To check non-point source of pollution from agriculture, the government may launch a special programme to develop an organic farming corridor along the Ganga, and a proposal of this effect was discussed in the National Ganga Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, it is learnt.
According to sources, the idea of organic farming corridor was mooted by the National Mission for Clean Ganga, and received a positive response from the Council — the Prime Minister is learnt to have underlined the importance of sustainable agriculture in the Ganga basin.
A source said, “Agricultural runoff is a major non-point source of pollution in the Ganga. Although organic farming has been taken up by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in a few clusters, there is a need to consider special programme of organic farming on 5 km stretch along both sides of the river….riverbed agriculture should be only organic.”
According to an official statement issued after the meeting, Modi urged for a holistic thinking process where ‘Namami Gange’ evolves to ‘Arth Ganga’, or a sustainable development model with focus on economic activities related to the river. “As part of this process, farmers should be encouraged to engage in sustainable agriculture practices, including zero budget farming, planting of fruit trees and building plant nurseries on the banks of Ganga,” according to the statement.
It stated, “Priority could be given to women’s self-help groups and ex-servicemen organisations for these programmes. Such practices, along with creation of infrastructure for water sports and development of camp sites, cycling and walking tracks etc, would help to tap the ‘hybrid’ tourism potential of the river basin area.”
Income generated from encouraging eco-tourism and Ganga wildlife conservation and cruise tourism, etc, will help generate sustainable income streams for cleaning of Ganga, it stated.
Chairing the first meeting of the Council, attended by nine Union ministers, chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, deputy CM of Bihar, and vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, Modi said that rejuvenation of the Ganga has been a long-pending challenge for the country. The statement said, “He (Modi) noted that a lot had been accomplished since the Government took up ‘Namami Gange’ in 2014…notable achievements being zero waste creation by paper mills and reduction in pollution from tanneries; but much more needs to be done.”
Like aspirational districts, all districts bordering the Ganga should be made a focus area for monitoring efforts under Namami Gange, the Prime Minister said.
Sources said the Council also discussed the idea to start a special programme to enhance dolphin population in the river. It is learnt that continuation of the Namami Gange programme beyond 2020 was also given green signal at the meeting.
West Bengal and Jharkhand did not participated in the meeting.
After the meeting, Modi took a boat ride in the Ganga to inspect work of cleaning at Sisamau Nala, which was the one of major sources of pollution of the river in Kanpur.