Expressing serious concern over the lack of proper implementation of the Rs 900 crore ambitious Ganga Action Plan (GAP) the Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a status report from the Union Environment Secretary by November 15 on the cleaning of the holy river.
The direction came from a Bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, which said that multiplicity of agencies was one of the major problems. It emphasized the need to have a nodal agency to monitor the implementation of the Plan launched by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.
The Bench lamented that despite National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) under the Prime Minister, Central Ganga Authority, Ganga Project Directorate and one committee working under the Environment Secretary, industrial pollution remained unchecked resulting into deterioration of the water quality.
The Bench took strong objection to the non-representation of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and directed that it should engage a counsel and instruct him properly to enable him assist it properly. Centre’s counsel Vijay Panjwani told the court that he wanted to withdraw from the case, as he was not being instructed properly.
The Court said it was difficult for it to understand as to what steps were taken after the 2000 CAG report which pointed out serious lapses including financial ones in the implementation of GAP as no status report was filed in compliance with the March 2006 order.
Referring to the CAG report, it said, "In the plan, hundred of crores have been spent to improve the water quality but the result going by the CAG report is that the water quality has further deteriorated and the industrial pollution increased instead of controlling it".
The court also issued notices to the Ganges basin states -- Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal -- to file their status reports on the plan as of October 31.
Amicus Curiae Krishan Mahajan, who is assisting the Court in the matter, said that funds were allocated and spent but the quality of Ganga water kept on deteriorating.
The court also issued notices to the Centre and Uttar Pradesh Government on a separate petition seeking direction to them to take steps to check pollution in the holy river at Varanasi.