by Anushree Ghosh,
The sacred and mighty Ganga originates from the bottom of the eastern Himalayas, Gomukh and crosses the Gangetic Plain of North India reaching Bangladesh. It is the lifeline of millions of Indians, not only because of its functionality but due to spiritual and religious reasons too. While the glaciers release clean and transparent water, it becomes sluggish and dirty in its course and gets polluted to its core till it reached the Bay of Bengal. The pollution of the river Ganga has been an issue since decades and was one of the top agendas of the then Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.
A per some of the media reports dated 29th Dec 2017, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration committed $3 billion in 2015 for a five-year project to clean the 2,525-km (1,570-mile) river that remains heavily polluted despite being a water source for 400 million people.”
His action plans included Rs 20, 000 crore Namami Gange project to reduce pollution of the river. And, right after taking the oath, PM Modi changed the name of the ministry responsible for cleaning Ganga, and named it, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation”. Simultaneously, he formed National Ganga Council for rejuvenation and management of Ganga.
But all these efforts seem to be fruitless, as Ganga gets polluted at every inch it crosses, waste from thousands of factories are released into the river without any treatment. Almost 3/4th of sewage water is also released in the Ganga and thus making it unfit for human use. Innumerable slaughterhouses and hospitals dispose of their waste in the river, the untreated toxins like chromium from leather factories also contribute to polluting the river. Thus, the National River of India, Ganga is facing threat from several fronts and is struggling to not top the list of the most polluted rivers in the world.
While the NDA government made policies and announced them with great pride, like many other projects, their execution failed at various levels. The National Mission for Clean Ganga planned to give projects for the treatment of the sewage water but even till the end of the last year, it failed to meet its target in approving projects. And, Ganga’s decreasing volume due to diversion for irrigation is still a great problem for the ministry.
However, as per Nitin Gadkari, who was later brought into the picture because of his ‘fire-fighting’ approach to meet deadlines, government agencies did not perform at par with the expectations and the lackadaisical bureaucracy became of the hurdles to the success. He said, “251 Gross Polluting Industries (GPI) has been closed and closure directions have been issued to non-complying GPIs,” and also added, “Real-time monitoring of pollutions is being done in 938 industries. As many as 211 main ‘Nallas’ have been identified which are causing pollution in Ganga and 20 modular STPs are being deployed to treat Nalla water. Regular review meetings with all the states government officials, contractors, consultants are being done and obstacles regarding DPR’s, tendering process, finalization of design, payment to contractors are being removed for speedy completion of projects”.
Though, it was unfortunate that despite all these initiative, he had to agree that improper management funds and execution works during the initial days of the campaign forced the government to revise its target. As per Mr. Gadkari, the NDA government would be able to complete 70-80% cleaning of the river Ganga by the year 2019.
The major reason for the slow growth of the cleaning process of Ganga is the lack of coordination between the Centre and the states. The state board, Nagar Nigam, and private bodies – all have to function in a compatible zone for the maximum output, which is not found in this case. This leads to the slow progress of the projects. As of now, we don’t see much happening that could clean the river. The only ray of hope is a social awareness campaign that could pressurize the people and government to work for cleaning Ganga.