According to the government officials and documents were seen by Reuters, the India’s $3 Billion plan of cleaning the holy river Ganga is poorly at the back its schedule with large stretches contaminated by the toxic waste and sewerage, which forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in it. The officials from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) says that a large amount of the money allocated for the project of cleaning the Holy river Ganga is still being unspent, which is an initiative of Modi’s government. It’s also an important issue for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he’s the Member of Parliament for the Varanasi seat.
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The officials of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is a governing body supervising the project, marked the whole length of the river within three big circles to highlight the pollution in the river Ganga. One official of NMCG also said that the 2018 deadline to clean the river seems impossible. “If we want to meet the 2018 deadline, we should have commissioned plants to treat half the sewage already,” NMCG official said, requesting anonymity as he’s not allowed to speak on the topic.
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According to the presentation that’s not been made available to the public reveals that over three-quarters of the sewage have been generated in the towns and cities of India’s crowded northern plains flows untouched into the 2,525-km Ganga. The administrations of the state struggled to come across for new treatment plants, whereas complex tendering processes have put bidders off pitching for new cleanup projects, according to the officials.
The holy river Ganga is worshiped by the Hindus and also makes up about 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people. It’s also called as Ganga Mata or mother Ganga, and it’s believed that if a person dips in the holy river, then it absolves the sins of a lifetime. Hindus also cremate the bodies of their loved ones on its banks and strew the ashes in the Ganga. According to a Senior NMCG official, Prime Minister Modi has decided to take a personal control on it as the cleanup mission is not doing well. It’s also important for Prime Minister Modi as the 2019 elections are on its way and some tangible improvement could help the government in a big way. The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Nriprendra Mishra, met NMCG officials almost every month since November and demanding the updates to see the progress of the project, the NMCG official said. However, Mishra did not respond to calls and messages. The Modi Government elected in 2014, committed to the cleanup Ganga in the five years to 2020 and allotted $3.06 billion for it, but on the contrary, they had just spent $205 million between April 2015 and March 2017 according to the presentation.
The water resources Minister Uma Bharti, who announced the 2018 deadline to clean up the Ganga and also overseeing it, did not respond to comment on it. The head of a small Ganga-focused environmental group Rakesh Jaiswal said, “I have lost hope. There has been nothing on the ground.” Adding to this, India’s top environmental court accused the government of wasting the money of public and ruled in February, “not a single drop of Ganga has been cleaned so far.” From the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it is a water source for 400 million people as well as it’s a destination for waste produced by 760 industrial units described by the NMCG as “grossly polluting”. The presentation of NMCG also showed that about 4,800 million litres of sewage from 118 towns and cities flows into the holy Ganga every day and the functional capacity to treat sewage is 1,017 million litres per day (MLD).
The Modi government has cleared the construction of plants to treat a further 933 MLD and the rehabilitation of existing plants with a capacity to clean an additional 1,091 MLD, according to official data. The setback is also because the government has lagged on the simplest tasks like cleaning the Ghats, the riverside steps where devotees gather to take bathe, and the sites of the river where the bodies are cremated. According to the presentation, the work on only 50 Ghats has been started out of 182 Ghats, of 118 Crematoria, only 15 are being renovated, and work for another 31 issued. A Hindu priest Ram das said, “The situation has deteriorated every year, fewer people visit now and there are no prayers at this river bank.” The newly elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath could collaborate with the mission of PM Modi’s clean up Ganga, and support them in cleaning the Ganga through new cleanup projects in the state. Yogi Adityanath, who’s a Hindu priest himself, inspected the riverfront development along a Ganga tributary last week and called for the work to speed up. The deputy director general of NMCG C.V. Dharma Rao said, “You will see improvements. We have asked the states to speed up progress and money is not an issue.” As Prime Minister Modi has intervened into the issue, it looks like all the departments will take their work seriously to clean up Ganga.