After ban on construction along Ganga, it can’t be business as usual in UP
Now with same parties ruling the Centre and state, there should be better coordination on protecting the Ganga. If the state is unable to do so, then it will be failing to execute a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modieditorials Updated: Jul 16, 2017 21:01 IST
Last week, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) declared an area of 100 metres from the edge of Ganga between Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Unnao (Uttar Pradesh) as a no-development zone. It also prohibited dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river. The ban will remain in place until authorities complete the demarcation of the Ganga’s floodplains and identify all permissible and non-permissible activities, the NGT ruled. The observation was part of a raft of measures that a six-member NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, listed in a 543-page judgment on a petition by environmentalist MC Mehta. Sending out a signal that it won’t be lenient with polluters any longer, the NGT also declared a fine of Rs 50,000 on anyone who dumps waste in the Ganga and said the UP government is “duty-bound” to shift tanneries from Jajmau to Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate within six weeks.
Indicting the callous manner in which public money is being spent, the bench noted that “even after spending Rs7,304.64 crore up to March by the Centre, state government and local authorities of the state of UP” the status of the Ganga has “not improved in terms of quality or otherwise and it continues to be a serious environmental issue”. This is a damning indictment of the authorities involved in restoring/rejuvenating the river. However, as environmentalist Manoj Misra said in a recent tweet, mere pollution control is not rejuvenation. Much more needs to be done.
The Centre has allotted Rs 2,000 crore for the Namami Gange project to clean up the river. Now the onus of ensuring that the polluting tanneries abide by the norms lies with the state government—its record on this is far from satisfactory. For years together, lax implementation has meant the government hasn’t been able to restrain factories and people from polluting the Ganga. Ensuring that this happens won’t be easy. But now with same party ruling the Centre and state, there should be better coordination. If the state is unable to do so, then it will be failing to execute a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.