When Narendra Modi reached Varanasi for the first time to file his nomination to contest elections from there, he had said, "Nobody called me or sent me to Varanasi. My coming to Varanasi is like a child going to his mother. I have come to this divine land on the call of Ganga Mata."
The city of Varanasi derives its name from Varuna and Assi -- two small rivers on its boundaries, which merge into Ganga, which forms the third boundary of this holy place, which is also used for performing last rights for religious reasons.
It seems that the holy river The Ganges read the inner intentions of Modi and the result was that he had a stunning victory in the land of Lord Shiva.
Now, that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won not only from Varanasi, but the BJP emerged as the majority party with 282 seats in the Lok Sabha election results, Modi has a "daunting task of cleaning up the sacred river Ganga", a promise that he committed to the people of Banaras, when he landed there to garner votes.
On May 18, Modi visited Varanasi to thank the people and also performed the Ganga aarti at the ghats of Ganga and puja at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The holy river Ganga's water has become so dirty that it is in a shameful state.
Now, it is the duty of Narendra Modi to take the arduous task upon him to clean up Ganges and not just pass off his commitment as a poll- plank.
Since 1986, the 'Ganga Action Plan' has been on and Rs 939 crore has been incurred so far, but very less is visible as far as its cleanliness is concerned.
NGOs expectations from Modi on Ganga
In 1982, an NGO named Sankat Mochan Foundation, whose mission is to ensure "not a drop of sewage water in Ganga", headed by Late Veer Bhadra Mishra, launched "Save Ganga Plan".
Now, the campaign is spearheaded by his son Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, who said, "We have talked to Modi about our campaign and he has assured us that necessary steps would be taken to ensure success of our campaign. Modi has also promised to do so and I will remind him about this issue everytime I will meet him."
As Modi has pledged to clean up Ganga by 2019, a Rishikesh based Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) has offered its help in the effort while proposing to host a 'Ganga parliament' to highlight the urgent need to protect the river.
"Modiji's pledge is crucial for India because, if the Ganga dies, India also will die. We are ready to help the Centre in this regard. I have had conversations with Modiji about Ganga in the past and was impressed by his determination to restore Ganga to her pristine and free-flowing form. I am looking forward to soon meeting him again over this," Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the founder-President of GAP has said.
Saraswati said they are also planning to hold a Ganga parliament in Rishikesh soon in which Modi and MPs from the states through which the Ganga flows will be invited.
"The main hurdle has been a lack of political will, which is resolved now after Modi's pledge. We also have to change our mindset as cleaning up the Ganga needs collective efforts. "It should be a national priority to ensure that no sewage is ever allowed to enter the waters, and the banks of the Ganga should be made a green zone where only organic agriculture and zero-budget farming is allowed," said Saraswati.
Uma Bharti assigned the task of rejuvenating Ganga
PM Modi has assigned the task of Ganga clean up to the water resource minister Uma Bharti who had spearheaded the 'save Ganga' campaign.
So, it's a matter of conviction for the fiery 'sanayasin' as she has been agitating for long for quick and effective action to save the Ganga river from pollution and illegal quarrying and had been advocating that the issue should be kept above partisan politics.
Sabarmati river versus Ganga
The work done by Gujarat government on the Sabarmati river front was highlighted by the BJP during campaigning. So, it is highly anticipated that the Ganga will also get a makeover like Sabarmati, with Modi government at the helm.
But it would be improper to compare with 2,525 km long Ganga with 300 km long Sabarmati river.
On May 12, when Varanasi went to polls, then also Modi had spoke about the 'Ganga-Jamuna Tehjeeb' of the holy city.
What ‘waterman of India' says
Rajendra Singh, a renowned water conservationist from Alwar district, Rajasthan recently told a newspaper, "Modi government should restore the ecological flow of the Ganga and no new dams should be constructed on the Ganga basin."
Holy Ganga 'abused' with sewage water!
Sewage starts entering into Ganga from Assi ghat, thus converting it into a stagnant water rather than the holy water.
It is said that Ganga water becomes 'septic' at Varuna Ghat due to high Coliform bacteria levels
as high as 1.5 million counts per 100 milliliters at the confluence of the Ganges and Varuna river.
Due to dumping of garbage, immersion of worship materials like idols, pollution, debris, industrial and household waste, pesticides and fertilizers, the flow of Ganga water has also reduced, which is a major threat to the aquatic life.
Strategy to clean Ganga
As the cleaning up of Ganga is a complex and complicated issue, the Modi government must devise a strategy to implement in the cleaning process of the holy Ganga.
1st Yamuna, then Ganga?
As Yamuna is said to be the biggest contributor of pollutants into Ganga, then Modi has the first challenge of cleaning up Yamuna and then taking up the big task of purifying Ganga.
Ganga's 'right to exist'
As per a report, the BJP- led central government is expected to introduce a bill that will help in cleaning and development project of Ganga.
Additionally, the developed Ganga will also make Varanasi a tourist hub.