New Delhi: Clean Ganga became the mantra of the Water Resources Ministry in 2014 as it tried to revive failed missions to cleanse the polluted river with a slew of measures and plans to rein in polluting industries through "tamper-free" monitoring. The Narendra Modi government witnessed a plethora of activities to change the state of the holy river, after BJP included rejuvenation of river Ganga in its poll manifesto.
The ministry was rechristened by adding Ganga Rejuvenation to it and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati, who had aggressively took up movements for the purpose in the past, was made the cabinet minister. In the Union Budget, the NDA government announced Rs 2,037 crore for an integrated programme 'Namami Ganga' to conserve the river.
A group comprising secretaries drawn from various ministries was constituted for preparing a roadmap on cleaning the river, while the water resources ministry engaged with industries spread across the banks of Ganga for solutions to stop effluents and untreated water directly reaching the river. Meanwhile, the government suffered a jolt when the Supreme Court pulled it up over unchecked pollution in the Ganga and sought a road map for making it pollution free, reminding the BJP that cleaning of the river was in its poll manifesto.
After the apex court rap, the government in September placed before it a blueprint of short, medium and long term measures that spread over 18 years and thousands of crore of investment to restore the glory of the river. The NDA government submitted that it has identified 118 towns situated on banks of the Ganga as a first target to achieve total sanitation including water waste treatment and solid waste management.
Now, in a bid to rein in polluting industries along the river, the Centre is contemplating to install tamper-free monitoring systems, which is part of the series of measures to cleanse the Ganga from pollution.
"We are planning to install tamper-free systems to access pollution levels along the Ganges," a source privy to the development said. The monitoring systems are tamper proof sensors and can be installed at any location of the river including drains, where industries discharge effluents into the river.
"If such systems are put in place, authorities can have real time data on the pollution levels from the seat of the Ministry of Water Resources. Though 764 have been so far identified as grossly-pollution industries, there could be several others, which could be located through the tamper-free systems," the source said.
The government has also proposed constitution of a task force to ensure proper implementation of Ganga rejuvenation programme, Ganga grams for promoting sanitation in rural areas on the banks of the river, besides a Ganga Institute of River Sciences.
The initial plan for building barrages cum bridges at every 100 km on the river may not take shape immediately, as the thrust is largely on cleaning the polluted river, sources claimed.
In August, the National Ganga River Basin Authority was transferred to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation from the Ministry of Environment, wherein all issues related to conservative, development management and abatement of pollution in river Ganga and its tributaries came under the purview of the Ministry of Water Resources.
During the year, the Centre also constituted a three- member supervisory committee headed by a senior Central Water Commission official to supervise the restoration of full reservoir level in the Mullaperiyar Dam to the elevation of 142 feet.
The Ministry issued the order on July 1 in the wake of a Supreme Court order on May 7 which had allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on the dam.
The Centre is also pushing for inter-linking of rivers in the country, another dream project of the BJP-led government. Ministry sources claim most of the state governments except for Kerala and Odisha were on its side on the issue.
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Updated Date: Dec 26, 2014 10:20:08 IST