Zero tolerance over Ganga pollution: Environment Minister

Union Minister of State for Environment Anil Madhav Dave on Friday spoke about “zero tolerance” for pollution in the Ganga river, adding that government policies may be reconstructed from scratch if required.

Dave told the media here that a solution to the long-pending issue of the Western Ghats will be found.

“Let me make it clear that we have zero tolerance over the pollution in the Ganga. Even the treated water of tanneries in Kanpur, or other industries, if unfit for drinking, will not be allowed to flow into the river,” the minister said.

Echoing Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s vision to maintain the water flow in the Ganga basin, the minister said: “Let’s not talk of saving Ganga, let’s talk of serving it.”

“No one, in my knowledge, loved the Ganga as Malviya did. We will take ahead the document signed between him and British on the issue.”

The 1916 document called for uninterrupted flow of a dedicated stream of the river through a canal and the main stream, while advocating for dams on the river.

As for the flood situation in Bengaluru in Karnataka, where pollution and vanishing water bodies had prompted the authorities to take up massive demolition drives, the minister said: “That’s the file I have at the top of my table right now.”

Speaking on the pending issue of conservation of Western Ghats where about 25 crore people live across an area of 1,29,037 sq km, the minister said the matter would be resolved within six months.

“Every state has its own stand. We will take a clear stand on the issue within six month, keeping the people in mind,” he said.

The minister who advocates conservation of nature with the indigenous people, said that his ministry will preserve the Ghats as well as the people living there.

The Western Ghats that runs parallel to the western coast of India are spread over Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Its one of the eight biodiversity hotspot in the world and since 2010 two special committees formed for its conservation had submitted their reports in 2011 and 2014.

“These must be roads and schools in those areas; people living there also deserve development. I will visit the most remote areas of the Western Ghats,” he said, adding that Tamil Nadu, which had not yet submitted its stand on the conservation, will clear its stand in a meeting soon.

As for GM crops, the minister spoke of “innovation” while advocated “organic farming”, cautiously saying, “soil must not be spoiled; money should not flow outside the country”.

“India needs people like Subhash Palekar, who used innovative zero budget farming, using organic methods, and set examples in Amravati in Maharashtra,” he said.

  • Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

    Ganga Tu Hameshaa Mailee

    Mysuru, 14th August 2016 –

    The present proposal of Zero tolerance over Ganga pollution announced by the Minister of State for environment has to be welcomed by all those who love the National River Ganga but it might be another exercise in futility and waste of public money since it is proved impossible to cleanse Ganga during the past many decades. Therefore, it is imperative that Center must reconsider this proposal due to the following past failures. No doubt, people of India are attached spiritually and emotionally with Ganga, the sacred river, but at the same time they are not interested in changing their attitudes, behavior and following of blind faiths that is keeping Ganga hamesha mailee.

    But It will be well neigh impossible for any number of plans for cleansing the dirty waters of Ganga that has earned the dubious distinction of ‘Ganga tu hamesha mailee’. Unless people change their mind set, behavior, attitude and blind beliefs/faiths like throwing dead bodies of human beings and animals, stop flow of industrial waste water/chemicals and toxins, stop discharging sewage/sewerage by towns and cities on the bank of Ganga and control run off water from agricultural fields containing various pollutants like fertilisers, pesticides etc., it will be a herculean task.

    Ganga runs its course of over 2500 kms from Gangotri in the Himalayas to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal through about 100 cities/towns.Govt.of India created Centrally sponsored Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in December 1984/approved in April 1985 for reducing pollution load in river Ganga and constituted the CGA (Central Ganga Authority) renamed as the NRCA (National River Conservation Authority)in September 1995, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The Government also established the GPD (Ganga Project Directorate) in June 1985 to execute the projects under the guidance and supervision of the CGA. The Government renamed the GPD as the NRCD (National River Conservation Directorate)in June 1994.

    The GAP-I envisaged treating of 882 mld per day out of 1324 mld of waste water being generated and discharged by 25 class-I towns in 3 States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. The NRCD had scheduled the GAP-I for completion by March 1990, but extended it progressively up to March 2000. While the GAP-I was still in progress, the CGA decided in February 1991 to take up GAP-II, covering works like abatement of pollution (a) On the tributaries of river Ganga, viz. Yamuna, Damodar and Gomati. (b) In 25 class-I towns left out in Phase-I. (c) In the other polluting towns along the river.

    The CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) approved the GAP-II in various stages during April 1993 to October 1996.

    The GAP-I aimed to tackle 2794 mld of sewage; 882 mld under the GAP-I and 1912 mld under the GAP-II. The NRCD records put the estimates of total sewage generation in towns along river Ganga and its tributaries as 5044 mld. Delhi alone accounts for 2270 mld. GAP-I and II spent more than Rs.655 crores between 1993-94 to 1999-2000 for core sector schemes – interception & diversion schemes and STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants), Non-core schemes comprising low cost sanitation schemes, river front development schemes, electric and improved wood crematoria; and, tackle non-point, non-measurable pollution, such as dumping of solid waste and open defecation, dumping of unburnt / half-burnt dead bodies etc.

    The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has conducted in-depth audits of Ganga Action Plans and submitted his Audit Reports for the years 1994 and 2000 (Report 5-A) on the Union Government (Scientific Departments) to the Parliament. Government of India would do well to have a look at these Audit Reports and satisfy itself why successive Governments at the Center despite spending thousands of crores of public money for cleansing Ganga have failed even to bring the dirty waters to the bathing level. Give a second thought about whether it is worth considering creating another High-power Body with Special Purpose Vehicle and spend some more thousands of crores of rupees. The following observations (extracts) made by the CAG of India in his various Audit Reports are worth pondering before spending even a rupee more on this misadventure of cleansing the filthy waters under the guise of ‘Namami Gange’ :

    – The GAP-I, launched in 1985, with the objective of bringing water quality of river Ganga and its tributaries to bathing levels, was not able to achieve its objectives, despite a total expenditure of Rs 901.71 crore over a period of 15 years.

    – The assets created in the Scheme suffered impairment and closure because of technical design flaws, inter se mismatch of the schemes and their components, problems in land acquisition, contract mismanagement, lack of adequate maintenance, and in general because of lackadaisical attitude of the States and their implementing agencies.

    – under-performance of completed Sewage Treatment Plants,

    – inadequate treatment of effluents, especially in tackling the problem of bacterial load;

    – ineffective monitoring leading to unauthorised use and diversion of funds by the implementing agencies;

    – deficient public awareness and participation.

    – GAP schemes did not provide for control of bacterial load that exceeded the permissible limits at all 27 sampling stations.

    – Technologies adopted by the NRCD for construction of STPs were often questionable inasmuch as they could not adequately address the problem of reducing bacterial load in the river to the desired level (Source: http://www.cag.gov.in).

    Before investing even one rupee of public money, it would be advisable for the Hon’ble Minister of State for Environment to go through the various Audit Reports on cleansing Ganga presented to the parliament periodically by the Watch Dog of public economy – the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, study the implications of its critical comments, observations and performance audit findings and ensure whether the recommendations made by CAG have actually been looked into and implemented or not. Otherwise, Ganga will be hameshaa mailee.

    Vasanthkumar Mysoremath,

    Retired Officer from O/O CAG of india &

    Environmentalist, No.3835/3, II Cross

    Umar Khayam Road

    Tilak nagar, Mysore-570001

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