Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, who assumed additional charge of water resources on Monday, announced the formation of an inter-ministerial task force to speed up the government’s Ganga cleaning exercise. Gadkari, who replaced outgoing minister Uma Bharti, will have to expedite the Namami Gange mission —- a programme that is dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a major poll promise of the ruling BJP. He said, “Assuming charge from her (Bharti) is like everything was ready in the kitchen and I took charge when the food was about to be served.”
Bharti formally handed over the ministry to Gadkari in a room with a laminated photograph of Modi praying to the Ganga. Recalling a conversation early in her tenure as water minister, she said: “I told him (Gadkari) that on the Ganga issue, I will be your Minister of State and you will be the one making all the decisions. Which is why for the last three years, Nitinji has taken all the important decisions on the river.”
The former water minister has come under criticism as her tenure had seen no significant progress in the cleaning of the Ganga, though she has often made promises of finishing the task within unrealistic timelines. Meanwhile, Gadkari said the water ministry will come out with a detailed schedule on targets under Namami Gange in a week. He also rubbished questions on lack of progress on the river-cleaning exercise under Bharti and heaped praise on her. “We will attain all the deadlines fixed by Umaji,” he said.
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