Uma Bharati was right! The Union Water Resources Minister had expressed confidence in the speedy proceedings on the ‘Namami Gange’ Project after the change in the Government in Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are the five states in which the River Ganga flows. Out of 2525 KM stretch of River Ganga, a major portion of around 1000 KM stretch comes within UP Boundaries. Previous Akhilesh Government of UP was the only among five State Governments which was playing a spoilsport in the Clean Ganga Mission. Yesterday, UP CM Yogi , in accordance with his jet speeded working pattern, made an announcement of the huge step in saving Maa Ganga, the Sacred River of India.
UP CM Yogi is planning to shift The Kanpur based Age-old Tanneries which used to release toxic wastes into the River Ganga. National Green Tribunal has been informed by the UP Government that a new site will be identified for setting up the Tanneries of Kanpur. These leather units have been the major source of Water Pollution in Ganga. Akhilesh –led UP Government had rejected the idea of Shifting of 400 Tanneries to any other place claiming the scarcity of lands in other places for two million people who are dependent on this trade for employment. But CM Yogi is handling all the challenging situations in the State with astounding speed, energy and efficiency.
In a high-level meeting held in the National Green Tribunal wherein State’s Additional Chief Secretary of Environment and Forest notified the NGT Chief that the Yogi-led Government of UP had taken the decision of shifting of the Tanneries from the Jajmau Cluster of Kanpur.The meeting was chaired by the Green Panel’s Chairman Justice Swarantar Kumar. The officials from National Mission for Clean Ganga were present at the meeting too.
The Policy decision of UP Government is to treat all the sources which pollute Ganga on the basis of definite data and information. M C Mehta, Advocate supported the decision of shifting the Tanneries as the only Viable option to rejuvenate Ganga. 70-year-old Mehta, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, had filed a PIL for cleaning of river Ganga before the Supreme Court in 1985. Later in 1985, apex court transferred the case to National Green Tribunal.
“There is no other alternative except shifting of these tanneries. Shifting of the leather units requires a strong will. The residents living near tanneries have to face the foul smell emanating from these units which is injurious to their health. Thousands of devotees visit Allahabad to take dip at Sangam but the water is not clean even there. The cleaning of Ganga which was undertaken earlier should be enquired into and the erring officials punished,” Mehta said.
However, Tanneries play a small role in the big picture of Ganga Water Pollution. The discharge from other industries like distilleries, Paper and Pulp, Sugar Units is polluting Ganga massively. As per Environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar, all the areas of Pollution contributing units should be identified by the Central Pollution Control Board. Thakkar, who is River Expert From South Asia Network said, “We will have to look into the UP government’s shifting proposal and what are the areas they have worked upon. If the tanneries are even shifted 100-150 km away even then it would be within the Ganga basin.So the state government needs to make proper arrangements before shifting these units and provide them with all facilities. Otherwise the condition will be the same.”
As per the CPCB Report, Ganga, spanning a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur, was affected by 1,072 seriously polluting industries which were releasing heavy metals and pesticides.At present, 823.1 million litres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage and 212.42 MLD of industrial effluent flows into the river while three of the four monitored Sewage Treatment Plants were non-compliant with the set standards, it said.
Ganga is the sacred River for Hindus. As a River, Ganga is important for the economic and agricultural development of five states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. UP CM Yogi’s initiative to take the matter of Clean Ganga Mission as a priority is certainly praise-worthy and visionary!
Jyothi Suparna Chincholi