Government to raise Territorial Army battalion of ex-Armymen to clean Ganga
The Union Defence Ministry has sanctioned raising of Territorial Army (TA) battalion comprising ex-servicemen of Indian Army as part of its mission to clean the Ganga by 2020. It has been named as Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF) battalion of TA for National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the nodal agency for cleaning Ganga.
The CETF battalion will be raised in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh as a pilot project. For this government has allocated Rs 167 crore under NMCG. The battalion will work on book debit system with funding provided from budget of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
The CETF TA battalion will be commanded by Colonel-rank officer. It will have 8 officers, 20 JCOs and around 500 other ranks on its roll. For the task, it will only enroll ex-servicemen, who will be embodied under TA rules.
Functions of CETF TA
It will be responsible for monitoring ecological and environmental projects related to Ganga River, and also raise public awareness through campaigns. It will also patrol sensitive river areas for the protection of biodiversity, keep a tab on the river pollution levels, plant trees and check soil erosion.
It will also assist government in enforcing pollution control measures, support local civil administration and police in managing the ghats, and provide support and assistance if and when there is flood or natural disaster in region.
Territorial Army which comes under Defence Ministry is considered a second line of defence after the regular Army. So far 9 Ecological Task Force (ETF) battalions of TA have been raised to execute specific environment-related projects.
The proposal for raising CETF TA battalion had emanated from Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare in Defence Ministry, which took up case in 2014 for cleaning Ganga. The proposal was vetted and approved by Defence ministry and was forwarded to NMCG. After an approval from NMCG in 2017, the Defence Ministry concurred and issued a Government Sanction Letter in December 2017.