New Ganga clean-up law proposes setting up Ganga Protection Corps, prison terms and fines
Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation has prepared draft Bill which proposes setting up armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC) to arrest any person who has committed offence of polluting River Ganga punishable under this law. The Bill calls for National Ganga Council and National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority to enforce law and protect Ganga River.
Key Features of this Bill
Cognizable offences marked in this Bill: Construction activities causing obstruction in river, withdrawal of ground water for industrial or commercial consumption from land fronting river and its tributaries, commercial fishing or aqua culture in river and its tributaries, discharging untreated or treated sewage into the river.
Ganga Protection Corps (GPC): The draft Bill envisages GPC as armed force constituted and maintained by Central government. It gives powers to armed GPC personnel to arrest any person who has committed offence punishable under this Act and take such person in custody to the nearest police station. For this GPC will follow Code of Criminal Procedure (CrCP).GPC personnel will be provided by Ministry of Home Affairs and will be deployed by National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority. This is almost similar provisions as in the Environment Protection Act 1986, but creation of GPC is new.
Punishment: The draft Bill proposes imprisonment for 2 years or fine of Rs 2 lakh or both for commercial fishing or aqua culture activities in Ganga and any of its tributaries. Similarly, it provides two-year imprisonment or fine up to Rs 50 lakh or both for construction of permanent structure for residential, commercial and residential purposes in active flood plain area of Ganga River. It proposes 5 year prison term or fine of Rs. 50,000 per day or both for person or municipal authority which establishes or takes any steps to set up any industrial or residential or commercial premises or structure near Ganga which may result in discharge of any sewage or trade effluent into river.
Present environmental laws are not adequate to restore and protect Ganga River. To overcome it,Government had constituted committee under retired judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Girdhar Malviya in July 2016. It had submitted draft Bill named The National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Bill, 2017. Subsequently, four-member committee was also set up by Ministry to examine the Bill. Earlier in 1998, Justice Malviya, as judge of Allahabad High Court had called for River Police to protect the Ganga.