Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti on Monday said a law to protect Ganga river will be brought in only after thorough consideration and refused to comment on the penal provisions in the draft statute. The government had formed a committee led by Justice Girdhar Malviya (retd) in July last year to prepare the draft Ganga Act.
The committee submitted its report to the Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on April 12. The stretch of Ganga covers a length of 2525 kilometers across five states namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It has a catchment area of 8,61,404 square km covering over a quarter of country’s land area and sustaining 46% of the total population of the country. It touches 118 towns and 1657 Gram Panchayats across 66 districts of 5 states of India.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), created in June, 2014, is being supported by State level Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and west Bengal. The main activities undertaken under Namami Gange include sewage and effluent management including creation of new and rehabilitation of existing STPs, complete sanitation coverage of Gram Panchayats, development of model cremation/dhobi ghats, development of decision support system in GIS platform for efficient planning and monitoring and creation of an IT based monitoring centre with capabilities of real time alerts and prediction.
For long term protection and rejuvenation, a provision has been made for 100% funding for the entire life time cost of the treatment of assets created including O&M cost for 10 years. Due importance has also been accorded to bio diversity, conservation, maintenance of flow in the river and afforestation along river side with medicinal and native plant species along with conservation of aquatic species. The expenditure incurred on Namami Gange in the first three years, (ie; 2014-2015 to 2016-17) is Rs 3673.00 crore.
For the current year (2017-18), an amount of Rs 2300 crore has been allocated in the budget. Biodiversity Conservation is being implemented in association with Wildlife Institute of India to cover Golden Mahaseer, Dolphins, Crocodiles, Turtles and Otters etc under conservation programme. 30,000 Hectares of land is targeted to be covered under afforestation programme.