A flock of migratory Siberian birds, on December 17, 2018 in Varanasi, India. (Rajesh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 
Snapshot
  • Seven cities across the northern plains on the Ganga and its tributaries. Seven points of polluted discharge into the great river.

    Here is how the Namami Gange project is coming up with the solutions to this problem.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Namami Gange project and allocated Rs 20,000 crores to it in the 2015 budget, the approach the government would adopt to clean the Ganga, and if it would learn the right lessons from the colossal failure of the Ganga Action Plan, was unknown.

Four and a half years later, there is evidence that the Modi government seems to have found effective solutions to the challenges of governance, infrastructure shortage and minimum flow that the previous governments failed to address.

Here’s how its flagship programme has progressed in these seven cities: Kanpur, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Delhi and Patna.

Kanpur

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Kanpur, with its large drains like the one in Sisamau and Jajmau, and hundreds of water guzzling tanneries and paper industries, is the city which pollutes Ganga the most. The city generates nearly 375 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage, which will increase to 460 MLD by 2035. It already has a treatment capacity of 457 MLD, but much of it was not fully operational due to poor governance.

Under Namami Gange, the government has sanctioned 10 projects worth Rs. 2192 crore for Kanpur zone, which includes Kanpur town, Unnao, Shuklaganj and Bithoor. In Kanpur, the government has managed to rehabilitate existing sewage treatment plants (STPs) with 450 MLD capacity and 300 km of sewerage network. Work on a 15 MLD STP at Baniyapurwa and laying of 100 km sewerage network is also ongoing in the city.

Most importantly, the biggest drain in the city, the Sisamau nala, which dumped around 140 MLD of untreated waste water into the Ganga every day, has been diverted to the newly rehabilitated STPs in the city.

In the nearby towns of Unnao, Shuklaganj and Bithoor, the current sewage generation is 13 MLD, 4 MLD and 1.3 MLD respectively. Under Namami Gange, a 2 MLD STP at Bithoor, a 15 MLD STP at Unnao and 5 MLD STP at Shuklaganj are being constructed.

Varanasi

Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, considered one of the oldest living cities in the world, is at the centre of his Namami Gange mission. It was here, on the campaign trail ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, that Modi announced his intent to make the Ganga nirmal and aviral again.

Under Namami Gange, the government has completed the construction of 140 MLD STP at Dinapur at a cost of Rs 235.53 crore and a 28 km long relieving trunk sewer, rising mains and interceptor sewers along Varuna & Assi rivers at a cost of Rs 155.87 crore. Three pumping stations in at Chaukaghat (140 MLD), Phulwaria (7.6 MLD) and Saraiya (3.7 MLD), along the Varuna river, have been built.

In the satellite town of Ramnagar, a sewage management system, which involves interception of four large drains finding their way into the Ganga, and the construction of a 10 MLD STP for treatment of the intercepted waste water, is coming up. Two other STPs, with a total treatement capacity of 170 MLD will come up in Goitha and Ramana.

The city generates around 300 MLD of sewage per day. Completion of these projects will take the treatment capacity in the city to 412 MLD.

Apart from these projects, the government is also working on renovating existing sewerage network and ghats in the city.

Prayagraj

For Prayagraj, the site of the Maha Kumbh, the government has sanctioned at least 10 projects at an estimated cost of Rs. 2915 crore for creation of 779 km sewerage network in the city and the construction of eight STPs having total capacity of 191 MLD. This includes three STPs of 72 MLD capacity, with one STP of 42 MLD at Naini, the second one with 14 MLD at Phaphamau and the third of 16 MLD at Jhusi. Around 456 km of sewerage network is under construction as of now.

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By December 2018, four projects were complete, bringing online sewage treatment capacity of 119 MLD and sewerage network of 129 km.

In view of the Kumbh Mela, financial assistance for 27,500 toilets, 20,000 urinals and 16,000 dustbins have been provided. (Also Read: How Yogi Government Is Making This Year’s Kumbh Mela Cleanest In India’s Modern History)

Rishikesh

Rishikesh is the place where the Ganga first encounters large-scale urban settlements. The government has sanctioned a total of 31 projects for Uttarakhand. Of these, eight are in and around Rishikesh. Work on construction of two STPs with a total treatment capacity of 12.5 MLD, two sewage pumping stations and laying of sewer lines is under progress at Muni-Ki-Reti, which witnesses a huge footfall due to its famous ashrams, including the Divine Life Society of Sivananda Saraswati. STPs will also come up in Jagjeetpur and Sarai under Public-Private Partnership based Hybrid Annuity model.

Under this model, up to 40 per cent of the capital investment will be made by the government through construction-linked milestones. This would ensure timely completion of projects. The remaining capital will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost expenses, and will be linked to the performance of the STP. This would ensure continued optimal performance of the infrastructure commissioned under Namami Gange.

Haridwar

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Ganges enters the northern plains at Haridwar, one of the holiest places for Hindus. According to the government, Biochemical Oxygen Demand - the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms - was found above acceptable limit downstream of Haridwar. BOD level above the permissible limit indicates polluted water.

To deal with this under the Namami Gange project, the existing sewage treatment infrastructure has been modernised and a new 82 MLD STP is under construction in the town. The project is being completed under the Hybrid Annuity Model.

Delhi

The Ganga has ten major tributaries, along with which it drains 26 per cent of India’s total geographical area. Untreated waste water which finds its way into its tributaries, including Yamuna - one of the world’s most polluted rivers, reaches Ganga at some point. Therefore, any strategy which does not take into account this waste water is bound to fail in achieving the aim of clean Ganga.

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To deal with this, Namami Gange mission also focuses on cities along the stretch of Ganga’s tributaries, and Delhi is one of these.

In Delhi, the government has sanctioned two STP projects for creating 340 MLD waste treatment capacity at a cost of Rs 580 crore. The first is a 318 MLD capacity STP at Coronation Pillar. The second project involves the construction of 9 decentralised STPs of total 22.5 MLD capacity. The water treated at these STPs will be used to rejuvenate eight waterbodies in the city and for irrigation.

At least seven STPs with total capacity of 94 MLD will come up in Najafgarh. The total number of projects being undertaken in Delhi under Namami Gange is 11.

While Delhi currently generates nearly 4155 MLD of sewage, the existing treatment capacity is limited to little over 2690 MLD.

Patna

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Patna, the largest city in Bihar with a population of over two million, generates over 285 MLD of sewage and has the capacity to treat a little over 110 MLD.

Under Namami Gange, 11 STPs are being constructed in Patna to create a treatment capacity of around 350 MLD. Work to tap all 33 drains in the city and to create a 1140 km sewerage network is under progress. These projects will be completed at an estimated cost of around Rs 3,580 crore.

A total of 29 projects worth Rs 5042.11 crore are ongoing in Bihar under Namami Gange programme. The state is expected to generate 606 MLD of sewage by 2035 and has 124 MLD of existing sewage treatment capacity.

Also Read: How Modi’s Grand Project Is Making Gradual But Certain Progress

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