Ganga cleaning yet to take off on ground, funds lie unutilised: House panel

New Delhi,Nikhil M Ghanekar: The Modi government’s ambitious Ganga cleaning project is yet to take off the ground with not a single project sanctioned in the year 2014-15 by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR) under the ‘Namami Gange’ mission, a house panel report has noted.

The various schemes and fund utlisation under the National Ganga Plan is static as the project is yet to receive Union Cabinet approval. The parliamentary standing committee report on MoWR and Ganga Rejuvenation’s Demands for Grants studied the government’s progress on Ganga cleaning and were left unimpressed and expressed ‘astonishment’ about the slow progress and the lack of separate allocations for various schemes.

Information provided by the ministry to the house panel shows that the under the ‘Clean Ganga Mission’, funds to the tune of Rs1,500 crores allocated for the National Ganga Plan in the last budget was left unutilised. During this year’s union budget, the National Ganga Plan’s budget has been increased to Rs2,100 crores. The only expenditure incurred under Clean Ganga Mission in 2014-15 was Rs4.36 crores for Yamuna Action Plan of the allocated Rs8 crores.

The committee has noted that “the (Ganga cleaning) schemes remained dormant as no expenditure could be incurred for want of approvals. This undoubtedly reflects the casual manner with which the work of cleaning Ganga River has been carried out so far. While noting that budgetary provisions for National River Conservation Plan, National Ganga River Basin Authority and National Ganga Plan have been increased, the committee said that “we feel that the government is yet to take the first step towards the enormous task of cleaning and rejuvenation river Ganga. We hope that the government will work in a more proactive manner to get the approvals expeditiously.”

Speaking to dna, chairperson of the Standing Commttee on Water Resources, Hukum Singh said, “We have asked the ministry to pursue the Cabinet approval for Ganga cleaning schemes. Rest, whatever the statistics the ministry has stated are the facts of the project.”

Interestingly, the committee report also observed that there was a divergence in the expenditure estimate stated by the ministry and the consortium of Indian Insitute of Technology’s (IIT) that has been entrusted to prepare Ganga River Basin Management Plan.

The government proposes to invest Rs20,000 crore for cleaning Ganga till 2020. However, the consortium of IIT’s has indicated that nearly Rs74,000 crore would be required for development of sewage infrastructure and Rs17,400 crore for its operation and maintenance over the next five years.

Under the overall Ganga Rejuvenation plan, the government has divided projects under pollution abatement, Ganga basin management and beautification of Ghats and River Fronts.

Increased budget
Information provided by the ministry to the house panel shows that the under the ‘Clean Ganga Mission’, funds to the tune of Rs.1,500 crores allocated for the National Ganga Plan in the last budget was left unutilised. During this year’s union budget, the National Ganga Plan’s budget has been increased to Rs.2,100 crores. The only expenditure incurred under Clean Ganga Mission in 2014-15 was Rs4.36 crores for Yamuna Action Plan of the allocated Rs 8 crores.