Namami Gange Programme is the conservation mission of the river Ganga which was approved as a flagship program by the central government led by PM Modi in June 2016. With a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore the program has set the task of abating pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga as its objective. The PM Modi led NDA government has always maintained that cleaning the river Ganga is its top priority and the present Minister for Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari has indeed done a commendable job in this respect. True, that still a lot of work needs to be done in order to rid Ganga of all its impurities and to restore it to its former glory, but a lot has been done in the past two to three years as well. Identification of the industries which add pollutants, setting up sewage treatment plants and river surface cleaning have been carried out in numerous sites across the length and breadth of Ganga. The implementation of the program has been divided into entry-level activities, medium term activities and long-term activities to ensure work is done smoothly. This program though has come under fire from many media portals such as The Wire, which have twisted and misrepresented facts to present a sad picture of the success of the mission.
The official Twitter handle of the Congress party (@INCIndia) tweeted an article published on The Wire, which stated that the Ganga was more polluted than ever, even after the government had spent close to Rs 4,000 crore on cleaning it. A Twitter user by the name Shash (@pokershash) took upon the task of demolishing The Wire and Congress on his own. He first tweeted two different articles shared with the same headlines by The Wire on two different dates, the first article was shared on 24th June 2018. The title of this article suggested that Rs 3,867 crore was spent on Ganga by the central government, the article cited Central government as the source for the information. The same article was shared by The Wire on 20th October with the same title, the only difference was that the website this time cited RTI as the source for their info.
This is a classic case of nefarious behavior which is the modus operandi of the ‘news’ portal The Wire. The Twitter user pointed out that the articles published by The Wire were baseless and lacked in substance. There was no RTI report which had revealed any information related to Clean The Ganga project, the central government had itself sent a report to the National Green Tribunal in which it had stated that a total of Rs 4,800 crore have been spent on the project since its start in 1986. The twitter user further shared articles from the UPA era, published on May 14th, 2014 in TOI, which cleared that a total of Rs 20,000 crore had been spent on cleaning the Ganga by the central government before PM Modi was elected in the centre.
The Wire believes in peddling fake news and is adept at presenting half truths to suit its narrative. The Twitter user has also targeted Congress through his thread in which he exposed how the Congress biased media houses have changed details in the articles to make ends meet.
While Congress is the primary opposition today and it can make claims, it still can be held accountable for its statements, The Wire is a news platform, accountability and full reporting of facts without being bias should be its primary concern. The portal however is known for doing the exact opposite of this, it had targeted Union Minister Piyush Goyal, accusing him of hiding details of key business dealings, the article also mentioned that the Union Minister had conflicting interests when he sold the stocks of a privately held company to the Piramal Group. Quite recently too, the portal had to delete a video by journalist Abhisar Sharma in which he had made a bizarre claim about the Amritsar train mishap that occurred at the time of Dussehra evening. In that video, Abhisar Sharma had claimed that the top light of the DEMU involved in the mishap that resulted in the death of more than 60 people who were on the tracks in view of Dussehra celebrations nearby, was not working/ was absent and this might have caused the horrific accident. The video had to be deleted after facing public humiliation and mockery on the social media for this bizarre theory.
With journalists like Rohini Singh and Abhisar Sharma at their disposal the portal has chosen to misrepresent facts and figures time and again choosing to do what they please. These journalists are in fact following the precedents set by the founders of the portal, Siddharth Varadarajan and M K Venu who were generously helped by the likes of Vinod Dua, journalists who had a clear UPA bias. The attack on Clean Ganga Project by The Wire and its promotion by the Congress party without a thorough background check is indicative of a media-politics nexus which has existed since long. It is high time that untrustworthy news sources such as The Wire is exposed to the public.