The National Green Tribunal on Friday said that despite spending huge sums on cleaning Ganga, the situation has gone from bad to worse and asked the government to “tell us one place” where the Ganga is clean.
Expressing open displeasure over the government’s lackadaisical approach towards ensuring cleanliness and uninterrupted flow of the Ganga, it said “we take it that almost nothing has happened in reality.”
The green panel, which was asked to act against industrial units polluting Ganga by the Supreme Court, said the Centre and the states over the years have only been shifting responsibility and nothing concrete was visible on the ground.
“Would you please tell us that is it correct that more than Rs 5,000 crore has been spent on Ganga in making it worse from bad. We don’t want to know whether you have allotted this quantum of money to the states or have spent it yourself.
“Out of the 2,500 km stretch of the river Ganga, tell us one place, where the condition of the river has improved,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked.
The counsel appearing for ministry of water resources told the bench that almost Rs 4,000 crore has been spent on the rejuvenation of the river since 1985 till last year.
He said that Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I was launched as a centrally-funded scheme in 1985 and later GAP Phase-II was initiated in 1993 to improve the river’s water quality. In 2009, ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) was setup for pollution control in the Ganga.
NGRBA, a World Bank-funded scheme, was aimed at effective abatement of pollution and conservation of Ganga and 70% of the total project cost was contributed by the Centre and the remaining expenses were borne by the states, he said.
To this, the bench said, “better be careful of what you say. We take it as almost nothing has happened in reality. It is not suddenly that we are asking for all the information from you.
“We have been waiting for the last one year. But for one reason or the other, you have been delaying the issue. We don’t want to comment on that. But this time we are not leaving it to your discretion, be rest assured. To clean Ganga is your prime responsibility. Days are very short for you,” the bench said.