The government has banned the construction of jetties, ports or “permanent hydraulic structures” in the Ganga, unless permitted by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority, according to a proposed ‘Ganga Act’, viewed by The Hindu.
Highlights of the Bill:
The bill proposes to ban the construction of jetties, ports or “permanent hydraulic structures” in the Ganga unless permitted by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority.
It proposes to create a management structure that will supervise the health of the 2,500-kilometre-long Ganga which, the draft Bill defines, as ‘India’s national river.’
The Bill lays down a host of restrictions to ensure the “uninterrupted, ecological flow” of the river. Currently, a host of dams in the upper stretches of the river lead to the river’s flow being obstructed.
The proposed legislation specifies that “unauthorized” activities that cause obstruction or discontinuity of water in the River Gang due to an engineered diversion of water or stoppage of water. Carrying out such activities are liable to a prison term of 3 years or fines up to ₹50 crore, or both.
The Armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC) personnel will be provided by the ministry of home affairs and will be deployed by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority. The GPC personnel will have the power to arrest those who pollute the river covering offenses like obstructing the flow of the river to commercial fishing.
The Bill has listed out a list of offenses marked as cognizable which includes:
- Construction activities causing obstruction in the river.
- Withdrawal of groundwater for industrial or commercial consumption from the land fronting the river and its tributaries.
- Commercial fishing or aquaculture in the river and its tributaries.
- Discharging untreated or treated sewage into the river.
In July 2016, a committee was constituted under the retired judge of the Allahabad High Court Justice Girdhar Malviya who had submitted a draft Bill last year named The National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management) Bill, 2017. Subsequently, a four-member committee was set up by the Ministry to examine that and the Ministry has circulated a Cabinet note which includes a revised version of that draft Bill.