The Minister for Environment & Forests, Shri Suresh Prabhu has said that a technical evaluation of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) will be conducted immediately by a committee of experts including those from public health engineering. The Minister has begun holding consultations with public representatives outside the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry. This is one of the several innovative steps being taken by Shri Prabhu to ensure public participation in the Ministry s programmes. During a meeting with MPs, MLAs and heads of local bodies from West Bengal in Calcutta, the Minister said the GAP is a programme of national importance. He urged the state government and the implementing agencies to take into account the complaints and views expressed by public representatives. This would enable the GAP to be suitably modified. After hearing views expressed by the people s representatives, the Minister emphasised the need for full transparency and assured members that his Ministry will shortly send a scheme- wise statement of funds allocated under the GAP. The state government, on its part, would provide information on how the money has been spent.
With regard to the management of solid waste, Shri Prabhu observed that this was a national issue and neither the Central Government nor the local bodies had adequate resources to address the problem. He suggested that proper linkages with financial institutions were necessary to deal with this problem. The state government and local bodies should come forward to obtain assistance on mutually agreeable terms. Shri Prabhu felt that a practical solution to the problem of management of solid waste lay in an integrated approach.
The Minister emphasised that funds were limited and demands were many. Therefore, it was necessary to adopt preventive measures for pollution control rather than going for curative alternatives. He observed that the GAP was evolved for the people and unless they were fully involved it could not succeed. He suggested that "Green Guards" should be appointed in each town. They would educate the public on maintenance of not only rivers but also the environment as a whole, in their area, in an eco-friendly manner.
During the meeting, public representatives felt there was lack of public involvement in the GAP, lack of transparency in implementation and utilisation of Central Government funds. There was also a lack of house connections in towns in the state, where action plans have been taken. This has resulted in the under utilisation of assets, management of solid waste, subsidy of running electric crematorium and incorporation of corrective measures for GAP-II.