It seems like PM Modi’s ambitious Namami Gange project has failed to make much headway. Modi did make the project a centrepiece of his election promise, but the Ganga today is the second most polluted river in the world. In February, this year, the National Green Tribunal rebuked the Union government for wasting public money without any effective pollution control in this direction.
After his landslide victory in the 2014 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged in Varanasi (his constituency) to clean and rejuvenate river Ganga by 2020. Three years hence and nothing much has been achieved yet. Very few clean bathing ghats and crematoriums have been completed so far. The government had allocated Rs 20,000 crores for the project, but only 18 per cent of it has been released so far and only 9 per cent of the total fund has been used so far.
In a response to an RTI filed by a class 10th student of Lucknow, the government said that Rs 2,137 crore was allocated for the national mission of Ganga cleaning in 2014-15. This was cut by Rs 84 crore to Rs 2,053 crores. But the union government, despite the hype, spent only Rs 326 crore, leaving more than Rs 1,700 crores unspent.
Stretching about 2,525 kilometres in length and passing through 5 major states, the Ganga provides water to 40 per cent of India’s population and yet it is one of the country’s most used and abused rivers. The Ganga’s vast coverage across multiple states and level of usage indeed makes it difficult to clean it up within a short time period but at least some results should have been visible within three years.
The January lab report released by Sankat Mochan Foundation, that's been testing Ganga's water quality and the bathing ghats of Varanasi, found the fecal coliform count (FCC) count had jumped from 41,00 per 100ml in 2014 to 50,000 per 100ml in 2017, which is way beyond the permissible limit of 500 per 100ml.
Today, Ganga is contaminated with industrial waste, animal waste, human waste, and garbage. More than 3,000 million litres of waste water enter Ganga every day while we have mechanisms to treat only 1,000 million litres of waste water. The odour of effluents, animal, and human excreta still disturbs people after the aarti.
It is high time that the government realized that taking half measures lead to full failures.