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Sewage infrastructure development along Ganga River remains slow

New Delhi : Despite the urgency to clean and rejuvenate the Ganga River as per the 2019-20 deadline given by the Centre, the progress of sewage infrastructure development remains woefully tardy.

Till August 2018, less than a fourth of the proposed sewage infrastructure projects have been completed under the Namami Gange Mission while no new sewage treatment capacity has been added at all in Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Out of proposed 114 projects related to sewage infrastructure at a sanctioned cost of Rs 17534.59 crore, only 27 had been completed till August-end while as many as 56 were under progress and 24 remained under the tendering process. Till the month-end only Rs 3472.29 crore had been invested in the creation of sewage infrastructure, NMCG data shows.

In fact, over the past several months since the beginning of the year, the progress of sewage infrastructure creation has been steadily slow.

Government data shows that as on January 31, 2018, as many as 97 sewage infrastructure projects worth Rs 14127.49 crore had been envisaged. But, only 20 projects were completed while 42 were under progress and 20 were under the tendering process. In the case of remaining 15 project, the administrative approval and expenditure sanction (AA&ES) has been given.

In April-end, out of the 102 projects worth Rs 16998.25 core, only 23 were recorded as completed while 45 were under progress and 23 were under tendering.

In the three months since then, only 27 of the 113 projects worth Rs 17485.11 crore has been completed while 52 projects were under progress and 28 were shown as under tendering process, NMCG data as on July 31, 2018 shows.

The Namami Gange Programme has the objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of Ganga. The main components of the programme are sewerage treatment infrastructure, river-front development and river-surface cleaning, afforestation, bio-diversity, industrial effluent monitoring and creation of public awareness.

A senior Union Water Resources Ministry official said the pace of progress has picked up in recent months and most of the projects that are underway would see completion by the end of the current financial year.

However, only two main Ganga basin states - Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh - have seen completion of 23 of the 27 projects till now, with no fresh sewage infrastructure having been completed in Bihar and Jharkhand at all and two projects getting completed in West Bengal. The other two completed projects are in Haryana.

In a recent PTI news report, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari was quoted as saying that the Government was making strides towards developing a sewage infrastructure by implementing 115 treatment projects in seven states at an estimated cost of Rs 18,000 crore.

"To make Ganga 'nirmal' and 'aviral', government is making strides and as part of the drive is implementing 115 sewage treatment projects in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi at a cost of Rs 17,876.69 crore," Gadkari said.

The 115 projects for sewage infrastructure are part of 240 projects for the overall development of the Ganga. Of these, 27 have been completed and work in 42 is in progress and tenders have been out for 34 others.

Of the total projects, maximum are in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar and West Bengal.

Gadkari said cleaning works would start getting remarkably noticeable in another six months.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Shapoorji Pallonji group has been awarded a Rs 893-crore tender by the Uttar Pradesh Government to address pollution in the Ganga in Kanpur.

The funds are to be made available from the Rs 20,000 crore corpus with the National Mission for Clean Ganga and will be spent on construction of new sewage treatment plants (STPs), repairing and rehabilitation of old ones.

Kanpur remains the biggest contributor to pollution in the Ganga. According to a news report in The Hindu, the Kanpur zone tender involves building a 30 MLD STP in Pankha, 15 MLD plant in Unnao and 5 MLD plant in Shuklaganj.

Along with being operated and maintained for 15 years, an existing 130 MLD plant in Jajmau would be “rehabilitated” as also another 43 MLD STP at Jajmau, a 210 MLD STP at Bingawan and a 42 MLD STP at Sajri.

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