The Union government’s ambitious Namami Gange programme, which aims to clean and protect the Ganges, is scheduled to be completed by 2020, Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday. Responding to queries, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said as of June 30, the government has sanctioned 97 projects under it in 53 towns at an estimated cost of Rs 8,588.21 crore. Of these, 12 projects have been sanctioned exclusively under new components of Namami Gange programme at a sanctioned cost of Rs 351.42 crore, she said.
Besides, the government launched 231 entry-level and medium-term projects as part of ghat and crematorium development initiatives, installation of sewage treatment plants and afforestation under the programme on July 7.
“River surface and Ghat Cleaning programme using trash skimmer has been taken up initially in six cities namely Mathura-Vrindavan, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna and New Delhi under the Namami Gange programme,” she said. Bharti said central public sector units namely WAPCOS, EIL, NBCC, NPCC, EPIL have been engaged to carry out assessment, feasibility study and entry-level activities under the programme in their respective stretches of the river in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The other activities taken up under entry-level activities include repair and modernisation of ghats and crematoria, provision of public amenities, village-level drain (VLD) treatment. Out of the 1,242 ghats, 369 crematoria and 411 VLDs identified so far from the surveys, 191 ghats and 64 crematoria have been recommended by ESC till date, she said. The minister informed that the government has not received any grant or aid from foreign countries for the programme and it is fully-funded by the government.
“However, scheme for cleaning river Ganga, prior to Namami Gange, has availed financial assistance in the form of developmental loans granted by: a) World Bank (WB), amounting to USD 1 billion, and b) Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), amounting to Rs 496.90 crore,” Bharti said.
She, however, said that several countries have offered technical assistance for the programme. At present, Germany, has committed three million euros for information, knowledge exchange, capacity building and data management, she added. Meanwhile, answering question regarding the programme, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Vijay Goel said the Clean Ganga Fund set up by the NDA government as part of its ambitious mission to clean the river has received more than Rs 132 crore in donations.