Ganga to be declared national river: PMO

November 4th, 2008 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) The Ganga will be declared India’s first national river with a separate river basin authority to monitor its cleanliness in the states through which it flows, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced Tuesday.The proposed authority would be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will have as its members chief ministers of the states through which the 2,510 km Ganga flows.

In his meeting with officials of the ministry of water resources and environment and forests, the prime minister referred to the special place Ganga has in the hearts and minds of all Indians and stated that this emotional link needs to be recognisd.

“The country should set up a model for river cleaning through the new institutional mechanism,” said the PMO statement.

“It was decided that there is a 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.”

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 will 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.

Of the major rivers in India, Ganga, the most revered, has the longest stretch and is also the most polluted in terms of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) load.

The river begins at the Gangotri glacier in Uttarakhand, in the central Himalayas, and drains into the Bay of Bengal through its vast delta in the Sunderbans.

It has enjoyed a position of reverence for millennia among India’s Hindus, by whom it is worshipped in its personified form as the goddess Ganga.

Manmohan Singh also directed that detailed final proposals would be prepared within two months after necessary consultations.

It was also recognised that the spirit of the Ganga Action Plan as conceived in 1985 by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi of making the cleaning of the Ganga a people’s movement should be restored.

Last month, the prime minister had met a delegation led by Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati and Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh who pressed for making the Ganga a national river as it continued to be polluted despite the government having spent a huge amount on pollution control projects.

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