New Delhi: The Centre will enact a law for permanent protection of river Ganga from pollution as Prime Minister Narendra Modi today pitched for an "uncompromising mission-mode approach" to stop its further pollution.
The decision to enact the law was taken at a meeting here chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das.
However, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, two other states through which Ganga flows, did not attend the meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority.
The act is necessary for maintenance of the river after it is made "pollution free", Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati told reporters while briefing on the meeting.
"Ganga can be made pollution free with the joint efforts of state governments and the Centre. But, the challenge is maintaining its cleanliness thereafter. The upcoming act will ensure the cleanliness of Ganga," she added.
"We have sought proposals from concerned state governments for the purpose, as water is the state subject," she said, while states have also urged the Prime Minister to send the draft proposal of the proposed law.
Asked about the absence of Yadav and Banerjee, Bharati said the Prime Minister's Office had said that the concerned Chief Ministers can attend or send their notes for the meeting as no other representative on their behalf can participate.
"All are united for any plan for freeing river Ganga from pollution," she added.
At the meeting, Modi described the task of cleaning Ganga as "challenging" and pitched for an "uncompromising mission-mode approach" to stop further pollution of the river which would require the participation of people as well, a statement from the PMO said.
The task of cleaning the Ganga had the potential to generate immense economical activity and bring about a positive attitudinal change in the entire country, he said.
He said it is "our responsibility for future generations" to save the river which is associated with "faith" and "devotion" among millions of Indians, a PMO statement said.
The task at hand cannot be accomplished without "Jan-Bhaagidaari" (people`s participation), Modi said and urged the states to pay special attention to development of towns and villages located on the banks of Ganga, and to ensure sufficient awareness in these areas to stop pollution.
Bharati said Kumar raised some issues that the Centre was already aware of but he did not have any specific reservation.
Bharati said the government has plans to conserve monsoon rain water for river Yamuna which can released during the non-monsoon period.
At the meeting, Kumar said there is a need to give enough attention to ensure unobstructed flow of the river besides its cleanliness.
"I would like to repeat once again that there is a need to keep a balanced approach on the unobstructed flow of river Ganga along with its cleanliness. A comprehensive policy will have to be adopted to maintain the cleanliness and flow of subsidiary rivers of Ganga in Bihar as well so that the natural flow of Ganga can be restored," Kumar said.
He said the state has been raising the issue of formulating a national silt management policy for last many years and there is a need to give attention to it.
Rawat said he raised the issue about funding patterns of the Ganga cleaning mission as the states have to spend 30 per cent while the rest would be borne by the Centre.
To a question on proposal to enact a law to protect Ganga, he said state governments should be taken into prior consideration before drafting the law.
Das advocated for a single window system for proper coordination among various departments to implement the Ganga Action Plan since different departments have to collectively work under the Ganga Action Plan and coordination between the departments might take time.
For solid waste treatment and construction of toilets, the state government has asked the centre for a special package of Rs 60 crore, he said.
Stressing the need for development and beautification of the river banks, Das said the state government has urged the centre to provide 50 crore under River Front Development (RFT).