India to get $400 m loan from World Bank for sprucing up Ganga river

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 08, 2020

This assistance would be the second World Bank-funded project for the river Ganga.   -  Reuters

The World Bank will provide $400 million (₹3,023.10 crore) assistance to enhance support for the Namami Gange programme that seeks to rejuvenate the Ganga river.

The Second National Ganga River Basin Project (SNGRBP) will help stem pollution in the iconic river and strengthen the management of the river basin, the World Bank said in a release on Tuesday.

The amount includes $381 million (₹2,879 crore) loan and World Bank guarantees of up to $19 million (₹143 crore) as a payment security mechanism, the National Mission for Clean Ganga said in a separate statement.

The agreement for the $381-million loan was signed on Tuesday by Sameer Kumar Khare, additional secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the Government of India and Qaiser Khan, acting country director, India, on behalf of the World Bank. The guarantee instrument will be processed separately.

Funding for Hybrid annuity projects

An amount of $150 million (Rs 1,134 crore) will be utilised for three new hybrid annuity projects in Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur over the tributaries of Ganga (Yamuna and Kali), said the National Mission for Clean Ganga.

Further, $160 million will be provided for ongoing DBOT (design, build, operate and transfer) projects in Buxar, Munger, Begusarai and hybrid annuity mode (HAM) projects of Digha, Kankarbagh in Patna, Bihar and Howrah, Bally and Baranagar in West Bengal. This will be funded from Ganga II, after the validity of Ganga I ends on December 31, 2021.

Under Ganga II, 482 MLD STP (sewage treatment plant) capacity would be created. In addition, 378 million litres per day (MLD) STP capacity and 911 kilometres of sewage network approved under Ganga I will be funded.

The balance, $71 million, will be for various activities. These pertain to institutional development ($20 million), improving investments resilience to COVID-19-like emergency situations ($5 million), performance-based incentive for urban local bodies (USD 30 million) and programme communication and management (USD 16 million), the statement said.

The World Bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project (NGRBP), which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities, it added.

“The continuity provided by the Second National Ganga River Basin Project will consolidate the momentum achieved under the first World Bank project, and help NMCG introduce further innovations, and benchmark its initiatives against global best practices in river rejuvenation,” said NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra.

The $381-million variable spread loan has a maturity of 18.5 years, including a grace period of 5 years. The USD 19-million guarantee expiry date will be 18 years from the guarantee effectiveness date, the World Bank said.

According to the release, the Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security.

Over 40 per cent of India’s gross domestic product is generated in the densely populated Basin.

But, the river is facing pressures from human and economic activities that impact its water quality and flows, the release said.

Over 80 per cent of the pollution load in the Ganga comes from untreated domestic wastewater from towns and cities along the river and its tributaries, it said.

The SNGRBP will finance sewage networks and treatment plants in select urban areas to help control pollution discharges.

These infrastructure investments and the jobs they will generate will also help India’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank said.

The project will also help NMCG develop state-of-the-art tools to help manage the river basin more effectively. PTI NKD PR HRS 07072247

Published on July 08, 2020

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