Survey paints dry picture of govt’s waterbodies in Ganga

Survey paints dry picture of govt’s waterbodies in Ganga

GS paper 1

NEW DELHI: More than one-fourth of government-owned waterbodies in the Ganga basin across five states are dried up, show preliminary findings of the census survey of ponds, tanks and lakes in the river basin.
The census is being conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body set up by the ministry of commerce and industry with the objective of 100% mapping of all such waterbodies in Ganga districts for their improvement or rejuvenation.
The QCI has, so far, assessed 578 waterbodies, covering all 329 in UP. A total of 411 out of 578 surveyed bodies are surrounded by settlements.
The survey, being done under the Centre’s ‘Namami Gange’ (Ganga Rejuvenation) programme, is not yet completed in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal.
“Encroachment and use of waterbodies for dumping solid waste could be the reasons behind their drying up There should be a separate authority to take care of ponds and other such waterbodies. Currently, many ponds and tanks exist only in revenue records,” said , environmentalist Vikrant Tongad who has been working on reviving waterbodies for long.

He said the findings of the survey of waterbodies in UP was shocking. “Mapping of waterbodies is a welcome step. It will give us an idea of what went wrong in the past three-four decades and how should we go about rejuvenating them,” said Tongad, founder of Social Action for Forest & Environment (Safe).
The QCI in its findings noted that the pace of survey in Bengal is quite slow due to lack of official support in the state. It said that Murshidabad district officials stopped its ground assessment works, stating “reasons of political unrest” there. It was suggested that the team go there for their survey only after the state polls.
The QCI was supposed to start the survey in March last year, but it started only in November due to Covid-19.

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