Last week, TNM reported on renowned Indian water-activist Rajendra Singh declaring that he would never support Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers. India’s ‘waterman’ as Rajendra is known, had appeared in a video for the Foundation back in September. He alleged last week that his views were misinterpreted and his critique of inter-linking rivers was not carried.
Led by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Rally for Rivers is an ambitious project which aims to revive the country's rivers.
Rajendra’s scathing remarks about Rally for Rivers and its missed call campaign were made at a press conference in Coimbatore.
Issuing a clarification against these allegations, Isha Foundation said in a statement on Thursday that neither was Rally for Rivers about inter-linking of water bodies, nor did they misinterpret Rajendra’s words in the video.
Here’s an excerpt from the statement:
“Though the foundation has clarified this point several times in the past, we once again would like to highlight that Rally for Rivers is not about inter-linking of rivers. Rally for Rivers is about augmenting the quantum of water in rivers through various means, including (but not limited to) tree and vegetation plantation along riversides. The “River Revitalization Draft Policy” document clearly mentions that we need to exercise “abundant caution when considering” inter-linking of rivers. The draft clearly states that “politics or emotions should not determine” whether we undertake inter-linking. Such an exercise should be assessed only upon a thorough and sound scientific basis.
The claim by Dr. Rajendra Singh that Isha Foundation used his name in a misrepresentative manner is false. The draft policy includes his name in only one place, that he was part of a Focus Group discussion, along with 24 other people. His participation in this discussion was out of his own consent, and the discussion agenda was passed on to him before the discussion took place.”
The statement also says that Rajendra Singh expressed his appreciation for the Foundation’s efforts at a Rally for Rivers event in Vijaywada out of his own free will. “Though we are glad to have had Dr Singh’s voluntary participation in this event, we are not sure what has made him change his stand now,” it adds.
The Foundation has reiterated that it did not misrepresent Rajendra’s views, especially about river inter-linking. They also provide a video link for the Vijaywada event.
Rajendra had also made a reference to a Baba grabbing 45 acres of tribals’ land without naming any organisation or godmen. However, Isha Foundation has said in its statement that they have nothing to do with the 44 acres of land given to the landless poor or its illegal posssession.
“We would like to inform Dr. Rajendra Singh that we are happy to clarify any legitimate concerns he may have regarding the Rally for Rivers campaign, if he wishes to have a discussion with us,” the Foundation says, “We believe that Dr. Singh’s past work and his interests align with what the Rally for Rivers project aims to achieve – revitalize and rejuvenate the lifelines of our country – Rivers.”