New Delhi: Noting "systematic" deficiencies in efforts to restore the Ganga to its pristine form, a parliamentary panel has urged the government to take steps for the effective implementation of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) and ensure that the Clean Ganga Mission gets "fructified" by 2020.
In its 2014-15 report on 'Water Pollution in India', the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also recommended that appropriate riverfront development be drawn up involving the private sector as well as civil society.
"Taking note of the systematic deficiencies and the steps being initiated... To restore the Ganga to its pristine form, the committee exhorts the government to ramp up efforts for effective implementation of NGRBA programme in a time-bound manner," said the PAC, which is headed by Congress MP KV Thomas.
The panel said it was deeply "distressed" to observe that the Ganga, considered to be the holiest of rivers by millions, has become one of the five most-polluted rivers of the world.
"It is all the more saddening that despite the launching of the Ganga Action Plan and more recently, in 2009, of Mission Clean Ganga by NGRBA, the pollution level in (the river) has only aggravated," the PAC noted.
"Ensure that Mission Clean Ganga gets fructified by the year 2020 so that the Ganga is restored to its pristine form.
"Develop appropriate riverfront development schemes in a time-bound manner for raising funds for sewage treatment and pollution control of major rivers, including Ganga," the committee recommended.
The PAC also asked that holistic planning, implementation and monitoring of pollution-control programmes be extended to the 24 other major river basins in the country.
The committee told the government that it should be apprised of the action taken to implement these recommendations and all other measures as part of Mission Clean Ganga.
NGRBA was constituted in 2009 as a planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating body of the Centre and the states. The objective of NGRBA is to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the Ganga by adopting a river basin approach for comprehensive planning and management. It has both regulatory and developmental functions.
The PAC also called for effective initiatives and measures
for the integration of policies, decisions and costs covering multi-sectoral interests vis-a-vis control of water pollution such as industry, agriculture, urban development, navigation, fisheries, etc.
"Ensure that the state river conservation authorities hold their meetings at regular intervals and effective interventions are made by them to implement projects," it said.
The parliamentary panel observed that despite "far reaching" recommendations made by it in 2003-04 on Ganga Action Plan for the creation of sewage treatment plants, industrial effluent treatment plants, toilet complexes, electric crematoria, etc. "much remains to be done to implement these".
The committee said that only government-level stakeholders were involved in consultations while setting up the NGRBA and no involvement of private sector and civil society was found in the planning process.