Water-starved India looks West to revive its rivers

India is looking West to learn how to clean and conserve its polluted and dwindling water resources. Grappling with water shortage and pollution in key rivers, the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) is entering into a slew of agreements with Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom to learn how they cleaned and revived key rivers as well as used technology to manage drought and used sparse water better.

On Tuesday, the MoWR signed an agreement with the German International Cooperation (GIZ) of Germany to help with cleaning the Ganga. The ‘Namami Ganga’ is a flagship Rs. 30,000-crore programme of the NDA government to clean the Ganga and restore its flows by 2020.

The way to do this, according to the government, is to have public sector undertakings develop 52 sewage treatment and effluent treatment plants (STPs) and cleaning up a number of ghats, besides using skimmers at 11 places to take muck out of the river stream. Germany, that will contribute Rs. 22.2 crore to the endeavour, will provide technical consultancy to deal with industrial effluents in Uttarakhand, before they empty out into the river.

“Germany’s ultimate goal is to bring back ‘Mother Ganga’ in India to its pristine condition as it has been done successfully for ‘Father Rhine’ in Germany,” said German Ambassador Martin Ney.

“We won’t be buying technologies because in many cases we know what is to be done but their experience in cleaning their own rivers is what’s most important,” Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, MoWR, told The Hindu. He said similar agreements were in place with the U.K. for expertise in reviving aquatic life at the head of the Ganga.

In the case of Israel, the Ministry said, technologies for water purification and filtration were likely to be shared.

Indian companies already use desalination technologies sourced from Israel but officials said there was much more scope for further engagement.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 12:19:17 AM |

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