Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting with five chief ministers on March 26 to discuss his ambitious Clean Ganga initiative and get the leaders on board for improving the quality of the river in the next five years.
Barring West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, the chief ministers of four states —Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand — have confirmed their participation in the meeting to be held at the PM’s residence, official sources said.
This is Modi’s first meeting with CMs after he assumed the role of chairperson of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGBRA). Official sources said the CMs have been asked to state what they expect the central government to do to clean the river and its plans for improving the quality of the river’s water.
The river authority was set up by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his party’s victory in the 2009 polls, and he had declared the Ganga as a national river. But in five years, the authority met only thrice, resulting in some of the non-official members resigning in protest.
But Modi has given a new fillip to his ‘Namaami Gange’ — an integrated plan to clean Ganga — concept with a holistic plan. He has also created a separate department in the water resources ministry for ‘Namaami Gange’ with Uma Bharati as in-charge.
Bharati said in a written reply to Parliament that 144 drains discharged sewage into the Ganga and the maximum number of such drains was in West Bengal (54), followed by Uttar Pradesh (51), Bihar (25) and Uttarakhand (14).