India: Ganga Protection Bill - SSRANA

India: Ganga Protection Bill

November 21, 2018

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The life on earth is blessed in terms of the numerous resources provided by the nature. The abundant sunshine, flowing rivers and streams, the varied fertility of soil make earth a planet fit to sustain life of different forms distinguishing it from all other planets of the solar system. The rapid increase in the reckless exploitation of these resources and contaminating them with the wastes generated out of the passion of human greed have deteriorated the quality of life.

Protection of the water environment

With the objective of the protection and improvement of environment, legislative frameworks and policies have come up. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 has been enforced for the purpose of conservation and improvement of environment was introduced along with legislations working such as Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water.

Pollution in Ganga

Originating from the Gangotri in the Himalayas, the Ganga is the longest river in India holding a great religious sanctity amongst large population of the country. Owing to wastes originating from various sources include sewage; industrial components from tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses, hospitals; trash generated at festivals/ religious ceremonies; etc. This has severely impacted the marine life as well as the surrounding living organisms. The increasing levels of pollution have been a great cause of concern governing authorities.

Controlling the pollution

The National Mission for Clean Ganga has been implemented as per the directions of National Ganga Council set up under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016 which lays down an institutional structure for policy and implementation in fast track manner to protect the river Ganga.

In a pragmatic approach, a draft National River Ganga Bill 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “bill”) is being intended to be introduced.[1]

The bill aims at setting up of an armed ‘Ganga Protection Corps’, and the powers to arrest offenders in order to keep the river clean and help in its rejuvenation. It lists out the different offences including spoiling or defacing ghats or stairs or throwing any improper manner, quarrying, commercial fishing without permission, deforesting hill slopes or other sensitive areas, withdrawing groundwater for organised consumption through tube wells or industrial needs, etc. Penal liabilities such as imprisonment up to 2 years or fine of up to INR 50,000 focus to deter environment harming activities. It also imposes responsibility on the in-charge of the defaulting companies unless they are able to prove that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that they exercised due diligence to prevent the offence. The bill suggests that the Centre will take control of the management, regulation and development of Ganga as the river is of unique importance ascribed to faith and reasons that are geographical, historical, sociocultural and economic is hereby given the status of a national river.

With a view to control the increasing levels of pollution in the sacred river, India has been making efforts. The proposed bill provides for more stringent measures to restrict the contamination of Ganga.

[1] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/draft-bill-on-ganga-proposes-armed-corps-for-protection-of-river/story-aaoha7O5uNSZmrIzbzYyzJ.html

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