New Delhi: Two years after Bihar began developing organic farming corridors along Ganga, the Centre may renew its push for such farming along the river in five states to combat increasing pollution from toxic pesticides.
The proposal was deliberated upon in the meeting of the National Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga Council (National Ganga Council) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kanpur on Saturday. The council, formed in 2016, is constituted by chief ministers of the five river basin states of Uttrakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The idea is part of a larger agenda to promote sustainable agriculture in the Indo-Gangetic plains by promoting organic clusters in a 5km stretch on both sides of the Ganga basin in the five states.
“It is a good policy-move, considering the cumulative use of pesticides has doubled in last one decade and most of it, runs off in our rivers. For short-term, 5kms stretch was fine, but the government should eventually plan to stretch it to cover more area in the basin. Entire riverbed agriculture should be organic," said Dr Venkatesh Dutta, an expert working on river restoration in Lucknow.
However, experts also voiced concerns over the regulatory aspects of the move. “Plans are made, but they fail to get implemented on the ground. Ganga is in a dire state and if we do not fix accountability, we would gain nothing. Even after the plan is launched, it usually lacks any kind of monitoring, which is what happened in parts in Bihar," said Dinesh Mishra, a noted senior authority on river networks in Bihar.
In 2016 too the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had signed a memorandum of understanding to promote organic corridors in the Ganga basin.
The proposal was initially expected to cover 136 villages under the programme by providing incentives to farmers for input procurement like biofertilizers and biopesticides. As on June, 2019, as many as 4.53 lakh farmers were practicing organic farming under participatory guarantee scheme of the government, mostly in the north-eastern states.