Union Minister Satyapal Singh has kicked the hornet's nest by advising against the immersion of ashes and pooja flowers in the river Ganges to keep it clean.
Singh, who was in Haridwar on Tuesday to inaugurate 34 projects related to Namami Ganga mission, argued that it was not important to immerse flowers or ashes in the Ganga to fulfil religious duty.
"It is not essential to offer flowers on paper plates or immerse ashes in Ganga to appease the ancestors," the Union minister of State for Ganga Rejuvenation said.
The remark has invited sharp criticism from Hindu religious leaders, who have termed the argument 'unfortunate'. "Indian culture or faith in Ganga river is not recent, neither is the ritual to immerse remains of our loved ones in the holy river," said Purshotam Sharma, head, Sri Ganga Sabha.
Akhada Parishad chief Acharya Narendra Giri attacked the Union Minister for his 'lack of knowledge of Indian customs'.
"Such a remark could only be made by a person who has no knowledge of Sanatan Dharam," the Acharya said.
The religious guru added that the Ganga can only be cleaned if the dams, irrigation canals and sewerage dump is banned, instead of questioning Hindu rituals.
34 projects for cleaning Ganga inaugurated
Union minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Dr Satyapal Singh on Tuesday inaugurated 34 projects pegged at a cost of Rs 918.94 crore as part of the Namami Ganga.
Among these projects are Rs 230.32 crore 68 MLD STP in Jagjitpur (Haridwar), Rs 43.04 crore 27 MLD STP at Saraya (Haridwar), Rs 14.59 crore 18 Mld STP at Jagjeetpur (Haridwar) and other STPs and sewerage management projects in Tehri, Rishikesh, Srinagar and Uttarkashi. The projects also include crematoriums and bathing ghats at different places.
While inaugurating the projects, Dr Satypal Singh emphasised the need to evaluate the progress of the schemes from time to time and said that the officers should be tasked to inspect the progress on the ground.