Other States

Crusader to revive agitation after knee surgery

Socialist leader Pandit Ramkishan continues to fight for water rights in Rajasthan

Veteran 94-year-old socialist leader and former parliamentarian Pandit Ramkishan on Saturday announced the revival of his agitation, of bringing water to 13 districts in eastern Rajasthan, after getting his mobility restored through a robotic knee surgery, rare for a person of his age. Mr. Ramkishan had delayed the surgery for 14 years to continue his campaign.

Though the former Lok Sabha member’s 10-year-long agitation had led to the approval of the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP), stipulating the transfer of excess water from the Chambal river basin to 13 districts facing water scarcity, the State government is still trying hard to get the national project status for it. The mega project is to be implemented with an expenditure of ₹37,247 crore.

An enthusiast even at this age, Mr. Ramkishan said that he would continue fighting till water reaches “each agricultural farm”. He was once elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977 and four times to the Rajasthan Assembly in 1962, 1967, 1974 and 1990.

He underwent left knee surgery on January 8. He has been continuing with physiotherapy, exercise and walking since then. As he now walks for an hour everyday with the help of a stick, the robotic surgery on his second knee will be performed next month after the gap required to rehabilitate a patient at this age.

Orthopaedic surgeon Anoop Jhurani, who conducted the operation, said Mr. Ramkishan could be the oldest male patient in the country to have undergone the robotic knee surgery.

Firm resolve

“Though his age was a question, but his organs were functioning normally. More than his organ strength, it was his resolve to continue to work for the cause which has restored his mobility,” he said.

In his heydays, Mr. Ramkishan, hailing from Bharatpur district, led several agitations since Quit India Movement in 1942. He was the Socialist Party president since 1958 and he headed the State unit of Samajwadi Party till a couple of years ago, when he quit politics.

Mr. Ramkishan has been associated with all Chief Ministers of Rajasthan since Independence. He gave shelter to former Nepal Prime Minister B.P. Koirala, in Rajasthan when the latter was fighting the King in-exile.

The nonagenarian leader said his mobility would empower him to keep fighting for dignity of the deprived and the poor “as per the socialist ideals”. “Now that the canal project has been approved, this interval created by the surgery has strengthened me to take up the fight for getting water for thirsty people and parched land,” he said.

PM Narendra Modi had promised to declare the ERCP a national project during his rallies before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress government here has reminded Mr. Modi of his promise several times, while pointing out that the national project status would facilitate solution to the water scarcity issue in eastern and southeastern districts of the State at least till 2051.

The project, linking Parvati, Kali Sindh and Chambal rivers, is expected to benefit 40% of the State’s population with the supply of drinking water to 13 districts and irrigation waters to an additional command area of 2 lakh hectares. It will also facilitate restoration of dependable yield of the existing 26 major and medium irrigation projects en route — reduced to 30% — to their original status.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:13:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/crusader-to-revive-agitation-after-knee-surgery/article30773291.ece

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