Tracking the Clean Ganga Project – An Expose of Inherent Hurdles and Common Issues

The Clean Ganga Mission was launched by Narendra Modi on November 8 at the Assi Ghat of Varanasi by using a spade to remove the silt deposited on the river bank. Now the pet project of the Indian Prime Minister is facing some serious hurdles in execution. On the morning of November 11 some mid-level forest officers along with policemen came and stopped the work of sediment removal being done with heavy machines in the said area and also coerced the people carrying out the project to leave. Incidentally, members of several social organizations in the area as well as BJP workers had promised the PM that the work would be accomplished in a month.

Clean Ganga project faces hurdles in Varanasi

For this purpose they had also employed skid-steers and backhoe loaders on November 10. The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit has stated that this is the handiwork of the State Government led by the Samajwadi Party. Vijay Bahadur Pathak, spokesperson for the BJP, has stated that the party does not understand why hurdles are being created this way by Akhilesh Yadav’s administration in the proper execution of the project.

Problems in Clean Ganga project leadership

The Clean Ganga project is easily one of the most important projects as far as the Modi Government is concerned and a very dear one as well. However, that seriousness has not been reflected in the organizations that have been entrusted with its execution. The National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is the primary body with the responsibility of executing the project, has just three permanent officers on its rolls. The number of officers sanctioned for this project is 27. The National River Conservation Directorate, which is supposed to develop the rivers that are not part of the Ganga basin, is working with about half of what it is supposed to have.

The main officers of NMCG have also been saddled with other responsibilities, which has further contributed to its sorry state of affairs. For example, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra who is the mission director of this department, is also the joint secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and operates as a directorial officer for Pushkal Upadhyay.

Large expense for Clean Ganga meeting defended by Uma Bharti

Recently, INR 44 lakh was spent on a meeting organized for the Clean Ganga project and this led to a significant amount of criticism. However, Uma Bharti, the Union Minister for Water Resources, has said that the money has been provided to a Government agency and thus it cannot be said that it has been wasted. She has pointed out that the money in case of this meeting has gone to the Indian Tourism Development Corporation, which is a Government agency itself.

She has also stated that the Indian Government will continue to stage such meetings and it will also ensure that the money spent by the Government is going back to Government coffers again. The starting amount that has been allotted by the Union Government for executing the Clean Ganga project is INR 2,037 crore. The meeting in question was organized at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi during July.