Prime Minister Narendra Modi today voiced concern over “exploitation” of rivers for “vested interest” which resulted in many of them drying up. He praised the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh for coming out with a roadmap for conservation of the Narmada river, considered the ‘lifeline’ of the state. Modi was addressing the concluding function of ‘Namami Devi Narmade Sewa Yatra’, aimed at creating public awareness about conserving the river, here in Anuppur district. “The document (the roadmap) was sent to me in advance and I went through it. It has details of what is to be done, by whom, and when. In my opinion, it is a perfect document for future vision,” he said. He lauded the BJP government for undertaking the Narmada conservation campaign. Highlighting the poor condition of many rivers in the country, he said, “There is a river named Bharat Puzha in Kerala. It is a matter of concern whether this river will survive or not.” “We are forced to sweat it out now because we did not fulfil our responsibilities towards rivers. We exploited them for our vested interest,” he said.
Referring to 2022, when India will complete 75 years of Independence, the prime minister called upon the people to work towards taking the country to new heights by then. “If 125 crore Indians decide to walk one step for the country, in five years from now ((by 2022) we will move forward by 125 crore steps,” Modi said. The PM called upon the people to take a pledge to work towards all-round development of the country. “We should decide that as a family, as a society, and as a nation what I should do for development of the country.” He said the government has set itself the target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022. Praising the Madhya Pradesh government’s scheme to plant saplings of fruit-bearing trees on the banks of Narmada, Modi called it a futuristic programme. “Those who sow foodgrains think of one year, but those who think of future, plant fruit-bearing trees.”
Earlier, Modi performed a puja at the origin of the river, known as ‘Ma Narmada Mandir’, in Amarkantak. Modi asked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to share the document on Narmada conservation with other states. The PM congratulated Chouhan and the people of Madhya Pradesh for the yatra that lasted for nearly 150 days. “I, on behalf of the people of Gujarat for whom every drop of Narmada is important, and also Rajasthan and Maharashtra, congratulate Madhya Pradesh on this great initiative.” The river courses through Maharashtra and also Modi’s home state Gujarat. Rajasthan is one of the beneficiaries of the Sardar Sarovar Dam built on Narmada. Modi deplored that the importance of the campaign for Narmada conservation was not appreciated widely in the country. He praised the state government and Chouhan for ensuring the participation of more than 25 lakh people in the yatra.
The yatra, launched on December 11, 2016 from Amarkantak, concluded today after covering a distance of 3,344 km, traversing over 1,100 villages and towns. He also spoke about Madhya Pradesh cities– Indore and Bhopal– emerging as the cleanest in the country as per the recent cleanliness survey commissioned by the Union urban development ministry. Addressing the gathering, Chouhan said as part of the conservation plan, nearly six crore saplings of fruit-bearing trees will be planted on July 2 on the either side of Narmada. Chouhan highlighted various other steps like setting up sewage treatment plants, construction of crematoriums and promotion of organic farming which, he said, were aimed at conserving the sacred river.