07/14/2017, 10.01
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Environmental court bans dumping of trash and bodies in the Ganges

The ordinance applies to within 500 meters of the shore. You cannot build within 100 meters. Fines of up to 680 euros for those who break the rules. The leather-making industries in Uttar Pradesh will need to be moved. Ban on setting corpses afloat in river as per Hindus funerary tradition

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - From now on it will no longer be possible to dump waste or human remains in the waters of the Ganges, nor within 500 meters from the shore. The National Environmental Tribunal (NGT), the largest institute on environmental protection in India decided yesterday. Judges, led by President Swatanter Kumar, also established a "non-construction" area within 100 meters from the shore of the river sacred for THE Hindu religion. Anyone who violates these provisions can be fined up to 50,000 rupees (680 euros).

The order of the Court of First Instance aims at the purification of the highly polluted waters of the Ganges. Judges have argued that the riverbed from Haridwar, Uttarakhand State, Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, requires urgent action. Recently, local courts have also intervened on the question of the pollution of the sacred river, which have attempted to protect the waters by defining the Ganges as a "living being". The Supreme Court rejected this interpretation, however.

What worries most is pollution due to industrial discharges, especially those of from the tanning industries. Along the river in Uttar Pradesh there are hundreds of tanneries employing mostly Muslims. The Tribunal ordered government led by Yogi Adityanath, to transfer companies from the Kanpur area to the Unnao industrial area, or wherever they will not damage the ecosystem within a six-month period.

The decision also explicitly hampers the Hindu religious community. Funeral rituals are celebrated on the banks of the Ganges and ashes dissolved in the waters. However,  relatives who cannot cremate their dead because of the cost, entrust the corpses of their loved ones to the river. For this, the tribunal has asked the two Indian states to formulate guidelines for the religious activities that take place at the ghats.

The court appointed a monitoring committee, led by the Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, which collects experts and professors in the field of environment. Analysts point out, however, that the decisions of the judiciary are of a binding value, but are often challenged in the High State Courts and in front of the Supreme Court. NGT then does not have security forces to enforce its decisions, but relies on individual states.

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