Supreme Court of India on 13 August 2014 asked the Union Government to come up with a road-map to make river Ganga pollution free. It asked the government to submit its road-map within two-week. The road-map was asked by the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice TS Thakur.
The SC Bench headed by Justice T S Thakur also asked the Union Government that why urgent steps were not being taken to clean the river and explain the reason for keeping the issue on backburner.
The bench in its direction also said that the cleaning project should be done in stretches as it cannot be undertaken at one go.
The issue of cleaning up of river Ganga is being monitored by the apex court and several applications have been filed in this regard.
Ganga is a trans-boundary river of India that originates in western Himalayas of Uttarakhand. In its journey of about 2525 kilometer it passes through 29 major cities, 23 small cities and 48 towns of 4 States.
Pollution in Ganga
Ganga was ranked as second-most polluted river in the world in 2013 after Citarum river of Indonesia. A report of international journal Nature claimed that pollution level in the river was about 3000 times of the safe limit prescribed for human use by World Health Organisation (WHO). Earlier in 2007, Ganga was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world. This pollution have an impact on about 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganga river dolphins.
Government Efforts towards cleaning Ganga
In order to clean Ganga which is revered by Indians, the Union Government had launched the Phase-I of the ambitious Ganga Action Plan in 1985 when Rajeev Gandhi was the Prime Minister. The phase-I got completed in March 2000.
In 1993, Phase-II of the programme was approved. Phase-II included tributaries of the river Ganga namely, Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda and is currently under implementation.
In April 2011, Union Government approved a project under the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) with World Bank assistance. The project was approved at an estimated cost of 7000 crore rupees. The principal objective of the NGRBA was to fund creation of pollution abatement infrastructure for conservation and restoration of water quality of the river.
On 10 July 2014, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden Union Budget 2014-15 announced to launch Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission NAMAMI GANGE at an outlay of 2037 crore rupees and to set up NRI Fund for Ganga.
The pollution of Ganga is happening despite government spending thousands of crores of rupees since 1985. A clean Ganga will not happen unless the government brings in a change in the mind-set of people living along the river. In addition, it would have to ban use of chemicals in agriculture; make throwing garbage into the river an offence, satellite based monitoring for polluting industries and not allowing any more dams on the river. Many environmentalists believe it is an impossible task as it would require huge public investment.
When: within two-week