Lok Sabha

July 11, 2014

Saugata Roy speaks on the issue of creation of a separate Ministry for Himalayan States | Transcript

Saugata Roy speaks on the issue of creation of a separate Ministry for Himalayan States | Transcript

Sir, what I wanted to say is that a fresh study of the whole Himalayan areas of the flood plains and the position of tectonic plates should be undertaken and how much of construction should be allowed in the hill areas should be freshly determined because in the present state, the Himalayas will be in danger and we are waiting for a disaster to happen in the Himalayas. The other thing that has happened, Nishank ji will note, is massive deforestation. The trees have been cut mercilessly throughout the Himalayas, particularly in Uttarakhand. He has mentioned Ramdev. Baba Ramdev has done nothing to preserve environment. He has started selling Ayurvedic drugs from his Haridwar ashram. I know it is a profitable business. There is some controversy; I do not want to go into it. He should have mentioned Sunderlal Bahuguna, the man who dared and started the Chipko movement. He said, when contractors come to cut the trees, hold them tight. He did more to raise consciousness about the Himalayas than anybody else did. Nishank ji’s Hindutva-oriented speech left out Sunderlal Bahuguna, the environmental part of it, the scientific part of it. Ye Jari bootiyan hai. Jari bootiyan can be used only when you use them as phytochemicals in a modern way. Pehle hamare Rishiyon ka jo gyan tha, use ajki gawaiyan nahi banegi. Uske liye jarurat hai ki woha jo jari bootiyan milte hai un par scientific research kareaur fir unse thik se dawaiyan bane. Sari duniya aisa kar rahi hai. Hum log abhi purani jari bootiyon ki baat kar rahe hai, Baba Ramdev yeh sab kar rahe hai, is prakar Himalaya ko bachya nahi ja sakta hai.Mai yeh bhi kahna chahta hoon ki Himalaya kebol hinduyo ka nahi hai.I was born a Hindu…

Acchi baat hai. Main khoos hoon ki bhutpurba Mukhya Mantri ji ko mere bhashan mein se kuch bolne ka mauka mila. Main yeh keh raha hoon ki Himalaya ki kinare kebal Hindu nahi rahte hain. Main to Hindu hoon. Lekin ladakha pura Buddhist hain, Sikim pura Buddhist hain. Ye hamara Vincent Pala ji Meghalaya ke Christian hai. Is liye Ganga ya Himalaya se Hindutwa ka koi jog nahi hai. Aap jo kah rahe ho ki Ganga ko bachayenge, are bhai, yeh saab logo ki hain. Aap Varanasi ko bachana chaahte hai. Varanasi mein jitney Hindu rahte hain, utne Musalman bhi rahte hain. Yeh dono hi hamari parampara ke bhag hai. Aap kyon mulk ko baant rahe hai?

Sorry, Sir. That is why, I want to say that let a Ministry for Himalayan Affairs be formed, not a Ministry for Himalayan States. That Ministry for Himalayan Affairs will take into account everything: its geological needs, its environmental needs, its water needs and its power needs. Make a holistic plan for the Himalayas. We have such a wealth in the Himalayas.

But the Himalaya is not only for poets. We used to read Kumarsambhav written by Kalidas where he has described about the Himalaya. It is translated in Bangla and I am reading a few lines from it.
Sudur urdhe oi surodham, sporshi tahare Himalaya naam,
Raje giriraj mohamohigarh, byapi uttarakhandey.

That is a poet’s imagination. Bengali poets have always been attracted to the Himalayas. Tagore has written any number of poems on it. His father Debendranath Tagore used to spend a lot of time in the Himalayas. Swami Vivekananda, when he was touring around the country, went to Almora and sat there in meditation. Then he went into Mayavati, right into forest, and he opened Advaita Ashrama.

We have a famous writer called Prabodh Sanyal. He wrote two books namely Mahaprasthaner Pathe and Debotamta Himalay. There was a writer, Sir Ashutosh’s son, Umaprasad Mukherjee. He is known all over the Himalayans even in a small cheti people used to know him. He has written a book called Himalaya Pathe Pathe. Almost a hundred years ago, one Bengali writer Jaladhar Sen, wrote a book called Himalaya. So, the Himalaya has a great fascination for Bengalis.

Even last month, one Bengali lady, Chhanda Gayen, climbed the Kangchenjunga. She wanted to get up on the Associated Peak. Then, she lost and we have not found her body yet. That is the magic the Himalayas still hold for us. So, let us take a larger plan for the Himalayas. The unfortunate thing, if you go up to the Himalayas, you see is that it is so beautiful but people there are so poor. There is no road. When you go to a village, there is no road. There are enormous natural resources. We have not exploited them yet at all.

The Himalaya can be a source of the biggest hydroelectric power in the world. We have one dam called Tehri. We have one dam in Himachal Pradesh. But, hundreds of such mini hydle projects can be built on the Himalayas and the Himalayas would be ideal for modern industries like computers, electronic goods, for watches.

Look at what Switzerland has achieved. Last year or the year before the last, I went to Switzerland. The Alps is only 15000 feet high. How they have exploited the Alps! First, you see the Rhein Falls in Switzerland. When you go up to 14,000 feet – you know what I discovered there itself – everything is written in Hindi there. It is because every year our Mumbai people are going to Switzerland to shoot films. They do not go to the Himalayas because there is no infrastructure and other facilities. In Alps, when you are going up the mountains, you see hundreds of people doing skiing. There is a place called Laguna, which is known for winter sports. In Gulmarg, we have also some. But, this can be developed in a big way.

Sir, what is needed, is forward thinking. Unfortunately, all our politicians are concerned only about small things in the Himalayan areas. There has been no big tank thinking about the Himalayas. In Darjeeling areas of West Bengal, our State Government is doing a great job. It is the only place where a demand for a separate State has been subdued because of the development carried out by the Government led by Mamata Banerjee. We have been able to subdue totally divisive secessionist movements. In Sikkim, they have done great work. The Prime Minister mentioned the other day that Sikkim is the first organic State in the country and no inorganic fertilizer is used there. So, that is a great achievement. In sab ko ek jagah karna hai. Nishank ji, yeh bahut accha Bill hai. Aap Mantri to nahi bane, par apni jagah ko proti faithful rahe aur yahan ate hi apne Himalaya ki baat samne laye.

In this House we discussed the Uttarakhand flood. Dr. Nishank, you were not here in the 15th Lok Sabha. We discussed how human greed destroyed the Uttarakhand plains. Army and Air Force people and the Border Roads Organization had rescued many people. We are proud of them. If they had not been there, we do not know how many thousands of people would have been killed during the flood. That is a question to be asked.

I was in the Defence Consultative Committee. I constantly asked these Army people,”What are you doing about roads up to the Chinese border?” Sir, would you believe that the Chienese built a railway line from Beijing to Lhasa, and from Lhasa right up to the Arunachal Pradesh border? Bomdila would be 30 miles from there. Tawang would be only 30 miles from there. Here is our friend from Arunachal Pradesh. We have not been able to construct a railway line.

Sir, yeh sab urgent hai. Is liye main fir se unka prastab ka samarthan karta hun. Mujhe yeh kahna hai ki Himalaya ko develop kijiye. Isme se Hindutwa nikal dijiye, Ramdev wali baat nikal dijiye. Aiye, Hindu, Musalman, Bouddha, Christian adi sab log milkar humlog ek debatma Himalaya sel banaye.