The NDA plans to make its mission to clean the Ganga a wide-based public campaign involving Hindu priests, technologists and conservationists, water resources minister Uma Bharti said on Thursday.
The plan could be a political masterstroke as it seeks to make a large chunk of those living along the Ganga stakeholders in restoring the vitality of Hinduism’s most scared river.
“Ganga can’t be restored without a people’s movement,” Bharti said, adding: “Apart from scientists, environmentalists and officials, Ganga lovers from around the world and Hindu priests associated various traditions will have a key role.”
To kick off the campaign, Bharti said her ministry would organize a “Ganga Manthan” or “meet on Ganga” in the first week of July, where leading social organisations and priests would be invited.
“This should be seen in light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Parliament in which he has talked about making development a people’s movement,” she said.
A third of India’s 1.2 billion people live on the floodplains along the 2510-km sacred river. Despite its redemptory role in Hinduism, the Ganges is dying a slow death due to filth, untreated sewage and industrial run-off, which have soiled its waters for years.
Currently, only about 45% of the 11 billion litres of sewage from 181 towns along the Ganges and its tributaries is treated.
Bharti said her government would maintain the same approach towards all rivers that need attention, including the Yamuna.
She said an inter-ministerial group involving secretaries of key departments were preparing the technological and administrative framework.