Ganga, Yamuna accorded the status of living human entities
In a landmark judgment, the sacred rivers Ganga and Yamuna were accorded the status of living human entities by the Uttarakhand High Court. Following the footsteps of New Zealand, which declared river Whanganui as a living being recently.
The Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand will act as the legal parents of the holy river. They will act as the human face of the river and its tributaries and ensure its protection, conservation and preservation.
These officers will be bound to uphold the status of the rivers as living human entities and promote their health and wellbeing.
The court ordered the Director, Namami Ganga project to ensure cleaning and rejuvenation of the river.
Current projects to clean Ganga:
The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) was setup in 2009 to ensure that no untreated municipal sewage or industrial effluent flows into the river Ganga by 2020.
Projects for abatement of pollution in the river have been sanctioned under the programme since 2009-10 in 42 towns of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
Current State of Neglect:
- No freshwater flow into the river, though millions of rupees have been spent on sewage and effluent treatment plants without any visible impact
- The pollution load in rivers has been rising constantly as currently we can treat only 30% of our urban water waste
- Undue investment on technical aspects like creating sewage treatment plants to prevent pollution without involving people living on the banks of the river
- Ignoring the social aspects of pollution in the river and adopting an engineering-centric approach with undue emphasis on creation of sewage treatment plants
- Catchment areas have been encroached and diverted for construction and developmental activities, which reduces the retention capacity of the river
Steps that should be taken immediately:
- Take steps to stop encroachment of river beds. This to ensure that the flow of the river is not disturbed or blocked and a minimum flow is maintained
- The approach that is followed should include the social aspect of the problem. People living on and around the banks of the rivers should be involved and assimilated in the Mission Clean Ganga
- Preventing and curtailing inflow of all waste water which includes sewage and industrial waste
- Water conservation and Water resource management should be promoted both at centralized and decentralized level within the Ganga Basin
- Mass awareness campaigns to make people active stakeholders in the project