New Delhi: The Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Water Resources), Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said there has been a massive improvement in the Clean Ganga Mission during the last five years.
“Recently, a massive river rafting expedition called ‘Ganga Aamantran Abhiyan’ was launched from Devprayag on 10 October. The expedition covered around 2,500 km of the Ganga during its 34-day journey to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal. Quality of water in the Ganga has improved tremendously in the last five years. The best parameter of assessing the quality improvement of water is the growth in aquatic wildlife. Five years earlier, only tens of Gangetic dolphins were sighted, but this time they have observed more than 2,000 dolphins and all other aquatic life has improved. They have also observed massive improvement in floating trash,” said Shekhawat, addressing the 4th India Water Impact Summit 2019 in New Delhi today.
He said the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for establishment of the Clean Ganga Fund (CGF). Appealing for liberal contributions, Shekhawat said, “The CGF will have the objective of contributing to the national effort of improving the cleanliness of the river Ganga with contributions received from the residents and non-residents of the country. The Fund will define specific and measurable objectives to form the basis for planning, funding, and evaluation.”
The Jal Shakti Minister said the approach in Namami Gange for ensuring Aviral Dhara or improving flows is comprehensive. “It includes assessment and notification of environmental flows, catchment area treatment and afforestation, conservation and rejuvenation of wetlands, floodplain protection, springs rejuvenation, improving water use efficiency particularly in agriculture, because agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the world and in India it is more severe as our waters are considered the lowest productive water in the world.”
Shekhawat said the Government launched the Namami Gange Mission as an integrated mission for conservation and rejuvenation of Ganga and its tributaries with a comprehensive basin based approach.
“In 2016, the National Mission for Clean Ganga has been notified as an authority for carrying out diverse set of interventions for obtaining the twin goals of Nirmalta & Aviralta of Ganga by ensuring effective abatement of pollution and maintaining required ecological flows. Around 305 projects have been taken up for sewage, industrial effluents etc. This has further been strengthened and accorded due priority under Jal Shakti Abhiyan and an integrated approach to water sector through creation of Ministry for Jal Shakti,” he said.
“Namami Gange mission also understands the crucial role people can play in conservation of river Ganga and has been taking up several innovative steps to bring people closer to the river and its tributaries which contribute in one way or the other for their rejuvenation,” he added.
Underlining the motto ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas‘ by Prime Minister Modi will be the cornerstone of the Namami Gange program, said Shekhawat, lauding the role of academic institutions including IITs, NITs, NEERI and others from India and the European Union, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Japan and Canada for Technology Collaboration Agreements with c-Ganga (Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies).
“We have technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence, containerized sewage treatment , plastic pollution management, waste trading platform, bio-remediation and aquaponics, membrane based farming system, water tracking & management system, distillery waste to biofuel, advanced anaerobic digestion, and UV water treatment,” he said.
Stressing on the Environment Flow and Urban River Management Plan, Shekhawat said that under the first draft of the Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) submitted by a consortium of IITs in 2015, projects for liquid pollution abatement in Ganga river basin have already been sanctioned and are at various stages of implementation, and more such projects will come for the tributaries of the river as well.
“Government of India vide Notification dated 9 Oct 2018 has notified minimum environmental flows to be maintained in the Ganga from its origin to Unnao in U.P. We have recently started a pilot project to develop the Urban River Management Plan with NIUA”, said Shekhawat.
“These are probably the two areas where there is a scope of experience sharing with the global experts. We are working to have integrated water management where the mainstream health of the rivers and water bodies should become an important part of urban planning,” he added.
Pointing out that the cleaning of rivers including Ganga is a perpetual process and will always require dedicated service of the people to maintain its healthy state, Shekhawat advocated integrated water management, preventing degradation and pollution of rivers, lakes and aquifers, promoting the recycle and reuse of treated wastewater and, where necessary, restoration and maintenance of acceptable environmental conditions and water quality.
Stating that India holds only about 4% of global freshwater compared to around 18% of its population and an equivalent percentage of livestock population, Shekhawat said India’s urban population is growing at a fast pace.
“As per the 2011 Census, 377 million people live in urban areas. By 2030, urban India is likely to have about 600 million people. This burdens natural resources like water bodies and rivers tremendously,” Shekhawat observed.
On the occasion, Shekhawat released the Report on Ambassadors’ Meet held on 22 Aug 2019, Report on River Restoration and Conservation – A Concise Manual and Guide, and Documents on “cGanga Hubs.”
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Prof. Vinod Tare, founding head c-Ganga, Sisir Kumar Ratho, Deputy Director General – NMCG, besides Ambassadors and High Commissioners of participating countries were also present.
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