For Kumbh, Ganga gets a Swachh ‘army’

Task force of ex-servicemen will help in crowd management, keep river clean
In January 2019, when the Uttar Pradesh government organises the Kumbh Mela, it will have a special unit to help: a volunteer force of ex-servicemen.The Ganga Task Force (GTF), specially trained by the Ministry of Defence will help with crowd management, spread awareness on keeping the river clean and stop people and industry from polluting the river.Currently, a “battalion” of 300 personnel has already been trained and stationed in Allahabad. Plans are afoot to expand it to 500 and post them in Kanpur and Varanasi, said Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director-General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).In 2015, the government, through an executive order, had cleared the creation of such a force. However, a defined mandate — such as to punish or imprison those found polluting the river — is being fleshed out in a forthcoming ‘Ganga Act,’ which is yet to be ironed out as a Bill and is under discussion. “They may have the right to bear arms, but we wouldn’t want them to be involved in imprisoning offenders, as that could conflict with the State police,” said Mr. Mishra. The jawans will have boats to keep a watch on activities detrimental to the river’s health, the note added. The NMCG runs the ‘Namami Gange’ mission to clean the Ganga. It has a Rs. 20,000-crore, Centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects. The NMCG’s thrust is on roping in the private sector to not only set up sewage treatment plants (STPs) but also maintain them.
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