ThePrint’s visits to Kanpur and Varanasi showed that the Ganga is far from being cleaned, and projects under Namami Gange have been progressing sluggishly.
While announcing the Union Budget for 2018-19, finance minister Arun Jaitley included Namami Gange in his speech as one of the areas where the Modi government has performed.
Cleaning up the Ganga was one of Narendra Modi’s major electoral promises in 2014. However, in the last four years, not much has improved, as ThePrint’s ground reports from Kanpur and Varanasi showed.
“Cleaning the Ganga is of national importance, we have sanctioned 187 projects under Namami Gange scheme. Forty-seven projects have been completed.”
Out of 190 sanctioned projects, only 47 have been completed, but this itself has taken four years.
Zero projects have been completed under rural sanitation, afforestation, biodiversity conservation, and riverfront development, according to the latest National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) report (31 December 2017).
No ghats and crematoria projects have been completed under the Modi government’s Namami Gange initiative, though the sanctioned cost of these projects is Rs 1,204.68 crore.
Any progress on the ghats and crematoria along the banks of river Ganga has been on the 24 projects started by the previous government under National Ganga River Basin Authority programme, at a cost of Rs 180.16 crore.
“Cleaning Ganga project has gathered speed.”
Only Rs 3,072.92 crore of the Rs 20,000 crore budget has been released in three years by the Modi government to clean the Ganga. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in February 2017 rapped the government, saying “not a single drop of Ganga has been cleaned so far”.
The progress on cleaning Ganga has been sluggish. Until December 2017, Namami Gange had created only 228.13 MLD of sewage treatment capacity of the 2,278.08 MLD capacity it aimed for. In the past three years, merely 19 sewage infrastructure projects have been completed of the 97 sanctioned.
“667 Ganga Gram villages declared open defecation-free.”
Only 667 villages out of the 4,470 Ganga Gram villages has been declared open defecation free.
However, open defecation still exists on the banks of river Ganga, and as ThePrint reported, even in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s own parliamentary constituency.
About 100 metres from Assi Ghat, people were defecating on the banks of the river.
Prime Minister Modi’s last cabinet reshuffle in September put Nitin Gadkari in charge of the Ministry of Water Resources and Ganga rejuvenation, replacing Uma Bharti, who was seen to have failed to deliver.