The Union government’s flagship Namami Gange concept, which was designed to enhance cleanliness levels in the Ganga River, has now geared to shift its focus to conservation, tourism and economic livelihoods.
The Himalayas are the source of three major Indian rivers namely the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. Flowing for about 2,525 kilometres (km), the Ganga is the longest river in India. The Ganga basin constitutes 26 per cent of the country’s land mass and supports 43 per cent of India’s population.
The government of India has set up an empowered body consisting of a dedicated team of officers as part of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (earlier called as Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).
The NMCG has stated its vision in terms of four restoration pillars, namely Aviral Dhara (continuous flow), Nirmal Dhara (clean water), Geologic Entity (protection of geological features) and Ecological Entity (protection of aquatic biodiversity). According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s 2014 estimates, approximately 8,250 million litres per day (MLD) of wastewater is generated from towns in the Ganga basin, while treatment facilities exist only for 3,500 MLD and roughly 2,550 MLD of this wastewater is discharged directly into the Ganga.
Namami Gange has completed 114 projects and about 150 projects are in progress, while about 40 projects are under tendering, of which 51 sewage projects were approved before May 13, 2015 — the day Namami Gange was approved by the Union Cabinet.
About Namami Gange concept:
- It is an Integrated Conservation Mission approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, in 2014, with a budget outlay of Rs.20,000 crore.
- Its mandate is to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of the National River Ganga.
- It is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organisations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- Its implementation has been divided into Entry-Level Activities (for immediate visible impact), Medium-Term Activities (to be implemented within 5 years of time frame) and Long-Term Activities (to be implemented within 10 years).
Key achievements under the Namami Gange Programme: Since 2014, close to ₹30,000 crores has been sanctioned for various projects, including building and improving sewers and river rejuvenation activities.
New focus areas to include:
- The Tourism Ministry is developing tourism circuits and planning exhibitions and fairs in 75 towns along the main stem of the river.
- The Agriculture Ministry is taking steps to build organic farming and natural farming corridors.
- The Urban Affairs Ministry is mapping drains and solid waste management along the river.
- The Environment Ministry is scaling up afforestation and scaling up conservation efforts to protect the Gangetic River dolphin
- Arth Ganga or harnessing economic potential from the Ganga and nearby communities
- The Power Ministry is working to reuse treated wastewater for thermal power
- The Rural Development Ministry is looking to rejuvenate small rivers and protect traditional water bodies.