Ranchi: Taking time off from his routine responsibilities, Jharkhand Food Minister Saryu Roy has been working to save water bodies from pollution, which he claims is "main reason for diseases" in the mineral-rich state.
"When I embarked on the Clean Water Sources Campaign ten years ago, some people used to mock me. Had they taken the campaign seriously, the situation now would not have been alarming," said the minister in the BJP's Raghubar Das government.
"If we continue to take things lightly then it will be disastrous in the next five years," he warned and said even now some industries "are disregarding" Union Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal's directive to submit reports as to what steps they had taken to prevent effluent discharge into rivers and water bodies.
"On May 12 this year, Goyal held a meeting with officials of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), the Central Coalfields Limited and of other departments concerned and issued directives that they should give a report within three months, ensuring zero discharge in the rivers flowing in their areas," Roy said.
"Of them, only the DVC submitted a report about a week ago," he claimed.
Roy said he had campaigned for 'Damodar Bachao Andolan' and also worked on the Swarnarekha, Sone and other rivers and two PILs were filed with the Jharkhand High Court related to effluent flow into rivers in the last ten years.
He said the idea behind the campaign was to prevent industrial effluence into rivers.
He said that development works should also ensure protection of rivers and water bodies.
Roy has now made 'Yugantar Bharati', an NGO, the nodal organisation for all other NGOs and volunteer groups to take the campaign forward and cover all the 24 districts of Jharkhand.
"We'll bring out a report on water bodies and rivers and how to conserve them. Initially, there will be a seven-day campaign from December 13 to 20 this year in all the district headquarters with rallies or seminars or meetings," he said.
There would be a survey of rivers and water bodies and reports would be prepared to be given to different officials concerned, highlighting adverse impact on water resources by industrial waste and other pollutants, Roy said.
On December 18, local level environment panchayat will be held at various points, involving local people to let them know the condition of rivers and water bodies and the reasons for the bad state of the rivers.
A Mega Environment Panchayat will be held in Ranchi on December 20 before making announcement to observe 2016 as Clean Water Sources Campaign to save pollution of ground and surface water, the minister said.
In between, water samples taken from various rivers and water bodies during the December 13-20 would be sent to lab for tests, Roy said.
The minister said the December 13-20 campaign would be held at two levels - among the victims and instilling awareness among the people whose work in public and private sectors was responsible for polluting clean water.
"These people should understand that their actions cause problems for water bodies.... Pollution Control Board should also be active," Roy said.
He said he had doubts whether some industries were spending CSR funds on keeping rivers clean.
"Because, some industries claim that they have adopted all guidelines and provisions of the Pollution Control Board. But if one goes to the ground one could see just the opposite," he alleged.