The Human Resource Development Ministry has been asked to help set up a national-level institution or a university that offers courses on applied river sciences in order to create expertise in cleaning and rejuvenating the Ganga and other rivers.
HRD is one of the several ministries being asked to assist in the government’s Namami Gange programme.
A number of ministries are being assigned tasks, in line with their responsibilities and area of work.
The Water Resources Ministry, overseeing the Namami Gange programme, is in the process of signing MoUs with other ministries to accomplish these objectives.
The HRD Ministry has been told to develop a suitable course framework for the new institution in consultation with the University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education. The ministry has been put in charge of developing knowledge and skills, and spreading awareness and “environmental literacy” among people.
Existing institutions or universities that have bilateral exchange or networking programmes with foreign institutions are also being encouraged to develop courses or generate data related to river rejuvenation and pollution abatement through their international tie-ups.
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When the government had launched the Ganga cleaning exercise, it had talked about setting up a Ganga University to create knowledge in the area. It is not yet clear whether the job given to the HRD Ministry is the implementation of the same idea, or if a separate Ganga University will also be set up.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has been asked to prioritise its initiatives to establish open defecation-free gram panchayats along the banks of the river. It has also been told to create solid and liquid waste management facilities in rural areas and develop model villages or Ganga grams.
Similarly, the Tourism Ministry is being made responsible for promoting eco-friendly tourism activities by providing suitable amenities and transport facilities in order to avoid unwarranted pollution from tourists. The Shipping Ministry has been entrusted with the job of developing sustainable shipping and river transport infrastructure.
Many other ministries have also been asked to make contributions to the Ganga cleaning exercise (see box). Last month, the Railway Ministry offered to buy treated water from some of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) being set up in towns along river Ganga. Creating a market for the treated water is seen as an important step in making the STPs sustainable in the long run.
HRD to Sports, Rural to Tourism
* Set up a new institution to create expertise in river sciences
* Spread education, awareness about need to keep rivers clean
* Prioritise implementation of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) programme in villages along the Ganga
* Use NREGA to support activities of Namami Gange programme
Drinking Water and Sanitation
* Prioritise open defecation-free villages along the river
* Create waste management facilities in those villages
* Take steps to minimise pollution from tourist activities
* Develop conservation plan for medicinal plants in Gangetic region
* Ensure medicinal biodiversity
* Create shipping and river transport infrastructure
Youth Affairs and Sports
* Encourage youth, volunteers and sportspersons to engage in activities related to Ganga cleaning
* Promote awareness and public outreach activities