In a bid to ensure that the Ganga flows along the state capital, the Patna high court on Tuesday asked the central and state government authorities concerned to ensure that an at least 50-ft-wide channel is dug on the dry riverbed along its banks right from the Civil Court Ghat to Digha Ghat and the river water flows through this channel constantly.
A division bench of chief justice L Narasimha Reddy and justice Vikash Jain posted the PIL, initiated upon a letter of the district and sessions judge, Patna for further monitoring on March 31.
The judges also asked the authorities to take steps for providing water transport facility, ferry service like Cochin throughout the river Ganga in the state capital as also for its beautification and to ease the traffic pressure on roads of the state capital as a long-term programme.
With a view to ensuring that the effective steps are taken and in a time-bound manner, secretary in the ministry of water resources (River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation), mission director of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, regional heads of the statelevel programme management group and Inland Waterways Authority, principal secretaries of the state irrigation and mining departments have been made respondents in the PIL.
The judges discussed the viability and means to clean the Ganga with the regional head of Inland Waterways Authority, principal secretary, mining department and other officials concerned who were present-in-person in the court. The district magistrate of Patna, commissioner of the Patna Municipal Corporation and other officials were also present on the occasion. The judges also asked all the officials to coordinate and chalk out concrete action plans in this regard to maintain a constant water flow in at least the 50-ft-wide water channel and to ensure that no encroachment comes in way of this channel.
On the next date of hearing the central and state authorities are required to file their respective replies-cum-reports on the issue.
Taking cognizance of the letter written by the district judge, Patna, in which he highlighted the plight of the Ganga, chief justice Reddy had earlier directed that the letter be treated as a PIL. The district judge had pointed out that in the recent past the river, which used to flow by the side of the court premises and where a ghat was constructed as recently as in 2004, had shifted its course and in place of the scared waters of the Ganga, dirty water was now flowing there.
While passing orders to treat the issue as a PIL, the chief justice had observed that “this court, prima facie, finds that the issue has a greater dimension that that of mere negligence. Though heavy duty and sophisticated dredges are available with various government agencies, they remain mute spectators even as the glorious banks of Patna are becoming the basins of polluted and drain water. The situation cannot be permitted to drift. It is felt that the agencies such as the River Conservation Authority, Inland Water Transport Authority, the mining department of the state of Bihar are required to dig and maintain a channel of at least 50 feet width … and ensure that the water flows through such channel, constantly.”