Seven ministries other than the Water Ministry to help revive the Ganga
The Water Resources Ministry has signed an MoU with seven Ministries--Human Resources Development, Ayush, Shipping and Tourism, Drinking Water and Rural Development, Railways, and Youth Affairs--to carry forward multi-sectoral activities related to Ganga rejuvenation for a minimum of three years. Along with this, the Government has also decided to rope in village panchayats in the Clean Ganga Mission and has aimed to make 1,600 villages along the river filth-free in the next six months using the four-pronged programme. The Ministry has also shown its strong will to ensure a minimum ecological flow for the revival of the river.
10th anniversary of MGNREGA
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) completed 10 years on February 2, 2016. The scheme, which legally guaranteed at least 100 days of unskilled labour to every rural household, was launched by the former Congress-led UPA Government. Till date Rs 3,13,844.55 crore has been incurred on the programme since it was started. The scheme has also helped the country in managing its natural resources but was last year called a 'monument of failure' by the Prime Minister. However, the Government is all geared up to restructure the scheme and enhance it in 2,569 backward blocks.
Drinking Water and Sanitation Department gets new Secretary
The Government has appointed the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Specialist Parameshwaran Iyer as the new Secretary of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Department. Iyer will also head the Swachh Bharat Mission for two years and is expected to create more synergy between the mission and the objectives of the World Bank project. He is the man behind the framework of the $1,500 million proposed loan from the World Bank for the Swach Bharat Mission which is pending Cabinet approval.
Draft notification on river regulation zones is out
In the backdrop of flooding in the Kashmir valley and Chennai, the Environment Ministry has issued a draft notification on river regulation zones. The proposed zones will be under the ambit of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and have divided the river stretches into three categories: floodplain rivers, seasonal rivers and mountain rivers/hill streams. Also, three kinds of river regulation zones to mark out the limits where development activities will be banned or restricted have been suggested in the draft.
NGT dismisses petition seeking stay on Statue of Unity
The National Green Tribunal has dismissed a petition that sought a stay on the construction of the Statue of Unity at river island Sadhu Bet near the Narmada Dam. The petitioner had claimed that the project was initiated without receiving a green nod and is going to impact the Narmada basin and burden the tectonic fault line in the river. The NGT dismissed the petiton on the ground of limitation--the petitioners approached NGT in March 2015, six months after the Gujarat Government handed over the work order-- and left it open to appeal in other competent courts.
Rs 780 crore sanctioned to Gujarat to improve irrigation facilities in Saurashtra region
Under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned a Rs 790.80 crore loan to Gujarat Government for improving irrigation facilities in the water-scarce Saurashtra region. The project, which will provide irrigation for an additional 302,742 hectares, involves the enhancement of three existing pumping stations on the Saurashtra branch canal of the Sardar Sarovar Project at Dhanki, Adalsar and Bala village of Surendranagar district.
Bombay HC gets strict with Maharashtra Government
The Bombay High Court has questioned the Maharashtra government over its decision to scrap the river regulation zone policy. In order to regulate industrial activity near rivers, the Government last year scrapped the river policy, which provided a buffer zone of two kilometres of high flood lines on either side of river basins that are to be treated as no-development zones. Also, the High Court rapped the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority for failing to ensure equitable distribution of water in the State.
No cancellation of green nod to Renuka Dam: NGT
Considering the national importance of the 40 MW Renuka hydel project in Himachal Pradesh and the amount of money already spent on it, the National Green Tribunal has refused to cancel the environmental clearance granted to the project. Along with this, the panel also declined the State Government's request to stall the land acquisition proceedings for the dam. However, NGT has set up a panel to look into the resettlement and rehabilitation policy for villagers displaced due to the project and to ensure that the dam does not cause any adverse and irreversible impact on the ecology and environment.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from January 26 - February 8, 2016. Also read last week's news roundup.