Nitish-Modi Ganga divide
Patna: A subtle yet significant battle over the Ganga was played out between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, both of who hold the river close to their hearts.
The two held forth on the river at a function on Sunday in Mokama, around 100km east of the state capital, where the Prime Minister launched work on several projects, including a bridge across the Ganga. It brought to the fore diverse views of the two leaders on the cleanliness of the river, its continuous flow, as well as waterways.
Nitish sees all these issues interlinked and inseparable; Modi though harped on just cleanliness without addressing the fears about the health of the Ganga.
Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari was also present at the function.
"We see cleanliness and incessant flow of the Ganga together. Both are interdependent. It's not like one comes before or after another. Both are inter-linked," the chief minister said.
Nitish also hinted at an anomaly in the Prime Minister's pet Namami Gange programme, which, the chief minister said, doesn't ensure that waste, unclean water from sewage treatment plants (STP) established under it, does not reach the Ganga.
"We talked to many experts. Water from STP goes to the Ganga, for example, waste water from STP in Patna is released in the Punpun river, which falls in the Ganga at Fatuha (in Patna district)," he said.
Nitish sought time from Gadkari to discuss issues related to incessant flow of the Ganga. The chief minister categorically stated that he did not want to discuss the problem of silt deposit in the Ganga due to the Farakka barrage at the function, but asserted that the issue was a concern.
In response to Nitish's suggestions and entreaties, Modi dwelt upon the cleanliness aspect of the Ganga.
"If we clean the Ganga, nobody will be able to stop it from becoming incessant. That's the reason for this cleanliness mission," Modi said.
The Prime Minister did not pay heed to Nitish's appeal to discuss the concerns about waterways. "Those who are economically connected to the river will also develop a sense of reverence for it. Goods can be transported to the poor at minimum cost," Modi said while rooting for the waterways.