The government has set itself an ambitious target of delivering a clean and free-flowing Ganga by 2020. Union minister of environment and forests Jairam Ramesh discusses the numerous obstacles that stand in the way. Excerpts from an interview with Debarshi Dasgupta:
Illegal mining along the Haridwar stretch of the Ganga has emerged as a big threat, hasn’t it?
I have already written to the Uttarakhand CM (Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank) and spoken to him asking him to take action. The state government is empowered to act and it has not unfortunately, for understandable reasons. The mining lobby enjoys high-level political patronage. If the state government continues to be recalcitrant, we may issue them a showcause notice under the Environment Protection Act (EPA).
What explains the generous clearances of dams along the upper reaches of the Ganga?
If I were the CM of Uttarakhand, I’d also feel that my major natural resource is water.