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Sabarmati pollution: GoI's Rs 235 crore to clean up 3 Gujarat rivers 'go waste'

By Our Representative

The Government of India (GoI) may have allocated Rs 235 crore since 2016-17 for cleaning up three of Gujarat’s major rivers, Sabarmati, which flows through Ahmedabad, and Mindola and Tapi, both South Gujarat rivers. However, Mahesh Pandya, director, Paryavaran Mitra, has alleged that despite the allocation, things have failed to improve, with Sabarmati, especially in the downstream, remaining as polluted as before.
In an email alert, the top Gujarat environmental NGO, citing official GoI figures, said, this suggests that the state government “lacks seriousness” in tackling pollution, pointing out that main reasons for this include lack of effluent disposal network, especially in the urban areas of the state.
Thus, according to Pandya, 96 municipalities of Gujarat do not have any sewage network, while three municipal corporations and 158 municipalities do not have any sewage treatment facilities. Gujarat has eight municipal corporations, set up for large cities.
Accusing the state government of failing to set up wastewater disposal plants across the state, leading to disposal of contaminated water without prescribed norms, Pandya said, this suggests “ineffective” Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) governance in ensuring that polluted effluents do not flow into rivers.
Suggesting that the “polluter pays” principle has not been set into motion in Gujarat, Pandya said, “Polluting industries are subject to very minor fines or bank guarantees.” He added, the monitoring framework set up by the state government is also “ineffective.”
Giving an example of how “hopeless” has the state government’s ways been, Pandya said, in January 2019 the Narmada main canal is known to have gone polluted. However, even today, no specific reasons have been found for this, indicating lack of proper investigation in the matter.
Citing a study report prepared by GPCB, which said how river water pollution during the lockdown period had considerably reduced, Pandya said, “Yet, no lessons have been learned …”

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