New Delhi, Nov 4 (UNI) The Centre today decided to declare the mighty Ganga a "National River," and also set up a "Ganga River Basin Authority" as an empowered planning, implementing and monitoring authority for the river.
The decisions were taken at an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The meeting was attended by the ministers and top officials of the Ministries of Water Resources, Forests and Environment and Urban Development.
The proposed Authority would be chaired by the Prime Minister and would have as its Members Chief Ministers of States through which the Ganga flows.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Singh referred to the special place Ganga had in the hearts and minds of all Indians and stated that this emotional link needed to be recognised and the country should set a model for river cleaning through the new institutional mechanism.
The meeting felt the need to replace the current piecemeal efforts taken up in a fragmented manner in select cities with an integrated approach that sees the river as an ecological entity and addresses issues of quantity in terms of water flows along with issues of quality.
Official sources said the details of the Authority to be vested with appropriate powers would be worked out in consultation with State Governments and Central Ministries.
The unit of planning, it was felt, should be the river basin and action related to pollution abatement, sustainable use of water and flood management should be integrated.
The proposed Authority would promote intersectoral coordination for comprehensive planning for the river.
Various agencies working on different aspects of river conservation and pollution management would be brought together under this proposed Authority.
Dr Singh directed that detailed final proposals may be prepared within two months after the necessary wide-ranging consultations.
It was also recognised that the spirit of the Ganga Action Plan as conceived in 1985 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of making the cleaning of the Ganga River a people's movement should be restored.
UNI SH RR NS1610