There has been a 15-fold increase in government spending on the river Ganga, and the expenditure under the Namami Gange scheme may reach an all-time high by the end of current financial year.
“Based on current liabilities and sanctioned projects we expect the actual expenditure under Namami Gange to reach Rs 3,000 crore. This will be the highest ever amount spent in a year to clean the Ganga,” said Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
The amount will be spent on schemes and projects for the Ganga and its tributaries, including on rehabilitation and upgradation of existing sewage treatment plants (STPs) besides commissioning of new STPs, Mishra said.
The Namami Gange scheme was lauched in 2014-15 by the Narendra Modi government. The actual expenditure rose from Rs 170.99 crore in the first year to Rs 2,626.54 crore in 2018-19. So far, 298 projects, including 40 related to STPs, have been sanctioned under the scheme. The Centre has allocated Rs 20,000 crore to be spent on cleaning the Ganga for the period of 2015-2020.
Meanwhile, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday said that the Ganga will be clean between Gangotri and Haridwar by 2021. He said that all untreated domestic sewage as well as industrial effluents will be completely stopped before the Kumbh is organised at Haridwar in 2021.
Govt outlay gives big boost
Although the efforts to clean the Ganga started in the 1980s, due to inadequate funding, it could not gain pace — between 1985 and 2014, less than Rs 4,000 crore was spent. In 2014, the Narendra Modi government launched Namami Gange, a 100 per cent Centrally funded scheme, with an outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for five years.
After launching the ‘Ganga Aamantran Abhiyan’, a month-long rafting and kayaking expedition on the river, Shekhawat said, “There is a notion that Ganga is the most polluted river in the country. This is not true. We hope that this expedition will help in proving this notion false.”
The minister said the government is committed to cleaning the entire length of the Ganga. However, he indicated that it may take longer than expected, saying that it took 30 years to clean the river Rhine in Germany.
The rafting and kayaking expedition will start from Devprayag on October 10 and culminate at Ganga Sagar on November 12.