During his motion of thanks speech in Lok Sabha today, PM Modi took a jibe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘earthquake’ remark made some months ago, saying that finally the tremors were felt on Monday. In his trademark style, the PM said ... और कल भूकंप आ ही गया । After which he smiled a bit and took a brief pause for the applaud to arrive.
Don't know how to react to such a behavior. Is an earthquake a reason to laugh at? Is an earthquake a reason to take jibe at political rivals?
What would have happened if yesterday's earthquake in Uttarakhand had resulted in loss of precious lives? ...
May be, the PM is not considering much for one life, as one life doesn't matter much to a billion plus people country, but still he must be sensitive enough to acknowledge that one woman in Uttarakhand had died due to house collapse during yesterday's earthquake.
Don't know what to say!... Speak less, think before you speak, be considerate are lessons commonly taught to a common man. And a PM is not a common man.
An Amar Ujala newspaper report today talks about the dismal condition of Rambha River in Uttarakhand. Where's Rambha River in Uttarakhand?... It's not very far away. Just falling into River Ganga it traverses the southern breadth of Rishikesh. If you have been to Rishikesh, then the litter and sever laced river-let under the Kali ki Dhal bridge is the River Rambha. It doesn't look like a river? ... Right!...Yes it doesn't. It looks like a sever laced drain.
Rambha is not alone, There will be hundreds of river-lets in Uttarakhand alone which have been reduced to majorly encroached sever and waster drains, trash dumping grounds and invisible fresh water sources (though only in Government records and historic accounts).
Who's to blame?
It can be people. Who primarily are illiterates with regard to how their own lives are negatively affected by such pollution and encroachments. And this includes everyone among us.
But more than we ignorant and environmentally ignorant people, the blame of such bad state of affairs of our water bodies goes to the mockery which is taking place on the name of Cleanliness (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) ever since Modi Government came to power. In its close to 3 years of Governance, it did nothing about Cleanliness of our rivers, Cities, villages. It did nothing about encroachments. What it simply did is give Cleanliness another meaning -- the 'Political Cleanliness'. In simple it has reduced cleanliness to just political slogan. As a result, our cities are dirties than before and the biggest toll is on water and environment.
One can understand that cleaning rivers, water bodies, environment, cities, villages from pollution and litter requires big money. But having a highly marketed cleanliness drive and doing nothing is plain unfortunate. A much better option is to NOT have such a drive and manage whatever the Government can do depending on its resources.
But unfortunately this Government markets its campaigns more and does very little or nothing.
If the Modi Government had focused on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and its other cleanliness programmes then the state of Rambha and countless other rivers would already have improved. Cleanliness of rivers, waste management (includes everything from waste collection, waste segregation, recycling) needs a serious management.
We often hear reports about receding (in Hindi, "Peechhe Hatna") Himalayan Glaciers in Uttarakhand. What these research backed studies are telling us is simple: Gangotri or Yamnotri Glaciers (in Hindi, "Himnad") and other glaciers were closer to us 30 years ago, than they are today. The glaciers have shortened considerably and you will have to climb more up the mountains to reach them.
It's easy to blame the receding glaciers to Global warming. The blame is not wrong. As Global warming is one of the key factors. But we humans, the people of Uttarakhand and the people of the country have contributed a lot to this global warming and other factors which lead to ecological imbalance.
The heights up to which people and vehicles are reaching the Himalayan Mountains today, on the name of faith, tourism, adventure or site seeing, is unprecedented. The Himalayan mountains are not made to sustain that much crowd. It's not a comment on peoples' faith, but it's important to understand that when the Shankaracharyas, the Hindu Religious leaders of old times built these shrines on the periphery of snowline, they didn't have a clue that one day so many people will be flocking these shrines not only in their vehicles but also round the year. In addition they wanted the devotees to go through an arduous journey to reach the shrines.
Hence today is the right time to relocate the shrines to lower heights. Else the glaciers making some of the biggest perennial rivers of the country will simply die down. Nothing will be more unfortunate than that. Taking trains or creating all weather roads up to snowline is a sure sign of disaster.
Many among us will disagree with the above assessment. They may try to argue on the name of faith or development. But like it or not, winning argument is not the goal here. The situation is indeed bleak. Hence there's a need to devise better development models.
To conclude, let I share with you a recent study from USA. It will help us see the Himalayan ecosystem in Uttarakhand in a broader canvas.
According to a new study documenting mortality of yellow cedar trees (Devdar specie) in Alaska region of USA and British Columbia, the future is gloomy for the species. Lead author Brian Buma of the University of Alaska Southeast, the study recorded death due to root freeze on 7 percent of the tree’s range. Researchers say additional death is likely over the next 50 years as the climate warms. The reason being cited is the lack of an insulating blanket of snow, resulting in freezing of the soil deeper down, killing yellow cedar’s shallow roots.
The study says that although the cedar tress will adjust themselves to more rainfall situations, the study does note the vanishing snow blanket.
In yesterday's BJP Rally in Dehradun, party leader Shri Narendra Modi said many things. You may be amused and may be angry as to why this article doesn't address him as 'PM Narendra Modi'. The primary reason is that whenever he addresses the people of India from the dais in such rallies, he appears more like a party man and less like a PM.
Take for instance, yesterday's rally. He said many things. But one thing which didn't suit his stature as PM was the one which attacked the latest projects announced & executive decisions made by the Uttarakhand CM. The PM tried to link these projects and executive decisions a non-serious ones. If the words summarize to the closest accuracy then he said this -- "Such stones installed everywhere (foundation stones) mean nothing as one needs funds to implement the projects!". I will not use the word mock here, but even if one uses the word, it will not be inappropriate.
Rather than commenting on all the projects and executive decisions made by the State CM, the PM should have either remained silent on them or should have commented on those announcements which he found unworthy of implementation. As a PM he can't say the CM must have funds to implement them. Because at the end of the day, it's the Union Government who's responsible for providing bear-share of funds to the state. Hence as a PM of India, Mr. Modi cannot mock a state Government for not having insufficient funds.
According to reports, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat ia likely to appear before CBI today, He will be questioned in connection with a probe into the sting CD Operation case involving him. The Hon'ble Uttarakhand High Court has put aside Rawat's plea seeking a stay on his appearance before CBI.
This is the second time Rawat has been summoned by the CBI on a Preliminary Enquiry registered by it. Notably, he had appeared before the agency when the Agency summoned him the first time on May 24. So this is the second time he would be facing the Agency.
It will be good if the CM faces the CBI every time it wants him to. It's better to face the inquiry and come clean. It's better than avoiding such situations.