The Centre has roped in corporate houses to complete its clean Ganga mission before the 2019 general elections. Corporate houses would undertake Ganga facelift projects that are underway under the Namami Gange (National Mission for Clean Ganga) programme.

The involvement of corporate houses is likely to accelerate the Ganga facelift programmes and would help in achieving the target of cleaning 80% of the Ganga by the May 2019 deadline set by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. A senior official at the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation told The Sunday Guardian: “The decision to invite corporate houses to undertake clean Ganga projects was taken at a meeting held this month in Delhi. At the meet Nitin Gadkari urged corporates to join the National Mission for Clean Ganga. Making corporates’ involvement possible in the mission, Gadkari announced that corporate houses can take up projects for rejuvenating the river and can also give donations to the Clean Ganga Fund (CGF).”

A statement of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation reads: “The corporate can undertake projects  such as construction of ghats, crematoria construction and development, cleaning of ghats, cleaning of drains through bioremediation, river surface cleaning, solid waste disposal, afforestation activities, setting up of Ganga Vatikas, adoption of Ganga Grams. The corporate can undertake Ganga rejuvenation projects as their CSR activity under Companies Act 2013.”

Following Gadkari’s announcement, companies including the Shipping Corporation of India, Indorama Corporation, IndusInd Bank, Yes Bank, the Hinduja Group, ArcelorMittal, Bajaj Electricals, HCL, and Reliance Industries, have so far shown interest in joining the government’s clean Ganga mission.

The Ministry’s statement further reads: “Some significant projects that have already been undertaken by the corporate houses include development of ghats at Gangotri and Badrinath at an estimated cost of Rs 25.65 crore by Indorama Industries Ltd. IndusInd Bank has undertaken a project for treatment of nine drains in Allahabad and Farrukhabad at a cost of Rs 9.5 crore. The detailed project planning for both of these projects are ready and approvals are at an advanced stage. Work on these two projects is expected to start by the end of this month.”

Besides the Ganga facelift projects mentioned above, Yes Bank has proposed a project to develop ghats at Rishikesh and undertake plantation activities in Uttarakhand, while the Hinduja Group will take up ghat development work at Haridwar and Rishikesh. Bajaj Electricals will undertake plantations at Varanasi, Fatehpur, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Pratapgarh, Ballia and Mau in Uttar Pradesh and Reliance Industries has plans for ghat development at Varanasi, Allahabad, Delhi, Haridwar, Kedarpuri and Rishikesh. These projects are under consideration and a decision will come soon on the implementation of all these projects, according to the senior Ministry official cited above.

The Ministry’s statement further reads: “The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation assures that if corporates come forward to undertake the projects under the Namami Gange programme, there would be easier ground clearance for them and the Ministry would also help them in sorting out other local issues. The only clause is that the corporate should come up with only eco-friendly development plans.”

According to the Ministry, a review of contributions to the CGF has been done, and Rs 255.02 crore has so far been received as contributions from PSUs and private corporates. Out of this, projects worth Rs 205.14 crore have been approved for different Ganga facelift projects.

Gadkari’s ministry has already formulated 298 projects worth Rs 20,000 crore under the Namami Gange mission. Out of 298 projects, on 194 projects the tendering process has already been completed and the tender process for the rest of the projects will be completed by the end of this year.

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