Even though the Uttar Pradesh State Ganga River Basin Authority (UPSGRBA) constituted by the Central government remains inert, the state government is moving swiftly in getting projects cleared from the National Ganga River Basin Authority for making the river free from pollution in three cities-Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur.
The government has submitted projects worth Rs 494 crore and Rs 336 crore for Varanasi and Allahabad segments of the river to the NGRBA. Kanpur project worth Rs 1,600 crore would be submitted by December.
Ganga is now National River status and its most polluted segments in Uttar Pradesh.
"True that our UP State Ganga River Basin Authority has not met even once and we still have to appoint five non-government experts on the authority, we are moving pretty fast-in fact faster than any other states-in getting our projects under the authority cleared," said Principal Secretary, Urban Development, Alok Ranjan.
Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had announced the National Ganga River Basin authority before the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests notified the formation of it in February this year. The authority has been formed to streamline steps to clean up Ganga.
The union ministry even notified formation of UP authority in September 2009 and made Lucknow the headquarters of UPSGRBA. But there has not been any movement forward by the state on the issue. "The notification came to us just a month ago-mid-October," said Ranjan.
The notification said: "All the state through which the Ganga passes through (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal) have to coordinate and implement the river conservation activities at the state level and take steps for comprehensive management of the river".
After the notification was issued to the state, the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) on October 5. Manmohan Singh chaired the meeting. Of the four chief ministers who were invited to the meeting Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and Ramesh Pokhariyal (Uttarakhand) attended it. UP chief minister, Mayawati and her West Bengal counterpart, Buddhadeb did not.
The GRBA is responsible for dealing the problem of pollution in the river in a holistic and comprehensive manner. This includes water quality, minimum ecological flows, sustainable access and other issues relevant to river ecology and management. The authority has been given the task of managing the basin in addition to look after the cleanliness of the river water flowing through various states.
The union minister made eleven officials as members of the UPSGRBA while the chief minister and the chief secretary are chairperson and member secretary respectively. The mayors of Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad and several ministers are among the members.
The UPSGRBA was given an option to make upto five more members who are experts in the fields of river conservation, hydrology, environmental engineering, social mobilization and such other fields. "We will complete the process within a fortnight. We are looking for right kind of experts to be in the authority," said Ranjan.
The Magsaysay awardee water activist, Rajendra Singh who also is famous as 'Waterman of India' said: "Ganga is the most sacred river of ours but we have polluted and damaged it too much. The river had a naturally organic system to clear itself of pollution, but now the river has lost that property too. Serious and concerted efforts are required to save it." He is also Ganga activist and took out a massive yatra along the course of the river after Prime Minister declared it the national river. According to him UP and Uttrakhand are the most important segments of the river from the point of view of saving the river because these two states have done the maximum damage to it.
Alok Ranjan said that soon after the national authority turned functional, we gave them presentations about Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur. Our presentations made them to take up the three cities as the 'priority cities'. They are likely to clear our project by December and we will go ahead with works immediately after clearance.
He said that the projects are related to domestic sewage as they are the biggest menace to the river.
Varanasi: Varanasi project aims to get the Ganga rid of sewage pollution by year 2025.
Principal Secretary (Urban Development) Alok Ranjan, said that the proposal of Rs 494 crore is for relaying sewer line in Varanasi to permanently rid the ancient city from the sewage problem. "The ambitious project would ensure that not even an iota of effluent/sewage flows into the Ganga and Varuna river in the city." The proposal entails construction of two more Sewage Treatement Plants (STPs) for scientifically treating waste water and sewage. Once the proposal is cleared and funds sanctioned by the Authority, work on laying Main and Branch Sewer Lines in the city will begin. Ranjan further said that work on Solid Waste Management System at Karsada on Varanasi's outskirts will begin next month.
Varanasi throws 350 million liter per day sewage into Ganga.