Why in news?
=>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.
Composition of GTF:
=>The GTF is a unit of the Territorial Army deployed in the services of the Ganga with the approval of Ministry of Defence for four years till December 2020.
=>It consists of three companies of over 100 men each to be stationed at Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi, with the battalion headquarters at Allahabad. The full strength would be 532, including 9 officers and 29 Junior Commanding Officers (JCOs).
=>Their functions will include planting trees to check soil erosion, patrolling sensitive river areas for biodiversity protection, patrolling ghats, monitoring river pollution, and assisting during floods/natural calamity in the region.
=>The jawans have also been trained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to measure the health of the river.
=>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 under discussion.
=>The National Mission for Clean Ganga (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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