Parliamentary committee expresses disappointment over slow pace of Namami Gange

Panel expresses displeasure over slow pace of Namami Gange

In its latest report, the parliamentary committee has expressed its disappointment over the pace of flagship projects like Namami Gange programme and urged the Jal Shakti ministry to step up its performance on groundwater management, aquifer mapping and other water-related activities. Further, it has also asked the ministry to augment budgetary support for groundwater management. As per the report, a total of 299 projects have been sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs 285.43 billion, out of which, 106 projects have been completed as of August 31, 2019. The report has observed that the Ganga clean-up projects need to be executed in a time-bound manner as otherwise it would result in cost and time overrun. (Mongabay India)

Centre renews push for organic farming along Ganga basin

In the meeting of the National Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga Council chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the proposal to renew push for organic farming along the Ganga river in five states was deliberated. The idea is part of a larger agenda to promote sustainable agriculture in the Indo-Gangetic plains by promoting organic clusters in a 5km stretch on both sides of the Ganga basin in the five states. Although lauding the policy-move, the experts have also raised their concerns over the regulatory aspects of the move as the water ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 too, to promote organic corridors in the Ganga basin but the plan still remains on paper. (Livemint)

Centre plans to set up authority to tackle floods and erosion in the Northeast

With an aim to implement a consolidated strategy, the government is planning to set up the North East Water Management Authority (NEWMA) to facilitate a coordinated approach to check the twin dangers in the eight states of the northeast region. The new agency will replace the Brahmaputra Board, which was set up in 1982 for the same purpose. It has been informed that the Assam state assembly had made four attempts since past few years to form a new agency in the northeast, but they failed due to the opposition from other states in the region but the entire process has been fast-tracked now. The new strategy focuses on soft measures like the planting of certain categories of grass in the river banks, which are prone to erosion. (The Diplomat)

Six of the seven Coal India arms did not devise a green policy: CAG

As per a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), six of the seven coal producing subsidiaries of Coal India Limited (CIL) did not devise a policy as mandated by the environment ministry. Moreover, the pollutants exceeded the limits prescribed by the BIS in eight mines across three subsidiaries of CIL. Along with this, Coal India arms CCL, BCCL and SECL continued to use groundwater for their mining operations without obtaining no objection certificate from Central Ground Water Authority. However, to address environment mitigation measures in a systematic manner, the coal ministry has decided to establish a 'Sustainable Development Cell'. (The Economic Times, The Times of India)

1943 Bengal famine was caused by Winston Churchill’s policies, not drought: Study

A  group of Indian and American researchers have found in a study that the 1943 Bengal famine was caused by then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s policies and not drought. The conclusion was drawn by using weather data to simulate the amount of moisture present in the soil during six major Indian famines, those of 1873-74, 1876, 1877, 1896-97, 1899 and 1943 and it was found that the first five famines were a result of drought, but not the one that happened in 1943. The British policies alleged to be the cause of the famine were the heavy distribution of food and vital necessities to the military during the second world war, halting import of rice, and the British government not declaring famine in India. (Scroll.in)

This is a roundup of important policy matters from December 10 - 17, 2019. Also, read news this week.