The much-hyped Ganga and Yamuna Action Plans, part of the National River Conservation Plan, are facing serious hurdles due to a fund crunch. While the country needs 38,000 million litres a day (MLD) of sewage treatment capacity, at present, it is only 12,000 MLD.
The environment ministry does not have the resources to take forward river conservation plans as an estimated Rs 25,000 crore are required for the additional 26,000 MLD of sewage treatment capacity.
"It is impossible to meet the shortfall with the meagre budget support that we get," said a senior environment ministry official. On the other hand, the country sees an industry effluent generation of 15,000 MLD, even as the treatment capacity for this is just 9,000 MLD. When the Plan was implemented in 1985, it was a 100 per cent Centre-funded programme. But from 2001, the cost of projects is being shared on a 70:30 basis.
Operation and maintenance too comes under the ambit of the state government. "We are looking for a more active state participation in these projects," the ministry official pointed out.
In the past, the project had faced a rap from the Comptroller and Auditor General for its slow progress. Besides the Ganga, the river conservation programme also looks into the Yamuna, Gomti and Damodar rivers across major projects.
According to the ministry, the project has so far covered 39 rivers across 20 states. According to reports, the fund requirement for the Ganga alone till 2020 will be more than Rs 10,000 crore.
With financial assistance from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana, the Yamuna Action Plan in its phase-I and II, came up with 40 sewage treatment plants with a total capacity of 902.25 MLD, covering 21 towns. The phase III of this project is now being implemented at a cost of Rs 1,656 crore, with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.