NEW DELHI: Putting monetary value to water, restraining the number of new dams and enforcing penalties for polluting the river are some of the key points pondered by the Committee of Secretaries set up to chart a roadmap for cleaning up and rejuvenating the Ganga. The government expects a comprehensive plan to be ready by the end of the year after consultation with all stake holders.
The Committee, comprising Secretaries from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Water Resources Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Shipping Ministry, have met five times since it was constituted month, with a mandate to come out with a plan to ensure uninterrupted flow and clean water. The government has decided to develop the river as a tourism destination, means of transport, fisheries development and power generation.
A senior MoEF official explained that the government would have to take a call on the number of projects that could be allowed upstream as the area was seismically sensitive. The official also emphasised the need to set up treatment plants at all possible points to check the flow of untreated sewage and industrial waste into the river.
“Their operation and maintenance has to be made monetarily sustainable, as you cannot depend on grants, as they could end up as a complete waste. The river provides number of resources that have to be holistically taken care of, and river economics have to be recalculated,” the official said.
The government is expecting a comprehensive River Basin Management Plan for Ganga (GRBMP) to be ready by December 2014 as an interim report prepared by a consortium of seven IITs, National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee, under Banaras Hindu University and others, and has been circulated to different ministries, departments and other stakeholders for comments.
Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Santosh Kumar Gangwar, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said that the government was giving special impetus on rejuvenation of the Ganga.
“Consultation with different stakeholders in the government as well as academics, technical experts and NGOs associated with cleaning of the Ganga, is in progress. Formulating the action plan, including framing of its salient features including the time line would be known only after finalisation of the action plan for cleaning of river Ganga,” he said.