TURNING THE TIDE
Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, director general of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, is a confident man. He claims he is well on course to accomplishing the task of rejuvenating and conserving the Ganga by 2020. By then, the flow of thousands of million litres per day (MLD) of industrial effluents and untreated household sewage into the river will stop, he says. “With the help of an IIT consortium, we have studied earlier (Ganga cleaning) projects and come up with a long-term and holistic approach to cleaning the river—at a much faster pace and with public participation.”
It has been three years since the Union government initiated the Rs 20,000 crore Namami Gange programme. Of the 231 projects at over 350 locations, with a December 2020 deadline, 64 projects worth Rs 4,600 crore are over.
Under the project, 97 towns and 4,500 villages were mapped. Next was gathering data on multiple indicators. Municipal sewage causes 70 per cent of the pollution. The mission focuses more on adding capacity to existing sewage treatment plants than building new ones. The target is to increase the capacity to 3,600 MLD by 2035.
The mission has done an inventory of all grossly polluting industries and set up an inspection system that involves 12 institutions, including IITs, National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). The industries have been given effluent standard targets. “Compliance has improved a lot in the past two years,” says Mishra.
A crucial part of the project is the maintenance of ghats where millions of pilgrims assemble. The river fronts have been developed at some places and private agencies roped in to keep them clean.
RUSH OF FAITH Pilgrims throng a Ganga ghat in Haridwar