Other States

Centre, States continue to bicker over cleaning Ganga

Filthy ghats on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi.— File Photo  

The Centre and the States are engaged in a blame game over cleaning the Ganga yet again, much to the displeasure of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which on Monday took it upon itself to fix responsibility on the agencies concerned.

Hearing a matter related to the cleaning of the river, the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and the State of Uttarakhand failed to offer complete answers to issues the tribunal raised.

The NGT Bench, headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, was displeased with both the Centre and States concerned passing the buck and remarked, “It is a federal structure. Does the Centre owe responsibility to clear everything or the State should also share the responsibility? We have to look into this aspect and fix accountability accordingly.”

“After deliberation it is clear that we should hold a meeting of the following officers, for Section One of Phase-1 of cleaning of the Ganga, at the earliest as various directions passed by the tribunal have not been carried out in true spirit and substance,” it added.

“We would expect all the learned counsel (for the Centre, states and the agencies concerned) to lead their part completely and comprehensively, which is at present found wanting,” the tribunal remarked while calling an in-chamber meeting of the Secretary (MoEF), Ministry of Water Resources, Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, one representative of the Industries and Principal Secretary (Environment) of both states on October 19. During the hearing, the counsel for the government said the Centre had approved in principal Rs.328 crore to Uttarakhand since 2008, but only Rs.78 crore had been spent.

Advocate General of Uttarakhand said a total of 1,083 establishments, including 396 hotels and 436 ashrams, were operating in Haridwar without environmental clearances. He added that these would be shut down if they did not obtain necessary clearances.

The Centre, meanwhile, had said that almost Rs.4,000 crore has been spent on the rejuvenation of the river since 1985 till last year. It said that the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I was launched as a centrally-funded scheme in 1985. Later, GAP Phase-II was initiated in 1993 to improve the river’s water quality.

In 2009, the ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) was set up to control pollution in the river. NGRBA, a World Bank-funded scheme, was aimed at effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the Ganga. As much as 70 per cent of the total project cost was contributed by the Centre, while the remaining was borne by the States.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:27:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/centre-states-continue-to-bicker-over-cleaning-ganga/article7754994.ece

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