New Delhi(PTI): Ensuring minimum ecological flow of River Ganga into the plains of Bihar and Jharkhand and silt management were some of the key issues discussed by Ganga-basin states during their meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. The PM was chairing the fifth meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) to take stock of progress on the government's Clean Ganga project. The meeting saw Nitish Kumar, Harish Rawat and Raghuvar Das, chief ministers of Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand respectively attend the meeting along with Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Uma Bharti, Prakash Javadekar, Nitin Gadkar, Piyush Goyal and NITI Aayog chairman Arvind Panagariya.
According to sources from the Bihar government, the Ganga plain states have been bearing the brunt of low natural flow of the river due to issues of sedimentation and siltation up north. During the meeting, the chief ministers presented these issues and discussed single-window clearances for proposals.
The PM urged his ministerial colleagues and the three chief ministers to adopt an "uncompromising mission-mode approach" to halt pollution of River Ganga. Already in January this year, the PM had directed the water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation ministry to prioritise pollution control and taking remedial steps. But, on ground, the progress has been rather slow and effluent treatment plants have still been found wanting.
In the meeting, the PM also called for harnessing the potential economic activity provided by the Clean Ganga project and urged states to pay special attention to development of towns and villages located on the banks of the River Ganga, and to ensure sufficient awareness in these areas to stop pollution. The water resources ministry recently submitted the Indian Institute of Technology consortium report on Ganga River Basin Management that proposed working in three different missions. When asked about the IIT report and its recommendations, Uma Bharati, minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation said, "We have gone through the report's interim version and I have asked them to narrow down the recommendations. Hence, it will take some more time to shape up."
The minister also added that a new and stringent legislation is being worked upon to aid the Clean Ganga project. "A committee has been set up (for the legislation) and states will be duly consulted on the new legislation."
Rs 2,017 crore - The funds allocated in the Union Budget for the Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation project
3,636 million litres of sewage generated per day by 118 urban local bodies
1,027 -The capacity in million litres of the sewage treatment plants
700- The number of industries across Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand that have been served notices to submit fresh action plans on pollution control