numerous diseases from cholera to tuberculosis and is responsible for its "magical" properties is now turning it stale within 5 days and has become a public health scare for people on its banks and basin consuming this water.
He added how American health scientists worried about growing antibiotic resistance among their population are now discovering how important the bacteriophage really is. We also discussed how displaced and dispossessed of their indigenous livelihoods, they were pushed into supporting riverbed mining and other destructive industries and construction activities for their sustenance and become their own worst enemies -- mindlessly siding with their exploiters and opposing the protests that would help them restore their far more sustainable, robust and healthy indigenous livelihoods.
Tears well up in my eyes though when I noticed how he could not get up on his feet on his own after kneeling down to his guru Swami Shivanand ji in the morning. Yet, he put up a brave face when the medical officials came from the health department for the medical check up. There were four well-fed smug officials. Though visibly sympathetic and respectful to him and concerned about his health, their disdain for the protest came out in the open when one of them in course of our conversation proclaimed how they had helped increase longevity in India from 37 years in the pre-independence era to 67 years today and alleged that "environmentalists" like us had only made a negative contribution.
He was too impatient to listen to how the empirical evidence was to the contrary and exposed his blatant lies and delusion. He left soon after as the Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat was in Haridwar and he had to rush for another VIP check-up.
After he left though, Atmabodhanand ji told me that I should not have mentioned to the health officials about the morning incident on how his body was becoming too weak to get up on its own. He was afraid that if the officials gave a true report, the Big Brother Government would forcefully evict him before killing him like numerous others before him.
Deep inside this made me seethe with rage and fury over the state of affairs in free and democratic India over how even silent and peaceful protests meet with a cruel and violent fate. But I held it back and moved on determined to call a spade a spade and to fight for justice and truth as a duty unto victory.
Hopefully, we will be able to apply international pressure on the big brother Government of India and the State Government of Uttarakhand to stop further degradation and destruction of the Ganga River and its eco-system of rich bio-diversity and to restore it to health and glory.
So that the millions of lost and depleting indigenous livelihoods can be restored and their rights to traditional indigenous way of life can be defended in the letter and spirit of the United Nations Declaration for Rights of Indigenous People signed nearly unanimously by all the members worldwide. Government of India is not just a signatory.
On several occasions including recently by the foreign minister, it has a proclaimed to be a strong votary to its implementation. We just need to remind them and hold them accountable to their words and deeds.

Comments

TRENDING

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

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

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.

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agricultural reform? Small farmers will be more vulnerable, corporates to 'fix' price

By Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
Agriculture employs 42% of the total work force whereas it contributes only 16% to the country’s GDP. The average annual growth rate in agriculture has remained static to 2.9% since the last six years. This means that the post-green revolution conventional agriculture has reached its peak. Responsiveness of soil fertility to fertiliser application, an indicator of stagnancy in agriculture, shows declining trend since 1970. The worst sufferer has been the small and marginal farmers who constitute 86% of total farmers.