Kollam (Ker): Stressing the need to preserve Ganga river which symbolises the country's culture and heritage, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today made a fervent plea to Indians across the world to contribute to the Namami Ganga and Swacch Bharat campaigns of the Centre.
"Ganga is not merely a symbol of religion. It is a symbol of holiness, culture and geography and most importantly it is one of the most powerful instruments of our economy", Jaitley said.
He speaking after receiving a cheque of Rs 100 crore from Mata Amritanandamayi for construction of toilets under the Swacch Bharat programme. Another Rs 100 crore would be given by the mutt for the programme later this month. Ganga influences 40 per cent of Indians who live in the area around it, he said.
"We depend so much on the Ganga, being so devoted to it, but yet are careless in preserving the river, particularly in the area from Kanpur to Varanasi where industrial and household pollutants, all untreated, get into the holy river damaging the ecology, environment and the river itself," he said.
Lauding Mata Amritanandamayi (better known as Amma) for her contribution, Jaitley said, "It will send a message across the world that those committed to the cause should contribute."
"It is not merely government contributions that will go from the budget, this is one campaign which which has become much more than governmental campaign," he said.
"We have spent thousands of crores, but not much result has come. The government has therefore launched a mission mode Namami Ganga programme and is determined to clean the Ganga in 2-3 years time," he said.
Jaitley said lakhs of people living in thousands of villages on the banks of Ganga end up polluting the river. "There is a need to generate a consciousness among them that it is our heritage, it our culture, it is our economy that the Ganga represents," the minister said.
The second initiative of the government, the Swacch Bharat campaign which involves providing functional toilets in every house in the country, was an essential pre-requisite of a clean India campaign, he said.
The finance minister said some months ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Amma and she had expressed the desire to contribute to one of major national initiatives.
"Amma has decided to take the first step in leading in contributing to this great campaign and it sends a message across the world, not merely in India, that everyone who is committed to this great cause to contribute," he said. Jaitley said the NRI diaspora have also take it up the campaign.
"Therefore this gigantic step taken by Amma today is going to send both a material and also a symbolic message to
everyone who is concerned with Ganga across the world," he said.
Every village homes on the banks of Ganga must have a toilet so that we can make the environment clean and the
pollutants from the households do not get into the river, Jaitley said.