Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan for “aviral aur nirmal (continuous and clean)” Ganga may cost a Rs 80,000 crore, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said here on Monday.
The government may provide around 30 per cent of this sum through viability-gap funding and the rest will come through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
“Water pollution is the biggest issue when it comes to the Ganga… For a clean river, we will have to stop this… If we have to take the estimated cost of this entire project, this comes out to be Rs 80,000 crore, but as the government will not be able to yield so much on its own, we suggested Uma Bharti (Union water resources minister) that 30 per cent of the funds be provided by the Centre through viability gap funding and the rest 70 per cent could be invested by people through the PPP model,” said Gadkari at Ganga Manthan, national dialogue on the Ganga here on Monday.
Gadkari said now there is technology to convert waste into wealth. “Waste is gold. Today, there is technology available to convert waste into wealth. Water can be recycled and used for industrial and agricultural needs,” said Gadkari.
Gadkari heads the inter-ministerial panel constituted to work on cleaning and rejuvenating the Ganga. Other members include: Uma Bharti, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Union Minister for Tourism (independent charge) Sripad Naik.
Gadkari said the inter-ministerial panel had discussed the fund feasibility with Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “We also told them that the various authorities that work on river Ganga should come under Uma Bharti so that development work is initiated soon… The PM was very positive about this,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari said a decision is yet to be taken on what technology could be utilised to clean the Ganga. “Everything in this process would work on the concept of decentralisation. Work will be divided and the project will be implemented in phases. It will be done in a time-bound and transparent manner,” Gadkari said.
Meanwhile, Bharti said the Modi-led government was committed to ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted flow of the Ganga from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, and there would be no shortage of fund.
Describing Modi as the “modern-day Bhagirath”, Bharti said it was only because of him that deliberations were held later and notification of bringing the Ganga project under the water resources ministry was done first.
According to a 2012 Central Pollution Control Board report, the Centre has so far spent over Rs 20,000 crore on various clean-up projects related to the Ganga.
Gadkari said his ministry has proposed to conduct dredging to provide a width of 45 m and five m draft (depth) to enable navigation of small ships between Varanasi and Hooghly on river Ganga.
He said barrages were proposed to be constructed at every 100 km on the river. For the development of the Allahabad-Haldia corridor, Gadkari said the ministry has sent a proposal to the World Bank. “We might get Rs 4,000 crore for this project and it is in the last stage,” Gadkari said.
Ganga Manthan was organised to hold a dialogue with various stakeholders on the Ganga — spiritual leaders, public representatives, NGOs, environmentalists, academicians and technocrats.