[Answered] Critically evaluate the progress made under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) since its inception. What are the primary challenges faced in ensuring no untreated sewage flows into the river?

Introduction: What is NMCG?

Body: Evaluate the progress made under NMCG & challenges faced.

Conclusion: Way forward.

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which functions under the Ministry of Jal Shakti was launched in 2014, is a significant government initiative aimed at rejuvenating and cleaning the Ganga River, which is one of India’s most sacred and polluted rivers. The main objective of the Namami Gange mission is to ensure that no untreated sewage flows into the river.

Progress made under NMCG:

  • Infrastructure development: NMCG has made significant investments in sewage treatment plants (STPs), sewer networks, and industrial effluent treatment plants (ETPs) along the Ganga and its tributaries. The ₹20,000-crore mission treats 20% of the sewage generated in the five major States which will increase to about 33% by 2024 & 60% of sewage by December 2026.
  • Biodiversity and Ecological Conservation: There is an improvement in water quality which can be seen in rise of rise in dolphin population from 2,000 to about 4,000. There are also reports of the presence of Indian carp [a fish species] that only thrive in clean water.
  • Awareness: Several events, workshops, seminars, conferences, and other activities are planned to establish a compelling case for community involvement in the project and public outreach. Several campaigns and programs have been launched to educate people about responsible waste disposal.
  • Monitoring: NMCG is working to develop a water quality index based on parameters like levels of dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, and faecal coliform to better communicate about river water quality.

Challenges faced under the NMCG program:

  • Untreated sewage: One of the primary challenges is the continued discharge of untreated sewage into the Ganga. Many urban areas along the river lack adequate sewage treatment infrastructure, and compliance with regulations is often lacking.
  • Pollution: Industries located along the Ganga basin continue to release partially or untreated effluents into the river. Maintaining compliance with pollution control standards is a recurring challenge.
  • Inter-state coordination: Interstate coordination is a challenging endeavour because the Ganga runs through several states. It might be difficult to ensure uniform application of pollution control laws and wastewater treatment regulations.
  • Lack of funds: The mission has struggled to advance because of funding restrictions and delays in project implementation. Delays have also been brought on by difficult bureaucratic procedures and problems with land acquisition.

Conclusion:

The need is to ensure that the state governments and the municipalities develop sufficient capacity and generate sufficient revenue to maintain STPs. For eg, a project like monetization of sludge. District Ganga Committees can be used as a decentralized monitoring network ensuring people’s participation in the program.

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