Nitin Gadkari sharing the revival strategy in place for River Ganga by 2020
Nitin Gadkari sharing the revival strategy in place for River Ganga by 2020

River Ganga set for a new lease of life by 2020; revival to transform Ganga as a globally renowned tourist destination

 The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari has said that it is feasible to achieve the target of cleaning almost 70%-80% of river Ganga by March 2019 and the whole river by March 2020. He said that private sector support and funding through Hybrid Annuity Model are two instruments which would be pivotal in facilitating this.

Elaborating further on National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Gadkari said that the focus is on ten major towns which discharge almost 64% of total sewage. Focus is also on the tributaries of Ganges discharging dirty water into the river.

Pointing out the heightened pace of project initiation and execution, the Minister said that 12 projects aimed at cleaning 40 nalah sat a cost of Rs. 4,500 crore have been started. He said that the principle of One City One Operator has been introduced, to improve efficiency. Private operators are involved who will be also responsible for maintaining the quality of cleaning work by doing checks three times a day. They will check Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) to ascertain project progress. Real-time Water Quality Monitoring (RTWQM) stations have been set in operation, more of which will be operationalized in the second phase.

Traditional procurement models like EPC and DBOT do not provide adequate safeguards for sustainable Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of sewage treatment plants.  Speaking about the suitability of the Hybrid Annuity model for sectors with uncertain revenue streams, the Minister said that under this model, 40% cost of Namami Gange projects are borne by the government, 40% cost by private operators and 20% from bank guarantees.

Nitin Gadkari further spoke about turning the waste coming into rivers into wealth. He cited the example of Mathura refinery, where the waste water generated is being reused in power plants or for purposes like cleaning railways. He even cited the example of capturing methane emanating from waste and using it as fuel.

The Minister further said that rivers in India are important from religious, economic and tourist points of view. He gave the example of Varanasi-Haldia waterway; he said it will soon enable transport of cargo through waterways well upto Myanmar and Bangladesh. He said that 60 river-ports will be developed and River Traffic Control System will be developed, on the lines of Air Traffic Control System.

The cleaning of Ganga will not be possible until surrounding villages are clean, the Minster said. In this regard, 4,500 villages on the banks of Ganga have become Open Defecation Free and that 10 crore trees are being planted along its banks.Trash skimmers are deployed in 11 cities viz. Delhi, Haridwar, Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sahibganj, Howrah, Mathura-Vrindavan and Nabadwip.

Alongwith cleaning of the Ganga, the access to the origin of the river will be made available round the year. He mentioned the plan to develop all-weather roads to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath at a cost of Rs. 12,000 crore.

Gadkari further said that while there is no dearth of funds for the mission, he wishes to mobilise funds from at least 1 crore people, so that as many people are able to play a direct role in the cleaning of the river which is so sacred and dear to us.

The Minister spoke of a promising proposal which he has received, on building a Water Temple at a cost of Rs. 200 crore. Citing this, he invited the industry to come forward and implement this. He said that the holy river should be clean like many religious places the world over; he said that Ganga should be made a globally renowned tourist destination.

News Update| 31 August 2018| IWAI Makes India’s First Standardised Modern Ship Design for Ganga

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on 31st August 2018 made public 13 standardised state-of-the-art ship designs suitable for large barge haulage on river Ganga (National Waterway-1). This marks attaining of a critical milestone in the growth of the country’s Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector as it will help overcome the unique navigation challenges river Ganga throws due to its complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, shifting channels, meanders and current. It will serve as an enabler for domestic shipbuilding industry working on inland vessels and open huge possibilities for cargo and passenger movement on National Waterway-1.

The Government is implementing Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 (Varanasi-Haldia stretch) at a cost of Rs 5369.18 crore with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank. Even as the work on JMVP is going on in full steam, the specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts with high carrying capacity and at the same time, environment friendly. For the shipbuilding industry, the new designs will translate into a savings of Rs 30-50 lakhs in the building of a vessel.

 Available free on the IWAI website, the designs will remove ambiguity on the class and type of vessels that can sail  on river Ganga with efficient manoeuvrability.  They will help shipyards build vessels of standardised dimensions and capacity and make them available off the shelf besides developing the ‘sale and purchase’ market for inland vessels. The designs will lead to reduced fuel costs and in turn lesser logistics costs.

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