“A complete 360 ​​degree paradigm has now been brought to the Ganges cleanup” (IANS Interview)

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While a whopping Rs 4,000 crore had been spent in the three decades since the start of the Ganges cleanup efforts in 1986, it has only been since the launch of the Rs 20,000 crore Namami Ganges or National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in 2014 that a comprehensive 360 ​​degree approach has been implemented and for the first time a comprehensive estimate of the treatment plants required – a vital cog – has been developed and is being implemented implemented, say the authors of a new book about a river that is dear to millions of Indians.

“River cleaning is complex. We must understand that this cannot be a one-time activity since dirt is regularly added to the river by all of us on its banks. It has to be done continuously. But it is satisfying to note that for the first time we have a full estimate of the processing capacity required, i.e. 3,148 MLD against which 3,363 MLD (including future needs) have been aligned, which includes approximately 2,374 MLDs already created and 989 MLDs. being created through projects already running,” Rajiv Ranjan Mishra and Puskal Upadhyay told IANS in a joint interview for their book, “Ganga – Reinvent, Rejuvenate, Reconnect” (Rupa).

“This has led to a noticeable improvement in water quality in several important stretches of the river. The paradigm shift from building only to ensuring real performance through long-term operation and maintenance and PPP through hybrid rent mode would ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure being created,” said writers.

Mishra, an IAS officer from batch 1987 and an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, has virtually changed the discourse on the rejuvenation of the Ganges and its long-term sustenance during his two separate stints at NMCG, first as mission director, then as general manager. Upadhyay, a civil engineer turned civil servant and financial professional, is one of the pioneers of the Clean-Ganga initiative.

They are adamant that the task is not yet complete and there is still much to do. However, the successful journey so far, as documented in the book, is a testament to the fact that a job well started is not only half done, but also provides a roadmap for future success.

“It is also crucial that the Mission has gone beyond cleaning. It started to make a difference in improving ecology and throughput,” the authors said.

Among the first of the Mission are:

The evolution of the Ganges River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) which takes into account the entire drainage area of ​​861,404 km2 as well as the preservation of the healthiness of the river before degradation, a hybrid annuity model in wastewater management, electronic flow determination and notification, ensuring ecological restoration, scientific reforestation along the river, using state-of-the-art LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to locate the network of drains and rivers discharging sewage in the Ganges, and real-time water quality monitoring stations.

“We pointed out that few countries have set themselves the goal of cleaning up their rivers and making them sustainable at the same level as their basic needs like hunger, health and employment. India did. This is our nation’s foresight and environmental sensitivity,” the authors said.

At the same time, such programs “are not routine and can’t run like a guestbook and it takes time to develop understanding and work out concrete strategies. The program has also evolved. You had to adapt, learn, apply, refine and rework”.

“Resource allocation is a major issue, but it can only happen in a meaningful way after assessing the magnitude of the problem. Namami Gange brought concrete results because he was able to translate lessons from past experiences, best global practices and refine, adapt its implementation strategies,” the authors asserted.

Namami Gange, they said, “brought this comprehensiveness into the implementation strategy. It addresses water availability issues in the river through the environmental flow paradigm and the creation of wastewater treatment capacity for the entire river simultaneously. He also tries to connect people to the river and make them a Jan Andolan. It is truly a 360 degree approach which will also ensure its sustainability.

They also drew special attention to chapters titled “Why Ganga Matters” and “People River Connect.”

“Ganga has a special meaning for everyone, as she had for us in particular and we have to rediscover that. The chapter “People River Connect” shows us a bouquet of possibilities for each of us to reconnect to Ma Ganga in terms of action, as so many ordinary people have already done. Their response was humble. We have been privileged to have the opportunity to work for Ganga at taxpayer expense, which pales in comparison to the selfless service rendered by millions of people on its shores, leading clean-up campaigns, awareness and in so many other innovative ways. Let’s all find our own meaning and work for it,” the authors said.

After that ? What is their next project?

“Right now, we are focused on expanding the scope of the book and participating in various discussions. We intend to focus next on her dedicated website www.ganga3r.com, which is already launched and make it a real center of knowledge and action for #Ganga3R, i.e. Ganga – Reimagining, Rejuvenating, Reconnecting as a new river cleansing paradigm. We also intend to expand the learning from this program to other rivers, both nationally and internationally, and show that India is a land of opportunity,” the authors concluded.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at [email protected])

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