The blanket ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal on the use of plastic from Gaumukh to Haridwar along the Ganga would be a challenge for authorities in Uttarakhand to execute, officials said on Friday.
A similar ban imposed by the green bench in the twin temple towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar has failed to make any impact.
On Thursday, the green bench ordered a complete ban on the use of plastics, including plastic bags, plates, spoons, packages and allied items along the banks of the Ganga that originates from Uttarakhand and drains into the Bay of Bengal.
The ban will be effective from February 1, 2016.
“It is a challenge for us to ensure a blanket ban given the fact that there are many pilgrimage centres along the river with a lot of commercial activities,” said Vipra Trivedi, Haridwar municipal commissioner.
Haridwar alone receives more than 40 lakh pilgrims on days like Poornima Snan, she said.
Earlier in July this year, the NGT had banned the use of any form of plastic in Haridwar and Rishikesh.
The use of plastic is rampant in the pilgrimage centres along the Ganga in the state.
The Bhagirathi River originates from Gaumukh and meets with Alaknanda River at Devprayag and becomes the Ganga.
The Badrinath shrine, Devprayag, Uttarkashi, Srinagar, Gopeshwar, Joshimath, Tehri and Gangotri which get a large number of pilgrims every year, are situated along the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers.
Besides, Rishikesh and Badrinath are two major pilgrimage centres on the banks of the Ganga.
Mohan Rawat ‘Gaonwasi’, a senior BJP leader and member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, too is doubtful about success of the ban. The green bench’s ban might not work completely as far as plastics are concerned, he said.
“People have become dependent on plastics for years and now the NGT is expecting that a ban will change everything,” he told Hindustan Times. “It is not that simple. Where are the people to execute the ban?”
It is not just plastic that is polluting the Ganga. Untreated sewage released directly into the river by ashrams and hotels along the Ganga is also a major concern that the green bench has highlighted in its ban.
According to a report of the Uttarakhand government, 132 spots along the Ganga are responsible for flowing sewage directly into the river.
The Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board in a recent report said that only five out of the 22 major ashrams along the Ganga in Haridwar and Rishikesh have sewerage treatment plants that function.
The state urban development department which is responsible to keep towns situated on the river banks clean is clueless on executing the NGT order. DS Garbiyal, urban development secretary said: “First I will have to see the entire order then only I can comment on it.”