New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said Ganga cleaning programmes have been going on for over three decades with almost no impact on the ground and wondered whether the government wanted to do something during this tenure or would it spill over to the next term.
The cleaning of the Ganga has been on for the last 30 years and around Rs. 2000 crore have been spent so far, the court pointed out. "Do you want to complete it this term or the next term keeping the issue alive?" a three-judge bench headed by Justice TS Thakur told the Centre. "We propose to conclude it by 2018," the Solicitor General replied.
Uma Bharti, Minister of Water Resources, who is also incharge of the Ganga Rejuvenation Plan, on Wednesday, retorted saying cleaning of Ganga will take time.
"You all expect to clean Ganga in six months something which could not be done in the last many years. This is unfair. Cleanliness process will take time," she said.
The apex court sought fresh response of the government about the steps undertaken by it to implement the stage-wise projects for cleaning the Ganga in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal in six weeks.
"Since we have handed over the issue of industrial pollution to the National Green Tribunal, only domestic waste is left, and we hope you don't have financial problem for the project," the court said.
"118 more towns have been identified by this government. Things have started moving. They (municipalities and other concerned authorities) have been told to wake up," Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted before the bench that also comprised justices R K Agrawal and Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The bench, which had earlier asked the Centre to come out with a ‘stage-wise plan’ to clean the river, sought additional specific response on 70 sewage treatment plants (STPs), which are at various stages, likely to come up in the five Ganga basin states.
"If you have financial problem, we cannot solve. All that is required is that you go ahead with the projects and if there is any bottleneck, you can come before us.
The bench, in its order, asked the government to apprise it of the fresh status of the 15 proposed STPs whose bidding process were to be concluded and said "if there was delay in the bidding process, then the reasons be also indicated."
It further said the report, which is likely to be filed by the consortium of IITs on Ganga River basin management by January end, should be submitted too. The bench also noted the submission of the Solicitor
General that the consortium of seven IITs was expected to address the issue relating almost 100 km-long eco-sensitive zone ranging from Gomukh to Uttarkashi and listed the PIL for hearing after six weeks.
Earlier, the court had expressed satisfaction over Centre's blueprint to clean river Ganga but had sought response on how it plans to implement the ambitious policy....