Ganga won't be clean before March 2019, says Gadkari

Long way to go: Sewage flows into the Ganga in Patna.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

The Ganga won’t be clean before March 2019, Union Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday, in a departure from the position of his predecessor, Uma Bharati, who had stated during her tenure as Water Minister that the river would be clean by 2018.

“You know my track record of delivering on promises. I cannot commit to a date yet,” Mr. Gadkari said at an event to announce the names of the companies who had won the contracts to run sewage treatment plants (STP) in Varanasi and Haridwar. “However, you will see noticeable improvement in water quality by Dec 2018-March 2019,” Mr. Gadkari added.

As per the original plan, cleaning the Ganga was inextricably linked to ensuring that ecological flows —or a minimum quantity of water at various stretches— were maintained. Mr. Gadkari, however, said that ecological flows would “automatically result” when the river was clean, indicating a different approach to the task of cleaning the river.

He also underlined that the tenders for the STPs in all the cities concerned would be issued by December. It would take at least two years for the plants to be built and become operational. So it wouldn’t be until the end of the present government’s tenure that “significant results” would be visible, he said.

New treatment plants

Essel Infra Projects, owned by businessman and BJP MP, Subhash Chandra, and HNB Engineers Pvt Ltd, have bagged the first projects under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), worth ₹324 crore. They will build and run STPs in Varanasi and Haridwar respectively. The combined capacity of their plants will be a sewage volume of 132 million litres a day (MLD), according to a press statement by the NMCG.

About 12,000 MLD of sewage are emptied into the Ganga across 11 States from Uttarakhand to West Bengal. At present, the capacity for sewage treatment is only 4,000 MLD, and of this, 1,000 MLD is functional.

The Clean Ganga Mission was allocated ₹20,000 crore to be spent over five years. Of the ₹20,000-crore, about ₹15,000 crore has been sanctioned so far, and of this amount, only ₹2,700 crore had been spent as of August 2017.

Of the 87 sewage infrastructure projects approved as part of the Mission, only 14 had been completed as of August 2017, according to NMCG records.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 7:57:36 AM |

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