Haridwar, January 15
Women in the hill region are opposing the decision of the authorities to shift the Mata Dhari Devi shrine to a higher altitude. The authorities are shifting the shrine to save it from getting submerged in the Alaknanda when the work on 330 MW hydropower project begins. The women activists have started a movement in opposition of the decision.
The shrine is revered as a local deity of the region.
The decision is facing opposition ever since the news of shifting of the revered shrine of Mata Dhari Devi, situated on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway, 19 km from Srinagar town in Pauri Garhwal, has broke out in the region.
After protesting at Srinagar and on the shrine premise, the women activists have now reached the lower Garhwal division to generate awareness about the impact of disturbing the religious and local sentiments attached with the deity.
Inspired from the Chipko movment, the women are generating awareness about their concern for the revered shrine by holding forum meetings alongside the Ganga ghat as well as making a tableau of the shrine, which they will take to Prayag, Allahabad, in the ongoing Maha Kumbh.
GVK Company that is carrying out the 330MW hydropower project on the Alaknanda in Srinagar is also planning to shift the shrine which is based on a mountainous terrain.
This has evoked strong resentment among the local people, devotees and saints who are strongly opposing the move.
In this regard, women villagers and activists from the Dhari Devi region and Yamuna, Alaknanda and Mandakini river basins have formed a joint banner to raise the issue.
“We want to give message to the people that if the Dhari Devi shrine is shifted from its original place due to monopoly of a private company, then in near future more such heritage shrines will be targeted by the corporate, which is making money by damaging ecology of the region,” said Beena Chaudhary of the Dhari Devi area while talking to The Tribune.
Sushila Bhandari from the Mandakini river basin expressed shock that both Centre and the state government had been biased towards local people of Garhwal who are forced to migrate or get displaced in the name of numerous hydropower projects that are sanctioned in the Himalayan belt.
“Our very original tradition is being targeted in the name of hydropower projects. In hills, we have no electricity, potable drinking water supply, health facility, proper education structure or adequate rehabilitation scheme for those who get affected due to hydropower projects,” said Bhandari.
To raise the issue at the Prayag Kumbh, these activists have approached noted saint Swami Achutyanand Maharaj in Haridwar, who is helping them in making a tableau of the shrine, which will be taken to Allahabad so that a mass consensus gets generated over this issue.
Former Minister Mohan Singh Rawat ‘Gaonwasi’, who has been lending support to the save Dhari Devi shrine movement as well as bringing many a deities idols to Haridwar for holy Ganga, opined that owing to ecological, cultural and religious importance of the state, a special policy needed to be formulated.