231 clean Ganga projects to take off today

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti address the media in New Delhi on Wednesday.— Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar  

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti on Wednesday said 231 projects would be simultaneously inaugurated at various locations in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi on Thursday. This would be the first sign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs. 20,000-crore promise to clean up the Ganga by 2020 sputtering to life.

The projects — several of them technology demonstration initiatives sourced from abroad including France and Australia, and India too — deal with commissioning and improving sewage treatment plants, re-developing ghats and crematoriums, afforestation, tree plantation (herbs) and conservation of biodiversity.

According to a statement from the Ministry, 112 of the 231 projects are located in Uttar Pradesh, which is set to go to polls next year. Ms. Bharti said the projects in U.P. had “little to do” with the elections. “The main event on Thursday will be in Haridwar [Uttarakhand],” she said at a press conference.

IITs roped in

Ms. Bharti added that 400 villages along the river Ganga would be developed as Ganga Gram in phase-I with some IITs roped in for their development.

“Over the last two years we have identified the companies and types of projects … you won’t see clean rivers in 2016 but the stage is now set with these projects,” said Rajat Bhargava, Mission Director, National Clean Ganga Mission.