Jal Shakti Minister addresses the 4th India Water Impact Summit

The Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawathas said there has been a massive improvement in the Clean Ganga Mission during the last five years.

“Recently, a massive river rafting expedition called ‘Ganga AamantranAbhiyan’ was launched from Devprayag on 10thOctober, 2019. The expedition covered around 2,500 KM length of the Ganga during its 34-day journey till Ganga Sagar in West Bengal. Quality of water in the Ganga has improved tremendously in the last five years.

The best parameter of assessing the quality improvement of water is the growth in aquatic wildlife. Five years earlier, only tens of Gangetic dolphins were sighted, but this time they have observed more than 2,000 dolphins and all other aquatic life has improved. They have also observed massive improvement in floating trash,” he said, addressing the 4thIndia Water Impact Summit, 2019here today.

Shri Shekhawat said the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for establishment of the Clean Ganga Fund (CGF). Appealing for liberal contributions, Shri Shekhawat said, “the CGF will have the objective of contributing to the national effort of improving the cleanliness of the river Ganga with the contributions received from the residents and non-residents of the country. The Fund will define specific and measurable objectives to form the basis for planning, funding, and evaluation”.

The Jal Shakti Minister said the approach in NamamiGange for ensuring AviralDhara or improving flows is comprehensive. “It includes assessment and notification of environmental flows, catchment area treatment and afforestation, conservation and rejuvenation of wetlands, floodplain protection, springs rejuvenation, improving water use efficiency particularly in agriculture, because agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the world and in India it is more severe as our waters are considered the lowest productive water in the world”.

Shri Shekhawat said the Government launched the “NamamiGange” Mission as an integrated mission for conservation andrejuvenation of Ganga and its tributaries with a comprehensive basin basedapproach. “In 2016, the National Mission for Clean Ganga has been notified asan authority for carrying out diverse set of interventions for obtaining the twingoals of “Nirmalta” & “Aviralta” of Ganga by ensuring effective abatement ofpollution and maintaining required ecological flows.Around 305 projects have been taken up for sewage, industrial effluents etc.

This has further been strengthened andaccorded due priority under Jal Shakti Abhiyan and an integrated approach towater sector through creation of Ministry for Jal Shakti”, he said. “NamamiGange mission also understands the crucial role people can play inconservation of river Ganga and has been taking up several innovative steps forbringing people closer to river Ganga and its tributaries which contribute in oneway or the other for their rejuvenation”, he added.

Underlining the motto “SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas” given by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be the cornerstone of the NamamiGangeprogramme, Shri Shekhawat lauded the role of academic institutions including IITs, NITs, NEERI etc from India and the European Union, Germany, Denmark,Israel, Japanand Canada for Technology Collaboration Agreements with c-Ganga (Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies). “We have technologies in field of artificial intelligence, containerized sewage treatment technologies, plastic pollution management, waste trading platform, bioremediation and aquaponics, membrane based farming system, water tracking & management system, distillery waste to biofuel, advanced anaerobic digestion technology and UV water treatment etc”, he said.

Stressing on Environment Flowand Urban River Management Plan, Shri Shekhawat said that under the first draft of the Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) submitted by a consortium of IITs in 2015, projects for liquid pollution abatement in Ganga river basinhave already been sanctioned and are at various stages of implementation andmore of such projects will come for the tributaries for the Ganga rivers as well.

“Government of India vide Notification dated 9th October, 2018 has notifiedminimum environmental flows to be maintained in river Ganga from its originto Unnao in U.P. We have recently started a pilot project to develop theUrban River Management Plan with NIUA”, said Shri Shekhawat. “These are probably the two areaswherein there is a scope of experience sharing with the global experts. We areworking to have integrated water management wherein mainstream health of therivers and water bodies should become important part of urban planning”, he added.

Pointing out that the cleaning of rivers including Ganga is a perpetual process and it will always require dedicated service of the people to maintain its healthy state, Shri Shekhawat advocated integrated water management, preventing degradation and pollution of rivers, lakes and aquifers, promoting recycle and reuse of treated wastewater and where necessary, restore and maintain acceptable environmental conditions and water quality.

Stating that India holds only about 4% of global freshwater compared to around 18% of its population and an equivalent percentage of livestock population, Shri Shekhawat said India’s urban population is growing at a fast pace. “As per Census 2011, 377million people are living in urban areas. By 2030, urban India is likely to haveabout 600 million people. This burdens the natural resources like water bodiesand rivers tremendously”, he said.

In his address, Secretary, Department of Water Resource, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (WR, RD & GR), Shri U.P. Singh, said the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), like the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), will be completed within the stipulated five year period by 2024. “In a history of projects marred by long delays sometimes pending since 2010, for the first time a 14 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant, the first STP under the Hybrid Annuity (HAM) Based Public Private Partnership Model costing Rs. 41.40 crores, has been completed ahead of schedule”, he said.

Citing the success of the Green Revolution, Shri UP Singh said India today is placed 3rd among countries with the highest number of large dams. Calling for Sustainable Water Resource Management including restoring Ground Water levels, Shri Singh said we should avoid over-exploitation of our limited water resources.

Pointing out that India is dependent upon the Monsoon for 70-75% of its water needs, Shri UP Singh said there has been perceptible change in the monsoon pattern, with variations in rainfall area and timeline, as part of overall climate change. “Areas prone to floods like eastern UP and Bihar are witnessing droughts while dry parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat have been hit by floods. At the same time, monsoon used to hit Kerala by May last week, but now monsoon hits Kerala coast only as late as June 2nd week”, he said.

On the occasion, Shri Shekhawat released the Report on Ambassadors’ Meet held on 22ndAugust, 2019, Report on River Restoration and Conservation – A Concise Manual andGuide, and Documents on “cGanga Hubs”.Shri Rajiv RanjanMishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Prof.Vinod Tare, founding head c-Ganga, Shri Sisir Kumar Ratho, DeputyDirector General – NMCG, besides Ambassadors and High Commissioners of participating countries were also present.