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Despite NGT ban, Ganga Jal sold in plastic cans

Ganga Sabha is sternly opposing the clause in the contractual agreement and has complained to district administration for violation of NGT norms.

dehradun Updated: Feb 19, 2018 21:47 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
Uttarakhand news,National Green Tribunal,Ganga Jal
Vendors sell Ganga Jal in plastic cans at Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar on Monday.(Rameshwar Gaur/HT Photo )

An annual contract awarded to vendors for selling Ganga Jal in plastic cans have ignited controversy as plastic is banned between Gaumukh and Haridwar as per orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The Haridwar Municipal Corporation (HMC) gave contracts for flower, Ganga Jal (holy water) and prasad sale at twenty three points across Ganga ghats and shrines falling in civic body periphery.

In the contractual agreement, sale of sacred Ganga jal has been included.

Ganga Sabha, which manages affairs of the sanctum sanctorum of Brahamkund, Har-Ki-Pauri, is sternly opposing this clause in the contractual agreement and has complained to district administration for violation of NGT norms.

“Not only due to NGT-court directives but also due to the immense pollution that plastic-polythene causes to Ganga that we are opposing the contractual clause. Sale of plastic-polythene material should be totally prohibited in Har-Ki-Pauri Ganga ghats. Ganga Sabha has been vocal against flower sale contract at Ganga ghats. They need to be shifted from Ganga ghats as they not only congest the ghat area but also add to pollution level,” Ganga Sabha president Purushottam Sharma Gandhivadi said.

Town commissioner Nitin Bhadauriya said that only as per directives of NGT, the sale of Ganga Jal in plastic cans has been allowed, otherwise use of no other plastic-polythene can be done at Har-Ki-Pauri and adjacent Ganga ghats.

“Taking into consideration the portability, convenience, cost effectiveness and affordability, NGT has allowed usage of plastic cans. So,we have not violated any directive. Under normal circumstances, metallic cans are quite costly, heavier and inconvenient to carry. For Ganga Jal ferrying, only this is permissible, otherwise we are taking strict measures against plastic and polythene usage. Over past few months, only the municipal corporation has levied Rs 2 lakh fine on violators,” said Bhadauriya.

RTI activist JP Baduni, said that he has written to NGT regarding municipal corporation officially allowing sale of plastic cans and polythene bags to traders at Har-Ki-Pauri.

He has also suggested usage of paper-jute bags for putting prasad instead of polythene packets.

Mayor Manoj Garg said that no violation of rules and laws is being done by corporation, added further that mobile squads comprising administrative, civic and police personnel have been formed, which are carrying out impromptu raids to check illegal sale of plastic-polythene in Ganga ghats.

A section of local trader fraternity has also come out in open against the civic body’s sale of plastic-polythene at Har-Ki-Pauri, though majority of traders are keeping silent as they themselves sell consumer goods and other religious items in these prohibited materials.

Mahanagar Vyapar Mandal president Sunil Sethi, said that last month too, their wing had protested against flower contract at Har-Ki-Pauri ghats, as under its veil, sale of plastic-polythene is carried out on large scale.

Alleging involvement with plastic-polythene retailers, mayor Manoj Garg and other BJP ward councillors, leader of opposition in municipal corporation board, Upendra Kumar said that on one hand, BJP takes credit of cleaning Ganga with Namami Gange project and on the other hand, Har-Ki-Pauri itself its openly allowing sale of prohibited plastic-polythene materials.

Teerth purohit and panda community has asked for eco-friendly alternatives to be provided by government.

Avikshit Raman,Jwalapur based priest, said that plastic cans are a cheaper option but the government should also come up with an alternative arrangement which is less costly and lighter to carry.

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 21:47 IST