The Ganga used to an appealing subject for politicians and environmentalists alike. But it doesn’t find mention prominently this poll season in speeches and manifestos of major the two players — the ruling Congress and the BJP, which ruled the state before. No doubt voters in the Ganga valley are angry.(Anupam Trivedi/HT)
The Ganga used to an appealing subject for politicians and environmentalists alike. But it doesn’t find mention prominently this poll season in speeches and manifestos of major the two players — the ruling Congress and the BJP, which ruled the state before. No doubt voters in the Ganga valley are angry.(Anupam Trivedi/HT)

Uttarkhand voters left high and dry as leaders leave Ganga out of poll plank

The Ganga was an appealing subject for politicians and environmentalists alike. But it doesn’t find mention prominently this poll season in speeches and manifestos of major the two players — the ruling Congress and the BJP, which ruled the state before. No doubt voters in the Ganga valley are angry.
By Anupam Trivedi | Hindustan Times, Uttarkashi/Rishikesh
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2017 07:44 PM IST

People, prosperity and politics are intrinsically linked to a river sutra, upstream along the Ganga from the yoga and meditation town of Rishikesh.

About 75km of woozy switchbacks on a state highway brings Devprayag, one of Uttarakhand’s holiest of holy towns where the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers meet to gurgle down under a more famous name — Ganga. The Bhagirathi, also Ganga for some, emerges from Gangotri, the Himalayan glacier in Uttarkashi.

The routes these rivers carve — as tiny toddlers in the upper reaches and as impetuous teenagers along the way — become some of the most beautiful valleys of the Garhwal Himalayas, sustaining human habitation, meditation, pilgrimages and later-day touristy pursuits such as white water rafting. In short, the rivers are the lifeline of hundreds of people.

But like humans, the rivers show their fickleness. The 2013 flash floods from a cloudburst was one such example. Thousands died, properties destroyed, livelihood lost, and mass migration followed. Gregarious mountainside hamlets with cornfields and livestock have been reduced to ghost villages.

Read: In nature’s lap, the victims of nature’s fury

Those who stayed back are fighting to survive. And looking forward to some hope that the assembly elections on February 15 will lift their lot.

The Ganga was an appealing subject for politicians and environmentalists alike. But it doesn’t find mention prominently this poll season in speeches and manifestos of major the two players — the ruling Congress and the BJP, which ruled the state before. No doubt voters in the Ganga valley are angry.

Read: All want to save Ganga, none have the roadmap

Parties have no roadmap for the valley’s development, said Santosh Butola, a 28-year-old from Uttarkashi, who reaffirmed that he would instead vote for a candidate having a clear agenda.

“We have an identity because of Ganga-ji. Several orders came out for Ganga-ji, but her children are ignored.”

The anger stems from a 2012 conditional ban by the Centre on human activities such as construction of homes, commercial buildings and hydro-power projects considered detrimental to the environment.

Two years before, three hydro-power projects were stalled in Uttarkashi because of strong protests from environmentalist and seers of shrines dotting the landscape.

Read: The valley of death - for hydel projects

Locals working in those projects were forced to take up odd jobs such as breaking boulders for roadwork. Uttarkashi, which has three assembly seats, was already grappling with distress migration because of lack of employment. The 2013 floods dealt a further blow.

The BJP had promised to allow Ganga to follow its natural course in the upper reaches but local leaders demanded that the hydel power projects be reinstated.

“The projects will boost the economy and create jobs. People sitting in air-conditioned offices in Delhi may oppose them but locals want them to improve their livelihood,” BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni said.

The Harish Rawat government too demanded scrapping of the ban on hydro-projects.

The flash floods swept away suspension bridges that link hillside villages with state roads. One such damaged bridge for Dirsari village across the Bhagirathi was to be replaced by 2016 with a footbridge. The money was sanctioned, but the bridge never happened.

Similar bridges over the Pindar, a tributary of the Ganga in Chamoli district adjoining the Badrinath shrine, are yet to be repaired, rebuilt. People are forced to cross the gushing river on driftwood, or small manual and hydraulic trolleys, or take a long detour.

Read full coverage of Uttarakhand elections here

“We don’t want the moon, repair our footbridges and we will be more than happy,” said Dinesh Purohit, a resident.

The mountains of Garhwal attract millions of pilgrims to the holy Char Dhams on the banks of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. Millions more come to enjoy the pristine landscape and more.

Tourism flourished near Rishikesh, where dime a dozen tent sites came up on the Ganga banks catering to a raft of river rafting enthusiasts. But a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order in December 2015, prohibiting camping along the Ganga riverside, put a spanner in the trade that employed nearly 5,000 people directly or indirectly. The annual turnover was pegged at Rs 10 crore.

“Rafting and camping go together. The faulty government policies have taken toll on our business,” rues Ratan Aswal, owner of a camp site.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
In Moyna, Dinda will fight the Trinamool Congress’ Sangram Kumar Dolai, who has been a sitting legislator since 2016.(Twitter/@dindaashoke)
In Moyna, Dinda will fight the Trinamool Congress’ Sangram Kumar Dolai, who has been a sitting legislator since 2016.(Twitter/@dindaashoke)

BJP fields ex-cricketer Ashoke Dinda from Moyna constituency

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:46 PM IST
Dinda was inducted into the BJP on February 24 in the presence of Union minister Babul Supriyo and BJP Bengal unit’s vice president Arjun Singh at a public meeting in Kolkata.
Close
The BJP leader, who has said he would quit politics if he doesn’t defeat his former boss, added that Banerjee would lose by 50,000 votes. He has made the claim before as well.(ANI Photo)
The BJP leader, who has said he would quit politics if he doesn’t defeat his former boss, added that Banerjee would lose by 50,000 votes. He has made the claim before as well.(ANI Photo)

Will defeat Mamata in Nandigram, send her back to Kolkata: Suvendu Adhikari

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:24 PM IST
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s comments came soon after he was nominated by the BJP to fight this year’s high-stakes assembly elections in the state from Nandigram, his home turf.
Close
A man waves a Congress flag at a rally in Gujarat.(AP File Photo)
A man waves a Congress flag at a rally in Gujarat.(AP File Photo)

Congress releases first list of 13 candidates for Bengal assembly elections

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:18 PM IST
  • Candidates contesting from heavyweight constituencies Kakdwip, Purulia and Bankura among others have been announced.
Close
Subhendu Adhikari will contest West Bengal elections from Nandigram seat. (HT File Photo)
Subhendu Adhikari will contest West Bengal elections from Nandigram seat. (HT File Photo)

BJP names 57 candidates for 2 phases of Bengal polls. Full list here 

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:26 PM IST
West Bengal goes to polls in eight phases—March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. The results for the 294 assembly seats will be declared on May 2.
Close
Akhil Gogoi has been under arrest since December 2019 for his role in the violent anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Assam that claimed five lives. At present, he is admitted at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital. (PTI PHOTO).
Akhil Gogoi has been under arrest since December 2019 for his role in the violent anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Assam that claimed five lives. At present, he is admitted at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital. (PTI PHOTO).

Jailed chief of Assam’s Raijor Dal, Akhil Gogoi, to contest from Sibasagar

By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:02 PM IST
  • The party, which has a pre-poll tie-up with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), another new party, announced its first list of 18 candidates for the first two phases of polling, on Saturday.
Close
Trivedi was inducted into the BJP earlier in the day in the presence of party chief JP Nadda.(HT Photo)
Trivedi was inducted into the BJP earlier in the day in the presence of party chief JP Nadda.(HT Photo)

‘He backstabbed us’: Trinamool Congress slams Dinesh Trivedi’s move to BJP

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:08 PM IST
Hitting out at Trivedi's decision to join the BJP, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told news agency PTI that the leader didn’t say anything against his former party in the last several years and decided to do so just before Bengal was about to go into polling.
Close
West Bengal BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya at Kalighat Hawkers' Market in Kolkata on Saturday. (ANI Photo )
West Bengal BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya at Kalighat Hawkers' Market in Kolkata on Saturday. (ANI Photo )

Kailash Vijayvargiya holds door-to-door campaign to invite people to Modi rally

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 06:52 PM IST
The BJP’s campaign for the upcoming assembly elections is in full swing in West Bengal, where the party has set a target of more than 200 seats.
Close
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari will contest Bengal polls from Nandigram seat. ( Samir Jana / HT File Photo )
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari will contest Bengal polls from Nandigram seat. ( Samir Jana / HT File Photo )

It’s Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:46 PM IST
  • The party’s general secretary also announced the names of 56 candidates for the assembly elections out of which 6 candidates were given to women.
Close
Guha said she will speak to BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and decide her future course of action.(legislativebodiesinindia.nic.in)
Guha said she will speak to BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and decide her future course of action.(legislativebodiesinindia.nic.in)

Denied ticket for polls, TMC MLA Sonali Guha says she will join BJP

PTI, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 06:04 PM IST
Roy said apart from Guha many other Trinamool MLAs and leaders have contacted him since Friday evening after Banerjee announced the party's candidates for 291 assembly seats in the state.
Close
Party leaders and members of the screening committee are expected to have a video conference with the Congress high command on Saturday to sort out the differences soon. (TWITTER/@ripunbora).
Party leaders and members of the screening committee are expected to have a video conference with the Congress high command on Saturday to sort out the differences soon. (TWITTER/@ripunbora).

Differences among leaders over seats delays Congress list of nominees in Assam

By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 06:02 PM IST
  • Despite several meetings over the past few days, Congress’s screening committee is yet to decide on the list of candidates as some leaders are unhappy with allocation of seats to alliance partners and also with denial of tickets to candidates suggested by them.
Close
Dinesh Bajaj also said that if BJP allows him to contest elections he will do everything possible to win. (ANI/Twitter)
Dinesh Bajaj also said that if BJP allows him to contest elections he will do everything possible to win. (ANI/Twitter)

Hurt by sentiments towards Hindi-speakers: Dinesh Bajaj quits TMC, may join BJP

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 04:44 PM IST
  • He also said that the TMC should not forget what its senior leaders had done for the party for the sake of newcomers.
Close
A TMC supporter paints a wall to campaign for the party ahead of Assembly polls, in Nadia.(PTI)
A TMC supporter paints a wall to campaign for the party ahead of Assembly polls, in Nadia.(PTI)

TMC, Left candidates kick-start campaigning for Bengal Assembly election

Posted by Shivani | PTI, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 04:11 PM IST
While the TMC announced the list of candidates for 291 seats on Friday, the Left named nominees for 39 seats that are going to polls in the first phase.
Close
"CPI (M) and DMK delegations have discussed the seat-sharing in today's meeting. Both parties have asked for their required number of seats", Balakrishnan said after the meeting with the DMK leaders.(PTI File Photo)
"CPI (M) and DMK delegations have discussed the seat-sharing in today's meeting. Both parties have asked for their required number of seats", Balakrishnan said after the meeting with the DMK leaders.(PTI File Photo)

TN polls: Second round seat-sharing talks between CPI(M), DMK inconclusive

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 03:22 PM IST
CPI (M) state general secretary K Balakrishnan, other party members G Ramakrishnan and Mahendran met DMK leaders at the DMK headquarters in Arivalayam on Saturday.
Close
Tamil Nadu Congress president KS Alagiri(PTI)
Tamil Nadu Congress president KS Alagiri(PTI)

‘Treated badly’ by DMK: Congress' KS Alagiri after seat-sharing talks

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 03:03 PM IST
  • Sources inside Congress told ANI, Tamil Nadu Congress president KS Alagiri broke down in front of party members after feeling humiliated by DMK during the seat-sharing discussion.
Close
Dinesh Trivedi quit his Rajya Sabha seat last month, saying he was feeling suffocated in the Trinamool Congress(HT Photo/Arvind Yadav)
Dinesh Trivedi quit his Rajya Sabha seat last month, saying he was feeling suffocated in the Trinamool Congress(HT Photo/Arvind Yadav)

Golden moment that I was waiting for, says Dinesh Trivedi as he joins BJP

By Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:05 PM IST
  • Former Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dinesh Trivedi left the party last month.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP