New Delhi: The government on Saturday said the Ganga will be cleaned up in the next 5-7 years even as it maintained that it will continue to close down polluting industries if they do not put in place the necessary systems to treat effluents being discharged into the river.
Cleaning of the Ganga is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project after he made a promise in that regard during the campaign for Lok Sabha elections.
"We will clean (Ganga river) in 5-7 years. Fifty years ago in Europe, the rivers were as bad as our rivers are. But they decided to clean them and did that. We will also do that," Environment Minister Prakash Javadaker told reporters at the Indian Women's Press Corps here.
Stating that the government was taking strong steps against polluting industries, he said, "764 industries are polluting the Ganga. We gave them notice. We closed down 64 industries... We will not stop closing more."
Around 56 industries have now reopened after they created the required infrastructure and put in place effluent treatment mechanisms within three months, he added.
Javadekar said that the government has given time till March for other polluting industries to take necessary actions to check release of effluents into the Ganga.
"In 17 polluting sectors throughout the country, there are 3,206 industries which have been mandated to put 24/7 pollution-monitoring devices on discharge of effluents, etc. We are following it up regularly on a weekly basis now," he said.
Quoting a CAG report, he said that one-third of the industrial pollution still goes untreated in water bodies. Two -thirds of agri-waste like fertilisers and pesticides find their way into water bodies, he added.
"All waters are contaminated now. We cannot drink it directly. We have to clean it for our own good," he added.
The government is taking measures to control pollution in the country and the goal is to ensure the water and air is pure and that there is large afforestation and carbon sink for sustainable development, he added.