The issue of Ganga played a pivotal role in the 2014 general elections. The government put in place its flagship programme the 'Namami Gange Programme' which came in force in June 2014 with a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for five years. The mission had two objectives -
- Effective abatement of pollution
- Rejuvenation of national river Ganga
In Haridwar alone, to clean Ganga, a budget of Rs 1,200 crore was allocated. But the ground reality showed a different picture.Four years to clean Ganga flagship project. Where do we stand?
Eenadu India team made a visit to several ghats in Haridwar and closely inspected the two famous ghats – Har ki Pauri and the Birla Ghat. The ground reality showed that although the district administration is well versed with the ills that are plaguing Ganga, not much has been done to revive it. Read also: Donate one-month salary to Clean Ganga Fund, Gadkari urges Prez, PM
Rampant pollution and indiscriminate dumping of industrial and other waste for years have resulted in the Ganga becoming one of the world’s most polluted rivers and unfit for usage in many parts of India. Around 27 sewers flow through the Ganga on a daily basis deeming it unfit to drink or bath as it has thousands times more faecal coliform than the prescribed limit.
Major sewers that fall in the Ganga in Haridwar are:
- Kusha ghat drain
- Laltarapul drain
- Naisotte drain
- Satya Sarovar drain
- Loknath Ghat drain
- Jwalapur drain
- Drain of the Valmiki Basti
- Kangra Mandir
- Seva Sadan drain
- Prem Nagar ghat
Reports show that every day 10 million litres of sewage flows through the Ganges. The source of this sewage is nearby industrial areas as well as hotel establishments. The case isn't that the drain flows underground, rather it mixes with the water in the areas where people bath and falls in the visibility of the district administration.
Official data show that every day around 120 million litres per day (MLD) of the Ganges is sent for treatment, while the capacity of Haridwar pumping station is only 63 MLD. This shows that there is an excess of 50 MLD water.
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Locals say that union minister Uma Bharti, who earlier headed the Ganga clean up ministry had witnessed the situation many times, but no concrete steps were taken.
In the Har ki Pauri ghat, the sewage flowing through Naisotte ghat directly flows into the Ganga. Although the administration tried to tap the drains, work has been sluggish.
Locals say that if this is the condition of the most famous Har Ki Pauri Ghat is so acute, the other ghats must be in a more serious situation.
In the Birla ghat, earlier, the sewage only flowed during the rainy seasons. But it is a perennial problem now. The sewage from nearby hotels, ashrams, residential places, all flow through the river every day. Although there is a sewage treatment plant nearby, sewage keeps on flowing.
The water of the river and the drains are distinct in this ghat. Although the district administration had taken steps to close the stream of the sewage, on the ground it has not been of much effect.
In this stream, the dirty water of Nirmala Cantonment, Bilkeshwar Colony, Brahmapuri and the main market also flows in the Ganga. Attempts were being made to stop the water by stirring clay, but it is not the reality as the government claims.
Nitin Gadkari along with his cabinet collegue Uma Bhatri convened a press conference through video-conferencing saying that the Rs 20,000-crore Namami Gange project will be completed by December 2019.Read also: NGT raps Ganga Mission for failure to file compliance report
"A huge hue and cry is being raised that nothing has been done to clean the Ganga. Those making such claims should know it that the pace of the work on the Rs 20,000-crore Namami Gange project has been accelerated.
Around 70%-80% work is expected to be completed by March 2019 while the remaining would be over by December 2019," Gadkari said.
He also promised that the infamous Sisamau drain in Kanpur which caused deadly pollution to the Ganga would be fully tapped by October.