NEW DELHI: The IITC and Oval Observer Foundation in association with PLR Chambers and Luthra & Luthra Law Offices organized a workshop on 12th June at the Constitution Club of India to discuss the Law and Policy framework developed by the IIT-Consortium for the restoration of River Ganga.
IIT-C received a mandate from the Government of India in 2010 to develop an action plan for the restoration of the Ganga River Basin. In furtherance of the same, the Consortium has developed the basic framework for the institution that must be created to address multifarious issues involved in the cleaning of Ganga.
The IIT Consortium has developed a mechanism for creation of such institution in the form of a Bill titled, The National River Ganga Basin Management Bill, 20XX (Bill). The Bill proposes the establishment of National River Ganga Basin Management Commission (Commission) and National River Ganga Basin Tribunal for the effective and expeditious disposal of matters affecting the River Basin with the objective of restoring the health of the Ganga River Basin.
The workshop was structured so as to address two critical areas:- assessing the efficacy of the legislative framework prepared by IITC+; and evaluating the robustness of policy interventions envisaged in the Bill.
The discussion delved upon the major sustainability challenges faced by the Ganga River Basin. The sustainability challenges and mission goals were highlighted by Dr Vinod Tare, Professor, IIT Kanpur with the objective of providing an overview of the complex issues to the participants.
Dr Indrajit Dube from IIT Kharagpur presented the Bill, where he highlighted the need to established a competent regulatory authority, which is empowered to deal with all essential issues relating to the Ganga River Basin. The Commission envisaged in the Bill will be tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the health of the Ganga River Basin through various policy approaches. To this extent, it was suggested that the Commission should comprise of the following wings for the efficient discharge of its duties.
a.Information and Communication Wing
b.Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessment Wing
d.Research and Development Wing
e.Policy, Planning and Advocacy Wing
In addition to the aforementioned wings, the Commission has also been empowered to form regional and specialized units under each of the wings as may be necessary from time to time. Broadly, the Commission’s duties and responsibilities include:
1) Formulating strategies, plans, and programs for executing the objectives laid down in the Act.
2) Strengthening Centre-State Coordination for conservation and development of the Ganga River Basin
3) Manage and monitor the work of separate wings formed under the Commission
4) Initiate investigations on alleged contraventions of the provisions laid down in the Act and issue orders and directions as it may deem fit.
To ensure a speedy disposition of appeals against the orders issued by the Commission, the Bill also envisages establishment of tribunal, The National River Ganga Basin Tribunal (Tribunal). The Tribunal will be presided by a Chairperson, who shall be an acting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India along with another judicial member and subject matters experts in the field of law, public affairs, environmental matters and science and technology.
While the Bill proposes stringent measures against errant individuals and polluting industries, Dr Vinod Tare observed that “The concerns of all stakeholders will be taken into account, so that their interests align perfectly with the mandate of the Commission” Dr Indrajit Dube added, “We do not aim to lay down a master plan through the legislation as we do not want it to be rigid, if the Commission is allowed to function without confines it will allow for flexibility and adaptation that serves the interests of both the government and other stakeholders, present as well as future”
The aforementioned structure has been prescribed and designed specifically to address the mission goals identified by IITC+ in its report. In this regard, the broad objectives to be executed by the Commission through policy and legal interventions are as follows:
1) Aviral Dhara Continuous flow in time and space including maintenance of connectivity of flow in the river systems.
2) Nirmal Dhara Un-polluted flow so that the quality of river waters isn’t affected significantly by human activities.
3) Conservation and restoration of the river basin recognizing that the river is a geological entity and is essential for maintaining the ecological balance between
various species that exist and rely on the basin in order to ensure that the damage caused to basin is not irreversible and irreplaceable.
The Workshop was the first in a series of focus group meetings aimed at receiving expert feedback and peer review on the provisions of the Bill. The Bill will go through a series of consultations before being considered by the Government of India for presenting to the parliament.
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