Ganga Rejuvenation

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Aug 2018 10:47:18


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ganga has been a complex puzzle for Governments over decades. Every Government tries to clean up the continually deteriorating river but no Government has ever succeeded in fully alleviating its problems.


This is perhaps the first major integrated step taken by the NGT in this direction. Since the project this time involves experts and stakeholders who have to work and report in a time-bound manner, some action can be expected.


STRESSING that meticulous monitoring and systematic approach was required for cleaning Ganga from Haridwar to Unnao, the National Green Tribunal has formed a committee headed by a former High Court judge to oversee the river rejuvenation work. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that Ganga rejuvenation was a “huge task” and people of eminence who devoted full time were needed to achieve the desired result.  “Though some progress has been made but it cannot be said that the progress made meets the complete expectation,” the bench, also comprising justices Jawad Rahim and SP  Wangdi said.


The green panel formed a committee comprising former judge of Allahabad High Court, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court, nominees from the Central Pollution Control Board and the Indian Institute of Technology and directed it to submit a quarterly report on the work done.


The NGT asked the committee to assume charge within one month and said it might preferably function from Kanpur but it would be open to the members to participate from the place they consider to be appropriate.


It clarified that the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) would be the nodal agency to coordinate with the committee and it would be at liberty to coordinate and provide inputs to the panel. It also asked the NMCG, in coordination with other authorities, to prepare an action plan for the stretch starting from Unnao to the Bay of Bengal within four months.


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 the border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to the Bay of Bengal.


The tribunal had earlier said the water of the Ganga, between Haridwar and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, was unfit for drinking and bathing and expressed anguish over the situation. The green panel had said that innocent people drank and bathed in the river with reverence, without knowing that it may adversely affect their health.


It had directed NMCG to install display boards at a gap of 100 kilometers, indicating whether the water was fit for bathing or drinking. Voicing dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Uttarakhand Government to clean the Ganga, the NGT had on July 19 said the situation was extraordinarily bad and hardly anything effective has been done to clean the river.


The green panel, in a detailed judgement, had passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga, declaring as ‘No Development Zone,’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river, between Haridwar and Unnao.  This is perhaps the first major integrated step taken by the NGT in this direction. Since the project this time involves experts and stakeholders who have to work and report in a time-bound manner, some action can be expected.


The Ganga has been a complex puzzle for Governments over decades. Every Government tries to clean up the continually deteriorating river but no Government has ever succeeded in fully alleviating its problems.


In the last four decades, millions of rupees have been spent to resurrect the river but no one knows what purpose they solved. Today it is worse than ever. Plans change, approaches change, Governments change, amounts change, new projects are launched, new angles explored, newer methods sought, stricter guidelines implemented, but the Ganga remains as filthy and dying as ever.


No one seems to have a clue how to tackle the growing problem. Ganga is such a vast river and its problems so complex that it is not possible by any individual or group of individuals or even an organisation in itself to bring about a change. At any cost, it needs full Government support and involvement.


Much for the same reason, for any damage to the Ganga the blame falls on the Government in power. But the Government also has its limitations. The Ganga is not just a river but a belief system of a whole civilization. It is not just a religious entity but also something entwined with the emotions of millions of people through centuries of historical tradition.


This poses a big hurdle on the way to cleanse the river. People cannot leave their attachment to the river. It is not possible to detach them from what they consider their mother. India is a country of faith and spiritualism, where bhakti wins over logic or rationale. In such a situation, to make people aware of the problems the Ganga faces and how they could contribute to making it clean is a tough proposition.


Millions of people are still reluctant to believe that the Ganga could be impure or her water unfit for bathing. The bhakti is so deeply entrenched in people’s psyche that no amount of logic can shake that faith. India is a billion plus country. Without people’s awareness and involvement, we cannot keep our environs clean.


It is people who largely spoil the Ganga by their various activities like ablutions, bathing animals, floating corpses, throwing flowers and leaves and food etc. If they are aware and conscious of their actions, much of the cleaning effort could get easy. But there is no way such a vast population can be taught science and logic. The only way is to try setting things right at the other end.


More engineering innovations, more investment on technology, greater involvement and monitoring by leaders and nodal agencies, more accountability and time-bound progression, better man management and funding etc are the ways which have to be aggressively adopted. No laxity on anyone’s part should be admitted. We often start a thing with much fanfare but lose steam midway.


A consistent approach is essential for sustaining a good motive. Shifting goalposts and changing priorities have done as much damage. A focused stance is where we often lag. Results don’t come in a jiffy. It takes time and patience. It takes time to change people’s opinions and mindsets but a good effort by and gets its due support as people start realising the benefits.


The Ganga cleaning mission needs a concerted unified effort in which we all can contribute in various ways. It is our national asset and we have a collective responsibility in ensuring her welfare as best as we can do. Hundreds of our rivers have died or turned into drains due to our neglect, mismanagement and unhealthy/unethical practices. We cannot do this to the Ganga. The courts can only support our cause and issue orders to restrict us from doing certain things or prompt us to do certain things.