The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a notice to the Centre on a petition filed by environmental activists seeking compensation for loss of livelihood of fishermen and bio-diversity because of excessive withdrawal of water from Ganga by Farraka Barrage project and loss of cultural value of the national river.
This comes at the time when road transport minister Nitin Gadkari has announced plans to dredge Ganga to make it navigable for ships carrying cargo and passengers apart from creating waterfronts along the river.
Admitting the petition, the NGT has sought the response of several government bodies, including the Inland Waterway Authority of India, a Central body responsible to make Ganga navigable.
The petitioners claimed that main reason for decrease of Hilsa, prawns and other migratory species in Ganga was because of construction of hydraulic structures on the Farraka Barrage in West Bengal.
“Hilsa is a classic example of anadromous fishes being affected due to obstruction of their migratory pathways by dams...the barrage has nearly eliminated the riverine fishery upstream of Farakka on the main stream of the Ganga, a fishery, which was based on runs of both Padma & Hooghly stocks,” the petition claimed.
The petitioners also alleged that the dredgers and ships of the Inland Waterways Authority of India have also caused disturbance to fish habitats, apart from abstraction of water by barrages at Kanpur, Narora and Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh and Pasulok and Bhimgoda barrages in Uttarakhand.
The petitioners have also sought compensation for the loss of biodiversity, salinity intrusion and land erosion in Sunderband area.