Namami Gange

Context:

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report for Uttarakhandshowed that the state failed on the rejuvenation of the Ganga through the “NamamiGange” programme.

Status and Causes of Pollution in River Ganga:

  • Approximately 12,000 million litres a day (MLD) of sewage is generated in the Ganga basin, for which there is currently a treatment capacity of just 4,000 MLD
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest pollution load followed by Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand

  1. Urban Sewage: Untreated sewage from Tier I and Tier II towns like Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi flow directly to the river.
  2. Rural Sewage: About 1,650 gram panchayats lie directly on the banks of the Ganga. The sewage they generate is almost entirely untreated. Open defecation is also rampant.
  3. Polluting Industries: There are 764 grossly polluting industries on the banks of the Ganga, mostly in Uttar Pradesh. These include tanneries, paper and pulp industries, sugar mills, dyeing factories, distilleries, and cement plants. Effluents from all these flows untreated into the river.

Note: Grossly Polluting Industries are those industries, which (I) discharge their effluents into a water course including rivers and lakes, and (ii) are either involved in manufacture & use of hazardous substances or discharge effluents with a BOD load of 100kg/day or more, or both.

  1. Pollution due to irrigation/agricultural waste: Excess use of pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals increases the pollution in agriculture waste and subsequently increases the pollution in river water
  2. Religious Issues:
  • Due to the religious reasons, dead bodies are cremated on the river bank especially in Varanasi, Garhmukteshwar& Haridwar, and the ashes and remains are dumped in the river. It is a huge source of pollution in the river
  • While worshipping the Ganges, flowers and other material used for worship should not throw in the Ganges.
  1. Human habits: An analysis of the Ganges water in 2006 showed significant associations between water-borne/enteric disease occurrence and the use of the river for bathing, laundry, washing, eating, cleaning utensils, and brushing teeth.

Government intervention to combat pollution in Ganga:

Ganga Action Plan:

The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was launched in April 1986. The core objective of the GAP was to abate pollution and improve water quality. Main focus areas of the GAP were:

  • interception and diversion of sewage generated in the town,
  • establishment of domestic/municipal wastewater treatment systems,
  • construction of electric crematoria, improved wood Crematoria and low cost community toilets near the river banks,
  • improvement of bathing Ghats,
  • afforestation of river banks and
  • to serve as a model to demonstrate the methodology of improving the water quality of the other polluted rivers and water bodies of the country to their designated best use class. The pollution load dumped in the river by human interference is a serious health hazard to the dense population of the basin

Need for NamamiGange/ Issues with GAP:

  1. GAP concentrated on improving the water quality of Ganga, in terms of organic pollution and dissolved oxygen. Only the wastewater of towns flowing through the drains to the river was targeted. Connections of household toilets to the sewer system, solid waste management, and some other vital aspects of municipal activities, which impinge on the water quality were not addressed.
  2. The issue of ensuring environmental flows in the river was not attended to. This has become increasingly important in view of the competing demands on the Ganga water for drinking, irrigation and power generation. Adopting more efficient water conservation practices could have reduced the need for abstraction of water from Ganga
  3. Tree cover in the Ganga basin has reduced considerably and land use pattern has changed leading to soil erosion. Sediment sources was addressed marginally. No attention was paid to run-off from agricultural fields, which brings non-biodegradable pesticides into the river.
  4. Measures necessary for the prevention of pollution of the river water while planning new settlements or expansion of the present ones were not considered. Watershed development as well as groundwater and surface water interaction were not covered
  5. Several parameters such as heavy metals, pesticides, nitrogen and phosphorous were not monitored. These parameters have become important with increased industrialisation and urbanisation

NamamiGange:

  • Shortcomings in the approach followed in GAP for cleaning river Ganga, necessitated the introduction of new holistic approach based on river basin as the unit of planning
  • In 2014, NamamiGange (Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission / Programme under National Ganga River Basin Authority) programme was introduced.
  • NamamiGange mission is an umbrella scheme which aims at integrating previous & currently ongoing initiatives by enhancing efficiency, extracting synergies and supplementing them with more comprehensive & better coordinated interventions.
  • It has a ₹20,000-crore, Centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects.

Objectives:

  • effective abatement of pollution
  • conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga

Components:

Components: programme envisages various components of Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River -Front Development, River -Surface Cleaning, Bio – Diversity, Afforestation and Public awareness etc.

Achievements of NamamiGange:

The key achievements under NamamiGange programme are:

  1. Creating Sewerage Treatment Capacity: 63 sewerage management projects under implementation in the States of Uttarakhand,Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.12 new sewerage management Projects Launched in these states.
  2. Creating River-Front Development:28 River-Front Development projects and 33 Entry level Projects for construction, modernization and renovation of 182 Ghats and 118 crematoria has been initiated.
  3. River Surface Cleaning: -River Surface cleaning for collection of floating solid waste from the surface of the Ghats and River and its disposal are afoot and pushed into service at 11 locations.
  4. Bio-Diversity Conservation: –Several Bio-Diversity conservation projects namely: Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation, Fish and Fishery Conservation in Ganga River, Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Education Programme has been initiated.
  5. Afforestation: – Forestry interventions for Ganga through Wildlife Institute of India; Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute and Centre for Environment Education has been initiated.
  6. Public Awareness: -Gange Theme song was released widely and played on digital media to enhance the visibility of the programme.
  7. Industrial Effluent Monitoring: – Real Time Effluent Monitoring Stations (EMS) has been installed in 572 out of 760 Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs).
  8. Ganga Gram: – Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS) identified 1674 Gram Panchayats situated on the bank of River Ganga in 5 State (Uttarakhand,Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Jharkhand,West Bengal).
Ganga Gram Yojna:
The programme aims to develop the villages located along the main stem of river Ganga which have historic, cultural, and religious and/or tourist importance.
Works related to Ganga Grams encompasses comprehensive rural sanitation, development of water bodies and river ghats, construction/ modernization of crematoria etc

Issues with NamamiGange:

  1. Unused funds: According to CAG report he Government had only used $260 million of the $1.05 billion earmarked for the flagship programme between April 2015 and March 2017
  2. Pollution has rarely been an electoral issue: Elected leaders have few incentives to take on either the big polluters (which include the government’s own companies and power stations) or the small-scale firms in industrial clusters that serve as vote-banks.
  3. Absent water: There is the diminished flow of water in India’s rivers. Along the Ganga, for example, so much water is diverted for irrigation and hydro-power that the flow of the river is reduced to a trickle, particularly in the hot summer months.
  4. Lack of civil society or citizen participation: The CAG report highlights that there is almost no mention of civil society or citizen participation, particularly for monitoring and sustainability of the operations
  5. Delays in reviewing projects
  6. Poor inter-agency cooperation
  7. Funding imbalances across sites
  8. Inability to keep pace with growing pollution loads.

 

Way Forward

  1. To clean ganga there should be a shared responsibility between the state and people. There is a need of revisiting the policy to clean ganga and prepare a long-term plan with proper monitoring strategy
  2. The participation of citizen and civil society should be ensured particularly for monitoring and sustainability of various projects.
  3. Coordination between various pollution control agency must be ensured.
  4. Government also ensure adequate water flow rather than focussing on sewage treatment alone.
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