New Delhi: Work is underway to frame a new law for cleansing the Ganga and the various initiatives taken to clean the river will start showing results next year, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Responding to questions, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati said the draft of the new law has been submitted to her ministry and discussions on it are underway.
She said cleaning of the river was a gigantic task and it was not like rivers Thames or Rhine, where people do not take bath.
In Ganga, about 20 lakh people bathe every day and 60 crore people every year, the minister said, drawing a contrast with the foreign rivers.
At the same time, she assured the members of the Upper House that various initiatives taken by the central government for Ganga river cleaning will start showing results in 2018 as promised earlier.
"Our Ministry proposes to bring a new Ganga Act. Discussions are underway on bringing the new Ganga Act. The Act has been submitted to the (Water Resources) Ministry by a committee headed by Justice Girdhar Malviya and discussions are underway on it. It will be shared with states before," she said.
"When a road project starts, it takes 2-3 years for getting various clearances and the road is constructed in 1-1.5 years. In 2018, the results for Ganga will start showing. We have made enough preparations in this regard," she claimed.
A ruling BJP member, however, sought to embarrass the government in the House by saying that when plans are made "in the air" then the desired results cannot be achieved.
Basawaraj Patil asked the Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanjeev Kumar Balyan whether any experiment has been done to develop any river, before taking up the big and ambitious project for developing river Ganga.
"If plans are formulated in the air, then you do not get the desired results," he told the Minister, much to the amusement of opposition members who took a swipe at the government by loudly chanting 'hawa mein' (in the air).
The government had earlier formed a committee to prepare the draft of the new Ganga law, which aims at expediting implementation of 'Namami Gange' programme and lay down guidelines to rid the holy river of silt and pollutants.
The committee was headed by Justice (Retired) Girdhar Malviya, which has since prepared the draft and submitted it to the ministry which is examining it further.
The committee was entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the draft law that should have provisions to ensure cleanliness and uninterrupted flow of Ganga.
Bharti said Rs 20,000 crore had been earmarked for Ganga rejuvenation plan and the government will spend Rs 8,000 crore for completing old projects and Rs 12,000 for carrying out new projects envisaged.
She said one cannot alter Benares ghats including the crematoriums there, which are ancient cremation spots and the High Court has given some directions on this behalf.
Bharti said there are some things where there should be minimum government interference.
She also demanded a discussion on the river Ganga and sought to present the report card of her ministry before the House.
Updated Date: Jul 24, 2017 19:57:40 IST