Parliament concerned over river pollution



Parliament concerned over river pollution New Delhi: The government on Monday promised to ensure that no domestic effluents go into Ganga and Yamuna as members cutting across party lines came together to voice serious concern over the increasing pollution in these rivers despite thousands of crores spent for cleaning them.

Responding to concerns, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said a commission should be set up with the job of checking "atrocities" against the rivers.

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha saw debates over the issue with members urging the government to save the lifeline of several states in North India.

Speaker Meira Kumar said a strong message should go to the people that government would take all possible steps to make the river pollution-free.

Natarajan said time has come for action than mere legislation and assured members in Rajya Sabha that her government has initiated efforts to ensure that domestic effluents do not go to Ganga.

"We are making efforts to make that happen...We should have a commission to ensure that there is no atrocity against rivers," she said, adding that she would take the proposal to the Cabinet.

Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asked the government to take immediate and long-term measures as the life and livelihood of farmers and the people were being seriously affected.

In Rajya Sabha, initiating the discussion on increasing pollution in various rivers in the country, Ravishankar Prasad (BJP) said the Yamuna has been turned into a "sewer and gutter" due to pollution.

The minister said the Ganga action plans and the Yamuna action plans were not totally wasted, and helped in not letting the rivers deteriorate.

"The (Rajya Sabha) members asked where the money went? I would like to tell them that if the Ganga action plans and the Yamuna action plans had not been implemented, the situation would have been much much worse," Natarajan said.

"The population has grown, more industries have come and 90 percent of water is withdrawn (from rivers) for agriculture. You take water from a canal but do not give anything back except drainage, insecticide and toxic affluent. The action plan has at least maintained the situation as this level," she said.

PTI