Multiple Authorities, No Monitoring Failed Ganga Cleaning: IITs to NGT
In this file photo, a devotee takes a holy dip in the polluted Sangam, confluence of three rivers, the Ganga, the Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad. (Photo: Reuters/Jitendra Prakash)
New Delhi: Multiplicity of authorities, lack of assistance from state governments and dearth of monitoring has led to the failure of cleaning Ganga, a consortium of seven IITs told the National Green Tribunal on Thursday.
The consortium's submission came in response to a query raised by a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar which had asked the expert body about the reasons for failure of Ganga Action Plan-I and II.
The consortium of IITs in Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee, was entrusted with the task of finalising a holistic Ganga River Basin Management (GRBM) programme.
"Namami Gange programme should be run by knowledge and not perception. There are a number of authorities at state and national levels, causing multiplicity. There is lack of administrative intent and coordination among various wings of government," Professor Vinod Tare of IIT Kanpur, the coordinator of consortium, told a bench which also had Justice U D Salvi.
When NGT asked whether the consortium had "collected or prepared" any data on pollution in Ganga independently, Tare said most information was taken from various state bodies and 80-90 per cent data was "distilled" by the experts' body. To this, the bench asked "did you verify any data which was taken from different sources, whether it is correct or not? Because our experience has been that the data changes with the authority. Did you verify the data even on a single stretch of Ganga?"
When the professor replied in negative, the green panel observed "Government data is often ill-founded and there is hardly any nexus with the reality on the ground, so you should always cross-check."
He further told the bench that there is always "pressure" on officials and bureaucrats associated with Ganga rejuvenation to perform and implement the projects, as their tenures are limited.
Elaborating on the reasons for the failure of Ganga Action Plans I and II, Professor A K Gosain of IIT-Delhi held the state governments responsible for lack of assistance and alleged that every time they sought information, the expert members were asked to go through the files.
"There is always one-way interaction. We give suggestions and recommendations to the ministries but there is no feedback. We never get to know what happened to our views which we had submitted," Gosain told the bench.
The consortium of seven IITs had submitted its report on Ganga River Basin Management Plan 2015 to the government in March last year.
It was given the responsibility of preparing Ganga River Basin Environment Management Plan by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between 7 IITs and MoEF on July 6, 2010. The thrust of this Plan was to relate diverse environmental degradations occurring in the basin with their causal factors, and frame a roadmap for redeeming National River Ganga Basin's Environment.
The tribunal had earlier slammed the Uttar Pradesh government over the issue of shifting of tanneries located on the banks of Ganga in Kanpur to some other place to stop discharge of effluents, saying, "it can't behave like a king". On November 15, the tribunal had stopped the government from spending "a single penny" for Ganga rejuvenation work between Haridwar and Unnao, saying a whopping Rs 20,000 crore was being spent on the entire national project by officials who did not even know about the river.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments -- Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed as segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.
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