The ruling government has informed the Supreme Court about its plan to spend Rs 51,000 crore for the rejuvenation of the river Ganga in the next five years.
The rejuvenation plan would completely stop discharge of untreated sewer and waste water from 118 towns into the Ganga river, it told the apex court.
Director of ‘National Mission for Clean Ganga’ Rajiv Ranjan Mishra said, “118 urban habitations on the banks of river Ganga have been tentatively identified by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) for extending coverage of sewerage infrastructure with actuals depending on preparation of detailed project reports.”
He also informed the court that short-term goals would be achieved in three years, mid-term goals in five years and long-term ones in 10 years or more.
He further added, “Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has contemplated scheme for making all 1,649 number of gram panchayats located on the Ganga banks free from open defecation.”
The 118 towns and 1,649 gram panchayats identified by the MoUD fall in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
The affidavit said the long-term vision for rejuvenation of the river would emerge from the “Ganga River Basin Management Plan being prepared by the consortium of seven IITs for restoring wholesomeness of river Ganga in terms of defining concept of ensuring Nirmal Dhara, Aviral Dhara (clean and continuous flow of the river) and maintaining ecological and geographical integrity of the river”.
Mishra also informed the court that the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga rejuvenation had identified seven waterfront locations for development of ghats, possibly on the lines of Sabarmati riverfront developed in Ahmedabad.
The identified locations are Kedarnath, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi. “The interventions at ghats and riverfronts are expected to facilitate better citizen connect and set the tone for river centric urban planning process,” the Centre said in response to the apex court’s September 3 order seeking details about its Ganga river rejuvenation plan.
Under the plan, the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as Central Pollution Control Board have been tasked to enforce zero liquid discharge by grossly polluting industries located in the river basis states, including from Kanpur and other cities.
Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) asked the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai to furnish proposals for treating tannery effluent with and without zero liquid discharge.
The plan also took into account pollution caused by heavy flow of tourists to important pilgrim centres located on the banks of Ganga. “The ministry of water resources has asked the Uttarakhand government to submit a proposal for making provisions for public amenities, solid and liquid waste disposal and sanitation facilities for the pilgrims and tourists,” it said.
The Centre said the success of Ganga rejuvenation plan would require active participation and cooperation of different stakeholders including people residing on the banks of Ganga, NRIs as well as the global community.
“The task of Ganga rejuvenation being multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional is very complex and dynamic in nature. Resultantly, any plan made for it may need to undergo mid-course correction depending on the changing need and circumstances,” it said.