New Delhi(dna): The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is working on a special law for Ganga protection that will give additional teeth to the Namami Gange integrated Ganga and conservation mission.
As part of its work on this new legislation, the ministry has formed an inter-ministerial committee with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Ministry of Law and Justice. Officials of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the implementing agency of the flaghsip mission, said during a presentation on Monday that a separate law with both penal and civil provisions was needed. However, the presentation did not clarify the exact nature of the penal provisions.
Curiously, Uma Bharti, the water resources minister gave a different picture on the proposed law last week. Bharti had said that the law was being deliberated upon with representatives of the Ganga basin states and in fact, went on to add that it would be brought in if the government faced difficulties during implementation of the Namami Gange project.
The proposed law could also possibly run into some rough weather with the state governments as water is a state subject. Till now, the ministry has already received four drafts on the proposed law, one from the Indian Institute of Technology – Consortium and others from 'individuals' and 'groups'.
The NMCG, in the course of coming months, will fast track appraisal of sewage treatment plant projects (STP) under the Namami Gange mission, on the back of the Union Cabinet's approval for the flagship scheme, officials said during the presentation.
The mission has been allocated Rs20,000 crores till 2019-20, of which Rs7,272 crores would be utilised for the already sanctioned on-going projects and liabilities while Rs12,728 crores would be used for the new projects.
A major chunk of the money for on-going projects – Rs8,000 crores – has been earmarked for creation of sewerage infrastructure to address the sewage treatment gap of 2,500 million litres/day involving 144 polluting drains. The next biggest amount of Rs.1,750 crores would be spent on providing sanitation across 1,657 gram panchayats along the Ganga.
Also, in a departure from the Ganga Action Plans of the past that saw several treatment plants languishing, under Namami Gange the Centre will provide 100% funding for infrastructure creation and additionally will also provide for operation and maintenance costs of the assets for a minimum of ten years, NMCG officials said.
According to officials, about 4,000 MLD of untreated sewage water is being let into Ganga, while 501 MLD of industrial effluents are reaching the holy river everyday. As part of its initiative to clean Ganga, the ministry has also approached a social organisation, which has agreed to build community toilets in over 1,600 villages situated on banks river Ganga, the sources claimed.
"We would also be launching three dolphin conservation projects in River Ganga this year," the sources said
Eight cities shortlisted for pilot project
Out of the 118 towns identified to be chiefly polluting Ganga with domestic sewage, projects have been sanctioned in 50 towns and in the rest 68, it will begin by June 2016.
Realistically, NMCG said during its presentation, the entire sewerage treatment infrastructure would be operational by 2018-19. As far as surface pollution is concerned, the agency is starting eight pilot projects across Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna, Sahibganj, Mathura, Navadweep, Haridwar to clean solid waste using machineries such as skimmers and aerators.