From encouraging IITs and NITs to adopt five villages around Ganga to planting medicinal plants in the catchment area, the NDA government has undertaken a slew of initiatives under its ambitious clean-Ganga mission.
In a detailed affidavit placed before the Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre gave a break-up of the money earmarked for the ‘Namami Gange’ project. An outlay of Rs 20,000 crore has been approved for the integrated Ganga conservation mission.
Ten ministries, including Ayush, human resources and development, and youth affairs, have come together to do their bit to achieve the target to transform Ganga into a pollution-free river by 2018.
Of the total budget, the government will spend Rs 8,000 crore for the rehabilitation and upgradation of the existing sewage treatment plants. Rural sanitation schemes have been contemplated for improving sanitation and civic amenities in the villages on the river banks to develop them as ‘Ganga Grams’. An amount of Rs 1,750 crore will be spent on these projects to arrest the flow of pollutants into the river.
The ministry of drinking water and sanitation has already completed construction of over 8 lakh toilets out of the targeted 15.2 lakh units, the government submitted before the top court in response to last week’s direction asking for an updated status report on the cleaning mission.
The government claimed to have achieved zero discharge of pollutants in 17 of the 27 distillery units around Ganga. Similarly, pulp and paper factories have stopped discharge of effluents into the river and reduced the intake of water by 30%.
The SC is hearing a 32-year-old petition on the increase of pollution levels in the holy river.
“We do not intend to keep it pending. It is a very old and an important matter. Let us finish it off,” the bench said, indicating it would bring curtains to the three-decade old case.
Untreated sewage has been a major pollutant and a challenge to clean Ganga. At the same time, fresh water intake from the river has increased over the years, making it difficult for the river’s flora and fauna to survive in the highly toxic river.