By Vishwa Mohan, TNN, 27th March, 2015 | The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: If the Centre has its way, the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) - a key central body which monitors planning and execution of all schemes of Ganga rejuvenation in coordination with five states - will be converted into a commission under Parliament Act so that it can work more effectively.
A proposed law on this matter was discussed in a high-level review meeting here on Ganga cleaning on Thursday where Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an "uncompromising mission-mode approach" to stop further pollution of the country's national river.

If the NGRBA gets converted into the commission under proposed legislation, the new constitutional body will have more power on affairs of the river. Though 'water' continues to be a state subject, matters relating to Ganga will be transferred to the commission.

"This will, however, happen only after consultation with the states as water is a state subject. A committee, headed by Union water resources secretary, will discuss the issue of a proposed legislation to convert the Authority into Commission with the concerned states and submit its report to the Centre", said an official.

Chairing the fifth meeting of the NGRBA, the Prime Minister said the task of cleaning the river was a challenging one, but had the potential to generate immense economical activity, and bring about a positive attitudinal change in the entire country.

Noting that Ganga is associated with "faith" and "devotion" among millions of Indians, he said the task was to convert these positive sentiments into a feeling of responsibility.

During the meeting, attended by chief ministers of Bihar (Nitish Kumar), Jharkhand (Raghubar Das) and Uttarakhand (Harish Rawat), Modi also emphasized on people's participation - "Jan-Bhaagidaari" - to ensure cleaning of the river. West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, other two states in the Ganga river basin, were represented by their senior ministers in the meeting.

Modi also urged the states to pay special attention to development of towns and villages, located on the banks of Ganga, and to ensure sufficient awareness in these areas to stop pollution. The states, on their part, asked the Centre to ensure "single-window clearances" of proposals sent by them for all works, relating to rejuvenating the river.

Silt management, assistance for setting up sewage treatment plants and effluent treatment plants were among the other key issues discussed in in the meeting.

Referring to the meeting, Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said, "The Prime Minister assured us that Ganga cleaning will be taken up as public work and there will be no shortage of funds for it".

Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Uma Bharati, Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal and vice chairman of the NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya were among those who attended the meeting.

No Barrage on Varanasi-Haldea Stretch of Ganga:

Taking a U-turn, shipping minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said that no barrage will be built on Ganga for navigation between Varanasi and Hoogly. The minister in June last year had announced barrages would be built at every 100 km soon after chairing the first meeting on Ganga rejuvenation plan. "That was based on some of the reports we had received during that period. But the latest reports suggest that there is no need to build such structures to maintain the depth of the river for navigation. There are some misconception in certain states. So, I am clarifying it," he added. Earlier he had said barrages could be used for transportation across the river.

Original Article in The Economic Times

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