The National Green Tribunal on Thursday said no effective steps have been taken to clean Ganga and the situation was “extraordinarily bad”, reported PTI. The bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice AK Goel, said regular monitoring was required to improve the situation.

“It is the most prestigious river in the country which 100 crore people respect but we are unable to protect it,” said the tribunal. “Let us try to make the mechanism as strong and effective as possible.” The panel asked the authorities to seek views of the public about the pollution in Ganga.

In February, the tribunal criticised the Centre for “wasting public money” in the name of the Namami Gange project. “Not a single drop of river Ganga has been cleaned so far,” it had told the government.

The panel had also criticised the Central Pollution Control Board and other government agencies for not doing their job properly. “The prime minister has given you a goal, take it as a national project,” the bench had said.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Ganga Rejuvenation Satyapal Singh on Thursday claimed otherwise. He said a network of 2,050 km of sewer lines under the Namami Gange project has been set up under the Namami Gange project. “It is not a fact that none of the clean Ganga projects have been able to get any headway in the past several decades,” Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. He added that the government also installed sewage treatment plants.

In response to another question, Singh said under the Namami Gange project, work on 34 ghats and nine crematoriums has been completed. “Under the Namami Gange programme, 37 projects have been sanctioned for construction of 151 ghats and 54 crematoria in five basin states,” said the Union minister. Of the 34 completed ghats, 10 are in Uttarakhand, 23 in Uttar Pradesh and one in Jharkhand. All the nine crematoriums are in Uttarakhand, according to The Indian Express.