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Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari today said there will be a lot of improvement in water quality of the Ganga by March 2019, though he remained non-committal on whether the river will be cleaned completely in this period.
Gadkari's predecessor in the ministry, Uma Bharti, had earlier stated that the government had resolved to make Ganga a clean river by October 2018 by completing the first phase of its Namami Gange initiative.
The minister said efforts are being made to float tenders for all the works relating to Namami Gange by December-end this year and issue work orders by March next year. He also said that the government will ensure transparent and corruption-free implementation of the project.
He credited Bharti for doing the ground work for cleaning the river during the past three years.
The Minister was speaking during signing of an agreement for setting up sewage treatment plants in public private partnership mode in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Haridwar (Uttarakhand) at a cost over Rs 320 crore.
"It (cleaning Ganga) is a difficult task. It is not an easy task. Our effort is to see that, when you will calculate the COD and BOD levels of Ganga waters in March (2019), you will see lot of change (improvement) in it," Gadkari said.
The chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) are valuable tests for assessing pollution levels.
The minister noted that the Centre had a short span of time in its hand to finish the projects and recalled that the ruling party had promised to clean the river before the next general elections.
"Let's try for it, think for the best. And it is a difficult task, this is not my commitment and I am not saying I will accomplish it. (But) I am saying I will try to accomplish it," he added.
The minister also urged the media to spread awareness about social-cultural programmes relating to the Ganga for ensuring that the campaign becomes a social movement.
"This is not just a government programme, but of all those who love the river," he added.
The minister said that the government has resolved to complete the works and the chief ministers of all Ganga basin states were co-operating on the issue.
On the tanneries in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur polluting Ganga waters, Gadkari said the ministry has discussed a new technology to curb pollution with the tanneries association there.
He said the association has responded positively to the proposal, which will be discussed with the Uttar Pradesh government too before a tender is floated.
Gadkari also said that the ministry has convened a meeting of top officials from six Ganga basin states on October 30 to review "each water recycling/purifying project" there. Minister of State for Water Resources Satyapal Singh will also be attending the meeting, he said.
"After that, each month a meeting will be held with state ministers, officials to review progress of the projects. There will be a performance audit," he added.
Gadkari also said that ensuring a 'nirmal Ganga' (Clean Ganga) was the government's priority. He said an "unfettered flow" in the river will be ensured automatically once the river is clean.
At one point, Gadkari said officials will have to work in a "do or die" mode and also said that contractors will be dealt with sternly if they put up a poor show.
He also urged private players to join the cause of cleaning the river under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
The minister appealed to religious institutions and NGOs to adopt villages along the Ganga and develop them as 'Aadarsh Ganga Gram'.
Gadkari also said that the ministry is exploring innovative ways for utilisation of recycled water, an official statement issued later said.
According to another statement, the tripartite agreement for the sewage treatment plant in Varanasi was signed among National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and Essel Infra Projects Limited.
The contract for Haridwar was signed among NMCG, Uttarakhand Peyjal Nigam and HNB Engineers Private Limited.
The work for setting up 50 million litres daily capacity sewage treatment plant in Varanasi will be carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 153.16 crore.
In Haridwar, two STPs of 68 MLD and 14 MLD will be developed, spending around Rs 171.53 crore, the statement said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)