Fitting finale for month-long Jal Chetna Yatra to create water awareness
PUSHKAR (Rajasthan): The conclusion of the month-long Jal Chetna Yatra or the water awareness campaign in Rajasthan on Friday marked a new beginning for Budha Pushkar, a holy lake whose historicity is said to be more ancient than even that of the much revered Pushkar lake. The hitherto neglected water body, associated with Lord Shiva and located about 5 kms from the township of Pushkar on way to Ajmer, was chosen by the Rajasthan Government as the fitting finale for its rather tumultuous campaign.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who had flagged off the Jal Chetna Yatra at Sikar on May 16, was at Budha Pushkar to wind up the campaign though ironically it meant the continuation of many projects related to water bodies including Budha Pushkar lake. The water campaign made use of 304 raths and contacted as many as 17500 villagers so far to reach a reported 50-lakh population.
The Government made it a big event in the Pushkar valley where the ancient Naga hills stood barren and waiting for the rain clouds. The Bharatiya Janata Party's senior functionaries, the party president Mahesh Sharma, general secretary Prakash Chand, Irrigation Minister Sanwarlal Jat, Minister of State for Irrigation Chunnilal Dhakkad and Party MP from Ajmer, Rasa Singh Rawat attended the function in which no Congress leader or MLA was spotted.
The party and the Government are seemingly attaching much importance to the revival of the lake not only because it is a water body, but also due to its religious significance. "A dip in Budha Pushkar marks the completion of a successful pilgrimage," Onkar Singh Lakhawat, former MP and senior BJP leader from Ajmer said. Now there is no water in the lake.
"I went myself to 18 places on 18 days," a beaming Ms.Raje, who was presented a 56 kg garland on the occasion, said addressing a huge gathering of villagers, a majority of whom were women. "In the past 50 years there had not been a bigger public movement in Rajasthan," Ms.Raje, whose Government has woken up to the need for water conservation and legislation on ground water use, said. "The Government needs to leave the air conditioned rooms of Jaipur and sweat it out like this in the villages to learn from the mother and sisters like you," she told the colourfully clad women.
"When the Government announced the Jal Chetna Yatra for the summer months, there were many who asked as to why it was being carried out in the hot summer. Then I told them that this was the most appropriate time to talk about the need to conserve water and learn the techniques of water harvesting," Ms.Raje, said. "By the end of this month one lakh small and big works related to the water bodies would be completed," she informed.
The "moksha"(salvation) for Budha Pushkar, now not even an apology of a water body, would come in the form of "Shramdhan" being offered by the villagers and voluntary bodies such as Ajmer Citizen's Forum and Government agencies.