With Oct 2018 deadline, Namami Gange a steep climb, shows data

Press Trust of India New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

Mother Ganga is awaiting some son of hers who will accomplish the task of cleaning the river.There are a number of tasks that God has decided for me.

These were the emotional utterances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his May 17, 2014 thanksgiving speech, delivered from the banks of the holy river in Varanasi, after the BJP-led NDA stormed to power at the Centre that year.

Almost three years into his tenure now, the Prime Minister may not exactly be a happy man with the level of progress his pet ‘Namami Gange’ project has made, if one goes by the statistics relating to its execution.

A hefty challenge

The figures relating to the project suggest the government is faced with a steep challenge, particularly in view of the October 2018 deadline it has set for ridding the 2,525-km-long river.

The Water Resources Ministry though is bullish that the deadline will be achieved given the BJP recently formed governments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, two of the five states from where the Ganga flows. Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand are the other basin states of the river.

Under the ₹20,000-crore programme, the government has sanctioned 145 projects at an estimated cost of ₹10,730 crore.

Sewer network

Out of the approved projects, 72 are of setting up new STPs of 932 million litres daily (MLD) capacity, rehabilitating ones with capacity of 1,091 MLD and laying/rehabilitating 4,031-km-long sewer network.

However, only 13 of these 72 projects have been completed so far, creating 198 MLD or, in other words, 9.78 per cent of treatment capacity sanctioned till now, sources in the ministry said.

Of the total capacity created till now, 153 MLD is for Ganga and 45 MLD for Yamuna.

Besides, the government has managed to lay only 1,147 km or nearly 29 per cent of the sewer network planned to be laid/rehabilitated.

Sewage treatment

At present, 42 sewage infrastructure projects are being executed with an aim of creating treatment facility of 327.93 MLD capacity, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

The figures pertaining to the release of funds and actual spending on cleaning the river also do not seem to be encouraging.

The government has so far released ₹3,633 crore for executing the project, which was launched on July 10, 2014.

Open-defecation free

Of these, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has released ₹1,647 crore or 45 per cent of the funds, while the government has released ₹133 crore during the current fiscal.

The bright spot for the ministry, as claimed in its statement, is that 3,253 of the total 4,291 Ganga basin states have been declared as open-defecation free (ODF).

Plus, nearly two-third of the total 15.27 lakh household latrines have been constructed till now, it added.

Work on 28 river front development projects and 33 entry-level projects for construction, modernisation and renovation of 182 ghats and 118 crematoria has been initiated, it said.

Tree plantation

The ministry hopes plantations of various types of trees, aimed at increasing green cover along the river, for the years 2016-17 and 2017-18 will be undertaken during next monsoon.

“The actual execution of the programme began in July last year. However, things slowed down for next six-seven months after the NMCG was turned into an authority,” one of the sources said.

When asked about the progress of the project, Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Balyan blamed the previous Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh and Harish Rawat dispensation in Uttarakhand for the snail pace of works.

However, he stated that with the BJP-led governments in place in the two basin states now, the deadline seemed achievable.

“The officials from the two states are now co-operating with us (after BJP came to power there). So, the deadline now seems achievable,” Balyan told PTI.

Published on May 09, 2017
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