"What is applied in United States of America and Australia can't be applied in India. We are a very diverse country. 500 metres buffer zone on the banks of river Ganga in plain areas can be ok but can it be feasible in hilly areas," a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
The bench's observation came after advocate MC Mehta who has filed the petition for cleaning of Ganga suggested that in Western countries rivers are protected from pollution by creating a buffer zone on the banks where no construction is allowed.
"If tribunal does not take some innovative approach to the problem of Ganga pollution then one day the sacred river will vanish. We have to address the problem for the nation and for the future generation," Mr Mehta said.
He added that there is an urgent need to fix the accountability to make the Namami Gange project to succeed as both Ganga Action Plan (GAP)-1 started in 1985 and GAP -2 started in 1995 have failed.
He suggested that National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) should acquire the land on both sides of the river and create a buffer zone and also earmark space for holding of Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela.
The bench then asked the Centre whether any study was conducted as GAP-1 and GAP-2 have failed and were the flaws rectified in the new Namami Gange project.
To this the counsel for the Centre said that a study was indeed conducted but is a classified document.
"If it is classified then you file the document in sealed cover. We need to have a look before passing the order," the bench said.
The green panel was also informed by the Centre that around Rs 6855 crore were spent together by the Centre and states for cleaning of Ganga from 1985 to March 31, 2015.
The bench is likely to pass an order tomorrow on segment 1 of Phase-1 (from Gaumukh to Haridwar) of clean Ganga project.
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