Save Adi Ganga : SAVE OUR HERITAGE RIVER : ADI GANGA

Save Adi Ganga : SAVE OUR HERITAGE RIVER : ADI GANGA

Download PDF : Save Adi Ganga : SAVE OUR HERITAGE RIVER : ADI GANGA

People throughout the world are now becoming conscious of their heritages. And heritage includes a large number of varied things. It may be a special dialect, a dance, a musical tradition or even a hill, a forest, a river. A community's history can be intertwined with a small local river; a river may represent a country's tradition. There is no Vedic India without the river Saraswati or a later India without the Ganga. There is no Kalidasa without the Shipra river, no Bhatiali song without the river Padma. Similarly Bengal's history is linked with Adi Ganga.

As Ganga represents a spiritual, cultural and historical continuity
for this country, Adi (Old) Ganga evokes similar feeling for the
southern parts of Bengal. People still call it Adi Ganga, the old
Ganga River though the official name is Tolly's Nullah. The river branches out from the Hugli River, the present main course of Ganga flowing on the western side of the city of Calcutta. Kalighat, the city's religious hub and one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the country, stands on the bank of Adi Ganga. Kalighat predates the city of Calcutta. It had been the main stream of the Ganga flowing towards the Bay of Bengal. The present course of Hugli river was then a part of now defunct Saraswati river (not the vedic one). Adi Ganga flowed southwards to meet Bay of Bengal through the middle of today's south Twenty Parganas district. In a number of old historical text, a large civilisation near confluence of Ganga had been reported. Gangaridae civilisation has been reported in first century Greek travelogues. In relatively recent times, there were a number of rich towns and religious places on the banks of Adi Ganga. Shri Chaitanya Dev, one of the major religious preachers of eastern India, travelled from north to Orissa through this way. The lower tract of Saraswati was connected (or probably re excavated) with Ganga near Calcutta nearly three centuries ago, to ease the upstream journey of the European merchant ships. This seems to be a major reason of dying of the Adi Ganga stream.

It was revitalised in 1772 by a British Major named William Tolly. He excavated the course to open up the river route connection of Calcutta with the districts of East Bengal. He therefore excavated the old channel towards east to connect it with the Bidydhari-Matla river system. The channel acted as a major navigation route for next hundred and fifty years. The neglect of waterways in general and other factors like population pressure and unplanned urbanisation etc. caused the silting of Tolly's Nullah. It ultimately turned into a sewer channel for the southwestern part of Calcutta. The channel which

Bathing at Kali Ghat. The river is Tolley's Nullah or Adi Ganga

once had a number of bathing ghats, temples, sacred cremation grounds on its banks has now turned into a stinking sewer and source of all kinds of water borne diseases. Unauthorised shanties have been built on both the banks as the city spread southwards. A number of small factories, eateries and residences all dispose their waste of all kinds in to the channel. The waterway is already gasping for life with the human usurpation of its flowing course. At some places the course has totally dried up.

The river has seen many ups and downs in its hundreds years of life but now it is certain of an ignominious death. Metro Rail, city's new agent for modern transport, has decided to kill it permanently as a river. Metro Rail, the

city's underground railway system, is one of the few institutions of which Calcuttans still can be proud of. It has connected north and south end of the city through a fast rail network. Metro stations are probably the last clean outdoor places in this city. Punctuality, a long forgotten word in the near- socialistic government establishments in this state, has become the hallmark of Metro Rail. So expansion of Metro link has been one of the most popular demand of the people of Calcutta.