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New Delhi:  The Ganga rejuvenation project, which is of national importance, is being carried out by officials “who do not know” how many drains are polluting the river, the National Green Tribunal lamented on Wednesday.While setting up a panel to collect information on the quantum and quality of waste being released into the river, the NGT said “a project of national importance is being carried out and all authorities including Centre and state government do not know how many drains are polluting Ganga.”

Taking the authorities to task, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said “you publish books and books, but you know nothing. We are asking you about only 1/5 part of river which is more than 2500 km in length. Still, you don’t have complete information.”

The observation came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the NGT that there were 30 main drains which joined Ganga or its main tributaries like East Kali, Kosi and Ramganga falling in the segment from Haridwar and Unnao.However, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board claimed there were 172 drains, of which 150 directly joined Ganga and its tributaries. According to UP Jal Nigam, there were 172 drains out of which 83 terminated in the Ganga.
“We are very disappointed to note that during the hearing of the case, none of the parties could inform the Tribunal as to how many drains join river Ganga.””We are primarily concerned with segment B of Phase-I but as domestic and industrial waste are inseparable and cannot be quantified, we have to deal with the issue of pollution of Ganga collectively. The Tribunal cannot come to a definite conclusion until the quantum and quality of sewage is brought to the notice by the authorities.”

“Furthermore, providing of data for control of pollution would depend on the number of drains which join Ganga. The uncertainty created reflects upon functioning of the authorities which have a statutory duty to maintain records.”

Moreover, the officers present in the court are also unable to assist the Tribunal in this regard.

“In these circumstances, we direct Member Secretary of CPCB, chief engineer of UP Jal Nigam, senior environmental officer from UPPCB and a representative from National Mission for Clean Ganga shall personally visit segment B of Phase-I of river Ganga,” the bench, which also included Justice UD Salvi, said.