Cleaning of River Ganga is a “monumental task” and requires efforts by the whole society, a top UN official said in Singapore, on Wednesday. “It cannot be cleaned overnight. We have to work with the local community, it is a challenging project,” Haoliang Xu, director for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Asia Pacific, said.
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Speaking at the UNDP organised Responsible Business Forum, Xu said “We have experience gathered from similar projects in other countries which can be used in the massive Ganga clean-up, starting with its pilot project”.
Xu, who is also United Nations Assistant Secretary General, applauded the Indian government’s concerted efforts on the project as well as managing environmental challenges across the country.
He cited an example of a river cleaning project in Shanghai which took 10 years, saying “Ganga is a much larger development” which will take time.
“It is a monumental task,” he said of the Ganga project but added “We are in this together”.
“We are taking an integrated approach which looks at sanitation, sustainable livelihoods and behavioural change,” added UNDP country director in India, Jaco Cilliers.
“This brings together a range of sectors, from government, private and local communities,” he added.
UNDP is in partnership with India’s Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation programme which aims to improve the quality of water and rejuvenate one of India’s most important rivers as it flows through the state of Jharkhand.
The pilot project is being implemented in 78 villages located along the river, and aims improve the wellbeing of communities living in villages.
About 45,000 households are expected to benefit from this project.
Ganga river is one of the longest rivers of India which passes through the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.