In a bizarre order, the Uttar Pradesh Minister for Jal Shakti Mahendra Singh, has directed the field staff of the irrigation department to hold regular ‘puja’ at the rivers where water levels have started rising due to rains.
The minister issued these directives on Sunday during a video conference with field staff to review works to check the flood menace.
A press release issued later by the Jal Shakti ministry specifically mentioned the directives for performing ‘puja’ at swelling rivers.
The minister has advised the field staff to hold prayers at rivers and offer flowers as has been done by villagers living near rivers.
“It is not a new tradition. Hindus consider rivers as goddesses and worship them. The field staff should also do the same to contain floods,” said the spokesman of the minister.
Just before the onset of monsoon the Jal Shakti minister had toured the state and inspected dams and rivers.
The minister has also asked the field staff to maintain a round the clock vigil at vulnerable points and keep the state headquarters informed updated.
This is the first time that government employees have been asked to hold ‘puja’ in an official order.
“It is almost bizarre that we are being asked to hold ‘puja’ to contain the flood situation. I have never even heard of such an order being issued in my entire career,” said a senior IAS officer.
The minister, meanwhile, could not be contacted despite several attempts.