Spending and dam clearances need thorough investigation
Ganga Mahasabha to Launch Mission Ganga 2014
There has been more than five years since Ganga is declared as the National River, still the irony is after spending more than 70,000 crore, there are no substantial results to save Ganga. Recently Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan was removed from the post and immediately the Union Environment Ministry has been asked by the PMO to probe the reasons behind increasing pollution in river Ganga, taking note of a complaint by an environmental scientist. The Ganga was declared as the National River on February 16, 2009. Since then various initiatives are taken to save Ganga.
Lack of conviction about saving the lifeline and cultural heritage, huge corruption in giving environmental clearances and absence of clear river policy are the key reasons for this failure. Therefore Ganga Mahasabha is launching ‘The Mission Ganga 2014’ in February. “Huge amounts are spent, committees are constituted, reports are generated but there is no will to execute them, therefore we are launching the protest Mission Ganga 2014 in February”, said Acharya Jeetendraji Maharaj while talking to the Organiser. Leather industry, one billion liters of raw sewage a day and inadequate cremation techniques are the key issues that needs to be addressed.
The river directly and indirectly affects the largest population of any river in the world with over more than 420 million people who rely on it for food, water, bathing and agriculture. And that is not to mention the tens of Millions of pilgrims who venture to India’s most holy of rivers each year to bathe and worship. Therefore, Ganga is the largest and the most sacred river of India with enormous spiritual, cultural, and physical influence. It provides water to about 40 per cent of India’s population in 11 states. It is estimated that the livelihoods of over 500 million people in India are dependent upon the river, and that one-third of India’s population lives in the Ganges Basin. Unfortunately, this sacred river is threatened by countless tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses, and hospitals contributing to the pollution of the Ganges by dumping untreated waste into it. Industrial effluents are about 12 per cent of the total volume of effluent reaching the Ganges, often with toxic and non-biodegradable contents.
Huge Funding, No Results
Since the launching of Ganga Action Plan in 1986, it was supposed to be executed in two phases:
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I which was taken up as 100 per cent Centrally funded scheme and aimed at preventing the pollution of river Ganga and to improve.
The program of river cleaning was extended to other major rivers of the country under two separate schemes of GAP Phase-II and the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
The Central and State Governments appear to be taking note of the holy river Ganga right before the Lok Sabha Elections which has been held in 2009 when the Central Government set up the ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) by a notification and Union of India had designated Ganga as the National River of India. The authority was conceived as an empowered planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the river, in exercise of powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 but all the works and funds has been done on paper only, the situation is similar as before.
Water is said to be the most precious thing on earth and what our Government and we are doing is only indulging in making it polluted. What we are doing for the protection and maintenance of rivers? The answer is nothing. Kanpur alone produces more than 400 million litres per day (mld) of wastewater, of which 300 mld is from domestic sewage, industries, including tanneries get merged in Ganga.
European countries maintain their rivers well and keep clean, because there is specific rule, authorities are monitoring round the clock, public around the rivers are obeying the rule to keep their river clean but in India, nobody cares about our holy river neither Government of India nor the Indian people. We say that Ganga is like our Maiyaa but what we are doing to keep her clean, nothing. Even our Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad was a dirty canal till recently, now it is the cleanest and beautified river in India, only because of Mr Narendra Modi who took up the responsibility.
In 2010, the Central Government provided the fund of Rs 497 crore for Ganga clean-up project. The project was supposed to be executed by the UP Jal Nigam and the Varanasi Nagar Nigam over a five year period with the Environment Ministry monitoring implementation through a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement between the ministries itself, the State Government and the urban local body. The Indian Government has taken a soft loan of about Rs 550 crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the project repayable over 40 years at 0.75per cent interest rate with an initial grace period of 10 years. Earlier the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had cleared a similar Rs 305 crore project for Allahabad. The NGRBA has so far approved 3 projects amounting to Rs 240 crore in Bihar, Rs 105 crore in West Bengal and Rs 65 crore in Uttarakhand. The Union Environment Ministry has been asked by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) to probe the reasons behind increasing pollution in river Ganga, taking note of a complaint by an environmental scientist. The environmentalist claimed nearly Rs 1,500 crore had been spent on Ganga Action Plan aimed at cleaning the river. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ proposal for ‘World Bank assistance to NGRBA for abatement of pollution of river Ganga’ at an estimated cost of Rs 7,000 crore. The World Bank Board has also accorded approval to this project and the loan agreement with World Bank was signed on June 14, 2011. The World Bank will support the Government of India by providing technical assistance and financing of approx Rs 4,600 crore.
Need for National River Policy
The Ganga Maha Sabha, an organisation working for the cause of River Ganga has demanded that there should be a clear National River Policy, with bringing river into a center list of the Consitution. Currently, water is the subject under the concurrent list. The Ganga Mahasabha has accused the Central Government for not providing desired and complete information sought under the RTI Act. Recently a report has been submitted to PM that after spending crores of rupees, there is no change in the situation of Ganga. Who is responsible for this? The question is where all the money goes; Ganga is getting dirtier day by day. We should respect Ganga as it is a national river and symbolises the cultural heritage of India. Government (Central, State and Local levels) has to give importance and priority to her protection and interests in all. Only allotting funds is not the way to keep our rivers clean, strict rules should be there and it’s high time we as citizens do something on our own to keep our rivers clean. Acharya Jeetendraji strongly demanded investigation in the alleged misuse of funds in the Clean Ganga Mission and immediate implementation of National River Ganga Ji Act. Unless corruption in cleaning Ganga is investigated, we cannot imagine of a clean Bharat.
Objectives of Ganga Mahasabha
Apprehensive of the possibility of the British completely damming the flow of Ganga at Bhimgauda in Haridwar, Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Ji set up the Ganga Mahasabha in 1905. with the following objectives:
p To create consciousness and faith through public awareness.
p Scientific interpretation of culture, dharma and religious coordination.
p Top level scientific dialogue and research.
p Getting in touch with saints, discourse-givers and top-ranking people of the country and requesting them to bring about public awareness for conservation of Ganga-culture.
Key Demands of Mission Ganga 2014
p Immediate passing of the proposed National River Ganga ji (Conservation and Management) Act, 2012;
p Industrial and sewage related pollution to be stopped immediately and spending on the Ganga Action Plan to be audited and investigated;
p Along with water, river should become a Center subject in the Constitution of India;
p Immediate constitution of National River Protection Force to ensure safety and security of rivers.