Over the last one month,Varanasi police have been flooded with complaints to lodge FIRs against unnamed people for polluting Ganga river. After lodging three FIRs,and receiving over 1,000 complaints,the police have stopped counting.
The campaign to lodge FIRs was launched by an NGO called Ganga Seva Abhiyanam,which appealed to the public to go to the police and lodge complaints against government departments as well as people who are polluting the river. The campaign started with eight such complaints submitted in the Dashaswamedh police station on April 29,after which various NGOs,social activists,school children and public started giving complaints.
So far,the police stations have received about 1,100 complaints. Though the general procedure after receiving the complaint is to lodge an FIR,my policemen will not be able to do any other work if we start lodging FIR against each of these complaints, said Ajay Mishra,Senior Superintendent of Police,Varanasi.
After receiving some 500 complaints,I have asked them to even stop counting the number of complaints, he said. Most of these complaints included the request to take necessary action against people,industries and departments who are involved in polluting the Ganga,as it is hurting the religious sentiments of the people as well as polluting a major source of drinking water,said Mishra.
So far,three of these complaints have been converted into FIRs lodged at Lanka Police station on May 5,said Mishra. The FIRs were lodged under Sections 268 (public nuisance) and 277 (fouling water of public spring or reservoir) of IPC as well as under The Environment (Protection) Rules,1986 and The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974.
Though the scope of investigation against these FIRs is unlimited. However,we cannot fix responsibilities of polluting the river on individuals. So we will keep the focus on major sources of pollution like industries,sewage system and such bodies which were supposed to ensure the cleaning of river Ganga, he said.
Even as Mishra is not clubbing the complaints in the three FIRs,he maintains that such huge number of complainants will work as witness in the case. Moreover,so many FIRs need not be lodged for the same incident, he said.
In this series,a complaint has also been submitted by Congress MLA from Varanasi,Ajay Rai,for lodging an FIR against Murli Manohar Joshi,former HRD Minister and BJP MP from Varanasi,who was the head of the committee that gave the go-ahead to Tehri dam built on river Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand.
In spite of objections from two of the committee members,he (Joshi) gave the approval for construction of the dam,which has obstructed the flow of water in Ganga,because of which the river is getting polluted, said Rai,who has moved a local court for lodging an FIR against Joshi.
Ganga Seva Abhiyanam has also decided to approach the court for converting the complaints into FIRs. We have formed a panel of advocates both at the high court and district court level who are mulling how to approach the court for relief in this case, said Arvind Mishra,in charge of the campaign and of Ganga Sewalay in the NGO.
The members of the campaign in Kanpur are also planning to start a similar campaign in their district while members in Allahabad are already submitting complaints for controlling pollution in Ganga in Prayag, said Arvind.
In Allahabad,Sudhanshu Srivastava has submitted a complaint against Union Environment Minister,Government of India as well as Secretary,Ministry of Environment,Government of India for giving no objection certificates to tanneries in Kanpur and for building dams on the river that has reduced the flow of water in the river,resulting in pollution of Ganga.
The FIR has not been lodged on my complaint so far and I am now planning to move the court in this regard, said Srivastava,adding that 21 more complaints have been submitted in various police stations of the district with similar prayers.