January 20, 2022 2:27:58 am
In a bid to revive the Saraswati river, the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh will enter into an agreement on Friday that entails the building of a dam to supply round-the-year water flow to the river channel, Haryan Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said. The MoU will be signed by Khattar and his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Jairam Thakur at Adi Badri in Haryana’s Yamunanagar district, which is situated near the Himachal Pradesh border and is believed to be the river’s point of origin.
Talking about the plans to revive the river, Khattar told The Indian Express: “We are going to sign an MoU with Himachal Pradesh on January 21, 2022, to build Adi Badri Dam at the starting point of the river, so that round-the-year flow can be maintained. In the first phase, tourist spots will be created along the river’s course till Pehowa, keeping in mind the sanctity of the river.” Haryana has made provisions for projects worth Rs 800 crore for the rejuvenation of the Saraswati river.
A portion of the Som river — a tributary of the Yamuna that passes through Adi Badri — will be diverted to the Rs 215-crore dam from where it will flow into the stream of the Saraswati river, Haryana government officials said. “The ground inspection for the dam project has been done by NIH (National Institute of Hydrology) Roorkee, the GSI (Geological Survey of India) and the Central Ground Water Board. A no-objection certificate from the Himachal Pradesh government and other necessary NOCs are under process. The Central Water Commission is working on the designing part of the dam,” an official said.
The existence of the Saraswati river, which finds mention in ancient Indian texts, has been the subject of scientific curiosity.
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Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board vice-chairman Dhuman Singh Kirmach believes that the river existed more than 5,000 years ago, but disappeared underground because of earthquakes and other geographical developments. The revival of the Saraswati has been on the state government’s agenda ever since it came to power in October 2014. The state government in 2016 had pumped water into a largely dry channel, believed to have been the route of the Saraswati river, to revive it. Khattar has previously said: “My idea is to maintain the belief in Saraswati so that the faith of people remains attached to it.”
Last year, the Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board had also initiated projects to develop five riverfronts on the rejuvenated Sarasvati river — at Pipli, Pehowa, Bilaspur, Dosarka (on Panchkula-Yamunanagar road) and the Theh Polar (near Saraswati-Sindhu Civilisation archaeological site). The Pipli riverfront will be on the lines of the Sabarmati Riverfront in Gujarat.
The state has also decided to include the history of the Saraswati river in the school curriculum. The Heritage Development Board’s officials said new history books from classes 6-12, scheduled to be sent for printing when schools reopen, will have some mention of the river. Not only in schools, the plan is to start specialised courses and research projects in colleges and universities as well eventually, the board’s vice-chairman Kirmach said.
Khattar has said Haryana was planning to go big on religious tourism in the state. We are trying to develop site-specific tourist spots in various cities, the CM said, adding, “I have requested the Centre to sanction a direct corridor from Delhi to Rakhigarhi so that those interested in heritage and ancient civilisations can have an easy access.”
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