Namami Gange Programme , Reasons for failure in cleaning Ganga
In the recent order to save Ganga, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the dumping of any kind of waste within 500 metres of the holy river Ganga’s edge and called for Rs.50,000 fine on those who violate rules. NGT also instructed that 100 meters from the edge of the river should be declared a “no-development zone.
- The Ganga is one of the world’s filthiest rivers, with tons of raw sewage and industrial waste dumped into it daily. To clean up Ganga, government allocated Rs.20,000 crore for the five years commencing 2015-2020. Till now, the government has spent over Rs.7,000 crore in two years to cleanse the Ganga which still remains a serious environmental issue. There are considerable unutilized funds as of now, besides the huge funds that have been made available under the national project.
- National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given directives in the past to protect the river from pollution. After passing a slew of measures to rejuvenate the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao, the NGT has now shifted focus to clean the next stretch of the river passing through Allahabad and Varanasi.
- NGT further issued a slew of directives including banning all construction activity within 100 metres of the river edge. Also, 100 meters from the edge of the river should be declared a “no development zone”. In a detailed judgment, the tribunal also prohibited dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river and also imposed a penalty of Rs.50,000 on people dumping waste in the stretch between Haridwar and Unnao of river Ganga.
- Besides NGT has convened a meeting of all stakeholders involved in cleaning of the river from Unnao in UP to the state’s border with Bihar, to chalk out an action plan for cleaning the Ganga.
- The tribunal further said that the government in Uttar Pradesh should be “duty- bound” to shift leather tanneries from Jajmau to Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate within six weeks.
- The NGT also directed the governments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the Ghats of Ganga or its tributaries.
The NGT order is being seen as yet another move by the Green Tribunal to protect the Ganga river.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court suspended a March verdict that gave the Ganga and Yamuna the same legal rights as human beings by declaring them living entities.
Namami Gange Programme
- Creating Sewerage Treatment Capacity: 63 sewerage management projects under implementation in the States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. 12 new sewerage management projects launched in these states. Work is under construction for creating Sewerage capacity of 1187.33 (MLD). Hybrid Annuity PPP Model based two projects has been initiated for Jagjeetpur, Haridwar and Ramanna, Varanasi.
- Creating River-Front Development: 28 River-Front Development projects and 33 Entry level Projects for construction, modernization and renovation of 182 Ghats and 118 crematoria has been initiated.
- River Surface Cleaning: River surface cleaning for collection of floating solid waste from the surface of the Ghats and River and its disposal are afoot and pushed into service at 11 locations.
- Bio-Diversity Conservation: Several Bio-Diversity conservation projects are namely: Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation, Fish and Fishery Conservation in Ganga River, Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Education Programme, has been initiated. 5 Bio-Diversity center’s at Dehradun, Narora, Allahabad, Varanasi and Barrackpore has been developed for restoration of identified priority species.
- Afforestation: Forestry interventions for Ganga through Wildlife Institute of India; Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute and Centre for Environment Education has been initiated. Forestry interventions for Ganga has been executed as per the Detailed Project Report prepared by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun for a period of 5 years (2016-2021) at project cost of Rs.2300 Crores. Work has been commenced in 7 districts of Uttarakahnd for medicinal plants.
- Public Awareness: A series of activities such as events, workshops, seminars and conferences and numerous IEC activities were organized to make a strong pitch for public outreach and community participation in the programme. Various awareness activities through rallies, campaigns, exhibitions, shram daan, cleanliness drives, competitions, plantation drives and development and distribution of resource materials were organized and for wider publicity the mass mediums such as TV/Radio, print media advertisements, featured articles and advertorials were published. Gange Theme song was released widely and played on digital media to enhance the visibility of the programme. NMCG ensured presence at Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc.
- Industrial Effluent Monitoring: Real Time Effluent Monitoring Stations (EMS) has been installed in 572 out of 760 Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs). Closure notice have been issued to 135 GPIs so far and others have been given deadlines for compliance to stipulated norms and for installations of online EMS.
Reasons for failure in cleaning Ganga
- The quality of river is dependent on three basic factors:
- How much clean water flows through different stretches of the river;
- How much waste merges in it; and
- How dirty that waste is?
- The tribunal was not mandated by the Supreme Court to look at how much wate flows in the river basin at different points.
- The Supreme Court is yet to decide on how many dams should be built upstrea in the Himalayas. The dams will impound and choke water and will consequentl decide how much water flows through the plains. If the river water levels g down, quite logically, the density of pollutants go up in the river.
- The tribunal has recorded in its judgments that Supreme Court orders to clean u the river have been flouted with impunity for over 30 years.
- Also, the tribunal has failed to project the impact of future developments in the river basin. For example, what happens when the Centre connects millions of toilets to centralized sewage systems that bring the partly treated sewage into the river?
The tribunal concluded that PM’s much-flaunted Namami Ganga mission has failed to achieve any success over the past three years. For all practical purposes, the National Green Tribunal is now going to drive it.
Given that the apex court had not been very successful earlier, it is difficult to imagine the judicial fiat this time getting the executive to revamp the entire political economy of the river basin in one of India’s most densely populated areas.
It will take nothing less to secure a clean-up. The only hope lies in that the tribunal has kept the case alive to monitor implementation and has given timelines to complete some directives.