New Delhi, June 7, 2014: The Narendra Modi government is planning to dredge the Ganga to create a 45-mt wide and 3-mt deep waterway between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Hooghly in West Bengal, to transport people and goods.
On its course will be 11 river ports and several barrages, proposed to be constructed at a gap of every 100 km to feed the mighty river. Cleaning up the Ganga, one of India’s most polluted rivers, was one of the promises made by the BJP and Modi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, has created a separate ministerial portfolio on Ganga rejuvenation, which is being handled by Uma Bharti in addition to water resources.
On Friday, Bharti met Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Tourism Minister Shripada Naik to discuss the road map and challenges.
It was decided that an inter-ministerial committee of secretaries be formed under the chairmanship of Water Resources Secretary Alok Rawat to chart out a plan in about a month’s time. A Cabinet note would be prepared based on this and brought up for discussion, Gadkari said.
“We will be incorporating ideas as and when required. Ganga is our top priority. It is not that we are not prioritising other rivers, but we will have to create a model first which can be replicated elsewhere,” Bharti said.
Gadkari also said that a research institute specifically to look into the Ganga has been proposed under the HRD ministry, possibly at Roorkee, and the tourism ministry would implement measures to develop tourism here. More facilities for transport of coal, fertiliser and food would be developed later.
The transport minister said waste water from industries in Kanpur and Allahabad would be recycled, while that from other sources would also be treated before it flows into the Ganga.
One of the key problems is the large number of non-functioning treatment plants because of which domestic and industrial waste gets dumped directly into the river. Over Rs 3,000 crore has been spent on the Ganga Action Plan so far.
However, it is not clear as to what would be the status of the National Ganga River Basin Authority set up by the UPA-II government.