Op-Ed: An epic victory in the battle for free-flowing rivers
Updated: Mar 27, 2015 12:10 IST
The battle for the source of the Ganga’s waters is not just a battle between two parties – the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Ganga Aandolan Samiti (GAS). It is also a battle between two rivers: the Ganga and the Yamuna.
For more than seven decades, the Yamuna has been pitted against the Ganga in the country’s most heated disputes.
The Ganga’s water has been a source of constant quarrels between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress-led UPA government in 2004 had declared the Ganga as a National River and the BJP government ruled for nearly 17 years before calling off its attack on the Ganga in 2011. But then, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to the issue of the Ganga’s waters in 2014.
The fight is also a battle between the Congress and the BJP to claim the most important source of drinking water – a perennial river, after the Ganga.
The Ganga has made a remarkable turnaround from the water wars of the 1970s when it was seen as a hindrance to the growth of the economy, to become the life-blood of nearly 1,50,000-km of underground water infrastructure, or as experts call it, Ground Water (GW).
In the 1970s, the Congress ruled in Delhi and the BJP ruled in Uttar Pradesh. Both parties, in their attempt to water the growth of the cities, diverted the Ganga’s waters to irrigate crop fields and factories. The Ganga was also used for drinking purposes, for drinking water and even for power generation. The Congress-led government considered the Ganga, especially during the monsoons, as an