Even though the Central Government has told the Supreme Court that it will be able to clean Ganga up by 2018, there have been some teething issues, which are threatening to halt the progress of the project. For example, a week ago over 100 bodies were found in Pariyar Ghat, Safipur, in Unnao. Some of these bodies were wrapped but almost all of them were decaying, giving rise to speculations for strangers to the region and providing food for the scavenging politicians. Most of the bodies were found stuck in the sandy islands and muddy banks of the ghat. Crows, dogs and vultures too began feeding on them giving scoop for the national television, presenting a rather disturbing picture for the people elsewhere.
As is usual with India, this particular issue has seen various political parties get into the business of blaming each other for the sorry situation.
Azam Khan’s statement and the rush of politicians
Laxmi Bajpai, BJP president of Uttar Pradesh, visited the area with several party workers and complained that the Samajwadi Party’s State Government was planning to bury the bodies so that it could hide its failings.
Mohammad Azam Khan, Urban Development Minister of Uttar Pradesh and one of the senior leaders of the Samajwadi Party, said that it was Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP from Unnao, who had brought the bodies to the spot in trucks. He said the entire act was done with the intention to bring a bad name to the State Government.
Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists decided to issue their own retort to these allegations by Khan. They gathered at Achalganj and burned his effigy, shouting slogans against him.
Sonu Bajpai, district convenor for Bajrang Dal, criticized the statements of Azam on Sakshi Maharaj, describing them as shameful.
Mayawati, who heads the Bahujan Samaj Party, has also demanded that a CBI inquiry be instituted to look into the episode. She has apportioned the blame for the fracas to the Central and the State Governments.
PL Punia, who is the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes Chairman and MP of the Congress, has said that Azam Khan’s comments are ridiculous but also voiced concern over the entire episode.
The hullabaloo and the great discovery!
Now the Government-funded ‘experts’ (as if we need experts for this!) are, meanwhile, saying that it would be very hard to clean the river by 2018 as there are a number of impediments in this case such as superstitions of Hindus, unabated dredging and, perhaps the biggest of all, industrial effluents.
About the dead bodies discovery incident, the local people in Unnao have stated it is common knowledge and a religious practice that on a daily basis almost a dozen bodies are brought at the Pariyar Ghat in order to be cremated – and the bodies of unmarried women and children are flown in the river in accordance with religious beliefs. This is there since time immemorial and is a daily occurrence, which the Government-appointed experts seem to have discovered at the end of some strenuous years of Ganga cleaning research! Why India is like this?
It took a panda in Bithoor to throw some light that it was owing to the low levels of water in Ganga that the bodies had got stuck. A local police officer has also dismissed the worrisome discovery as mundane, thus ruling out any chance of foul play! Alas!