Panel focus on Adi Ganga
Dec. 19: The National Green Tribunal today sought reports from three central departments on the condition of Adi Ganga and how the 75km-long channel that runs from the Hooghly to the Bay of Bengal can by restored.
The National Ganga River Basin Authority; water resource, river development and Ganga rejuvenation ministry; and the environment, forest and climate change ministry to submit their reports by January 27.
The eastern bench of the tribunal, comprising Justice S.P. Wangdi and expert member P.C. Mishra, passed the order following a petition by green activist Subhas Datta.
Dutta with his petition had submitted reports published in The Telegraph and other publications highlighting the sorry state of Adi Ganga.
The reports have pointed out that the channel has disappeared in Garia, Rajpur, Sonarpur and several other places, where houses, fuel pumps and other structures have come up on what was once the course of the waterway.
"It's a matter of history and the river (Adi Ganga) should be restored," the bench observed.
Adi Ganga has been degraded over the years with successive administrations turning a blind eye to the assault on what was once a key transport link in the city and large parts of South 24-Parganas.
The state government had in 1998 said in a report to the high court that 40,000 people had been living in shanties set up by encroaching on the banks of the channel.
As many as 7,851 illegal structures had been identified along a 15.5-km stretch of the waterway (from Hastings to Garia), including 90 temples, 69 godowns and 12 cattle sheds.
Environmentalists feel the construction of 300-odd pillars along the middle of Adi Ganga to support the Metro Railway viaduct from Tollygunge to Garia further ruined the channel.
The green lobby, however, is hopeful that the ancient waterway can be restored if the central and the state government took an "active interest" in the matter.