AFTER AN expert committee constituted by the Centre concluded in its report submitted Saturday that the river Saraswati exists, the Haryana government has said this was a validation of the work that is being done in the state for revival of the river. The government will soon start work on revival of another channel of the river from Markanda.
The report, prepared by a committee headed by Prof K S Valdiya, a scientist and Padma Bhushan awardee, says the river, considered mythical by many, had two branches – western and eastern. It adds that the river passed through Haryana, Rajasthan and North Gujarat. The land texture of these areas was studied by the committee. The committee submitted the report to Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti Saturday.
Prashant Bhardwaj, deputy chairman, Haryana Saraswati Development Board, says, “The report presents yet another scientific evidence that the Saraswati river existed. It reinforces the fact that we have been working in the right direction. The questions that were being raised over the work should now be put to rest.”
Opposition parties have been raising questions over the attempts by the government for the revival of river Saraswati, terming these as “tactics” to divert attention of the people from its “failures” on other fronts.
The Haryana government had in August this year, released 100 cusecs water from a feeder canal at Uncha Chandna in district Yamunanagar into a channel deemed to be the route of the “lost” river. The government had undertaken work for digging up the 18 km route from Adi Badri which is considered to be the point of origin of the river to Uncha Chandna. However, at places, due to encroachments the task is yet to be completed.
Bhardwaj says, “With the monsoons over, we will undertake construction work along the route including construction of some bridges. Cleaning of another existing channel from Markanda, which is 15-20 km long, will be started in the coming days.”
An Australian delegation recently offered its support to the Haryana government for rejuvenation of the river. The delegation has shown interest in adopting Uncha Chandna village and developing it as a model village. The terms and conditions for this are being worked out. A research centre will be set up at Kurukshetra University to conduct research into several aspects of Saraswati.
At present, a problem being faced is discharge of sewerage water into the ‘channel’ of Saraswati river. The sewerage water from the villages that are located near the route of the river enters it, causing pollution. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar recently visited Seechewal to study the model adopted by environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal for keeping Kali Bein clean. It has been decided that this would be adopted for the Saraswati river as well.
“The visit by students and experts from several parts of the country and abroad will give a boost to tourism in Haryana. The government is already developing tourist spots along the route. The problem of pollution in the river will be dealt with by ensuring that only treated water is discharged into it,” said Bhardwaj.