To fast track the implementation of its ambitious Namami Gange programme, the government today decided to replace National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), with National Council for River Ganga, to be headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It also decided to set up an empowered taskforce, to be chaired by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, to ensure ministries and departments working on the programme have an action plan with specific activities, timeframe for achievement of objective and a mechanism for monitoring implementation of the action plans.
The task force will also ensure co-ordination among ministries, departments and state governments concerned for implementation of its action plans in a time-bound manner, an official statement said.
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Modi, also decided to turn National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) — the implementation wing of the NGRBA — into an authority from a society, giving it teeth to take action under Environment Protection Act, 1986 against those polluting the holy river.
Speaking to mediapersons here after attending the meet here, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti termed the decision as “revolutionary”, which will ensure effective abatement of Ganga pollution and will help in maintaining ecological flow of the river.
“This decision will give more teeth to the NMCG for protection of the Ganga. According to the new decision, a provision for concurrent audit and safety audit have been made to ensure transparency and cost effectiveness,” she said.
Bharti said by next week tenders will be issued for taping 22 major drains of 11 towns, along the river, which account for 90 per cent of the sewer that flow into Ganga on hybrid annuity mode.
The River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016 envisages, National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) for overall responsibility for superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of river Ganga Basin, an official statement said.
The NMCG will have a two-tier management structure with a governing council (GC). Below this, there will be an executive committee (EC) constituted out of the GC. Both will be chaired by DG, NMCG.
The NMCG will comply with decisions and directions of National Ganga Council and implement Ganga Basin Management Plan approved by it, co-ordinate and carry out all activities necessary for rejuvenation and protection of the Ganga and its tributaries.
It is proposed that state Ganga committees will be set up in each of the basin states for superintendence, direction and control over district Ganga protection committees under their respective jurisdiction.
Similarly, district Ganga committees will be formed to carry out assigned tasks as an authority at local level to take cognisance of local threats and conceptualise measures necessary to ensure overall quality of water in the river and monitor various projects being implemented.
“This will give more teeth to NMCG for Clean Ganga, for environmental protection/rejuvenation of river Ganga. It will also ensure proper co-ordination with local bodies and compliance with the directions of NMCG for pollution abatement of the river.
“NMCG will, however, take action only in the event when required action is not taken by CPCB. CPCB shall also take action jointly with NMCG under the provisions of the said Act,” the statement said.
A special focus of the revamped structure would be to maintain required ecological flows in the Ganga with an aim to ensure water quality and environmentally sustainable development, it added.
For fast-tracking setting-up of sewerage treatment infrastructure in Ganga basin, an innovative model based on hybrid annuity has also been approved.
“This will ensure that the infrastructure created under the project is operational on a sustainable basis. In order to ensure transparency and cost effectiveness, a provision for concurrent audit, safety audits, research institutions and financial framework has been made,” the statement said.