New Delhi: From Adani to the Shapoorji Pallonji group, cleaning the Ganga is attracting big private players who had stayed away from this sector.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Union Jal Shakti ministry, set up by the Modi government in 2014, has in the last three years awarded close to a dozen projects to private players for developing sewage treatment plants (STPs) in states through which the 2,525-km river flows. Another 21 projects are in various stages of tendering.
The companies include the Adani Group-Organica consortium, which was awarded two projects worth Rs 1,671 crore for sewage treatment work in Uttar Pradesh. The Adani Group has also bid for a third project worth Rs 254 crore in Bihar.
The Shapoorji Pallonji Private Limited has won three bids, entailing an investment of Rs 1,124 crore for developing a new STP and other sewage treatment work in Uttar Pradesh. Other private players who have been awarded projects include Essel Infraprojects Limited, Triveni Engineering & Industries Limited, among others.
The NMCG has awarded the projects under the hybrid annuity model (HAM) — a public-private partnership where the government pays 40 per cent of the capital during the construction period while the developer invests the remaining 60 per cent.
The HAM model is being used in the water sector for the first time. The model is being successfully used in the highways sector.
“We are getting a good response from the private sector. Since 2017, eight projects for cleaning the Ganga have been awarded to private players,” a senior official of the water resources ministry said.
So far, 29 projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore have been awarded under HAM. Work has already started in Varanasi, Mathura, Haridwar, Kanpur and Prayagraj.
One city one operator for cleaning Ganga
To ensure that projects that have been awarded are completed on time, NMCG has now adapted one-city-one-operator under HAM. Under the one-city-one-operator concept, new STPs that are being developed will be integrated with the existing sewage treatment infrastructure in the city or town concerned.
“The idea is that no untreated sewage enters the Ganga,” the official quoted earlier said. The one-city-one-operator concept is being implemented in Prayagraj, Kanpur, Howrah-Bally-Baranagar and Kamarhati.
It was in 2014 after the Modi government came to power that cleaning the Ganga became one of its key focus areas. A special department — National Mission for Cleaning Ganga — was set up under the water resources ministry. In 2015, the government launched the flagship river cleaning programme called Namami Gange with a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore.
To clean the river, sewage infrastructure projects are coming up in eight states — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh — through which the river flows.
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