destination india

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

a revised ganga action plan

If some one comes up with a revised Ganga Action Plan in the form a film – ‘yeh Ganga ko dho daloh!’(Clean up this Ganga) he might earn a nomination to one of the prestigious film festivals in Cannes or Berlin or even Hollywood.

The Ganges (or Ganga as she is better known) is one of the holiest of rivers. Its holy waters are an important item in performing pujas of the Gods and Goddesses. We all are aware of the fact that the Ganga originates in the Himalayas and flows down from the north to the Bay of Bengal in the east coast culminating in the inimitable mangroves of the Sunderbans made famous by the Royal Bengal tigers. In the course of her journey, she passes through states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and keeps on getting dirtier and murckier. In order to cleanse the river, the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was drawn up and it comes into the limelight in bursts, like when some legislator wants to be seen on the TV screen monitoring the cleaning up process with an eye on the forthcoming elections.

There is a large gap in the implementation of the GAP – this large gap between the plans and achievements is becoming more and more difficult to bridge.

At every opportunity we love to wax eloquent on our rich cultural heritage, but when it comes to cleaning up the muck in our own backyard, we look around for scapegoats. Industries were, once upon a time, set up along the banks of rivers for ease of transportation of raw materials and finished goods. Today, with relatively more options of transportation available, the river is used as a convenient dumping ground for the filth of the cities en-route.

Showman Raj Kapoor immortalized the Ganga in his film Sangam by the famous song ‘mere man ki ganga aur tere man ki jamuna’ (the river Ganges of my heart and the river Jamuna of your heart). There have been quite a number of films with the name Ganga appearing in their titles, very few of them deal with the holy river. Jis desh mey Ganga behti hai (1960 – Raj Kapoor), Ganga Jamuna (1961- Dilip Kumar), Ram teri Ganga mailee (1986 – Raj Kapoor), Ganga, Jamuna, Saraswati (1988 – Amitabh, Mithun), and Jis desh mey Ganga rehti hai (2000 – Sonali Bendre) are names that come to mind readily. For those not conversant with Hindi words, the translations are as follows: Ram teri Ganga mailee (Ram, your Ganga is dirty); Jis desh mey Ganga behti hai (the country through which the Ganga flows); Jis desh mey Ganga rehti hai (the country in which the Ganga lives).

Is anyone game enough to take the challenge? Do we hear murmurs in the audience?

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