On why the Clean Ganga project has a long way to go
It is a registered trust that runs the ‘Namami Gange’ mission — India’s most ambitious endeavour to clean the Ganga river. The NMCG has a Rs. 20,000-crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects. The NMCG’s thrust is on roping in the private sector to not only set up sewage treatment plants but also maintain them. Most of the Ganga’s pollution is due to five States on the river’s main stem — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Approximately 12,000 million litres a day (MLD) of sewage is generated in the Ganga basin, for which there is currently a treatment capacity of just 4,000 MLD. The Union Water Resources Ministry has been focussed on ensuring a transparent tendering and bidding process. Only this year have treatment plants at Haridwar and Varanasi begun to be constructed. As of May 2018, 94 projects, with a treatment capacity of 1,928 MLD, were under way. A financial audit in March suggested that while Rs. 20,601 crore had been sanctioned for 193 projects, only Rs. 4,254 crore had actually been spent on their implementation.