Bharti rejects Centres request of breaking fast

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Dehra Dun: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday rejected the Centre`s appeal of breaking her fast, over the issues related to protection of the Ganga river and conservation of Himalayas.

In a letter to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, Bharti said she cannot accept his request of breaking her fast as the issues raised by her have not been addressed so far.

Ramesh had talked to Bharti over phone yesterday and also sent a letter requesting to end the fast.

Bharti said she is still awaiting her joint meeting with him and Prime Minister to find a solution to the issues related to protection of Ganga and conservation of Himalayas.

"I hope, you will inform me about the date of meeting with Prime Minister in a day or two," she said.

Bharti began her fast on May 9 at Chandighat area demanding review of hydropower projects especially in eco-sensitive Himalayan region, enactment of a law in Parliament declaring Ganga as national heritage as well as withdrawal of proposal of shifting of ancient Dhari Devi temple at Srinagar Garhwal due to construction of 330 Mw Alaknanda project.

However, she decided to take juice and other liquid diets on May 18 on the assurance of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank that the ancient Dhari Devi temple would not be submerged in the reservoir of 330 Mw Alaknanda Hydropower project at Srinagar Garhwal.

"But I have been informed that the temple is going to be submerged in the waters of Alaknanda as the construction work is going on. I urge you to immediately stop the work around the Dhari Devi temple," she said.

Bharti further said the option of relocation of Dhari Devi temple would also not be accepted as this has been a center of faith for the people for years.

Bharti also called for setting up a separate board consisting of environmentalists, scientists, religious minded persons and locals to prepare a report about Ganga and Himalayas.

Centre has declared Ganga as the national river. But without enacting a law, it is difficult to conserve the river, she said.

In this regard, she said a draft of rules and regulations and punishment for their violation should be prepared to enact a law on Ganga protection otherwise the accordance of status of national river to Ganga has no meaning.

In his letter, Ramesh had informed Bharti that a technical team of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests would shortly visit the site of Alaknanda project and examine the matter related to relocation of Dhari Devi temple. He said the team would submit its report by Jun 21 following which any action would be taken.

The Centre had handed over the work of evaluation of environmental impact of hydro power projects being developed in the basins of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers to Indian Institute of Roorkee last year. The study has been completed and its finding would be made public by this weekened, Ramesh said.

Meanwhile, he said on the basis of the recommendations of the IIT, Roorkee, the ministry is considering a proposal to fix a minimum flow of water from each power project, which will be 3 to 4 times of the water flow required for environmental clearance. The minimum flow will ensure the availability of adequate water in two rivers all the time, he said.

Ramesh said his ministry has also asked the group of 7 IITs to prepare a comprehensive plan for environment management of Ganga river basin. The first part of the report would be completed by the end of next month and it would be made public immediately, he said in the letter, adding thereafter the action on its recommendations would also be taken.

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