Those found polluting Ganga river may soon be put behind bars as a govt draft bill has proposed setting up of an armed ‘Ganga Protection Corps’ with the authority to arrest the offenders, Hindustan Times reported.
A five member panel of the National Ganga Council has asked that the corps to be raised by the Home Ministry. The squad, according to the draft bill, can arrest offenders, take them into custody or to the nearest police station. The offences and penalties come under the draft National River Ganga Bill 2018. The bill gives Ganga the status of national river and gives centre the control of its management, regulation and development.
There is a long list of offences punishable under Ganga Act which includes spoiling or defacing the ghats or stairs, throwing “offensive matter” into the river. Stone quarrying, commercial fishing without permission, deforesting hill slopes or other sensitive areas, withdrawing groundwater for organised consumption through tube wells or industrial needs, are some of the other offences.
The Bill also lays down provisions of imprisonment of 2-5 years for offences like commercial fishing, polluting the river and construction of illegal structures in active flood plains, NDTV reported quoting officials
The draft bill also has a contentious clause which proposes that if a company if an offence is committed by a company, every person who in charge of the company when the offence is committed and the company will be deemed guilty. However, if the in-charge is able to prove that the offence was committed without his or her knowledge or that they exercised due diligence to prevent the offence, they will not be punished under the act.