Mission to Clean the Ganga: Seven Years On

Seven years on, mission to clean the Ganga remains a work in progress


After announcing the ambitious National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) seven years ago, the government has only put in treatment facilities that can handle 20% of the anticipated sewage output in the five major States that border the river. By 2024, this is projected to rise to around 33%. Senior NMCG officials have recently made predictions that the treatment facilities will be able to handle 60% of sewage by December 2026.

Namami Gange Programme:

  • The Namami Gange Programme, an integrated Ganges development project, was introduced in July 2014.
  • It seeks to efficiently reduce pollution, protect the Ganges, and restore it.
  • The programme involves several activities to accomplish its goals and encompasses eight states.
  • One of the goals of the Ministry of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation is to eradicate open defecation from 1,674-gramme panchayats (village councils) close to the Ganges.
  • The river has received significant funding for cleanup, with more than 2,958 Crores (US$460 million) spent as of July 2016.
  • To reduce pollution, the programme mandated the closure of 48 industrial facilities along the Ganges.
  • The Namami Gange Programme will spend 20,000 crore over the next five years, which is a huge increase over prior initiatives.
  • It places a strong emphasis on coordination between federal and state government ministries and agencies and seeks to address pollution hotspots through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
  • Interventions to reduce pollution, infrastructure for sewage treatment, riverfront development, river surface cleaning, biodiversity conservation, reforestation, public education, and industrial effluent monitoring are the main areas of focus for the programme.
  • Jobs will be created, livelihoods will be enhanced, and populations reliant on the Ganges will have better health as a result of the programme.

What is the progress of the programme after 7 years of implementation?

  • The NMCG has been a focus of government effort for seven years.
  • Currently, approximately 20% of the anticipated sewage generated in the five major states along the Ganga River can be treated by sewage treatment facilities (STPs).
  • By 2024, this percentage is projected to reach about 33%, and by December 2026, it will reach 60%.
  • The Namami Gange mission places a lot of emphasis on STPs and sewerage networks, which account for around 80% of the project’s overall costs.
  • With only 811 MLD of capacity completed between 2014 and 2021, progress has originally been sluggish.
  • However, 1,455 MLD capacity was finished in the most recent fiscal year (2022-23), indicating an increase in efforts.

Where does the majority of the sewage comes from?

  • The figures are based on an estimated 11,765 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage generated in the Ganga River’s five states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal).
  • This estimate covers sewage produced within the states but not necessarily going into rivers, as well as anticipated population growth.

What is the objective of NMCG?

  • The mission of Namami Gange’s primary goal is to keep untreated sewage out of the Ganga River.
  • By 2026, the NMCG wants to have STPs in place that can handle sewage loads of around 7,000 MLD.
  • With assistance from other branches of the Union government, the states are required to build the remaining capacity on their own.

What are the challenges faced by the programme?

  • Problems with land acquisition caused delays in the project’s execution.
  • Project execution processes and the activities of many agencies are outlined in Detailed Project Reports, which need changes.
  • It was necessary to dispel the false belief that the construction of treatment plants was the only province of the federal government.

What are the indicators of clean river water?

  • According to the report, the water quality of the Ganga has greatly improved and is currently within the acceptable ranges for primary bathing water quality.
  • The increased number of dolphins and the presence of Indian carp, both signs of cleaner water, attest to this progress.
  • The NMCG is attempting to create an air quality-like index for water quality.
  • By offering a consistent gauge of water quality along the Ganga River, this index will improve communication and river water quality monitoring.