Reality check on Clean Ganga Project: Analysis of Namami Gange Project

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Clean Ganga drive
Clean Ganga drive

Government to miss another deadline of Namami Gange Project


Cleaning the lifeline of major cities of North India ‘River Ganga’ is one of the prime focus of the Modi government. Well, Previous governments have spent Rs 4,000 crore on Ganga Action Plan I from 1986 to 2014 to clean the holy river. During the first term in Modi government, the Namami Gange project was launched.  It gave a big hope to the people of the country because more than Rs 20,000 crore was allotted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it his personal agenda and earlier announced that “Ganga will be clean by 2019”. However, the deadline has been shifted to the year 2020.

Where we have reached so far? 

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) implemented the Namami Gange project along with state counterparts, such as State Programme Management Groups. NMCG established field offices wherever necessary and and National Ganga Council was created.  Prime Minister himself was made the head of the council.  It replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). Chief ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and West Bengal along with several union ministers are a part of this council.  They were scheduled to meet once every year but an RTI from “The Wire” suggests that there hasn’t been any meeting since the council was found.

The River Development, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOUS) with 10 other ministries to work on the Namami Gange project. The union resource water ministry created an Empowered Task Force that has chief secretaries of the five Ganga Basin states.

Only 38% of the total fund is utilized so far in Namami Gange Project

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All the funds are not being used?

The NMCG hasn’t been able to use all the money allotted to them. More than half of the projects are hanging in between. It seems difficult that the projects will be completed by 2020. From the total of Rs 28,534 crore, only Rs 7343.82 crore has been used till 31st July. With just 5 months left in the year it is nearly impossible to complete remaining 192 of the 298 projects. Only 38% of the total money has been used so far.

These funds are allotted to the states where the river passes, such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.  The officials have suggested that the number of sanctioned projects are high and mechanism to award the contract is complex.  State governments, central government and few projects are handled by private players.  A senior official said that private players like Shapoorji Pallonji, Essel Infra, and Adani Enterprises have been awarded 6 cities. The remaining 80 cities are supposed to be bid out by the state governments.

A total of 150 Sewage Infrastructure project is on the list of undertaken projects. 43 of them have been completed till July 2019, while 66 projects are under progress and 41 are under tendering. Total sanctioned cost for Sewage Infrastructure is Rs 23130 crore in which only Rs 4965.25 crore has been used so far. A mere 21.46% has been utilized for the Sewage Infrastructure in more than four years.

Old Ghats and Crematoria project is complete while work on new Ghats and Crematoria is yet to begin

For Old Ghats and Crematoria (Projects under NRCP/NGRBA- in- state of West Bengal) and Ghats and Crematoria (New projects under Namami Gange Programme) project, a sum of 1026.88 crore has been sanctioned for 71 projects.  All the 24 projects under Old Ghats and Crematoria projects have been completed in just 180.16 crore from the total Rs 204.39 crore sanctioned money. But 24 projects of Ghats and Crematoria are still under progress and 3 projects are under tendering.

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Overview of projects

12 projects under CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) (1. Pollution Inventorization, Surveillance and Assesment on Ganga river, 2. Strengthening of laboratories, 3. Water quality monitoring system for River Ganga, 4.Strengthening of Environmental Regulator, 5. Inspection & Monitoring of STPs, Industries & CETPs, 6. Upgradation of Infrastructure of Existing CETP) was provided 964.59 crore. Only 55.63 crore is used so far from the total amount and none of the 12 projects is complete. 11 projects are under progress and 1 project is under tendering.

10 projects of afforestation are complete while work is in progress on 6 projects. 2 of the Composite Ecological Task Force is completed while 1 project is under progress. None of the 15 bioremediation projects is complete. 9 projects are under progress, while 4 are under tendering. A total of 106 projects are completed out of 298, where 139 projects are in progress, 50 are under tendering and 3 are AA & ES issuance.

The government will surely extend the date of the completion of the project. Work on several projects, such as sewage treatment, redevelopment of riverfront, cleaning of river surface and ghats, and the conservation of biodiversity is under progress.

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