River Ganga plays a significant role as the lifeline for about 50 percent pf the country’s population. The flagship programme of the Modi government Namami Gange Mission as the largest integrated river conservation mission focuses on comprehensive upkeep and cleanliness of River Ganga. On the occasion of inaugurating mega development projects in Uttarakhand and allied initiatives through video conference on 29 September 2020, Prime Minister remarked that new thinking and approach had made the River Ganga return back to life. Had the old methods been adopted, the situation would have been equally bad today. Old methods lacked public participation and foresight. Why did the old methods fail and how is the Ganga now being cleaned has been explained in these two previous articles.
A holistic approach of Modi government has helped to address fragmentation of activities related to water and its allied subjects into various ministries and departments. This had also resulted in piped drinking water not reaching more than 15 crore households in the country. Lack of clear guidelines and coordination resulting to irrigation and sanitation related problems continued to persist.
In the words of PM Modi, Namami Gange is focussing on development of the economy and environment of the entire Gangetic belt. The Government has made comprehensive plans to promote Organic farming and Ayurvedic farming.
NMCG adopted multidimensional approach to rejuvenate River Ganga with about 298 projects. This involves:
- Sewerage Infrastructure
- Rural Sanitation
- Industrial Pollution Abatement
- Ghats & Crematorium Development
- River Surface Cleaning
- Biodiversity Conservation
- Public Participation
‘Aviral’ or uninterrupted flows is one of the visions of the flagship ‘Namami Gange’ programme. The minimum environmental flows for river Ganga have been notified, from its origin to Unnao (Uttar Pradesh) specifically at locations downstream of structures and projects meant for diversion of river flows for various purposes like irrigation, hydropower, domestic and industrial requirements. The notification is applicable to all existing, under-construction and future projects. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has been designated the role of ensuring compliance while monitoring flows. Accordingly, CWC has identified 11 operational projects for hourly monitoring of flows released by these projects.
Currently, as part of Namami Gange, projects worth more than ₹30,000 Crores have been conceptualised and are at various stages of completion. The Ministry of Jal Shakti is ensuring synergy in plans and actions and overcoming challenges involved in water and allied subjects. The Jal Shakti Ministry is also ensuring access to piped drinking water to every house in the country. Rejuvenation of water bodies is being undertaken as part of Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
The Namami Gange programme promotes reduced water consumption as well as reuse of treated waste from Sewerage Treatment Plants in agriculture and industries leading to sustainable development. The Namami Gange programme also involves synergy and cooperation with various State governments and Union ministries to achieve objectives of NMCG. These include the following:
- An agreement has been signed between NMCG and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for the reuse of 2 crore litres per day of treated sewage water by IOCL’s refinery in Mathura, which has so far been using water from the over stressed Yamuna river.
- In order to encourage treated waste water from STPs to be utilised for irrigation, Bihar government is drafting a policy for the same. Similarly, Water reuse policy is being drafted by Ganga basin States.
- MoU has been signed between NMCG and various Ministries Such as. Railways, Agriculture, Ayush etc. for promoting reuse of treated waste water.
- Government promotes utilisation of treated waste water by Power Plants for non-potable purposes located with 5 km radius of STPs through the notification of the same via a tariff policy from Ministry of Power.
- Zero black liquor discharge achieved in paper and pulp industries has resulted in reduction in the fresh water consumption and effluent generation of about 45-50% as compared to 2012.
- Zero liquid discharge is being achieved in molasses-based distillery.
- Effluent generation has reduced from 400 to 200 litres per tonne of cane crushed.
- Around hundred big towns/cities and five thousand villages along the River Ganga became Open Defecation Free (ODF).
- Ensuring well sanitized ghats in association with local authorities while regular handling of solid waste and cleaner surroundings on the ghats
- With synergy of Ministry of Rural Development revival of water bodies is being carried out in 5 Ganga Basin States in 52 districts under MGNREGA. Total completed project is 7,299 at a cost of ₹20.39 Cr. Total ongoing projects are 6,460 at a cost of ₹70.31 Cr.
Around 20 lakh people take bath in Ganga across the country, revealing river Ganga’s significance in the lives of the people. The numerous ghats and banks are the first point of connect for the people with Ganga and it’s many big and small tributaries. Around 233 projects of Ghats and crematoria development at 56 big and small towns along the banks of Ganga and also its tributaries are being executed. In order to provide better amenities and facilities to millions of visitors to these ghats, fresh laying of ghats, providing chain pulleys for bathing and benches etc are being developed. Thus, Modi government ensuring Nirmal and Aviral Ganga to millions of people.
Lauding Jal Shakti Ministry’s Work
PM Modi took the occasion to laud the work of Jal Shakti Ministry and the efforts of the Uttarakhand government regarding their efforts to ease people’s lives. He mentioned that about 1 lakh households are being provided piped water supply connections every day under the Jal Jeevan Mission, and drinking water connections have been provided to 2 crore families of the country in just 1 year. He also lauded the Government of Uttarakhand for providing drinking water connections to more than 50 thousand families even during the period of Corona in the last 4-5 months.
The Prime Minister said that a special 100-day campaign is being launched on 2nd Oct this year under Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure drinking water connection to every school and Anganwadi in the country.
Challenging the Opposition’s Fake Narrative on Reforms
The Prime Minister also took this opportunity to tear apart the Opposition’s narrative. He said the Government has brought in major reforms recently for the farmers, the industrial labour and in the health sector, and lamented that those who are opposing these reforms are opposing only for the sake of opposing them. PM Modi said those who ruled the country for decades have never cared about empowering the workers, youth, farmers and women of the country. These people want the farmers not to sell their produce at a profitable price to anyone and anywhere in the country.
The Prime Minister listed various initiatives of the Government like Jan Dhan bank accounts, Digital India Campaign, International Yoga Day which were opposed by the opposition in spite of the benefits accrued to the people at large. He said it is the same people who opposed modernisation of the Air Force and provision of modern fighter planes to it. The very same people also opposed the One Rank One Pension policy of the Government, whereas the Government already paid dues of over Rs 11,000 Crores in the form of arrears to the pensioners of the armed forces.
He said these are the very same people who criticised the surgical strike and asked the soldiers to prove that there was a surgical strike. Shri Modi said this makes clear to the whole country what their actual intentions are. He added with passage of time these people who oppose and protest are becoming irrelevant.