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 July 15, 2015
'Only fear of punishment will deter people from polluting Ganges'

 Concerned over the rising pollution in Ganga, seers participating in a Namami Gange seminar in the city said that only the fear of punishment can deter people from polluting the river.

Motivating sadhus to take the lead in the endeavour, Aadi Guru Shankaracharya Shri Rajrajeshwaranand, a prominent sadhu, said they would propose to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a provision in the Constitution so that action under Section 307 can be taken against the mathadish (chief monk) of ashrams from Rishikesh to Haridwar, whose sewer outlets open in the river.

"Polluting the river should be made a criminal offence and those responsible for it should be tried for 'killing the Ganga'. The river is a life-giver and saver for not only human beings but also the entire ecology. A law should be framed and only this will dissuade people from polluting the river," he added.

Trivendra Singh, member of the Namami Gange Committee, announced that in order to reduce pollutants in the river, the Centre will provide financial assistance to five states -- Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal - to build electric crematoriums.

"This will ensure that no air or water pollution is caused as bodies are cremated on the banks of the river," he said.

However, the Aadi Guru claimed that cremation in the river is not a major pollutant. "The bodies are eaten by fish and bones, being rich in calcium, are easily dissolved in water. This is good for the river."

Stressing on co-relating the Namami Gange campaign with water conservation and saving all 57 rivers from contamination, environmentalist Anil Joshi said, "The consumer should be the contributor. The first move should come from people who should avoid cremating the body on the banks of the river or immersing ashes in it. Instead, the ashes should be buried and a fruit-bearing tree should be planted on it as a mark of rememberance."

Chairing the seminar, Dehradun Municipal Corporation mayor Vinod Chamoli, said the state government had come up with plans under the Veer Chandra Garhwali scheme to construct sewage treatment plants (STPs) to keep the river pollution free.

"The state government will come up with a provision to provide subsidy and loan to all industries and urban local bodies, situated close to the river, to construct STPs to prevent sewage from flowing into the river. The government will fund the project under the Veer Chandra Garhwali scheme," he added.

He condemned the practice of open defecation near the river, leaving behind pooja articles and cremating bodies near the river.

Meanwhile, the DMC will organize a one-week seminar 'Namami Gange Swacchatta Abhiyaan' across its 60 wards and schools from Wednesday onwards. The seminar will spread awareness on the importance of maintaining hygiene.