Ahead of PM’s visit, revival hope flows in for dying Aami
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Ahead of PM’s visit, revival hope flows in for dying Aami

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June 28 visit to Maghar, where the famous 15th century poet and saint Kabir breathed his last, has rekindled hope among the natives of 600 villages settled on the banks of river Aami.

lucknow Updated: Jun 27, 2018 13:04 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Prime Minister,Narendra Modi,Aami Bachao Manch
As the PM is likely to announce the launch of various projects to promote tourism, villagers hope that chief minister Yogi Adityanath will draw his attention to the pathetic state of the river Aami.(HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June 28 visit to Maghar, where the famous 15th century poet and saint Kabir breathed his last, has rekindled hope among the natives of 600 villages settled on the banks of river Aami.

As the PM is likely to announce the launch of various projects to promote tourism, villagers hope that chief minister Yogi Adityanath will draw his attention to the pathetic state of the river.

The course of Aami
  • River Aami finds mention in Hindu and Buddhist religious texts. It originates from Shikhara Tal in Siddharth Nagar district. After covering 102 km, Aami merges into river Rapti. Its ancient name is Anoma and it is believed that Gautam Buddha renounced royal life on its bank after leaving his kingdom.
  • A 5,000 year old civilisation was excavated by archaeologists at Sohgaura village located on the banks of Aami. The remains of Neolithic site have been excavated in Lahuradeva village located in Aami river basin area. Traces of ancient rice cultivation were also found during excavation.
  • Maghar, the place where Sant Kabir attained ‘mahaparinirvan’, is located on the banks of the river. Guru Nanak visited Maghar and met Kabir on the banks of river Aami. A gurudwara is being constructed near the spot to commemorate the meeting.

Way back in 2007, the villagers had started a movement for a clean Aami, which was considered a dying river because of excessive pollution, by launching Aami Bachao Manch.

They organised dharnas, demonstrations, padyatras and public meetings in Maghar as well as adjoining areas to draw the attention of the government towards the problem.

Before his elevation as chief minister, the then Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath was made convener of the manch. Yogi also joined the anti-pollution movement launched by the villagers and expressed commitment to free Aami from stench and effluent.

Ramjit, a farmer of Godar village, said: “We hope that the CM will discuss the issue of pollution in Aami river with the PM.”

President of Aami Bachao Manch Vishwa Vijay Singh said they had written a letter to the PM requesting him to announce measures for the revival of dying river.

The state government has already announced the launch of Rs 25 crore Kabir circuit project which includes interpretation centre, public gallery, and exhibition at Maghar.

The state government has roped in the archaeology department to curate all memorabilia from Varanasi or elsewhere on Kabir which will be put up at his mausoleum.

A delegation of farmers met the head of Kabir Samadhi Mahanth Vichar Das on Monday and urged him to discuss the issue of pollution in the river with the PM. To highlight their demands, the farmers are holding regular meetings in Maghar.

Singh said in 2015 the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued notice to the state government, district magistrates of four districts, UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and owners of industrial units over the release of effluent in Aami.

“The NGT directed the state government and the owners of industrial units to take measures to check pollution but the orders are yet to be implemented,” he said.

In 2016, the department of environment, forest and climate change included Aami in the National River Conservation Plan which related to the conservation of river Ganga and its tributaries.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued direction to the UP Pollution Control Board to take measures to protect Aami from pollution. The directions of CPCB have not been implemented yet.

In its 102-km course, the river flows through four districts –Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar and Gorakhpur.

“A large number of cattle have died after consuming polluted water. Several villagers are in the grip of water-borne diseases. Earlier, fishery flourished in the area and the Nishad community members earned their livelihood by selling fish in the market. Pollution has also killed the fish forcing Nishads to look for other occupations,” he said.

“Once Aami was home to a variety of flora and fauna and agriculture and fishing culture flourished in the river basin area. Today, the effluent and waste released from the factories have virtually converted the river into a drain. The stench emanating from the river has made the farmers’ life hell,” Singh said.

“A few years back, villagers and cattle quenched their thirst directly from the stream. Today, no one dares to touch its water. Those who take bath in the river suffer from skin disease and several pregnant cows and buffaloes have suffered abortion after drinking polluted water,” said Rambaran Yadav, a resident of Kaili village.

Forgetting their ideological differences, various religious heads including the mahant of Gorakhnath Temple Trust Yogi Adityanath, head of Sant Kabir Samadhi Mahant Vichardas, Buddhist monk Bhante Gyaneshwar, Imam of Unwal mosque Qazi Imtiyaz and head priest of Maghar Gurudwara Committee Amrik Singh have extended support to the cause.

First Published: Jun 27, 2018 13:04 IST