India’s sacred river Ganga looks far from a worshipped body. What once used to be pure, sacrosanct and devoid of even a spot of dirt, has now become unclean.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which has been monitoring the cleanliness of the river for a while, on Monday observed that, “Not a single drop of river Ganga has been cleaned so far”.
The NGT also called out the government agencies for “only wasting public money” in the name of the cleaning project.
The tribunal asked the government agencies about how they were executing the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Namami Gange project’ and said it does not want the “drama” regarding complaints between the Centre and Uttar Pradesh to go on.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the agencies to work together on the project to clean the river, saying, “The Prime Minister has given you a goal, take it as a national project”.
“It is the fault of CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and other government agencies who are not doing their job properly. Had you (authorities) done your job properly, you were not standing here (before the court)… You have done nothing. It is waste of public money all you are doing… Everyone says they are doing a lot to clean Ganga but not a single drop of the river has been cleaned,” the bench said.
“We don’t need this drama to go on regarding complaints between Centre and the state (Uttar Pradesh). Tell us how you are going to execute Namami Gange project? The Prime Minister has given you a goal, take it as a national project,” the green panel said.
Centre has allotted over Rs 2,000 crore under the “Namami Gange” programme for the purpose of cleaning Ganga river.
The tribunal also warned 14 industrial units operating in Bijnor and Amroha districts on the banks of Ganga and “polluting” the river to be ready to be shut down while asking them why they should not be closed.
“Everyone says they do not discharge polluted materials in the river. I am giving you four days to file your replies or I will shut all of you down straightaway. Stop cooking stories. Be ready for the consequences.
“All the industries, which are seriously polluting industries, based on the banks of Ganga, are present…Issue show cause notice(s) to all as to why they should not be directed to be shut down. Reply needed within one week,” the bench said.
On October 19 last year, the NGT had constituted a joint inspection team comprising then member secretary of CPCB, the chief engineer of the UP Jal Nigam, a senior environmental officer from UPPCB and a representative from National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to collect information on the quantum and quality of waste being released into the river.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river into five segments – Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Unnao (segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to the border of Uttar Pradesh, UP border to the border of Jharkhand and from there to the Bay of Bengal.