Madhya Pradesh passes resolution granting 'living entity' status to Narmada

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly today passed a resolution giving "living entity" status to Narmada river, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan informing the House that a bill prescribing "heavy punishment" to those harming the water body will be brought.

PTI| Last Updated: May 04, 2017, 00:10 AM IST

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Assembly today passed a resolution giving "living entity" status to Narmada river, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan informing the House that a bill prescribing "heavy punishment" to those harming the water body will be brought.

During the debate in the assembly, the Opposition Congress alleged that the state government's ongoing drive to spread awareness about the water body was a "publicity stunt".

The resolution, moved by state minister Antar Singh Arya in the specially convened one-day session, was adopted by the BJP, which enjoys majority in the House, in the voice vote.

The state cabinet had yesterday given an in-principle nod to the proposal to grant "living status" to the river.

The special session also saw the passage of the Madhya Pradesh Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill-2017.

Chouhan said that the bill to grant 'living entity' status to Narmada river will be brought "to inflict heavy punishment on those people who harm the river".

"The opposition is alleging that I am doing a 'natak' (drama). Do not connect my genuine endeavour (ongoing 'Narmada Seva Yatra') with politics.

"Do not stoop so low. The (state government) is doing a pious work to protect Narmada river and preserve it for the future generations. It is 'maa' (mother) Narmada and it is our duty as her children to protect her," the chief minister said.

Meanwhile, the Congress MLAs alleged that Chouhan had "belittled the river by confining it only to the living entity status resolution. As per the Hindu scriptures, the Narmada is considered as and is a life giver".

But the chief minister reiterated that his yatra was "not political".

"My yatra is not politically motivated or a publicity stunt," Chouhan said while refuting allegations levelled by senior Congress members Mukesh Nayak, Govind Singh, Ramniwas Rawat, Mahendra Singh Kalukheda, and Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh.

Dismissing Govind Singh's charge, the chief minister said, "We are not luring various personalities with money to take part in the yatra".

"The advertisements of the 'Narmada Sewa Yatra' are adoring the Heathrow and Los Angeles airports. This yatra is aimed at attracting publicity," said Rawat and Ajay Singh.

The leader of opposition also alleged that he and other MLAs of the Congress were not invited to participate in the yatra.

Denying the charge, Chouhan said he had in the Assembly requested all legislators to take part in the drive.

"Revival of Narmada river and the public drive aimed at its conservation would set an example for the world," he said.

The CM said sewage water from 18 cities in Madhya Pradesh drain into river Narmada.

"In order to conserve and revive the river, we had floated tenders and the process is at the final stage to set up the sewage treatment plants at 11 places. The treated water will be pumped out for the use of farmers," he said.

Meanwhile, the leader of opposition displayed a glass bottle containing yellow water in the House, claiming that he fetched it from a drain that flows into Narmada river in Budhi, the CM's assembly constituency in Sehore district.

"The bottle contains effluents being discharged in the river from an industrial unit," he claimed.

Another MLA Kalukheda alleged that illegal mining was going on unabated along Narmada river with the patronage of the state government.

However, Chouhan said, "a strict action is being taken against illegal miners, which was missing during the previous Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh".

The Narmada, which originated at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh, is the fifth largest river in Indian sub-continent.

The river is known as "Life Line of Madhya Pradesh" for its huge contribution to the state in many ways. The pollution in the river has been a matter of grave concern for environmentalists. As per a government report it sees erosion at 821 places.

The Uttarakhand High Court had on March 20 accorded the status of "living human entities" to the Ganga and Yamuna, two of India's most sacred rivers.