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Has Uma Bharti done an U-turn on Ganga? Activists believe so

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 - 6:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Firebrand BJP leader Uma Bharti, who once was against dams to save river Ganga, on Monday batted for them claiming advent of new technology allows dams and minimum ecological flow to co-exist.

Environmentalist, however, were not impressed with the Union minister for water resources, Ganga rejuvenation and river development's claim saying a new era of commercialisation of rivers has started.

"Ganga will have aviral dhara (minimum ecological flow). We now have a new technology and time has come when you can run river from dams. Even the old dams can be made effective while keeping them intact to ensure proper river flow... and we will think about all these possibilities," said Bharti on fate of dams at 'Ganga Manthan' programme organised here to discuss roadmap for cleaning of Ganga river.

Asked again pointedly whether any new dam project on Ganga will be cleared, she snapped back and said, "When I have said that new technology has made everything possible ... we will not let any river to be destroyed." She, however, refused to give a time frame for cleaning of Ganga river.

Ganga Manthan, a national dialogue on Ganga, was organised here which was attended by hundreds of saints, religious leaders, technical experts, environmentalists, NGOs, government officials, political leaders including MPs and MLAs among many others.

However, environmentalists who attended the programme viewed the development with suspicion.

"I have a letter wherein she had written to former PM Manmohan Singh that shows her stand against dams. Basically when she had not re-joined BJP she was vociferously opposing dams and since she has come to BJP she has changed stand and compromised due to her party's policy on dams. Now after becoming minister it is rather appalling that she has soften stand and that too without any reason," Mallika Bhanot of Ganga Ahvaan, who also attended the Ganga Ahvaan, told dna.

She also slammed Bharti for claiming a new technology stating that there is now such new technology. "The river flow is compromised because of the reduced water in Ganga in some seasons and excessive silt (due to receding glacier) and these two issues cannot be resolved as they governed by nature. So what has changed? Also it was disappointing that while issue was strongly discussed during technical sessions, it did not come out in the end at this Ganga Manthan," Bhanot said.

Another environmentalist Vimal Bhai of Amtunga who works in Uttarakhand and attended the meeting, said "a new era of river commercialisation has now begun."

Ramdev's tainted aide attends prog
Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev's aide Acharya Balkrishna, who has been accused in case related to violation of the passport act and also subjected to probe in a case of money laundering during UPA-II rule, was seen sharing stage with ministers of NDA government at the Ganga Manthan programme.

Balkrishna summarised technical session of saints and religious leaders and then joined Uma Bharti, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari and minister of state for water resources Santosh Gangwar till the end of the programme.

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