Holy rivers, unholy treatment

Revered for its purity and holiness, the national river of India, Ganga, battles unabated pollution, day in and day out. In an effort to conserve Ganga, politicians and thinkers got together on a single platform, ‘Clean Yamuna for a Clean Ganga’ at Siri Fort Auditorium, today. A national discourse titled Mahadev Ganga Mahotsav reached the national capital after a round of deliberations in Uttarakhand, Allahabad and Varanasi.

The panelists on the list included Union Minister of water resources, Harish Rawat, Member of Parliament of BJP; Tarun Vijay, National Ganga River Basin Authority’s member; Dr. B.D. Tripathi and a few other scholars. On the eve of the World environment day, panelists focused on the alarming rate of sewage and industrial disposal in the rivers of India.

Ganga cascades the slopes of western Himalayas near Uttarakhand to stream into the Gangetic plains of northern India before assimilating into the Bay of Bengal. Declared as the national river of India in 2009, the river and one of its largest tributaries,Yamuna, are closely linked to the lives of people in India. 

Steering the conversation forward, the moderator Sumit Awasthi asked the panel to focus on a solution based approach. Ganga Action Plan was first introduced back in 1986; the past few decades have seen a deluge of funds allocated to this plan but in vain. Piquing the interest of the ministers, Awasthi opened the discussion with the aforementioned remarks.

Rawat, the union minister of water resources, called for a joint action on the part of the state governments to solve this issue. He said,' The states falling in the Ganga basin have a problem with putting together a network for the river as water is often considered a state's resource. I appeal to governments of Bihar and Punjab to take back their reservations for the common good'. This statement elicited a critical response, and the panelists asked him if the water resources under Congress ruled states were already being circulated.

Later on, BJP's MP Tarun Vijay questioned the proclamation of the river Ganga as the national river of the country. He passed it off as mere tokenism as nothing much came out of it. NGRBA'S representative, BD Tripathi put forth a relevant comment, saying, 'There's an environment protection act of 1986, already in place, to punish any sort of violation against the environment. What is needed is a monitory body to keep a track of its enforcement'.

Unequivocally, the ministers committed to conserve Ganga from the spate of hazardous human and industrial waste by setting up separate ghats and water treatment plants around the rivers.
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