Success of NGT plastic ban order lies in the hands of babus
The irony is that the postal department collects water from the Ganga at Rishikesh and markets it in plastic bottles. In a RTI reply to Hindustan Times, the postal department says it’s unaware about the NGT order.dehradun Updated: Dec 15, 2017 20:26 IST
DEHRADUN: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) came with another order on Friday that banned the use of any form of plastic in the towns located on the banks of the Ganga.
This order came two years after it imposed a blanket ban on plastic from Gangotri to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. But the intended results never came. The irony is that the postal department collects water from the Ganga at Rishikesh and markets it in plastic bottles. In a RTI reply to Hindustan Times, the postal department says it’s unaware about the NGT order.
In fact, the tribunal issued four orders in two years for safeguarding the Ganga that originates from Gaumukh in Uttarakhand. In its latest order, the NGT particularly mentioned about Haridwar, Rishikesh and Uttarkashi, and ordered a Rs 5,000 penalty on offenders as well as officials.
Lokendra Bisht from Uttarakashi associated with Ganga Vichar Manch says the plastic ban will not serve the purpose alone. “Every single milk packet comes in polythene. Clothes, medicines, packaged food and the list goes on. I fail to understand how the order will be implemented.”
Haridwar district magistrate Deepak Rawat says the administration penalised half a dozen polythene stockists godown owners in Haridwar and will ensure to implement directives. But Tej Pratap Sahu, a Haridwar businessman, underlines the ban will fall flat again without a proper substitute. Ganga Sabha president Purshottam Sharma partially agrees with Sahu and demands a blanket ban in every city along the Ganga.
In 2015, the NGT banned rafting camps in Rishikesh. The ban was lifted this year with several riders. Ratan Aswal, who used to operate one such camp, believes these steps won’t work until there is transparency in rules and regulations. “In the name of rules, a section of officials extort the business community.”
Earlier this year, the NGT ordered hefty fine on those dumping waste in the Ganga in Haridwar and beyond it. It also declared 100 metre from the edge of the river as ‘no-development zone’. The order has a provision of Rs 50,000 fine on offenders.
Nonetheless, more than ₹12,000 crore was spent under the Ganga Action Plan, launched in 1986, to clean the river. In 2014, the Centre approved another ₹20,000 crore for the Namami Gange project.
Interestingly, Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UPCB) data shows the water quality is ‘good’ at Rishikesh and upstream. Vinod Singhal, a former member secretary of UPCB, says the samples collected at Laksham Jhula has coliform and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) within range. However, water samples in Haridwar show presence of harmful coliforms exceed the safe limit.