New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Ganga cleaning and protection programme was cleared on Wednesday and given a whopping Rs 20,000 crore budget, a four-fold increase over the money spent in the last three decades for the river’s conservation.
“The Union Cabinet, chaired by Modi approved the flagship Namami Gange Program which integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner,” a government statement said.
The programme has a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for the next 5 years which was a significant four-fold increase over the expenditure in the past 30 years, it said, noting that the Centre incurred an overall expenditure of approximately Rs 4,000 crore on this task since 1985.
In 1986, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had launched the ‘Ganga Action Plan’, a Rs 462-crore project, with main objective of pollution abatement and to improve the water quality.
However, it is one of the most polluted rivers in the country in which level of pollutants is more than 3,000 times than the permissible limit defined by the WHO as “safe”. The statement, after the Cabinet meeting, said in order to push the efforts for the Ganga’s clean-up, the Centre will now take over 100 per cent funding of various activities/projects under this programme.
Marking a major shift in implementation, the government is focusing on involving people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
“Drawing from past lessons, the programme also focuses on involving the states and grassroots-level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions for its implementation,” it said.