The existence of Ganga is in danger and pollution in the river is a secondary issue, a renowned environmental scientist has said as he urged the NDA government to launch a 'Save Ganga' programme.
B D Tripathi, an expert member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), also requested the Narendra Modi government to make active the Prime Minister-chaired body saying it was virtually non-existent during the UPA rule.
"My observation on the basis of my research for the past four decades is that the problem of pollution is secondary and the main problem now is the existence of Ganga. It is in danger," Tripathi told PTI.
"The mission should be called Save Ganga not Clean Ganga," he said.
According to him, Ganga is facing a problem of what he termed as "triple three". "They are reduced water flow, reduced water carrying capacity and reduced water quality that is pollution," he said.
Blaming the "indifferent attitude" of the previous government for the failure of the Ganga Action Plan, Tripathi said that considering the Modi government's seriousness about "Mission Ganga", NGRBA should be made functional now.
"Being an expert member of NGRBA, I have raised this issue several times but the previous government had an indifferent attitude towards this cause that resulted in failure of various projects so far."
"There have been only three meetings of NGRBA in the past four years. Now since Narendra Modi himself has mission Clean Ganga on his priority list, so it is high time to make NGRBA functional," he said.
Tripathi, also a coordinator for Centre for Environmental Science and Technology at the Banaras Hindu University, has been associated with the cause since 1972.
The centre had given Ganga the status of a national river and constituted the NGRBA in February 2009. The objective of the authority is to ensure the effective abatement of pollution and the conservation of Ganga by adopting a river basin approach for comprehensive planning and management.
"Government has declared Ganga as a national river but till now there is no policy or planning made in this regard. Ganga flows through five states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal) and they exploit it in their way," Tripathi said.
"Centre gives 85 per cent of funds and rest 15 per cent is contributed by states but there has been no monitoring at any level. After five years, you come to know about the failure of the plan but who is accountable for that," he asked.
He maintained that the centre should see the problem in its entirety.
"Almost Rs 1500 crore were spent on GAP 1 and projects amounting to Rs 20,000 crore are still running. Government must fix accountability and there should be monitoring after every three months. Monitoring committee should consist of technical experts," he said.
Suggesting long term measures to address these problems, he said that there should be a complete ban on the construction of big dams at the source of its streams and usage of alternative power generating methods is must.
"Eight streams of Ganga originate from Gangotri glacier but the main ones are Bhagirathi, Mandakini and Alaknanda. All the proposed dams near the source should be cancelled. They can construct small dams," he said.
According to Tripathi, the whole Uttarakhand region is a low pressure zone where the wind velocity is very high so electricity can be generated through windmills like in Europe.
"As far as the reduction of ground water level is concerned, rainwater harvesting should be implemented strictly," he suggested.