SC asks for road map on Ganga clean-up

Court puts matter for hearing on September 3

SC asks for road map on Ganga clean-up

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for a road map as well as the steps it has taken to clean the Ganga river, one of the BJP’s most touted poll promises. 

“Are you cleaning the river? When there is a need to show urgency, you are not doing so. You ought to come out with something concrete,” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice T S Thakur told Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre.

“Are you saving the river? It is in the manifesto of the new government also,” the bench further said after environment activist Advocate M C Mehta pointed out that the Centre had not responded with the plans and work undertaken in cleaning the river.

Reacting to the court’s observations, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti reiterated the government’s commitment saying, “Rejuvenation of the river is one of the most important priorities of the NDA government. No efforts will be spared to fulfil this task at the earliest.”

During a brief hearing, the court suggested that the government would show better results if it undertook work in 100-km stretches. The over 2,525-km river flows from Gangotri to the Bay of Bengal.

The solicitor general, however, sought two weeks’ time stating that the new Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry was looking into the issue. It was so far being handled by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The bench, also comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and R Banumathi, again questioned if the issue was on the front burner or had been put on the back burner.

 “We would like to monitor unless the government shows some keenness. Show us the road map,” the court told the solicitor general, asking him to apprise it of the steps taken in the matter.

The court allowed the Centre to file an additional affidavit, while putting the matter for hearing on September 3. When a counsel representing the Centre for the Pollution Control Board contended that nothing was being done in the matter, the court asked him to wait for the government’s response saying “it is an important issue involving government policy. If the government is keen, they will certainly come out with a plan.”

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