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Centre may soon ban all construction on Ganga

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New Delhi: All new construction activities may soon be banned on the banks of Ganga and all its tributaries to protect the ecology of the holy river and maintain its minimum environmental flow.

An in-principle decision towards this was taken at an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) meeting that was held last month. The decision was taken after reviewing the report submitted by an Expert Body that gave clearance to hydroelectric power (HEP) projects that have been proposed to be built on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in Uttarakhand.

According to reports, a final decision will be taken after IMG-constituted five-member committee chaired by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar submits its comprehensive report on the issue. The committee is likely to examine all the aspects of the issue, ranging from environmental flow to longitudinal connectivity in the two rivers.

Shekhar has severely criticized the Experts Group report for giving clearances to five out of six HEP projects. The six proposed HEP projects are: NTPC’s Lata Tapavan, NHPC’s Kotlibhel IA, GMR’s Alaknanda, Super Hydro’s Khirao Ganga and Bhyunder Ganga, and THDC’s Jelam.

He has further conveyed to the IMG that the requirements of environmental flow and longitudinal connectivity proposed by the Experts Group are very inadequate and may leave the rivers without any water during non-monsoon seasons.

The IMG is comprised of Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Power Minister Piyush Goyal.

After the devastating floods in Uttarakhand in 2013, the Supreme Court had put a temporary halt on all new HEP projects, and had asked the government to examine the feasibility of the HEP’s and submit its recommendations.

The next hearing of the Supreme Court on the issue is scheduled for January 20. Shekhar has been given a month’s time to complete his recommendations so that the government can take a final decision and convey it to the Supreme Court on January 20.

(Photo: www.gangarights.org)

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Ganga Jal project in Agra postponed till August

Agra's 20 lakh odd residents are supplied water from two water works. Against the demand for 500 MLD, the supply is hardly 300 MLD. The gap is likely to be met by the new Ganga Jal pipeline which will bring Ganges water to Agra.

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Taj Mahal(Agra), Pixabay

A formal inauguration of the ambitious Rs 3,000 crore Ganga Jal project, to ease water supply situation in the Taj city, has again been postponed – to August.

The 130-km-long pipeline from Bulandshahar’s Palra Jhaal canal of the Ganges was to have been commissioned in November last year.

But it was postponed after the refusal of the UP-Forest Department to chop some trees.

"Agra gets only a trickle. Since there is no storage facility in Agra, the monsoon water goes waste," river activist Harendra Gupta said.
River Ganga. Pixabay

Members of the Central Empowered Committee instituted by the Supreme Court visited the site in March and sought to know how the lost green cover would be compensated. A vacant stretch in Firozabad district has now been identified where plantation work would start next month.

Agra’s 20 lakh odd residents are supplied water from two water works. Against the demand for 500 MLD, the supply is hardly 300 MLD. The gap is likely to be met by the new Ganga Jal pipeline which will bring Ganges water to Agra.

Also Read: Rohingya influx is a threat to common security of the entire region

According to Jal Nigam officials presently submersible pumps, tube wells and hand pumps are meeting the additional demand for water.

Since the Yamuna water is stored in upstream barrages from Hathini Kund, Wazirabad, Okhla to Gokul, what flows in the Yamuna in the name of water is plain industrial effluents and domestic waste plus sewer.

“Agra gets only a trickle. Since there is no storage facility in Agra, the monsoon water goes waste,” river activist Harendra Gupta said. (IANS)

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