Tired of waiting, Govt gives more teeth to Clean Ganga Authority

gangaThe government has approved the setting up of National Mission for Clean Ganga in the place of the existing National Ganga River Basin Authority to fast track rejuvenation projects.

The authority will have powers to issue directions and also to exercise the powers under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to enable it to carry out efficiently its mandate, it said.

“This will give more teeth to the NMCG for Clean Ganga for the environmental protection and rejuvenation of River Ganga. It will also ensure proper co-ordination with the local bodies and compliance with the directions of NMCG for pollution abatement of the river Ganga,” said the government.

Although, the NMCG has been functional as a registered Society since 2012 its role has been largely limited to fund the projects to implementing organisations.

It neither had the mandate to take cognizance of various threats to river Ganga nor the powers to issue directions to the concerned authorities polluters.

“While the organisation has been made responsible as custodian of river Ganga in both public eye as well as various courts, the mission is grossly ill-equipped to handle such expectations,” pointed out the government.

The new council will have the overall responsibility for superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of river Ganga Basin and will be headed by the Prime Minister itself, it said today.

It said it hopes that the move will ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the River Ganga; maintain ecological flows in the River; impose restrictions on polluting industries; and carry out inspections to ensure compliance.

It will also set up of an empowered ‘task force’ to ensure that the Ministries, Departments and State Governments come up with an action plan with specific activities and timeliness for rejuvenation and protection of River Ganga.

The council will also ensure co-ordination amongst the ministries and departments and state governments.

“It has been decided to grant a Mission status to the Authority with corresponding powers under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to take cognizance of the provision of the said Act and follow up thereon. Similarly, there is adequate delegation of financial and administrative powers which will distinctly establish NMCG as both responsibility and accountability centre and effectively accelerate the process of project implementation for Ganga Rejuvenation,” the government said.

At the State level, it is proposed to create the State Ganga Committees in each of the defined States as Authority, to function as Authorities in respect of each State and perform the superintendence, direction and control over the District Ganga Protection Committees under their jurisdiction.

The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I was launched in 1985 and later GAP Phase-II was initiated in 1993 with the objective of improving the water quality of river Ganga and was later expanded to include some of its tributaries also. In May, 2015, the Government approved the Namami Gange programme as a comprehensive mechanism to take up initiatives for rejuvenation of river Ganga and its tributaries as a Central Sector Scheme with hundred per cent funding by the Union Government. The programme, despite making moderate gains in arresting the declines in water quality, had certain limitations in implementation.