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Pakistan’s probe team reaches Delhi, set to visit airbase soon

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Pathankot: Security beefed up around Pathankot Indian Air Force (IAF) base on Jan 6, 2016. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: Led by Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department Additional Inspector-General Muhammad Tahir Rai, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) left for India on a special plane from Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.

“The five-member Pakistani investigation team left for New Delhi around 11.45 today,” Muhammad Tariq, an immigration official at the Lahore Airport said. Intelligence Bureau’s Deputy Director-General Lahore Muhammed Azim Arshad, Military Intelligence’s Lieutenant-Colonel Irfan Mirza, Lieutenant-Colonel Tanvir Ahmad of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Inspector Shahid Tanveer, a Punjab police officer based in Gujranwala, are the other members of the JIT.

India had blamed JeM militants for the assault on the IAF base in Pathankot in Punjab on 2 January, which triggered two days of gunbattle that left seven Indian security personnel dead.

India plans to provide the Pakistani probe team access to all witnesses in the Pathankot terror attack case but not security personnel from National Security Guard or the BSF. Official sources in New Delhi said on Saturday that India will also press for visit of its probe team to that country for carrying out investigations there.

The sources said the team will not be provided complete access to the Pathankot air force base but to limited areas where Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were engaged in an 80-hour gunbattle with security forces. The airbase will be visually barricaded by NIA to prevent any view of its critical areas.

The team will be briefed thoroughly tomorrow at the NIA headquarters here which will include a 90-minute presentation on the investigations carried in the case so far, the sources said. This will be the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials are travelling to India to investigate a terror attack.

The witnesses include Punjab Police Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal and 17 injured people. The attack led to the postponement of a scheduled meeting between Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India in January in Islamabad. On 18 February, Pakistan had lodged an FIR in connection with the Pathankot terror attack without naming JeM chief Masood Azhar who India has accused of having masterminded the strike.

Credits: Firstpost

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A Clean Ganga Not Possible Without Continuous Flow: Green

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made

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The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay

By Bappaditya Chatterjee

The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.

“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.

 

Ganga, travel
River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.

 

Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

 

River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.
River Ganga is also the most polluted river.

Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.

Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”

 

Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.

However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge Over Brahmaputra River

Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)