NEW DELHI: The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) on Monday approved an ambitious project to prevent the discharge of untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluent into the Ganga by 2020.
An estimated investment of Rs. 15,000 crore over the next 10 years will be required to create the necessary treatment and sewerage infrastructure for the ‘Mission Clean Ganga.’ The resources will be provided by the Centre and States over a 10-year period to be shared suitably after consultations with the Planning Commission.
Briefing reporters after a two-hour long meeting of the Authority, chaired by the Prime Minister, the Minister of State (Independent charge) Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, said innovative models for implementation such as special purpose vehicles would be adopted.
The government is also negotiating with the World Bank for procuring $1-billion long-term loan for the purpose. The World Bank has already approved a $3-million loan for project preparation, Mr. Ramesh said.
Currently, there is a sewage treatment capacity of only about 1000 mld as against 3,000 mld sewage being generated in the towns along the Ganga. As much as 75 per cent of the pollution is caused by untreated sewage discharge and industrial waste accounts for the remaining 25 per cent.
Projects on fast-track
“While a comprehensive river basin management plan will be ready by December 2010, the on-going sewage treatment projects will be put on fast track and States asked to formulate detailed project reports for new projects in the critical pollution hotspots and major towns along the Ganga and major tributaries by November 30, 2009. Tripartite agreements among the Centre, States and the local municipal bodies to earmark responsibilities in this respect will be signed in February next year,” the Minister said.
The first meeting of the Authority, set up in February this year, also decided to constitute a standing committee headed by the Union Finance Minister that would meet more frequently and review the implementation of the Mission.
Also an empowered steering committee, headed by the Union Environment and Forests Secretary, will be set up for fast tracking clearance of projects, according to Mr. Ramesh.
As a people’s mission
“We want to make Clean Ganga a people’s mission for which we have put non-official members on the Authority. They will be responsible for evaluation and monitoring including social auditing of the Mission,” Mr. Ramesh said. Of the five Chief Ministers who are members of the NGRBA, Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand and Bihar attended the meeting while Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were represented by the Cabinet Ministers and Jharkhand by the Adviser to the Governor. Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia attended the meeting apart from seven of the eight non-official members.
The Authority was set up under the Environment (Protection) Act as an empowered authority to adopt a new holistic river basin approach to the cleaning of Ganga and to address the issue of minimum ecological flows, besides pollution abatement works.
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