Stricter penalty for polluting Ganga on cards
New Delhi: Days after the Uttarakhand high court granted the status of living entity to Ganga, a committee of experts submitted on Wednesday its draft model law to the government suggesting strict penalty, including jail term, to those polluting the river and its tributaries like Yamuna and obstructing their flow.
If the committee's suggestions are accepted and the relevant bill gets Parliament's nod, all those who contaminate the river by throwing nondegradable plastics, waste batteries or hazardous chemicals will face imprisonment of up to seven years.
The model law, which will be circulated among ministries and states for suggestions, has provisions for jail term and fine for individuals or companies that obstruct the river's flow or allow untreated waste into the river. It has a provision of two years' jail term or fine of up to Rs 100 crore or both for individuals or companies that disrupt the river's flow through construction or change of design of storage capacity of dams.
It also suggests that all agricultural land in the Ganga floodplain be designated as "organic farming zone" banning use of chemical-based pesticides, fertilizers and non-organic inputs, and recommends penalties for violation. The committee, headed by Justice (retired) Girdhar Malviya, was constituted in July last year to prepare the draft Ganga law. After its report was submitted, minister for water resources and Ganga rejuvenation, Uma Bharti, called it a "historic day" and expressed hope that sufficient provisions have been made in the draft report keeping in mind the need for clean flow of the river.
She said, "The government will soon act on this after due consultations with all stakeholders". She also directed the water resources secretary to constitute a highlevel committee to go through the document and submit its report at the earliest. The ministry will then prepare a relevant bill.
The panel has fixed a deadline of December 31, 2020, to free Ganga and its tributaries from environmental pollution. The deadline coincides with the government's 'Namami Gange' project which has been earmarked Rs 20,000 crore for taking various measures to rejuvenate the river in five years during 2015-2020.
Source: The Times of India