The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the union environment ministry to immediately probe why pollution levels in the Ganga continue to rise despite thousands of crores of rupees being spent on cleaning the revered river.
The move came after B.D. Tripathi, an environmental scientist in Varanasi, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drawing his attention to the river’s plight and lack of will and coordination among various government agencies for its cleaning.
“I wrote to the PM on Nov 23, requesting him to fix accountability for large-scale irregularities committed in spending thousands of crores of rupees to clean the river. There is a lot of duplication; multiple departments are using separate funds but doing the same job,” Tripathi, a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), told IANS. The NGRBA has the prime minister as its chair.
Tripathi, who works in Banaras Hindu University, has been working for the river’s cause for more than four decades.
“In Ganga Action Plan’s Phase I and II, Rs.1,500 crore has been spent. The World Bank is also providing Rs.2,600 crore. Now projects worth Rs.7,000 crore have also been sanctioned. But the condition of the river has not improved. It pains me no end to see untreated sewage flowing directly into the river at ghats where people come to perform last rites,” Tripathi told IANS.
“Such huge expenditure needs to be watched and heads must roll for the condition of the river has only worsened,” he said, adding “The Centre has asked the MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) to take immediate action.”
Tripathi said he received a copy of the letter written to the MoEF on Thursday.
The Ganga Action Plan was launched by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on Jan 14, 1986 to cleanse the river of its high pollution.