The Supreme Court of India talks tough on Ganga clean-up drive

New Delhi, (PTI):Being unhappy over the Centre’s failure to present its vision for cleaning the Ganga river, the Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the government and said if the authorities at various level have been stalling the project because of corruption and heads must roll for this.

The Supreme Court of India talks tough on Ganga clean-up drive

The court also slammed for its delay in taking steps to check the industries which have been discharging the effluents into the river and sought the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file an affidavit and posted the matter for October 29.

A bench headed by justice TS Thakur expressing displeasure over the affidavit filed recently by the government stating that in the short term measure, cleaning work will start in three phases and they will be completed in next 10 years. “You are unable to tell us your vision stage-wise on cleaning the holy river Ganga and your ultimate aim,” the bench said and asked the Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar why the post of CPCB chairperson had been vacant for the past six months.

It suggested that the project needs an expert with a vision like former delhi Metro Rail Chief E Sreedharan, the man who built India’s metros, for the mammoth task. “This case is pending here in court for the last 29 years…nothing concrete has been done. We don’t want to wait further…we also understand it can’t be done overnight…but you should have an expert who has a vision like Sreedharan,” the court said.

The court also indicated an experts committee like Bhure Lal, to remove encroachment on river banks, can be set up to take the assignment.

The court also observed that if the discharge of industrial pollutants into the river was stopped, 30% of the Ganga would be clean. But pollution boards in the states the Ganga flows through were not stopping this, they said, because of deep-rooted corruption.

“The pollution control board has to stop industries polluting the Ganga. Those supposed to prevent pollution are not doing their work and are being bribed. Heads must roll,” the Supreme Court ordered. It directed the CPCB to explain what action it had taken against 218 industries situated along the Ganga, who have been charged with polluting the river.

Kumar, appeared for the Centre repeatedly submitted that Narendra Modi government is committed to clean the river. The Centre also told the court that a consortium of seven IITs involved in the project will give a report by December and a roadmap will emerge. He referred to the minutes of meeting held by the senior officiers last month and informed the court that the government has issued notices to industries to implement zero pollution within three months.

The Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation on the cleaning of the Ganga in 1985. Cleaning Ganga was not only BJP’s election agenda but also prime minister Narendra Modi, a Lok sabha member from Varanasi, based on the banks of the river, has pledged to clean the river. He also sought involvement of NRIs in the project during his trip to the US recently.