Godavari, Nashik, Reliance & MNS:
Arrogance through Ignorance…..
The Godavari River flowing through Nashik is famously known as “Goda Mata” in Maharashtra. This particular body of the river is known to be an important epicenter from the Religious, Cultural and Social viewpoint, not only in Nashik but in entire India. In the year 2015, these very shores of the Godavari are going to host the “Kumbhmela”. Even though this event is not a very happening one from the viewpoint of preventing pollution, it still has a very important religious context to it.
The Godavari River comes under the purview of the Nashik Municipal Corporation. The political party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is in power here and the elected mayor also belongs to the same party. The party leader and founder Raj Thackeray, an Ex-Shivsainik, is said to have a special fondness for Nashik. A few years ago he had announced that he would release a blue print of Maharashtra. Prior to that, when he was with the Shivsena, he had dreamt of building a “Goda-Park” on the shores of the Godavari River and had shared this concept time and again with many people.
When Raj Thackeray was with Shivsena, the party and the Municipality were not very supportive of Raj Thackeray’s dream. Later he quit Shivsena and founded his own political party – MNS. Nashik valued his dreams and voted him to power. Nashik alone has 3 MLAs from MNS. Additionally, MNS party was also successful in conquering the Municipality of Nashik.
Scores of years passed after this success of MNS. ”Goda-Park” still remained a distant dream. No one had thought that funding for the same could be availed from the MLA funds or the Municipality treasures. Leave alone “Goda-Park”, instead the much revered Godavari River was transformed into a horrendous gutter of filth.
The Godavari River has become a dumping yard for the sewage, polluted chemicals and the concrete waste generated in the entire Nashik. The so called bottled “holy water” from Godavari River used for religious purposes throughout India is sadly a mixture of the sewage and pollutants dumped in it from the Nashik city. And this is the bitter truth.
Practically, cleaning the Godavari waters and restoring the purity of the river to its original state is neither difficult nor impossible. After cleaning the river, the concepts of “Goda-Ghats” and “Goda-Park” seem to be the ideal ideas in the plan. This would be a righteous thing to happen if the funds generated through the taxes paid by the Nashik citizens and the MLA funds generated through the Maharashtra Taxes are utilized for the Godavari purification.
Primarily, cleaning and purification of the Godavari waters and making it pollution free and maintaining it was an easy task for the MNS since its coming to power in Nashik. “Goda-Park” etc are the secondary acts. After the successful takeover of the Nashik Municipal Corporation, the MNS could not even ensure the people the basic joy of just dipping in the holy waters of Godavari. People began discussing this loosely. Finally, a case was filed in the High Court. But the Nashik Municipal Corporation ruled by MNS could not present any strong justification here. What justification can one present when there is none? Sadly, public welfare was never given a thought. So how do you justify this?
Unknown to Raj Thackeray, this discussion reached a high fervor in and outside Nashik. But, the question of bringing this to his notice publicly was similar to the question of “who will bell the cat “. Reason being that, just before the Municipal elections a journalist had dared to question Raj Thackeray about the “blue print” he was supposed to release. This had only earned the journo a string of classic insults from Raj Thackeray publicly, which the journo eventually wrote about on his Facebook page and it was shared over numerous times.
Other than this, once when being interviewed by an “established ” but “hollow-minded” television journo on a English News Channel, Raj Thackeray had stated that if he cannot advise the journalists on how they should be doing their work, then they should also not advise him on his work in politics .On this retort of his, the established English journalist laughed embarrassingly which in turn served as an approval that this was going to be the accepted norm among the journalists.
In reality, the public is handing over their hard earned money in form of taxes to the politicians and the people’s representatives with the utmost trust, for public welfare. So the most ordinary of the citizens also has a right to demand and question these politicians and the representatives on what are they actually doing about it? Writers and Journalists can do this more skillfully. Through written articles and oral interviews they can openly bring to notice the theft of their hard earned money entrusted with the politicians. It is a right bestowed on the journalists by the constitution created under the leadership of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
The public does not entrust their hard-earned tax money to these writers and journalists to be splurged. Therefore, in a democracy like ours, the onus, of repeatedly questioning these politicians and finding the truth on behalf of the public, lies on these writers and the journalists and satisfyingly answering all these queries or else accepting their mistakes is the responsibility of the politicians. Responding to critical comments in an insulting fashion is not a right bestowed on the politicians by either the Indian Constitution or the democracy. The ones who take the public money are the public servants not the owners.
After waiting for a long time and realizing that nothing concrete is happening regarding the Godavari river, a group of people knocked the doors of the High Court for a probable explanation. During the trial proceedings, every hearing only proved that the Nashik Municipal Corporation had goofed up. Up until now, Raj Thackeray had made a habit of offering a ‘lollipop of assurances’ to the junta, who by now were realizing that no such ‘lollipop’ exists with the MNS leaders. Now, “Goda-Park” was a new ‘lollipop’ in context to Nashik and Godavari that Raj Thackeray was tempting the people with. He announced to a select group of people in Nashik that very soon Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance Foundation are going to voluntarily undertake the task of beautification of the Godavari River and the “Goda-park” on a large scale and on an international level. Surprisingly, no one questioned or even doubted this new ‘lollipop’ shown by Raj Thackeray. This could also mean that people are treating this proclamation as one of the many proclamations that he usually makes.
The announcement made by Raj Thackeray comes with errors and crimes of serious nature.
1. Every person or community has a complete right on the public water, forests and land in the place where they live. Hence, handing over a water body like a river or its surrounding land to a private profit making corporate without considering the opinion of the gram sabha, panchayats, related religious organizations and the common citizen of the place, is a betrayal of the people.
2. Without active public participation, the development of a river or its surrounding land cannot be carried out by a powerful corporate organization. Reason being, that after the developmental work is done , is it possible to stop the corporate organization from levying any kind of conditions or toll on the public, or from collecting money from the people, who reside there ? Raj Thackeray and Shri Mukesh Ambani meet at a function and decide amongst themselves about the development of the river Godavari (referred to as Goda-Mata!) without considering the opinion of the local people, the local independent organizations, and various people working in the particular region. This only leads to the conclusion that the Nashik Municipal Corporation and the Godavari River are nothing else but merely toys in the hands of Raj Thackeray and his political party.
3. If the Nashik Municipal Corporation ruled by MNS cannot stop the destruction and obscene pollution of Godavari River which occurs by dumping of the entire city sewage and waste water, then why is the ‘Nashikkar’ paying any tax at all? To compensate for the non-performance of the ruling party and the three elected MLAs, a corporate bigwig like Reliance is pushed in between. Where do all such ideas come from? These arrogant trappings of egoistic nature point to a new method of corruption replacing the old methods.
4. It is not true that the Nashik Municipal Corporation ruled by MNS cannot work speedily. On 6thy July 2013, the Standing Committee Chairperson Mr. R.D.Dhongde was made to follow and complete all the complicated administrative formalities in a single day in order to release a cheque worth Rs 9 crores . This cheque was in the name of a gentleman named Nevaskar. Nashik Municipal Corporation is in control of lands belonging to many people. There is always a long queue of people waiting for the rights on TDR to be released and in spite of the long queue, the cheque for Mr. Nevaskar was released on urgent basis. Nevaskar is the relative of former Shivsena mayor Vinayak Pande. MNS is unable to exhibit a similar efficiency in stopping the Godavari pollution. Did Raj Thackeray try to find out the mystery behind this inefficiency displayed by his party members when it came to purification of Godavari River before taking it forward with Mukesh Ambani?
5. Are the MNS representatives in Nashik Municipal Corporation aware about the RRZ policy required to be followed for carrying out the beautification of any River? The policy is attached herewith. (Please click & read the policy here. RRZ Revised Policy)
6. Any activity related to rivers or the beautification of rivers does not come under the purview of any corporate organization. The rivers like Thames, Rhine, Danube, whose names Raj quoted were cleaned and beautified by their respective governments. The policies for water bodies, forests and lands, followed by a corporate are way different and opposite in nature to the ones followed by a ‘welfare state’. That is the reason why policies for rivers are decided by governments and not any corporate. The people themselves will not agree to that kind of arrangement.
Danube River in Hungary is my favorite river. She flows through eastern European countries. The Danube River in Hungary along with the bridge over it was destroyed during the World War II. Now, if you happen to stand on the bridge over the Danube River and gaze at its surroundings you feel like taking a plunge into its clean waters.
This has been achieved efficiently by the government there through the taxes collected from the people.
On this background what is the condition of our Godavari in Nashik ?
Today if you happen to jump in the Godavari River, then there is no chance that you will not die due to poisoning.
You will understand what I am trying to say when you see the adjoining photographs.
I don’t oppose MNS.
I don’t oppose Reliance.
I don’t oppose the leadership of Raj Thackeray.
I also don’t have any objection against what he discussed with Shri. Mukesh Ambani.
I oppose the shallow way in which people are taken for granted and the arrogant manner in which the spirit of democracy is being killed.
It is the prime responsibility of the Nashik Municipal Corporation to clean and purify the waters of river Godavari. The shallow reasons given in the court for not doing it are nothing but a garb for the corrupt mentality hidden underneath. There is no opposition for the same from the ‘Nashikkars’ and there can be two reasons for this.
One is that the people of Nashik are not taking MNS and the party leaders seriously or the second reason is that the “dear” Raj Thackeray has been replaced by the “fear” that they feel from him now. Ultimately, both are dangerous for Godavari and her surroundings.
Raj has appreciated the beauty and cleanliness of the rivers like Thames, Rhines, Danube etc… But how many of these rivers have been beautified and maintained so by the corporates or the governments there? Or have the governments handed over the beautification of these rivers to any corporate? Why were these questions not put forth to Raj Thackeray? Ok, if nobody has been able to ask him till now, I am asking him these questions today. Will anyone provide an answer for my entire article above?
While writing this article, I have received the help of many friends from Nashik. Shri Rajesh Pandit has been very helpful in providing me with the pictures I required and also the details of the court proceedings regarding this case. Others have requested not to quote their names here. So, I am obliged and thankful for their help too. There is heaps of information regarding this Godavari issue in which every page, every number and every picture throws light and points out towards the corrupt ways of the devoted followers of Raj in Nashik. But I have to stop somewhere and so I will try to end it here.
In the end, I would just like to say that “Congress, BJP, Rashtrawadi, Shivsena are absolute corrupt and so we have no other option” – If this is what MNS and its leaders feel then we are also ready to count them as one of the many corrupt parties but then they should also admit to being a ‘LOLLIPOPSTAR’ just like the others!