Union Water Resources Ministry has proposed to set up a statutory authority to take action against those industrial units which pollute the Ganga River and its tributaries.

Currently, only the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) can take action against such industrial units.

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti also said “good news” is expected in the next 15 days in connection with the ambitious Ken-Betwa river-linking project, which is stuck “for eight months” for want of environmental clearances.

“Until now, we would recommend to the CPCB to take action against (industrial) polluters under Section five of under Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986 as it has the powers.

“Now, the authority we are proposing will have those powers to issue (show cause) notices under the section concerned,” she told journalists here today.

The “independent/autonomous” authority will have powers to spend money, besides that of taking action against polluters, Ms. Bharti said.

According to Union Water Resources Secretary, Shashi Shekhar, the draft of the proposal has been circulated to the Law Ministry for its consideration and is expected to be put before the Union Cabinet for its approval “soon”.

The proposed authority can issue show cause notices or can direct any other authority including the Chief Secretary of a state to take action against the polluters, he said, adding, “If they fail to take action, the new authority will approach court seeking to impose penalty on the polluters concerned.”

Ms. Bharti said her ministry has not decided on the name of the proposed authority yet, adding the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NCMG), which is currently a registered society, could well be “that authority”.

The minister reiterated that she plans to set off on a two-year-long foot march from October to ensure that the Namami Gange programme is implemented in the desired way and pace and also seek suggestions regarding the Ganga Act which her ministry plans to come up with.

A committee headed by Justice Girdhar Malviya (Retd) has been entrusted with responsibility of preparing its draft, which aims at fast tracking the implementation of the programme.

Besides the Ganga basin states, Ms. Bharti urged people to submit their suggestions in connection with the proposed act so that the river’s glory is restored.

“If we have to ensure that the Ganga River remains clean on permanent basis, somebody will have to dedicate himself or herself to the cause. Hence, I am thinking to set off a foot march for two years beginning upcoming October,” she said.

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