Bitter rivals at the Centre, the BJP and Congress in Uttar Pradesh have joined hands with yoga guru Ramdev to oppose Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s dream project – the Rs 30,000 crore Ganga Expressway.
The project aims to provide high-speed connectivity along the Ganga river between Noida in the west to Ballia in the eastern extremity of the state. It is to be an eight-laned 1,000 km expressway and is expected to be built in the next four years.
Ramdev, flanked by Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal of the Congress and Kanpur Mayor Ravindra Patni of the BJP launched a campaign called Aviral Ganga, Nirmal Ganga (Continuous Ganga, Clean Ganga) on the banks of the river here on Wednesday.
Ramdev is the convenor of the Ganga Raksha Manch (Save Ganga Forum), an umbrella organisation of religious and social organisations, including the Bajrang Dal, which have pledged to save the Ganga from domestic and industrial pollution.
The Opposition parties say they are against the project because it will uproot lakhs of poor farmers.
On Thursday, Ramdev handed a memorandum to save the river to the Kanpur district magistrate. It was addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Ramdev’s first demand is the stalling of the project launched by Mayawati last year.
Criticising the project, Ramdev said in the memorandum: “The new expressway will badly damage the geographical, biological and chemical balance of the areas along the Ganga. Around 1.5 lakh acres of highly fertile land will be lost forever which will affect our food sufficiency. As many as 600 villages will be destroyed.”
Local BJP leader Suresh Gupta his party wants the Ganga to be free of pollution, hence it was sharing a platform with Congress leaders.
“Cleaning of the Ganga has become a national issue. Hence people are rising above their political affiliations or castes to join the movement,” Gupta said.
Sunil Babu, a local BSP leader said, “This is a national issue and instructions (to join the campaign) have to come from the highest authority of the party.”