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An encounter with Ganga post Uttarakhand floods


It was depressing to see the glimpses of Uttarakhand floods and devastations. I kept on flipping channels only to see the plight and predicament of human, infrastructural and materialistic losses kept news anchors busy till late at night. Though I was not an iota sleepy, I forced myself to get some of its mercy. 

As soon as I hugged my sweet sleep, I saw a divine light which bedazzled my eyes. Finally when I could accommodate my eyes, I saw Bhishm Pitamah with same worry and anxiety on his face as epic Mahabharta used to air. Though he was on his thorn bed, it didn’t seem to bother him much. Suddenly his eyes noticed me. He called me near him and expressed concerns over latest flood and subsequent destruction. He couldn’t believe his mother and masis were causing all these devastation. His Ganga Maa  has been mother to all Indians and these days, very often, he came to hear of her ferocity . He wanted to go near her, hug her, talk to her, sooth her. I helped him reach the Ganges. He called her many times, she didn’t respond. 

After quite a while, an old, stooped lady approached us. He was devastated to see his dirty, untidy, ugly mother. With little difficulty, Ganga Maa recognized his son but was ashamed to hug him. She told us she has been so dirty all these years that she didn’t want to stain her son. After some formal exchange of pleasantries, Bhishm Pitamah came to the point directly and asked why was she in such pitiable condition and why has she started all these destructions? She kept mum for a while and then took us for a walk against time. Suddenly we reached satyug. The calm, composed, clear, beautiful Ganga in all her youth and vigour was before us as I had seen in the Mahabharta. She told us that after satyug, with advent of time and development, she was abused or rather every natural resource was extorted to comfort people. Time was fast forwarding before us and Ganga kept on becoming older and dirtier.

Initially great civilizations settled near great rivers. People had ease at farming, cultivation and transportation etc and they settled there. Ganga felt proud to say that these civilizations would never have established if she and her friends wouldn’t have accepted humans. But with advancement in civilizations, people started abusing me. She remembered the day when first sewer was let down into her and how she winced with the suffocating smell! Today she has lost the count of outlets into herself and her friend’s bosoms. She couldn’t speak. She showed us her bed which was filled up with all sorts of garbage. I wondered how could anyone maintain calm and serenity in the face of such adversity.
 
And, then these factories were set up along our shores primarily because they required ample amount of water and we served that purpose ; they required quick, easy and cheap transportation and we served that purpose too. But in return, they started throwing all sorts of toxic, untreated wastes into my stream which has been intoxicating me, it’s making me unfit or rather disease causing for down-stream inhabitants. It’s depleting and mutating flora and fauna within me. They are dying and I can’t do anything but sulk. It’s deteriorating my quality. I am no more fit for drinking and so are my sisters. I don’t feel auspicious anymore. People make mockery of me and call Gandajal instead of Gangajal. The height of ingratitude is that all sorts of dead & decayed animals, humans, plants are thrown into me. And I carry their remnants with me. 

Sometimes there are oil spills from tankers of ships and the films formed curtails my oxygen exchange and sunlight penetration. But still I’m helpless. I have changed my course several times. I have been fleeing in search of sanctity but nowhere I am spared. Yes! I’m worried to see the destructions caused by this sudden course changing of ours. But it’s not only me who is responsible. I can feel the pains and pangs of men but my old bones can tolerate no more. 

Humans have built dams and bridges piercing my body. As an adverse effect, floods have become more frequent. They have indulged in activities which enhance global warming and all the glaciers are melting and so is my Gangotri. So human can’t shriek away from their share of responsibility. She showed us the summer days when her width was no more than a giant sewer. She sobbed, ‘There are limits to my tolerance. I , my sisters and my friends get ferocious when we can’t endure anymore. 

And then her eyes caught mine. An icy chill ran down my spine. Hesitatingly I asked her "Ganga Maa! But what about this new havoc in Uttarkashi. That is the land of sanctity, purity; the people there are so innocent. Moreover you have victimized so many pilgrims, who came to worship". Politely she said-“You call this worship, you throw coins at me, pollute me and what not!!”

She knew nothing about the recent updates. She summoned Bhagirathi, the river which originates from Gangotri and later on submits itself to Ganga ,when it meets with Alaknanda. Ganga told us she felt too weak to keep track of everything now.

Bhagirathi soon appeared. She had taken form of river to absolve the sins of king Bhagirath's predecessors, following his severe penance for several centuries.Bhagirathi took us to Gangotri and we took a stroll uptill Rudraprayag, which was dynasty of Bhagirathi. At Rudraprayag, the river Ganga commences. My heart was bleeding to see the destruction, havoc, helplessness of people. I was outraged at Bhagirathi but Bhishma Pitamah's calmed me down.

Then Bhagirathi started. She narrated the whole story without slightest of confusion. She told that this devastation was result of prioritising commercial concerns over environmental. She added that since 2002 there has been ban on buildings within 100m blanket of river bed. In December 2012, 100 Km stretch along myself from Gangotri to Uttarkashi was declared ecologically fragile area ,i.e, eco-sensitive zone which implies an immediate ban on any infrastructure development. So, all the buildings, houses, hotels established are illegal encroachments. The state government scuttled and nullified the ban saying this would shatter dream homes of many inhabitants and dishearten tourists and therby affect state's economy. And hence the misery continued.The rivers' courses in this area are quite unpredictable. So Uttarakhand grabbles with one of the worst disasters. It’s none of my wrong doings. Humans are bent over backwards to dig their own graves.
 
After the eye-opening lecture from Bhagirathi, they asked me if I were still outraged. But I was feeling guilty and could not look them in their eyes. Finally they pleaded for some help. I assured them that I would collaborate with other environmentalists and try to help our Indian rivers. I touched their feet. They gave their famous Mahabharata time blessing of "Vijayi Bhava".
And suddenly everything disappeared and a melody tune was blowing her heart out and Mom was shouting at me that it was too late for me to be in bed. I woke up with a broad smile and hugged my mom. She gave a startled look. 

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