AU: Efforts to clean the Ganga are inadequate and superficial, said water expert Madhav Chitale, who recently resigned from the membership of National Commission for Ganga Rejuvenation.
Local bodies on the banks of the Ganga have continued to neglect the issue. More than 40 industries are still polluting the river every day and other sources of pollution have not been plugged either. There is a perception that awareness alone can be the solution. But, that is not true. It looks like work on cleaning the Ganga won’t make much progress henceforth. Hence there was no alternative left but to opt out of the ambitious project, Madhav Chitale said.
Madhav Chitale, who received the Stockholm Water Prize in 1993, had advocated cleansing the Ganga in one of his speeches before receiving the award. However, while approaching the silver jubilee of his award, he is skeptical about achieving the goal, which is very painful, he said.
Madhav Chitale has been associated with cleaning Ganga for a long time. After his success in cleaning the Narmada in Gujarat while Narendra Modi was chief minister, Chitale was specially appointed on the Namami Gange project. Prior to that, when de-silting the Ganga was being discussed on international forums, Madhav Chitale had represented the Government of India as secretary.
Madhav Chitale blamed the Indian psyche for the Ganga’s pollution. “Once, after discussing causes of river pollution and the solutions, for the whole day we gathered on the banks of Gomati for evening prayers and let the remains of our offerings to the gods wash away. I was utterly hurt by that act,” he said.
Though Indian scripts have several verses that sing of the riches of a pure river, we as a society are not ready to mind our act. That is adversely affecting the Ganga. People used to leave dead bodies in the river though it has stopped now, the local bodies in Uttar Pradesh are not serious about setting up systems for pollution control. That is why I feel that much can be achieved in terms of cleansing Ganga, Madhav Chitale said, adding that was why he resigned.
It’s not about the government. Since the days of Rajiv Gnadhi, the government has always been working with the policy to cleanse the Ganga. But, the systems on the level of Uttar Pradesh government and local administration are very weak, which has increased the complexity of the problem, added Madhav Chitale.