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Draft Ganga Act to draw from Highways Act (Relevant for GS Mains Paper II, Topic : Regulation of Ganga)

Proposed Ganga Act on lines of National Highways Act
A first-of-its-kind bill to regulate a river — the Ganga Act, as it is now called and being drafted by experts — will draw from the National Highways Act and allow the Centre final say over States during disputes over management of its water.

The National Highways Authority of India Act empowers the Central government to have complete power over roads designated as “national highways.” It also gives them authority over bridges, culverts and associated land stretches near highways.

Need for Ganga Act
The Union Water Resources Ministry is the nodal agency in charge of implementing the Rs. 20,000-crore National Clean Ganga Mission by 2022, and has so far spent only around Rs. 320 crore, despite Rs. 2,000 crore being sanctioned. Nearly 70% of the budget is to be apportioned for commissioning sewage treatment plants.

This was partly due to a lack of consensus between the Ganga States on how money allotted should be spent though. The proposed Ganga Act was to ensure that future disputes that could arise in the proper management of the river were avoided.

Implication of Proposed Ganga Act
The proposed act will give more powers to Central Government to implement Clean Ganga Mission. At the same time, powers of the states will reduce. Consequently, the problem arising on account of lack of coordination among states with regard to cleaning of Ganga will resolve.

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