Ganga may soon become first Indian river to be protected by an Act
When the current BJP government came to power at the centre in 2014, before and after the elections, discussion on the state of the Ganga and the need and promises to clean it had received a lot of attention. So much so that following the victory, when Uma Bharti was given a cabinet birth, she was made the minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
How much change or improvement the river, which has become highly polluted, has seen since then is highly debatable. But now Ganga might become the first river in the country to be protected by an Act of Parliament. This comes through the review that has been started of the National River Ganga (Rejuvenation Protection and Maintenance) Bill, 2017 which is aimed to ensure the cleanliness and rejuvenation of the river
A draft law was submitted to Uma Bharti's ministry in April this year. This was done by a committee headed by justice (retd) Girdhar Malviya, which was asked in July last year, to prepare it and put in strict provisions that would make sure that the river is not only cleaned but also flows uninterrupted.
Arun Kumar Gupta, an advocate and Amicus Curiae of the Allahabad high court, has reportedly told a leading national daily that a four-member committee has now been formed by the ministry to review the salient features of the bill so that action can be taken in an effort to achieve the aim of protecting the river through an Act.
"I am one of the four members in the committee. The other three members include the director general of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, joint secretary, ministry of water resources, Sanjay Kundu and additional advocate general, Madhya Pradesh, Purushaindra Kaurav. The committee has to submit its report in two months," Gupta is reported to have said by the paper.
As per reports, Gupta said that the bill prepared by the committee had proposed strict measures to achieve the desired goal. "During the Congress rule, despite assurances from the then Union environment minister Harish Rawat nothing concrete could be achieved. Now, with the four-member committee asked to submit its report along with suggestions within two months, the proposed Ganga Act seems to be in its final stage," Gupta, who was reported to have played a role in getting Ganga a national river status in 2010, is reported to have said.