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A clean-up of the Ganga, long overdue, has emerged as a key theme for the NDA government, with at least three ministers gearing up for a concerted move to fix its growing pollution and environmental threats.
Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday was the latest to join the list of ministers who have pitched in to rejuvenate the holy river — a move signalling the “high priority” status accorded to the project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP manifesto has also promised to ensure uninterrupted flow of the Ganga.
“It is my dream to restore sacred Ganga’s glory and utilise this ancient river’s full potential by using it as a waterway from Gangotri to Kanpur, Kanpur to Allahabad and Allahabad to Kolkata to transport people as well as cargo,” Gadkari said after taking charge as highways and shipping minister.
Gadkari met Modi on Wednesday morning to discuss the plan. He said he will soon talk to his counterparts in stakeholder ministries like water resources and Ganga rejuvenation, tourism, urban development, environment and forest to thrash out details.
“We will prepare a roadmap for transforming this ancient river into a mode for cargo and public transport. The area around the stretches would also be beautified. This will not only help develop tourism but will also bring in revenue,” he said.
On Tuesday, Uma Bharti who took over charge as minister of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation had also announced that cleaning up the river would be the topmost priority of her ministry. “I will come out with a blueprint for the project within a fortnight,” Bharti had said.
Bharti’s colleagues — tourism minister Shripad Naik and urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu — have also spoken about the proposed plans of their respective ministries to beautify the river and develop the pilgrim city of Varanasi to promote tourism.