Environment Indian Subcontinent Nature Voice

GD Agarwal on 114th day indefinite fast to save Ganga dies

Environment activist and Retd IIT Professor G D Agarwal, who was sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since June 22nd 2018 demanding that the government clean the river Ganga, died at the AIIMS hospital in Rishikesh on Thursday, officials said.

Agarwal breathed his last at the hospital here at around 2 pm. He was moved to the AIIMS hospital, Rishikesh on October 9 from the protest site.

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council which was set up in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016. The order dissolved National Ganga River Basin Authority. The aim is to clean the Ganga  and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner.

Gadkari is the present Minister for Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

In July 2018 it has been proved  how pollution levels in river Ganga at Varanasi’s ghats are higher than the levels recorded back in 2014 when the Modi government launched its most ambitious Namami Gange initiative to clean up the river.

Another RTI application with the Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry. when asked about new projects initiated to clean the Ganga, money that was allocated towards these projects, their completion date and their likely impact.

In response, the Government of India said, “a total of Rs 20,000 crore has been allocated for this project to be spend over the next five years (2020).” It further said that “till date, under Namami Gange programme, a total of 221 projects have been sanctioned for various activities such as the treatment of municipal sewage, treatment of industrial effluent, river surface cleaning, etc. at a total cost of Rs 22,238.73 crore, out of which 58 projects have been completed.”

This means an additional Rs 2,238.73 crore has been sanctioned towards the allocated fund and more than one and half year is still to go. Only one fourth of the sanctioned projects are complete.


On sewage treatment plants, the RTI response said, “Till date, a total of 105 sewerage infrastructure and STP projects have been sanctioned which will prevent 3293.68 MLD (million litres per day) of untreated sewage discharging directly into river Ganga. A total of 26 projects have been completed so far.” Here too, only one fourth of the sanctioned projects have been completed.

The Government further said, “the projects taken up so far will take care of all the interventions required in respect of sewage treatment requirement till year 2035 on the main stem of river Ganga.”

In May 2018, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had set March 2019 as the new deadline to clean river Ganga and ensure a “70 to 80 per cent” improvement in its water quality.

With only one fourth of sanctioned projects being completed till August 2018, how can the government achieve this miracle in the next 6-7 months? Cleaning the Ganga was one of the major poll promises of the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Going by the government’s own status report, it looks very unlikely that it will be able to fulfil its promise.

I


Splco News Correspondent
News analysis wing of Splco Media a bilingual (English & Tamil) novel social media channel.
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