NEW DELHI: A Territorial Army battalion raised as the Ganga Task Force to help check pollution in the river faces the prospect of packing its bags and returning to the barracks as the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the nodal authority for cleaning the river, has no use for it.The NMCG recently wrote to the Defence Ministry to take back the TA battalion as it was ill suited to the task.
According to the NMCG, the battalion’s men have been cooling their heels since they were deployed in January 2016, but were getting paid for it. “We have written to the Defence Ministry that we do not need the Territorial Army battalion. Its personnel have no work,” a top official of the NMCG said.
The official added that the TA has dedicated ecological units trained in environmental conservation. But the battalion deployed as the Ganga Task Force did not belong to these units.
“A non-departmental TA unit was hastily diverted from the Northeast for immediate deployment as the Ganga Task Force,” he said, adding that the unit was not trained for ecological work.
The Defence Ministry refused to comment claiming it was yet to get the letter from the NMCG.
The NMCG has decided to wind up the TA battalion and raise its own force comprising ex-servicemen from areas along the Ganga river.
A Territorial Army battalion raised as the Ganga Task Force to help check pollution in the Ganga river has been asked to return to the barracks as the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the nodal authority for cleaning the river, has no use for it.“The NMCG needed people for carrying out civil work like public awareness and campaigns,” the Water Resources Ministry official said.
“The cost of raising one battalion for five years is `75 crore and the plan is to have four such battalions. Of this, nearly `35 crore was for raising a battalion in the first year and `10 crore annually for salaries and logistics,” the NMCG official said.The first battalion was raised in Allahabad and Garhmukteshwar, Uttarakhand, in July 2015 and January 2016 respectively. There are plans to press them into service in other states as well, such as Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The Central government raised the Ganga Task Force to undertake ecological and environmental work along the Ganga and raise public awareness.The task force is also supposed to plant trees along the river, patrol sensitive river areas for biodiversity protection, monitor pollution and assist in enforcement of pollution control measures, among other things.