NEW DELHI: Magsaysay award-winner 'Waterman' Rajendra Singh and two others today quit the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-chaired National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), protesting the government's "negligence" of the river.
Besides Singh, two other NGRBA members Ravi Chopra and R H Siddiqi also submitted their resignation letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing solidarity with noted environmentalist G D Agrawal who is on "fast-unto-death" to press for cleaning up the Ganges.
Rajendra Singh told PTI that the resignations were sent after their meeting with Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal during the day when they apprised him of the agitation of Agrawal, who is known as Swami Gyanswaroop Anand.
Agrawal had yesterday announced that he will not take water in the last phase of his fast-unto-death to press for uninterrupted clean flow of the Ganga.
While Chopra is the Director of Dehradun-based People's Science Institute, Siddiqi is a former Professor of Aligarh Muslim University.
"Swami Gyanswaroop Anand's demand is respect river Ganga and ensure clean and continuous flow of the river. He has been on agitation for the last 47 days in Varanasi on the bank of the Ganga. But government seems to be neglecting his demand.
He entered his second phase of agitation yesterday declaring he will not take water. His life is in danger," Rajendra Singh said.
He alleged NGRBA was constituted three and half years ago and it had met only twice since its formation.
The last meeting of the Authority was held one and half years ago, he said.
"My decision to quit the panel was conveyed to the Prime Minister in November last year," he said.
Singh said the Ganges "is dying" and instead of ensuring its free flow, the government is giving clearance to construction of more and more dams in its upstream.
Several Union Ministers -- Finance, Environment, Urban Development, Water Resources, Power, Science and Technolgy-- and Planning Commission Deputy Chariman are the ex-officio members of NGRBA.
Other ex-officio members include Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the states through which the river flows.
Besides Rajendra Singh, Ravi Chopra and R H Siddiqi, there are six other expert members in the committee including noted environmentalist Sunita Narain.
National Ganga River Basin Authority was constituted on February 20, 2009, under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The objective of NGRBA is to ensure effective control of pollution and conservation of the river by adopting a river- basin approach for comprehensive planning and management.
The Authority has both regulatory and developmental functions. The Authority is also to take measures for effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga in keeping with sustainable development needs.