NGT takes fresh steps to save Ganga

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In a strict move to save the Ganga River from further pollution, the National Green Tribunal, on Thursday has banned dumping waste near 500 meters of the holy river.

In a 543-page order, the green panel said all area within 100 metres of the river should be declared "no development zone".

A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked government agencies to work together for the cause, saying: "The Prime Minister has given you a goal, take it as a national project". The plea has also sought directions to ensure that fly ash is not released into the Ganga river or its tributaries. The bench called for a change in strategy, observing that government schemes in the past that have spent hundreds of crores on Ganga clean-up have failed, even as the river continues to become dirtier.

In its order, the NGT also observed that nearly Rs 7,304 crore have been spent within the stretch, but it has all gone in vain. UP and Uttarakhand were directed to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of Ganga or its tributaries.

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Taking steps towards cleaning the river, the tribunal said that Uttar Pradesh should be "duty-bound" to shift tanneries from Jajmau to Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate within six weeks.

On the issue of maintaining the flow of the river, the tribunal directed that the minimum environment flow should not fall "below 20 per cent of the average monthly lean season flow". It is also the third largest river in the world in terms of discharge.

"The industries shall contribute finances not exceeding 25 per cent of the total cost in relation to the construction, upgradation of sewage treatment plant, common effluent treatment plant and providing common infrastructure". The committee is also instructed to submit the progress reports at regular intervals. "Permissions should be granted only after rigorous examination of water use requirements". The committee is headed by Secretary of Water Resources Ministry, and also includes IIT professors and officials from the Uttar Pradesh government.

"The amount spent on cleaning of Ganga has gone waste".

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