Ganga water will be clean by 2020
The Ganga will be pure and free of pollutants by 2020, the Centre promised before the Supreme Court . Without dwelling on the past when nearly 1,000 crore was spent under the failed Ganga Action Plan initiated in the late 1980s, attorney general G E Vahanvati assured a Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar that the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) headed by the prime minister would deal with river pollution in a comprehensive manner. The work has been entrusted to a consortium of seven IITs — Kanpur, Delhi, Madras, Bombay, Kharagpur, Guwahati and Roorkee. Vahanvati said discussions have been initiated with the World Bank for long-term support for NGRBA’s work programme. The National River Conservation Directorate under ministry of environment and forests in its affidavit said, “An assistance of $1 billion has been indicated in the first phase by the World Bank. A project preparation facility advance of $2.96 million has been sanctioned by WB.” But amicus curiae Krishan Mahajan, who was part of the public interest litigation filed by M C Mehta for cleaning of Ganga since 1985, was sceptical about the success and said unless the government was serious about punishing those responsible for polluting the river, no action plan would succeed in restoring Ganga’s pristine glory. The Bench asked him to place his objection on record. The directorate also talked of plans to save the gangetic dolphin, which was declared national aquatic animal on May 10. Terming the animal as critically endangered, it said it has set up a working group under the chairmanship of Dr R K Singh to submit an action plan. “A list of other project proposals to be taken up under the World Bank assistance has been drawn up in consultation with the state governments. Investments totalling over Rs 1,200 crore have been identified by the states,” it said.