The Centre’s ambitious Namami Gange project has not progressed much as concerned states do not share the NDA government’s enthusiasm for a clean Ganga, a source in the Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry told The Sunday Guardian.
A senior official from the National Mission of Clean Ganga, which monitors the Namami Gange project, said, “The river passes through 118 cities and 5,000 villages. Although we have started several projects for treatment of the river water and diversions, the states have not offered much cooperation.” The source added that the mission is focusing on faster implementation of the projects by taking up PPP model of implementation. “There are already 53 ongoing projects at different stages through this mode. We will take up more in the future,” he said.
The states are an important stakeholder as there are 764 grossly polluting industries along the banks of the river, most notably in Uttar Pradesh which hosts 444 of them in Kanpur. “We have been trying to take help from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to curb affluent discharge by these industries into the river. We have succeeded somewhat, but states at times do not seem to cooperate,” the source told this correspondent.
The major polluting agents of the Ganga, according to a study by IIT Kanpur, are untreated industrial effluents and sewage discharge into the river. The study has also identified the leather tanneries industry along the banks of the river to be a very significant contributor to its pollution.
“We have planned to install online pollution monitoring system in all industries along the banks of the river. With the help of CPCB, we will undertake a constant monitoring to check pollutants from being discharged into the river,” he further said.
The slow pace of Ganga Rejuvenation has irked the NGT, which on several occasions summoned top officers of the ministry to give their report on the progress of the work done. The NGT issued orders on Thursday to ban the use of plastic in any form along the upper phase of the river — from Gomukh to Haridwar — from 1 February 2016.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga had created an integrated Ganga conservation mission called “Namami Gange” and had alloted a sum of Rs 2,037 crore to clean and rejuvenate the river.
The NMCG was initially complaining over the lack of funds, but it has now been able to create a Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) to attract donations. The CGF has been able to collect a little over Rs 88 crore. The government has also sanctioned a sum of Rs 6,191.54 crore, out of which Rs 1,501.32 crore has already been released to five states — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.