`Despite investments, pollution in Ganga, Yamuna up`

Despite efforts and "huge investments", pollution level in Ganga and Yamuna continues to increase.

New Delhi: Despite efforts and "huge investments", pollution level in Ganga and Yamuna continues to increase unabated, a Parliamentary panel on Friday said and slammed the Environment Ministry for only adopting an "engineering centric" approach to deal with the situation.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Forest in its latest report on demands for grants (2012-13) of the Environment Ministry said, "The quality of Ganga water is going down day by day."

It said despite "whatever efforts" made, a huge investment incurred under various schemes and projects, pollution level in Ganga and Yamuna continues to increase "unabated".

"The pathetic condition of Yamuna which has virtually turned into a nala to carry sewage falling into it from various drains, is deplorable," said the report tabled in both Houses of Parliament today.

It said the quality of Ganga water downstream at several important locations such as Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna still continues to be a major concern for environmentalists and the common man.

"The committee feels that one of the reasons for the failure of government schemes lies in the fact that government has so far adopted only engineering centric approach to solve the problem with undue emphasis on creation of sewage treatment plants...," it said.

The report of the Standing Committee said that
engineering centric activities alone will not be successful and the ministry should also approach it as a social engineering problem "and now the time has come when we should integrate engineering centric approach with social centric or society centric approach through which people live on or around the banks of the rivers are involved...", the committee said.

It recommended that services of various institutes of social sciences, apart from IITs should be sought by the government to seek a viable solution of pollution.

"Yet another reason for the failure of programmes undertaken for abatement of pollution in Ganga and Yamuna perhaps lies in the fact that the catchment areas especially of Yamuna has been encroached upon and diverted for construction and development activities," the committee said.

The report said that unless the flow of the rivers is maintained at a reasonable level, no other effort is going to be successful and recommended that the flow of Ganga and Yamuna upstream is not disturbed or blocked.

The panel also took a "serious view" that despite justification and persuasion, the Planning Commission did not allocate adequate resources for prevention and control of pollution.

"The committee also recommends that sufficient budgetary allocation should be allocated under this (pollution) head by the Planning Commission so that the ministry could take effective measures to deal with the ever increasing problem of pollution."

On Central Pollution Control Board`s (CPCB) functioning, the panel said the major constraint in effective functioning of the body is shortage of technical staff, scientists and lack of quality laboratory facilities.

The panel also felt that the number of zonal offices of the CPCB needed to be increased so that it is able to keep a closer watch on air, water and noise pollution.

"The committee, therefore, recommends the ministry should consider enhancing the number of zonal offices in a phased but time-bound manner," it read.


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