Deccan Herald
Sunday, January 16, 2000

OFF TRACK

River bond

UNION Rural Development Minister Sundarlal Patwa got very nostalgic about 'Maa Rewa` (Narmada river) during his inaugural speech at a three-week long leprosy camp in Vadodara.

The minister`s nostalgia was revived by Gujarat Health Minister Mr Ashok Bhatt at whose behest the country`s record-breaking leprosy camp was named 'Sati Ansuya Tapobhoomi.`Mr Bhatt reminded the medicos and others present at the inaugural ceremony, of a reference in the ancient scriptures of 'Maha Sati`Ansuya who had cured her husband, rishi Atree of leprosy with the sacred mud from the banks of the Narmada.

Devotees are known to visit the village named after her on the banks of River Narmada and follow the treatment till date. Mr Patwa, also a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh could not but make a reference to rishi Atree and spoke of the glorious ancient Indian culture. He could not refrain from mentioning his constituency Hoshangabad which is located on the banks of river Narmada.

It has also been the venue of several anti-Narmada dam agitations by political leaders of all hues.

''Our bonds with each other along the river are still strong. My ancestors may have come to Ansuya village for cure.`` Is the Gujarat government listening to the richness of the soil and culture of the sacred river Narmada, which will have disappeared with the dam.

Tanushree Gangopadhyay