Uttarakhand govt ambivalent on saints’ demand to revoke controversial order on Ganga
Madan Kaushik, Uttarakhand cabinet minister blamed the previous Congress government for controversial order but did not say why the BJP administration had not scrapped the order or cleared its stance on the matter in the last three and a half years.Updated: Jul 16, 2020 17:15 IST
The community of saints in Haridwar has asked the Uttarakhand government to retract an order over declaring a stretch of the Ganga as an escape channel after former chief minister Harish Rawat apologized on Wednesday for the “mistake” of his administration.
“I seek an apology from the saint community and Ganga Sabha over the decision taken by the state government under my chief ministership. I urge chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to take back this decision and announce Har-Ki-Pauri as part of main holy Ganga river,” Rawat said Wednesday during his meeting with saints and Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad office bearers along with representatives of Ganga Sabha, the body that manages the affairs of the ancient sanctum sanctorum of Brahma Kund Har-Ki-Pauri Ganga ghat in Haridwar.
“This controversial order was passed to safeguard the interests of local traders and commercial activities but later I realized it was a mistake. It was a decision taken with certain aspects taken into consideration but now this decision should be nullified. A large number of saints, teerth purohits and Ganga activists met me in this regard recently after which I realised my mistake,” said Rawat who is also a former MP from Haridwar.
Many priests, pandas, traders, shopkeepers, hoteliers and politicians living in and around Har-Ki-Pauri had then urged Harish Rawat to pass the order saying Har-Ki-Pauri is not the mainstream Ganga but a secondary part of Ganga canal stream.
Rawat said that if the state government doesn’t take any decision in this regard, then he will ensure that this order is taken back if the Congress returns to power in 2022,
Terming it as a genuine realisation of a major mistake Mahant Durga Das of Shri Panchayati Akhada Bada Udasin said that after Rawat publicly accepted the mistake, the ball is now in the court of the state government.
Ganga Sabha president Pradeep Jha said that sentiments of Ganga devotees continued to be hurt as in official records Har-Ki-Pauri part of the Ganga is deemed as a channel of the main river.
“We have already submitted three memorandums in this regard to the state government to nullify the previous Congress government order. Brahamkund, Har-Ki-Pauri has since antiquity been believed to be the sacred place where tug-of-war took place between deities and demons and nectar fell at that place,” said Jha.
The Congress-led government had issued an order declaring part of Ganga from Sarvanand Ghat, Bhoopatwala till Shri Daknesheswar Mahadev temple, passing through sanctum sanctorum of Brahama Kund, Har-Ki-Pauri as an escape channel on December 14, 2016. This meant Har-Ki-Pauri ghat is not on the main river Ganga course and thus did not come under NGT directive that prohibits construction activities within 100 metre of the Ganga river.
The order of the then Congress government meant construction activities could go on, bringing relief to many ashram owners, hoteliers, dharamshala owners and shopkeepers whose establishments were coming under 100-metre belt.
Earlier this week Ganga Sabha had threatened to move to the Supreme Court if the state government didn’t turn down this order.
The BJP government in Uttarakhand is ambivalent about the demand of the saints.
Madan Kaushik, state cabinet minister and state government spokesperson blamed the previous Congress government for this situation but did not say why the BJP government had not scrapped the order or cleared its stance on the matter in the last three and a half years.
“Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had stated during his first visit as CM to Har-Ki-Pauri that mistakes and wrongdoings of previous Congress government will be washed away. It is good that finally Harish Rawat has realised his mistake but it won’t be easy for people of Haridwar to forget his acts,” said Kaushik.