Hefty fines for idol immersion in Ganga good, but more meaningful action needed

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Published: October 7, 2019 12:37:24 AM

CPCB data from 2018 shows that 211 of 961 industrial units along the river were violating effluent disposal norms.

idol immersion, idol immersion in ganga, National Mission for Clean Ganga, fines for idol immersion, CPCB data, NGTThe Centre earmarked Rs20,000 crore for the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in 2014, to clean it by 2020. (IE photo)

The Union government has directed 11 Ganga basin states to impose a fine of Rs50,000 for immersion of idols in the river and its tributaries. While this is a good move, the larger picture considered, it is quite low on the list of meaningful action. The Centre earmarked Rs20,000 crore for the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in 2014, to clean it by 2020. Between FY15 and FY19, only Rs7,764 crore had been released, and Rs6,135 crore had been spent. Besides, only 106 of the 299 projects taken up under the Mission have been completed. Against a targeted sewage-treament-plant capacity of 3,742 million litres per day, only 495.84 million litres has been created, and against a targeted sewage network of nearly 5,000 km, only 2,700 km is up. Also, while an estimated 11,729 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated per day by the 97 towns along the river, the existing processing capacity is of just 3,786 tonnes.

Thanks to such lethargy, Ganga doesn’t meet bathing quality for the faecal coliform marker in large stretches in UP, and in all of Bihar and West Bengal—even as all 4,507 villages along the river have been declared open defecation free. CPCB data from 2018 shows that 211 of 961 industrial units along the river were violating effluent disposal norms. While the government has made significant missteps—the NGT censured the UP government for its waste management during the Ardh Kumbh, for which the government forked out Rs4,000 crore—it needs an urgent course correction.

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