Uma Bharti
Uma Bharti threatens hunger strike if Ken-Betwa river linking project delayed by environment ministry Pictured: Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti addressing the National Conference on "Preserving Rivers in India," in New Delhi on 25 June, 2014. (A file photo)PIB

To chalk out an action plan for cleansing the river Ganga and other rivers in India, the Union government has convened a meeting of technocrats, saints, environmentalists and NGOs on 5 July.

The meeting was announced by the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti during a conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Bharti also said that certain parameters are going to be set for Ganga cleaning, which will also be applicable to other major rivers in the country.

Water in holy river Ganga contains carcinogen, a cancer causing substance. This was found by the National Centre for Compositional Characterisation of Materials (NCCM) in Hyderabad, which works under Union government's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

NCCM tested the water taken from Ganga during the Kumbha Mela held in January 2013, after which purifying the water of Ganga has become one of the priorities of the Union government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"There won't be any compromise on the free flow and purity of the rivers. We will take people along in this initiative," Bharti said at the Conference.

The Minister was of the opinion that Ganga Rejuvenation Programme of India will set an example for other countries. Bharti said that in India, faith and development can go together and the government will make sure that there is no shortage of funds for Ganga Rejuvenation Programme.

Additionally, private sector has also offered to help the government in purifying Ganga and collaborations with other countries too might be considered.

Refering to the doubts expressed by a section of the environmentalists on the inter-linking of the rivers, the Minister said, "We will ensure that only those rivers are interlinked which will not harm our eco-system."

Bharti said that her Ministry is not against power projects on rivers but at the same time it has to be ensured that main rivers don't dry up during any point of the year. She expressed hope that a group of secretaries already set up to draw an action plan for Ganga will come out with its report very soon.

The 2,500 km river Ganga flows from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Though considered holy, today it is full of industrial effluent and untreated sewage. Earlier too efforts have been made to clean up the holy river, but measures failed due to lack of planning and coordination.

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