For making Modi's clean Ganga mission a success, the Centre government has identified 11 states along the river channel which will need to be connected with a dense sewer network before Ganga can be converted to a clean river.
The Urban development ministry in a study conducted has identified 11 states from where the river flows. Shockingly only 34% area under these states has a sewer network. Most of the untreated sewerage is drained directly into the Ganga or its tributaries.
The eleven states are Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh.
"Creating a well-laid sewer system and building Sewer Treatment Plant (STP) along the course of the river are the indispensable to clean up the river," said an officer of the UD ministry.
Despite the UD ministry having sanctioned Rs4,191 crore on creating a sewer management network along the river channels across the country and Rs3,554 crore spent, only 34% of the country is covered under the network.
The ministry of environment and forest under its National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) had identified 190 small and big towns along the river channels for setting up STPs. Reports reveal that Uttar Pradesh which has the longest course of Ganga and its tributaries had spent Rs828 crore of its sanctioned Rs1,272 crore to ensure that its sewerage is not drained into the river.
Delhi too has spent Rs30 crore of sanctioned Rs165 crore and West Bengal Rs106 crore for setting up STPs along the river.
Bihar and Jharkhand have not spent a single penny. These states so far have not submitted any plans to set up STPs along the river course.
Incidentally despite having spent crores of rupees, over 68 lakh houses in Uttar Pradesh are yet to be connected to the sewer line. Which means the government will have to spend another Rs17,000 crore in the state to clean it up.
Experts, however, feel that the problem is much larger and the existing models of setting up and managing STPs is not sustainable. "Sewer network needs flowing water. Water being scares, the network have so far not been successful," said Shubhagato Dasgupta, senior fellow at Centre for Policy Research.
The scientist also informed that the technology is expensive and so far not been sustainable.
Policy experts also feel that inter ministerial coordination is important to role out such plans, which has so far been missing. The NRCP guidelines say that the city sanitation plan is mandatory before allotting funds to set up sewer network. While some schemes of the UD Ministry follow the guidelines other do not. "For any city centric plan, inter ministerial coordination is required, which we have been lacking so far," added Dasgupta.