Newly-formed Ganga River Basin Authority (GRBA) will meet for the first time on Monday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to streamline steps to clean up the river.

In the meeting, Chief ministers of States through which the Ganga flows such as Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh will discuss ways to clean up the river in a much systematic way than has been the case so far.

This will be yet another bid to make the river, known as the lifeline of northern India, pollution free.

The country has already spent Rs 960 crore in the last 20 years in the cleanliness drive, but it is no cleaner today than it was two decades ago with over 75 per cent of the pollution coming from municipal sewage and another 25 per cent coming from industrial effluents, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

A senior environment ministry official said the States will be advised to sign a tripartite pact with the Centre and civic bodies on their respective roles in cleaning up the river, which feeds over 40 per cent of the total population in the country.

The issue of roping in international financial institutions to fund the cleaning up of the Ganga, as is being done for the Yamuna by a Japanese organisation under the Yamuna Action Plan in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana, will also come up at the meeting.

Besides, the issue of identifying an institute to prepare a master-plan for the Ganga river basin would be discussed, the official said.

The government will also discuss ways to spend the money allocated for the cleaning work and check various sources of pollutant loads, he added.

The authority, which was set up a few months back after getting PM’s approval in February, has been allocated Rs 500 crore in the 2009-10 budget for comprehensive management of the basin.

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