[Answered] Namami Gange offers substantial improvement over the existing Ganga Action Plan. Critically analyse.

The Namami Gange programme will be executed over five years with the objective: “nirmal aur aviral dhara” (clear and flowing stream) of “Ma Ganga”. The  2015-16 budget outlaid Rs. 20,000 crore for this mission and also declared a 100 % tax exemption for those contributing to the Clean Ganga project.

The Ganga Basin: largest in India in terms of catchment area, which constitutes 26% of the country’s land mass and supports about 43% of its population. The basin is spread over 11 states.

Contrast between new Namami Gange and old Ganga Action Plan (GAP)

  • In certain respects, Namami Gange is an improvement on GAP:
    • This is 10 times more than what was allocated previously — Ganga Action Plan (GAP) phase I and II.
    • Includes projects to develop interceptor drains, plant trees and improve the river species composition
    • Ganga Grams — villages where people will be educated in reducing pollution. This is the first time we are calling for citizen participation in river cleansing.

The GAP had none of these.

What hasn’t changed from GAP to Namami Gange?

 

  • Too much focus on Sewage Treatment:
  • Much stress on improving the sewerage infrastructure by constructing new STPs and improving the older ones
  • We failed to take lessons from the GAP’s failure : The lag between sewage generation and treatment has remained between 55-60 per cent. This is because a lot of the waste is generated outside the sewerage network and is not conveyed to the STPs. A large section of the country’s urban population lives outside this network.
  • Bureaucratic Quagmire: NG Involves different ministries–water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, environment and forest, shipping, tourism, urban development, drinking water and sanitation and rural development. Recent news reports have highlighted the lack of coordination among the various ministries/departments related to Namami Gange mission because of which most of the projects are pending approval.
  • Tributaries Rejuvenation: Ganga is the sum total of the contribution of some 12 major tributaries. Without a rejuvenation strategy for each of Ganga’s tributaries, there can be no Ganga rejuvenation.
  • Unlike before, the Central government will fund 100 per cent expenses for various activities and projects. To avoid fund crunch, state governments must be involved for hedge funding etc.

 

  • An IIT Consortium made several recommendations in 2014 for cleaning the Ganga river basin. Even these recommendations were not implemented to the fullest.
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