Ganga River Current Affairs

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NGT fixes norms for camping along Ganga in Uttarakhand

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has prohibited all camping activity on beaches which fall within 100 meters along the River Ganga from Shivpuri to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

The 50 km stretch of River Ganga between Shivpuri to Rishikesh is a hub of eco-tourism and river rafting.

The judgment came on a petition which had highlighted pollution caused by unregulated camping in the river and its adjoining areas. It also highlighted pollution caused to the river and the soil due to leftovers of tourists.

Key Facts
  • NGT bench gave this ruling by relying on various studies conducted by the Uttarakhand government and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • It held that river rafting is one of the significant components of eco-tourism, but it needs to be encouraged but with a clear mandate so that it does not cause any environmental and biodiversity degradation
  • It clarified that the portion of the identified beaches which fall outside the restriction of 100 meters should only be used for effective camping activity.
  • The remaining part of the beach should not be permitted for any activity including tenting, toilets and other incidental requirements.
  • NGT held that the illegal and improper activities at the camping sites led to the pollution of River Ganga. I ordered implementation of management plan prepared by State government.
About National Green Tribunal

NGT is a special fast-track court to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues. It was established under National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010 enacted by the Parliament, under India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

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Government approves new projects under Namami Gange for Haridwar and Varanasi

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved new projects under Namami Gange programme in Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).

In Haridwar, 68 MLD sewage treatment plants (STP) and 14 MLD STP in Sarai was with Central government funding and also under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode. Besides, 50 MLD sewage treatment plant at Ramana in Varana under Hybrid Annuity-based PPP mode was also approved.

About Namami Gange Programme

The programme was launched to achieve the target of cleaning Ganga River in an effective manner with the unceasing involvement of all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin States Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It envisages Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River Surface Cleaning, River Front Development, Public Awareness and Bio-Diversity, Afforestation. It will be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). It seeks to improve coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of the Union and State governments.

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National waterways project threatens Gangetic dolphins

According to the scientists and wildlife conservationists, the National Waterways (NW) project possesses serious environmental threat to Gangetic river dolphins.

The development NW1 in the River Ganga is considered as single-largest threat to the survival of the species, whose numbers are declining in most parts of their natural habitat.

River dolphins are found in Ganga and Brahmaputra and its tributaries. It has been declared endangered species and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

This fresh water dolphin species are practically blind. They rely on bio-sonar method to move around and catch their prey.  It is the National Aquatic Animal of India.

Threats to survival of Gangetic river dolphins

  • Construction of dams and barrages which hinders the natural flow of the rivers is the main reason considered for decline in the population of Gangetic river dolphin.
  • Besides, pollution and lack of awareness also causes decline in their population.
  • Loss of habitat due to increased developmental work, depletion of prey base, accidental mortality in fishing nets and accidents with vessel propellers are also some anthropogenic threats. The ships’ noise-levels also disrupt the ability to navigate and find prey.

Importance of National Waterways (NW) projects

  • India has a huge untapped potential of inland waterways. To tap this potential the Central Government has planned to develop National Waterway 1, World Bank-aided 1600-km waterway project in River Ganga between Allahabad and Haldia for inland transportation.
  • It has potential to emerge as the logistics artery for northern India and improve navigability of the River Ganga as it passes through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Solutions

  • To tackle threat to dolphins, Union Ministry of Environment and Forest Conservation in 2016 had launched Endangered Species Recovery Plans for four species of global importance.
  • During the development of NWs, some measures will be listed such as safeguards, mentioned issues like minimising dredging.
  • Movement of cargo vessels will be restricted through protected habitat areas through river, monitoring systems and sound mufflers will be installated to reduce underwater noise.
  • Nesting grounds, breeding and spawning grounds of dolphins will be identified and development projects activity will be minimised in those areas.

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