Cen­tre falls back on mythol­ogy to help clean Ganga

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Nee­lam Pandey nee­lam.pandey@hin­dus­tan­times.com

What does it take to clean the Ganga? Peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, and, a heavy dis­course on the di­vine ori­gin of the river that sus­tains 46% of pop­u­la­tion.

A hand­book on the river brought out by the Cen­tre draws heav­ily from Hindu mythol­ogy, ap­par­ently turn­ing the ex­er­cise of clean­ing the river into a ser­mon. The gov­ern­ment is spend­ing Rs20,000 crore over the next few years to clean the 2,525 km-long river.

Here are some sam­ples from the book, pub­lished by the Na­tional Lit­er­acy Mis­sion Au­thor­ity un­der the hu­man re­source devel­op­ment (HRD) min­istry: When a per­son on death bed drinks ‘Gan­ga­jal’, it re­duces his pain, gives “peace” to the soul af­ter death, and brings “mok­sha” (sal­va­tion), says the book ti­tled ‘Ganga Rahi Pukaar’.

“Think of how much ‘tapasya’ our an­ces­tors did to bring Ganga to Earth!”, it says, giv­ing a de­tailed ac­count of the myth­i­cal fight be­tween “de­v­tas” and “daityas” and the role of Lord Shiva in the ex­er­cise. Char­ac­ters from vil­lages tell sto­ries — largely myth­i­cal — about Ganga and “bac­te­ria-killing” qual­ity of the river and its cu­ra­tive prop­er­ties.

About 10,000 copies have been dis­trib­uted for train­ers of the adult ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme, gram pan­chay­ats and vol­un­teers.

“The idea is to en­sure vil­lagers take own­er­ship of the river. The sto­ries in the book are meant to not only ed­u­cate but hold their in­ter­est too. A com­mit­tee with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from all re­li­gions was formed for the con­tent of the book,” said a se­nior HRD of­fi­cial, re­ject­ing any re­li­gious slant in the book.

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