One of the major promises made by the BJP in the run-up to 2014 general elections was to rid the Ganga of widespread pollution and to start a mission aimed at cleaning it in an efficacious manner. This finally rejuvenated the process of purifying India’s lifeline. It had been kept in abeyance for several years before it again came up in the run up to 2014 elections.
Since the Modi government has come to power it has taken several stringent measures to clean the holy river Ganga but due to the ignorance and stubbornness of the people these measures have not yielded expected results. That’s why in the draft Bill for protection of the holy river Ganga, punitive measures for polluters have been introduced. The Bill has suggested provisions like having an armed force with the power to arrest those who pollute the river Ganga and imprisonment and fine for offences varying from commercial fishing to construction of illegal structures in active flood plains.
An official also said that Armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC) personnel will have the authority to apprehend polluters covering offences like halting the flow of the river for commercial fishing. The official further added that the Ministry of Home Affairs will be providing GPC personnel and the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority will deploy GPC personnel.
According to the draft, the existing environmental laws are not enough to restore and protect the 2,500 KM long Ganga River. Dr Jasper Wieck, Chargé d’Affaires of the German Embassy in India, explained the difficulty associated with cleaning a large river like Ganga. He said, “We can only use our experience, it took us 30 years&45 billion euros to clean Rhine river. Length of Ganga is double its length, so this can give you an essence about problems India is facing in cleaning Ganga (sic.).”
Germany is also helping India in cleaning river Ganga. It has been reported that Germany is going to give India soft loan worth around Rs. 990 crores for cleaning India’s lifeline, the Ganga River. This is going to be applied towards strengthening the sewage treatment structure in the state of Uttarakhand. Wieck said, “The purpose of the project is to reduce the inflow of untreated waste water in River Ganga and, thus, to improve the water quality of the river.”
As far as the provisions suggested by the draft Bill are concerned, such laws for the protection of Ganga River are the need of the hour for cleaning the holy river. The polluters must be strictly punished. In India, Ganga River is considered as mother and now it’s really sad to see that GPC is required to protect the very same mother against her children. In order to correct the corrupt minds of the people such stringent measures are need of the hour. It is a right step in the right direction.