New Delhi: Magsaysay award-winner `Waterman`
Rajendra Singh, who stepped down from National Ganga River
Basin Authority (NGRBA) along with two others protesting
government`s "negligence" of the river on Sunday criticised the
Prime Minister for "not understanding his responsibility"
towards the river as head of the body.
Singh, addressing a press conference, said he would come
out with a Ganga Lok Bill within a week proposing "strong and
effective" legislative measures to protect the river.
"He is a sober Prime Minister but I am angry that he did
not understand his responsibilities towards Ganga.... The
Prime Minister never tried to understand suggestions and
activities of the members (of NGRBA)," Singh said.
Singh along with Ravi Chopra and R H Siddiqi had sent
their resignation letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
yesterday, who is chairman of the NGRBA, protesting inaction
of the body in protecting the river and expressing solidarity
with noted environmentalist G D Agrawal who is on
"fast-unto-death" to press for cleaning up the Ganges.
Announcing their decision to quit NGRBA, the three
members charged the Centre with "gross negligence towards
worsening state of the holy river" and said the government has
neither political will nor any executable plan to save the
Ganges. They also criticised the chief ministers of Uttar
Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, who
are members of the NGRBA, for failing to take any steps to
protect the river.
The NGRBA was constituted on February 20, 2009, under
Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and its
objective was to ensure effective control of pollution and
conservation of the river by adopting a river-basin approach
for comprehensive planning and management.
"We may humbly point out that though the Authority has
been constituted nearly three years back but it has met only
twice. There has been no meeting for the last one and a half
year in spite of our repeated requests. It is also on record
that no worthwhile action has been taken by the Authority on
any of the critical issues concerning the River Ganga," the
three members said in their resignation letter to the PM.
While Chopra is the Director of Dehradun-based People`s
Science Institute, Siddiqi is a former Professor of Aligarh
Singh said the Ganga Lok Bill will propose concrete steps
to protecting the river like prohibiting release of industrial
affluent into the river, maintaing ground water level of the
river and its tributaries and disallowing release of
pollutants into the river through drains in all the states
through which the river passes through.
"In the bill, we will suggest setting up of a National
River Basin Authority representing spiritual and cultural
leaders, political class, business leaders and all the
stakeholders. This body should make a system to address the
real threats against Ganga," he said.
Singh, an internationally acclaimed activist popularly
knows as the `waterman of India`, said the government was not
serious towards Ganga as evident by its attitude towards the
movement undertaken by Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand. "This
indifference is also clear if we see how it handled the fast
by Swami Nigamanand. We see it as our moral responsibility to
resign as members of the NGRBA."
Agrawal had on Friday announced that he will not take
water in the last phase of his fast-unto-death to press for
uninterrupted clean flow of the Ganga.
Singh also questioned the seriousness of chief
ministerstowards the issue.
"Our demand for declaring Ganga as National River was
met. We had hoped the formation of the NGRBA would be free of
Centre-state politics but CMs of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and
West Bengal did not even attend the meetings even once," he