Reviving Saraswati In Sapta-Sindhu: M L Khattar And Jai Ram Thakur Sign MoU For Adi Badri Dam At Haryana-Himachal Border

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 26, 2022 03:33 PM +05:30 IST
Reviving Saraswati In Sapta-Sindhu: M L Khattar And Jai Ram Thakur Sign MoU For Adi Badri Dam At Haryana-Himachal Border (Twitter/@DiprHaryana)
Snapshot
  • Along with the rejuvenation of the Saraswati river, the project also aims to replenish the deteriorating groundwater table in the region.

In an endeavour to rejuvenate the sacred Saraswati river, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments, on Friday (21 January), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of a dam in Himachal Pradesh on 77 acres lands near the Adi Badri region - believed to be the origin of Saraswati river- in Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar district.

The MoU for the construction of the ‘Adi Badri Dam’ was officially signed by Haryana Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal and Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh in the presence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Himachal counterpart Jai Ram Thakur for the rejuvenation of the Saraswati river at an estimated cost of Rs 215.35 crore.

Khattar’s 35-year-old dream, Jai Ram enumerates benefits for Himachal

Speaking on the occasion, Haryana CM Khattar said that today his 35-year-old dream has come true. In 1986-87, as part of a research project regarding the revival of Saraswati, Khattar travelled from Adi Badri in Yamuna Nagar to Kutch, along the estimated course of the river.

For conducting research on Saraswati, a chair has been set up at Kurukshetra University and Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board has also been established, informed Khattar. Added to this, the Haryana Government has notified an area of 200 km from Adi Badri to Ghaggar river via Kaithal for Saraswati river.

“The course of the Ghaggar river is believed to be the course of the Saraswati river. This project would go a long way in the promotion of tourism activities in the area with the joint efforts of the Governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,” claimed the Haryana Chief Minister.

Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur said that the dam would not only revive the Saraswati river but also help in water conservation in the region. The project would be extremely beneficial for Himachal Pradesh as 3.92 hectare metres water per annum would be earmarked for the state for its drinking water requirements, and 57.96 hectare metres for irrigation water demand in project-affected habitations, noted Thakur. (A volume of 10,000 cubic metres created by flooding an area of one hectare to a depth of one metre, creates a volume of one hectare metre)

He further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also expressed his desire for the revival of the Saraswati river.

One project to end numerous woes

Along with the rejuvenation of the Saraswati river, the project also aims to replenish the deteriorating groundwater table in the region. The construction of the dam will rid the local people of the yearly floods which destroys hundreds of acres of crops due to an overflow in the Somb and other seasonal rivers. The project is likely to end the water scarcity in the region, and people here will also get water for irrigation through a pipeline.

The Haryana CM informed that several projects would be worked out in collaboration with Himachal Pradesh, including the construction of a dam at the Hathnikund barrage. Along with generating electricity from this dam, the continuous flow of clean water will also become possible in the Yamuna river.

In this dam, the water flowing from the mountains to the Hathnikund barrage will be stored, so that the crops will also be saved from flood-like situations. NOC has been sought for this dam, survey work will start soon, added the Haryana CM.

The dam will facilitate the storage of 224.58 hectare metres of water every year, out of which Haryana alone will get 162 hectare metres of water. With this, sufficient amounts of water will be made available to the farmers of Haryana for irrigation purposes. It will also end the water scarcity in the Morni region, which has already been developed as a tourist site.

Other than this, both the states are likely to develop tourist spots and pilgrimage sites across the course of the river, without compromising its sanctity. Many religious sites and tourist places including Adi Badri, Lohagarh, Kapalmochan, Mata Mantra Devi, etc. will receive direct benefits of the project.

Saraswati in the ancient Hindu texts

The Saraswati river, since the Rig Vedic age to the present day, is considered to be the one of the most sacred rivers of India. Several Hindu texts, including the Rig Veda, the Puranas, and the Mahabharata etc., provides detailed description of the Saraswati river. While the Rig Veda describes the Saraswati in its full vigour, the later compositions and texts mentions its gradually declining waters.

In the Rig Veda, there are 72 references to the Saraswati river, both as a goddess and a river. It has been described as the mightiest and the best among all rivers- “Ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati…” (O Saraswati, you the best of mothers, the best of rivers, the best of gods!...) - flowing from the snowy mountains (Himalayas) to the sea.

In the Nadistuti Sukta of the Rig Veda it is found that there are names of ten rivers, beginning with Ganga and moving westwards: Oh Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri (Sutlej), Parushni (Iravati, Ravi), follow my praise! O Asikni (Chenab) Marudvridha, Vitasta (Jhelum), with the Arjikiya (Haro) and Sushoma (Sohan), listen!

In the later Vedic period and the Mahabharata period, the Saraswati river is mentioned as a rain-fed river. As per the description given in Mahabharata, the Saraswati emanates from Adi Badri, in the foothills of Shivalik Hills. According to these descriptions, Brahmavarta and Kurukshetra once flourished close to the Saraswati river.

In the Mahabharata it has been clearly mentioned that the Saraswati river loses its waters in a place known as Vinasana/Adarasana (a desert). The Mahabharata (3.81.115) gives the precise location of the Kuru kingdom as lying south of the Saraswati river and north of Drishadvati (Chautang) river. This is exactly the same geographical location where the now seasonal Ghaggar river still flows in Haryana and Rajasthan during the monsoons.

The revival of the Saraswati river

Of the rivers mentioned in the Nadistuti Sukta, the ones which are still flowing are correctly marked with minor deviations from the original flow. However, in academia, the Saraswati river has always been tagged as “mythical”. Recent scientific researches, although, involving satellite imagery have provided deep insights into the palaeochannels of the Ghaggar-Hakra system - which clearly shows the presence of a complex network of a once large river that flowed in the space lying between the current course of Yamuna and Sutlej rivers.

“The Sarasvati river system in the Vedic period includes the rivers Ghaggar, Markanda, Chautang, Sutlej and Yamuna etc. From the studies by the various eminent researchers for the past several years now it has been clear that Yamuna as well as Sutlej were tributaries of Sarasvati River. Around 3700 BC due to tectonic disturbances in the area, Sarasvati’s Yamuna Tributary was diverted to its present course and Sutlej deflected to the west from Ropar later causing the disappearance of the mighty Sarasvati River,” mentions the state’s pre-feasibility report for this project.

The construction of the Adi Badri Dam will facilitate round-the-year water flow (20 cusec per year) into the river channel. As part of this project, a three-km long lake will also be constructed as the Somb river--a tributary of the Yamuna that passes through Adi Badri--will be diverted to the dam from where it will flow into the stream of the Saraswati river.

The river flowing from the Adi Badri region does not go very far, and can be seen flowing in the form of a small stream at various places. As Adi Badri is believed to be the place of origin of the Saraswati river, that thin water inlet or creek is considered as the sacred Saraswati river today.

As per this report, the Haryana government, in 2016, had pumped water into a largely dry channel, believed to have been the route of the Saraswati river, to revive it. The Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board, in 2021, had also initiated projects to develop five riverfronts on the rejuvenated Sarasvati river — at Pipli, Pehowa, Bilaspur, Dosarka and the Theh Polar.

In addition to this, the state has also decided to include the history of the Saraswati river in the school curriculum for classes 6-12, and is planning to start specialised courses and research projects in colleges and universities as well.

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