Government forms a territorial battalion of former Army officers for the ‘Clean Ganga’ task

The Territorial Army (TA), a part of Indian Army, which deals with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where the life of the communities is affected, has now expanded its footprint to clean Ganga with a Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF). The task force comprises of ex-servicemen and will be based in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.

The deadline for the clean-up for this task force is 2020. The government has also allocated about Rs 167 crore to the battalion under National Mission for Clean Ganga, the government body in charge of the Namami Gange programme.

According to the reports, the battalion will comprise of ex-servicemen and will be headed by a Colonel-rank officer, along with eight other officers and 20 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).

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Specially trained engineers, environmentalists, and scientists will also form part of the battalion. The battalion will be entrusted to not only monitor environmental projects related to the resurrection of the river but will also raise awareness among people to keep the river clean, guard sensitive river areas for the protection of biodiversity, keep a tab on the pollution levels and assist the government in implementing pollution control measures.

Rampant pollution and indiscriminate dumping of industrial and other waste for years have resulted in the Ganga becoming one of the world’s most polluted rivers and unfit for usage in many parts of India. Understanding the importance of safe and clean water, the government had in May 2015 approved Rs 20,000 crore under its ambitious ‘Namami Gange’ – integrated Ganga conservation mission – programme for five years (up to December 2020). Nitin Gadkari had claimed that the result of Ganga cleaning works would be visible on the ground by March next year as the river (water quality) would be 70 to 80% cleaner (from 2014-15 level) by that time.

Realising that cleaning of water bodies needed immediate attention, and aiming at the holistic and overall transformation of water bodies through its proposed projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2017 also decided to take personal control of the project, which aims to ensure proper sewage management, industrial discharge management and the beautification of several ghats along the Ganga. Formation of this territorial battalion force is a vital part of the initiative.

Irrespective of all the criticisms faced by the government, they are all set to take up and effectuate this dauntless challenge of cleaning the ‘Ganga’, which now enjoy the same legal rights that are available to all the human beings after the Uttarakhand High Court declared it as the first living entity of India, within the stipulated time frame.

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