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Saints protest annual Ganga canal closure, demand minimum flow of water

The saints here are opposing the annual Ganga canal closure demanding that a minimum flow of water be maintained at Har Hi Pauri during the festive season

dehradun Updated: Sep 27, 2017 19:51 IST
Sandeep Rawat 
Sandeep Rawat 
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,Ganga,Har Hi Pauri
The Har-Ki-Pauri area is a nerve centre of religious activities in Haridwar.(RAMESHWAR GAUR/HT Photo)

The saints here are opposing the annual Ganga canal closure demanding that a minimum flow of water be maintained at Har Hi Pauri during the festive season. Citing a 1916 agreement signed between the then British government and the Ganga Sabha, they have urged the Uttar Pradesh government that a flow of 1000 cusec of water be maintained at all times at Har Ki Pauri, a historic bathing ghat.

The Ganga canal would remain closed from Wednesday night (September 27) till October 19. During the period the canals are cleaned and repair works are carried out. In a bid to undertake the work the water flow is diverted hence the lakhs of pilgrims during this time of the year don’t get a chance to take a dip in the Holy waters or witness Ganga aarti.

The maintenance work of Ganga canal is undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department as the distribution of assets between that state and Uttarakhand is yet to be resolved.

“We have received a letter from Uttar Pradesh government about the annual closure. Hopefully minimum 1000 cusec water flow will be maintained at Har Ki Pauri keeping the fact into consideration that lakhs of pilgrims arrive here,” said Purushottam Sharma, president, Ganga Sabha.

Freedom fighter and social activist Madan Mohan Malaviya had led a protest against the move of the then British government to build a dam at Bhimgoda, opposite Brahma Kund, Har-ki-Pauri. It was feared that once the dam was constructed, the flow of Ganga, considered holy by Hindus, would be hampered and it would lose its sanctity. Malaviya had then brokered a deal between the then British government and the Ganga Sabha on how much water should flow through the dams and canals and the main stream of the Ganga so that the river’s purity is maintained. As per the agreement, 1,000 cusecs of water should flow unfettered across the ghats in Haridwar.

The saints say this clause of the agreement has been overlooked time and again and have urged Uttar Pradesh government to adhere to it.

Normally 10,500 cusec water flow is maintained at Ganga canal. Ganga Sabha has also given an option that the irrigation department could close the canal from Mayapur barrage, which is about 500 metres ahead of Har Ki Pauri.

Teerth purohit Avikshit Raman, who has been performing rituals at the Har Ki Pauri for past three decades, said that Ganga closure during peak time of Hindu festive season impacts the sentiments of saint-purohit community and pilgrims.

“UP can shift this closure phase ahead, we have been opposing this closure time during festive season. Livelihood of purhoits, pundits and traders also get affected due to closure as it is done during peak festive season,” he added.

Official say they are not doing anything new. “The annual closure is essential for maintenance of the canal and Ganga ghats. Minimum water will be ensured at sanctum sanctorum of Braham Kund, Har Ki Pauri during this closure period,” said CB Yadav, executive engineer, Uttar Pradesh irrigation department.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 19:51 IST