Thursday 11 August 2011

May CBI's probe into Nigamanand's death usher a change for Uttarakhand's Fragile Ecosystem

Written by Anil Singh

Yielding to the demands of the ascetic community of the country, who alleged foul play in the death of the swami who had demanded shifting of stone crushers from Kumbh area, the CBI on Wednesday took over the probe into the mysterious death of Swami Nigamanand, who died in Dehradun on June 13 after fasting for nearly four months in protest against illegal mining on the Ganga riverbed.

Before you start looking at the news from a political perspective, let I tell you, there indeed is a political angle to the story.

The political angle is -- CBI, which is under central Government, may indeed have taken the Swami Nigamanand case at the behest of the Government at center. Much in a similar way, as the Nainital High Court stayed the CBI summons in the case of Swami Ramdev's aide Acharya Bal Krishna; and enabled the man of Nepali origin escape CBI questioning for a while.

So if we start looking at the political angle we'll not find time to discuss the real issue.

So let’s leave aside the political perspective.

The real issue is, the 37 year old ascetic got killed or died, whatever the case be, for the Uttarakhand. The man cared for the hill state and was deeply hurt by its blatant exploitation; and hence sacrificed his life fighting those who were robbing the land he loved and prayed.
The cause Swami Nigamanand sacrificed his life was and is real one. Illegal mining on the Ganga riverbed is actually happening round the clock. Not even river Ganga, but any river in Uttarakhand, be it perennial or seasonal, are being robbed of their sand, gravel and stones.

I can't comment on the extent of loot, or how much illegal mining is going on along with the legal contracts. But the situation appears grim even to a non trained eye. The fact that not all building material suppliers, which have surfaced like monsoonal mushrooms in recent years, can have a license to mine and hoard sand, gravel and stone; points to the extent of illegal riverbed mining in the state.

According to some studies, the digging of riverbeds in Uttarakhand has made water tables decline many feet in most regions of Uttarakhand.

This is a high time, we start looking at environmental questions in Uttarakhand, from an apolitical standpoint. To be fair, Uttarakhand has nothing but its unique and fragile Ecosystem, constituted by its hills, forests and rivers; and no one can afford to ruin it.


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