Nitish demands national debate on Ganga

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday stressed on the need for a national debate for a clean and pollution-free Ganga river.

“If we want to save river Ganga, there should be a strong people’s campaign for it,” Nitish said in his inaugural address at the two-day international conference on “Incessant Ganga” here.

“I have been raising this issue since long. There is no personal or political interest involved,” the Chief Minister said.

“I have a close relation with river Ganga. I was born at Bakhtiyarpur, situated near Ganga. I used to take bath in Ganga in my childhood and drink its clean water. Now I am worried over the worsening condition. Sometimes, I also cry to do something to save this river, which we call as ‘Ganga Ji’,” Nitish said.

Nitish pointed towards the growing silt deposit issue in river Ganga due to Farakka Barrage causing floods in Bihar annually, that has become a big challenge for the state.

The Chief Minister also said in the past, he has demanded for a national silt management policy that should not affect the environment.

“Water flows have decreased due to increasing siltation thanks to Farakka,” he said.

Earlier this week, Nitish demanded decommission of Farakka Barrage which he said has little utility and blamed it for flood in Bihar annually.

“But this conference is not meant to push the demand for decommission of Farakka, it is for an incessant flow of water in Ganga river… We want to create an awareness among people about it for a clean and pure Ganga,” Nitish said.

The conference was attended by experts including environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Magsaysay award winner “Waterman” Rajendra Singh, environmental activist Vandana Shiva, Punjab’s environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, economist Bharat Jhunjhunwala and planning expert Jayant Bandopadhyay.