The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi approved the flagship "Namami Gange" programme which integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga River in a comprehensive manner.
Marking a major shift in implementation, the Government is focusing on involving people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results. Drawing from the lesson learned from the previous implementation, the program also focuses on involving the States and grassroots levels institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation. The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). NMCG will also establish field offices wherever necessary.
Why we need "Namami Gange" programme?
- River Ganga has significant economic, environmental and cultural value in India.
- Rising in the Himalayas and flowing to the Bay of Bengal, the river traverses a course of more than 2,500 km through the plains of north and eastern India.
- The Ganga basin - which also extends into parts of Nepal, China and Bangladesh - accounts for 26 per cent of India's landmass.
- The Ganga also serves as one of India's holiest rivers whose cultural and spiritual significance transcends the boundaries of the basin.
What are the pollution threats to Ganga?
- Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialization and urbanization have exposed water resources to various forms of degradation.
- The deterioration in the water quality of Ganga impacts the people immediately.
- Ganga has become unfit even for bathing during lean seasons.
- The impacts of infrastructural projects in the upper reaches of the river Ganga raise issues.
How "Namami Gange" programme works?
In order to implement "Namami Gange" Programme, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of:
- A high-level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at the national level,
- State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at the state level and
- District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
"Namami Gange" will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation/appropriate in-situ treatment/use of innovative technologies/sewage treatment plants (STPs)/effluent treatment plant (ETPs) rehabilitation and augmentation of existing STPs and immediate short-term measures for arresting pollution at exit points on river front to prevent inflow of sewage etc.
Salient features of "Namami Gange" programme
- Over Rs. 20,000 crore has been sanctioned in the 2014-2015 budget for the next 5 years.
- Will cover 8 states, 47 towns & 12 rivers under the project.
- Over 1,632-gram panchayats on the banks of Ganga to be made open defecation-free by 2022.
- Several ministries are working with nodal Water Resources Ministry for this project includes - Environment, Urban Development, Shipping, Tourism and Rural Development Ministries.
- Prime focus will be on involving people living on the river's banks in this project.
- Under the aegis of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) & State Program Management Groups (SPMGs) States and Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions will be involved in this project.
- Setting river-centric urban planning process to facilitate better citizen connects, through interventions at Ghats and Riverfronts.
- Expansion of coverage of sewerage infrastructure in 118 urban habitations on banks of Ganga.
- Development of rational agricultural practices & efficient irrigation methods.
- Ganga Knowledge Centre.
To achieve the objectives, NMCG shall carry out the following key functions namely:
- Implement the work program of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
- Implement the World Bank supported National Ganga River Basin Project.
- Coordinate and oversee the implementation of projects sanctioned by Government of India under NGRBA.
- Undertake any additional work or functions as may be assigned by Ministry of Water Resources, Rural development & GJ in the area of conservation of river Ganga.
- Make rules and regulations for the conduct of the affairs of the NMCG and add or amend, vary or rescind them from time to time.
- Accept or to provide any grant of money, loan securities or property of any kind and to undertake and accept the management of any endowment trust, fund or donation not inconsistent with the objectives of NMCG.
- Take all such action and to enter all such actions as may appear necessary or incidental for the achievements of the objectives of the NGRBA.