Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Will Ganga be cleaned in this century or not? SC asks Centre

ganga-480 Condition of river Ganga as seen in Varanasi.
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: September 3, 2014 3:27 pm | Updated: September 4, 2014 4:13 am

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Centre to furnish its stage-wise plan on cleaning of river Ganga, the ‘dream project’ of Narendra Modi govt.

According to reports, the court demanded a report on the Ganga Action Plan as well. The court also demanded a Power Point presentation on how government intends to clean the river.

“Will Ganga be cleaned in this century or not?” the court asked, asking the Centre to file another affidavit in three weeks.The apex court said that we want our future to see Ganga flow and demanded concrete action plan.

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Earlier, reminding the Modi government that cleaning of Ganga was on its poll manifesto, a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur had said the issue of cleaning Ganga was very important and it had to be put on the front burner. The court asked why urgent steps were not being taken on it and set a two-week timeline for it to come up with a road map for making the 2500 km long river pollution free.

The issue of cleaning up of river Ganga has been monitored by the apex court and several applications have been filed.

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The unchecked pollution of river Ganga has evoked sharp criticism by the apex court which has been hearing the case since 1985.

The 2,500 km stretch of the river passes through 29 major cities, 23 small cities and 48 towns.

The ambitious ‘Ganga Action Plan’ to clean the river was launched by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.

SC seeks govt’s stage-wise plan on Ganga rejuvenation

Disapproving of a “bureaucratic” approach towards cleaning Ganga, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the NDA government to take concrete steps to ensure its “dream project” lifts off and called for a realistic stage-by-stage timeline for effective monitoring.

A Bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi told the government that it would prefer a PowerPoint presentation on how the authorities propose to rejuvenate the river so that the future generations can see the river flow.

“After seeing your action plan, it seems Ganga will not be cleaned even after 200 years. It is your dream project, so you should evaluate it on realistic grounds. Please try that the next generation is able to see the river in its original form. We don’t know whether we will see it or not,” the Bench said.

As Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar began reading out from the government’s affidavit, the court said: “Don’t give us a vision plan… an artist’s view. Going by all this, we wonder if Ganga can be cleaned in this century. The kind of affidavit that the government has submitted, it will take 200 more years to clean the river. It is a bureaucratic document. We want to understand your proposal on cleaning the river in layman’s language.” The 29-page affidavit was filed by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

It added: “Can you indicate the stages through which this plan has to move and the time involved in each stage? We want to be enlightened by someone who has a comprehensive view of how Ganga would be made pollution free, nitty-gritty of the plan, and how the milestones can be achieved.”

The bench specifically asked the government about the steps taken in ecologically sensitive areas from Gangotri to downstream 135 km as “no follow up steps have been taken up” after the 2003 notification.

It said the court was not concerned about how and from which countries Indian government sought to arrange funds but about how the river is cleaned, after escaping the red tape.

The Bench also assured the government it would not hesitate in assisting the authorities by issuing appropriate legal processes for public bodies as well as industrial units if they were not complying with the regulations.

The Bench, while posting the case for hearing on September 24, asked the Solicitor General to file a supplementary affidavit detailing the steps likely to be taken by the government in a stage-wise manner.

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