All projects linked to the Clean Ganga movement will be completed in the next 13 months, and will benefit 97 towns and 4,465 villages along the river, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday, even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley maintained that all previous governments until 2014 had paid lip service to cleaning the Ganga.
Actual progress on this front has been made only in the last four years under the Narendra Modi government, Jaitley, speaking at a Clean Ganga event along with Gadkari, said.
Jaitley said: “This is because Prime Minister Modi has given the scheme importance and placed the project at the top of his agenda, and there is no better person to implement his vision than Nitin Gadkari. He is a doer — when he was in Maharashtra he was the one who built the Mumbai-Pune highway, the first of its kind, with barely no resources. And this was before Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee had launched the Golden Quadrilateral.”
Gadkari said, “The previous initiatives to clean the Ganga had total allocation of less than Rs 4,000 crore between 1985 and 2014. Under the Namami Gange Programme (of Modi government), this has been significantly scaled up to Rs 20,000 crore for the period 2015-20, with 100-per cent Central funding,” Gadkari said. “Since 2014-15, more than Rs 5,650 crore have already been spent, and the momentum has accelerated, with the current year’s expenditure exceeding Rs 2,305 crore so far.”
He maintained that 276 projects have so far been sanctioned at a total cost of Rs 27,748.17 crore, of which 82 projects have been completed.
Gadkari said Namami Gange programme is designed to include a “sustainable approach based upon scientific studies, the first of its kind PPP [public-private partnership] approach of Hybrid Annuity Mode and performance-linked payments for sewerage projects”, among others.