Expert Member of the National River Ganga Basin Authority expresses doubts about the new government’s political will to effect a change in policy towards the clean up of the Ganga.

Features Friday, July 11, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | July 11, 2014 | 7.37 am IST This report is part of a larger report: Experts flay Uma Bharti's Ganga Manthan clean up plan Expert Member of the National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA) B D Tripathi has questioned the purpose of the whole idea of the Ganga Manthan. He said that everybody at the programme said that the flow of the Ganga should not be obstructed and that it should reach the Ganga Sagar in Kolkata, and that its sanctity should be maintained.  “This demand has been made since 1986. So what was the purpose (of the programme)?. Nobody has discussed the ways and means in which this should be done. When there are so many hurdle to the flow, how can you ensure that the Ganga reaches the sea without removing the obstructions?” Transport, Shipping and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Nitin Gadkari had stated that the government had sent a proposal to the World Bank seeking a loan of Rs. 4,000 crore. “Gadkari has asked for Rs. 4,000 crore from the World Bank. Then what kind of a discussion do they (government) want?” He said that he, as an expert member of the NRGBA had no information on this proposal. “Is there any meaning to the Authority when they do not tell us anything?” According to the website of the Central Pollution Control Board: “The Central Government, by a notification dated 20.2.2009, as set up ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) as an empowered planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganga River, in exercise of the powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act,1986.” It is directly headed by the Prime Minister’s Office. He also said that in the last five years, only three meetings had been called. “They should have at least called a meeting (about any proposal to clean up the river). Tripathi said that the pollution levels of the Ganga had increased considerably since 1986 and that despite spending thousands of crores of rupees, “Ganga toh maili ki maili reh gayi” (Ganga has just remained polluted). He said: “This means that there is some drawback in the system. We need to check this.” Even during the programme, he said that he had asked the government to increase the flow of the river. “This should be the first priority of the government. How to increase the flow, should be discussed.” Asked about some of the invitees of the programme, which included religious leaders and saints, Tripathi said there was no “meaning” in inviting some of the participants to the meeting. “The consumers of the Ganga which include ordinary people, NGOS, and saints, cannot give any suggestion to the government. And nobody wants to talk to the experts,” he said. He also criticised Vinod Tare of IIT Kanpur, the coordinator of the consortium of IITs which had prepared the River Ganga Basin Management Plan at an expenditure of Rs. 40 crore. “They have submitted rubbish data to the government. Some of the things they say (in the report) are shocking to us (experts). Now we cant even tell the government what we have to say as no meeting of the NRGBA has been called.” He expressed doubt about the new government’s political will to effect a change in policy towards the clean up of the Ganga. Asked about Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti’s statement about technology enabling water to flow through the dam, Tripathi said: “They are politicians. They will say ‘aap bhi khush raho, hum bhi khush rahe. (you should also be happy, and they should also be happy) They say that the barrages will also be made, and yet the river will also flow (to the sea). Lekin yeh karoge kaise, yeh to kaho (But please do say how you will manage it)”.
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