TURN­ING THE TIDE

Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources, River De­vel­op­ment and Ganga Re­ju­ve­na­tion

India Today - - SAFAI GIRI - —Kaushik Deka

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

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