CPCB Current Affairs - 2019
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Rivers are a source of life and in India, this has become deadly resource due to rising levels of pollution in the rivers as tonnes of waste finds its way into them thereby polluting waters and further choking their natural flow. The pollution is a death sentence to all the flora and fauna who are part of the ecosystem. The Modi government did try to make some advance to address the issue but has miserably failed to record any progress.
- The pollution in Indian Rivers has gone up ever since 2015 as the Central Pollution Control Board has pinpointed 302 stretches of nearly 12,000 km in rivers across the country. This comprises 51 highly contaminated stretches where the quality of water is particularly hazardous.
- The figures had shot up to 351 stretches in 2018 with 61 of them which were heavily polluted.
- Water is a state subject under our Constitution. The river waters, however, are not confined to a particular state and they flow across these boundaries. Also, different ministries are handling different aspects of the management of river waters. E.g. the Environment Ministry is responsible for the cleaning of rivers, while the flow of river waters is managed by the Ministry of Water Resources. Thus, the National River Conservation Plan which brings the state governments together to tackle the issue of pollution of rivers is put forth by the Environment Ministry. Under the Modi government, the funding for overall NRCP was reduced due to the focus being shifted to River Ganga.
- The governmental special focus on River Ganga is genuine as it considered as the most important river in India and also known as Holy to the Hindus. Ganga flows through 5 states in India namely, Uttarakhand, UP, Jharkhand, Bihar and finally West Bengal. Thus, a flagship programme was launched by the Modi government for Ganga rejuvenation. The National Ganga Council was also headed by the Prime Minister himself. It was under the Namame Gange programme that the government had promised to clean the river by 2019.
- The latest data by the Central Pollution Control Board states that there is no recorded improvement in the quality of river water. In fact, the recent data suggests that the pollution in Ganga has increased after three rounds of testing of the biological water quality was taken up at different locations across the stretch of the river between 2014 and 2018. Also, out of the 61 live monitoring stations which had been set up in Ganga only 13 points were deemed fit for bathing in March 2019. This data has come after the claims by the government of absolute sanitation of about 4,465 villages on the banks of the river. The river despite being polluted does not have any faecal bacteria.
The governmental failure can be attributed to the fact that most of the funds earmarked for Namami Gange remain unspent i.e. the actual spending from a figure of Rs. 20,000 crores were far less. Even the Rs. 9000 crore which had been put aside in the last four years was not even spent half. The CAG report has added that the failure has been largely due to the shortage of staff and general mismanagement due to which the pollution kept mounting.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches pollution free across the country. River pollution has caused a serious threat to the safety of water and environment.
Order of NGT
- The committee would comprise representatives of NITI Aayog; secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment; the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Central Pollution Control Board chairman.
- The Committee will also coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors.
- Chief Secretaries of states would be the nodal agency at the state level.
- NGT directed the Ministry of Environment to consider a policy for giving environmental awards to outstanding persons (natural and juristic) and institutions or states and introducing “dis-incentives” for non-compliant states.
- The Central Monitoring Committee may consider identifying experts, best practices and models for use of treated water, including plan to supply untreated sewage for a price or otherwise so that the concerned needy party can treat and utilise such water as is reportedly being done at Surat in Gujarat, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Bhilwada in Rajasthan or any other place.
- Use of polluted water in irrigation is a threat to the health of human beings apart from the aquatic flora and fauna. Hence it is necessary to have a regular hygienic survey of the rivers particularly with reference to pathogenic organisms having an impact on human health directly or indirectly and It is necessary to note that biological health of the rivers is an important aspect.
- There has to be a regular study of the Indian rivers with regard to biological health and its diversity.
The NGT has issued the order after taking note of the article “More river stretches are now critically polluted: CPCB” in the Hindu.