During 2014, the Clean Ganga project was the cornerstone of all the activities undertaken by the the Union Water Resources Ministry. For this purpose, the Ministry attempted to bring back missions that failed a long time back. It also enacted a number of measures. One of the major sources of pollution – in fact the most prominent one – are the various industrial units that operate along the course of the river and regularly dump untreated sewage into it. The Ministry established monitoring units in order to control the polluting activities of the industries.
In all, the river has been in a poor condition since ages and this is perhaps one of the reasons why cleaning it up was such an important component of the pre-poll manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, the Ministry was given a new name with the addition of the terms Ganga Rejuvenation.
Uma Bharati, a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, was made the head of the Ministry with an aim to add some zest to the proces. To her credit, Bharati has responded with gusto towards the new responsibility assigned to her by Prime Minister Modi. This is evident in the forceful and decisive manner in which she has started several initiatives. She also has a history of leading several movements for cleaning the Ganga in the past.
As part of the Namami Gange project the Indian Government has also sanctioned an amount of INR 2,037 crore to execute the project when the Union Budget for 2014-15 fiscal was presented. The Government also set up a group that is made up of Secretaries who are from different ministries and departments of the Union Government. The primary responsibility of this unit is to come up with a roadmap for taking the project ahead.
The Water Resources Ministry has also tried its level best to get the project moving. It has got in touch with the various industries that are located along the banks of the river and tried to find out solutions so that untreated water and industrial effluents are not directly dumped into the river. However, it has not all been hunky-dory for the Central Government so far.
Supreme Court strictures
The Supreme Court has, time and again, expressed its dissatisfaction at the way the project has progressed. It has also quizzed the Government at the high rate of pollution in the Ganga. In its interaction with the Indian Government, the apex judicial body of India has stated that the pollution of Ganga has gone on unabated. It has also asked the national Government to provide a definite plan on how it aims to execute the said project. All this while, it has kept on reminding the BJP that cleaning the river was included in its election campaigns.
After being chastised by the top judicial entity of the country the the Union Government has provided a blueprint that contains short-term, long-term and medium range measures for cleaning the river. All these are to be accomplished in 18 years. In the same plan it has documented the immense investment that will be needed to complete the project.
In that blueprint the NDA Government has stated that it has marked 118 towns, all of which are located on the banks of river Ganga, where complete sanitation needs to be achieved. This is the primary goal of the project. This will also include equipping these towns with solid waste management and waste water treatment facilities. It is also set to install tamper-free monitoring systems. These systems will have sensors and will be installed at places such as drains, which carry the waste dumped into the river. This will help the authorities get real time information on how the river is being polluted.
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