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Revoke order that says Har-Ki-Pauri is on Ganga canal: Ex-Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat

The order, issued during the Harish Rawat-led Congress government on December 14, 2016, states that stretch at Har-Ki-Pauri till Mayapur dam is on the ‘Ganga canal’. It was issued to circumvent the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directive that prohibited “any type of construction” within 200 metres from the Ganga riverbed.

dehradun Updated: Sep 04, 2018 14:21 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
uttarakhand,har ki pauri,ganga river
The Har-Ki_Pauri at Haridwar. (RAMESHWAR GAUR/HT PHOTO)

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has again sought revocation of a government order that states that Har-ki-Pauri — a ghat in Haridwar where pilgrims take a holy dip — is on the banks of an “escape channel” of the Ganga canal and not on the banks of the Ganga river.

The order, issued during the Harish Rawat-led Congress government on December 14, 2016, states that stretch at Har-Ki-Pauri till Mayapur dam is on the ‘Ganga canal’. The order was issued to circumvent the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directive that prohibited “any type of construction” within 200 metres from the Ganga riverbed. The NGT order raised a hue and cry among builders lobby, hoteliers, dharamshala-ashram owners, and traders, who have commercial interest in and around Har-Ki-Pauri till Mayapur-Daksh temple stretch.

Rawat’s statement comes in the backdrop of the Ganga Sabha, which manages the affairs of Brahmakund-Har-Ki-Pauri, filing a petition in the Uttarakhand high court that sought scrapping of the GO.

“We have taken legal recourse as the government notification hurts the ancient significance of Brahmakund-Har-Ki-Pauri, which is stated in Vedic scriptures as being the sacred place on the holy Ganga, where a tug of war between deities and demons took place,” said Ganga Sabha general secretary Ram Kumar Mishra.

“Nectar had fallen at this very place, and since then Kumbh fair has been held once in every 12 years… How can a government deem Har-Ki-Pauri as being on a canal only to satisfy vested interests?”

Harish Rawat said he had taken the decision after a number of teerth purohits, pandas, managers of ashrams and dharamshalas, and traders met him many times to declare the stretch as a canal channel. “If I had done anything wrong, then the BJP government should nullify the order and declare the entire Har-Ki-Pauri stretch as on the Ganga river.”

A hotelier said on condition of anonymity that if the river status is restored, then construction activities will be prohibited within 200 metre periphery of the Ganga, which will affect the interests of traders, builders, and teerth purohits.

During his maiden visit to Haridwar as CM in May 2017, Trivendra Singh Rawat had said the “wrong act of the previous government” would be reversed and the original status of Har-Ki-Pauri restored. But the BJP government has not yet taken any move in this regard.

“Be it the BJP or the Congress, both are hand in glove on this issue. A majority of hoteliers, traders, purohits, and owners of lodges, guest houses, ashrams, and dharamshalas are close to both the parties,” said an office-bearer of the Ganga Sabha. “Commercial interests seem to have greater significance for them than the religious aspect. Why did the Congress issue such an GO and why isn’t the BJP government declaring it void.”

When contacted, cabinet spokesperson Madan Kaushik said decision will be taken at an appropriate time, and blamed the Congress government “for the blunder”.

Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad national president Narendra Giri had recently said they would stage an agitation if the pre-2016 status of Har-Ki-Pauri was not restored before the Kumbh fair.

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Photo caption: Water flows from the Ganga towards Har-Ki-Pauri notified as a canal stretch RAMESHWAR GAUR/HT PHOTO.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 14:21 IST