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World Bank Officials Visit Uttar Pradesh's Agra to Understand Clean Ganga Project Namami Gange

G. Asok Kumar, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), gave a detailed presentation on Namami Gange to the Executive Directors of the World Bank from around the world.

Parvathy Pillai
DG, NMCG, G. Asok Kumar, Nine EDs of the World Bank Group were present during the meeting. (Photo Courtesy: PIB)
DG, NMCG, G. Asok Kumar, Nine EDs of the World Bank Group were present during the meeting. (Photo Courtesy: PIB)

The Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), G. Asok Kumar gave a detailed presentation on Namami Gange to the Executive Directors of the World Bank from around the world on August 5, 2023. The Executive Directors (EDs) of the World Bank in Agra, Uttar Pradesh visited to understand the transformational impact of the Bank’s projects in the country. Auguste Kouame, Country Director, World Bank, India was also present on the occasion.

World Bank Executives Reviewing Clean Ganga Project 

Nine EDs of the World Bank Group were present during the meeting that included, Jack Kurski from Poland, Khalid Bawazier from Saudi Arabia, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed from Nigeria, Junhong Chang from China, Erivaldo Gomes from Brazil, Ernesto Acevedo from Mexico, Cecilia Nohan from Argentina, and Robin Tasker from the United Kingdom. Bhaskar Dasgupta, ED, Finance, NMCG, and D.P. Mathuria, ED, Technical, NMCG were also present. A tour of the iconic Taj Mahal was also organized.  

Giving a detailed presentation to the dignitaries on the Namami Gange Programme, G. Asok Kumar said that water has been recognized as one of the most important components for India’s economic growth and a lot of initiatives have been taken up the water sector in the past 7-8 years.

What is Namami Gange?

Namami Gange is premised on the five important pillars of – Nirmal Ganga (unpolluted river), Aviral Ganga (unrestricted flow), Jan Ganga (People’s Participation), Gyan Ganga (knowledge and research-based interventions) and Arth Ganga (people-river connect through the bridge of economy). “442 projects worth around 4.5 billion US dollars have been sanctioned out of which 193 pertain to sewage management,” he informed, adding, “The funding is also sourced from organisations like the World Bank, JICA, Asian Development Bank etc.”

Importance of Namami Gange

Explaining the 5-tier structure of NMCG, he talked about the National Ganga Council meetings headed by the Prime Minister held in Kanpur (2019) and Kolkata (2022) and emphasized on the unwavering political commitment to the Namami Gange Programme.

He said that Namami Gange was chosen as one of the world’s top ten restoration flagships to revive the natural world. Namami Gange, selected from over 160 eco-restoration programmes around the world, was awarded at Montreal, Canada during the UN Conference on Biological Diversity (COP15) on 13th December 2022. NMCG was the only entity from India to participate in the United Nations World Water Conference held in New York in March 2023.

He said that the increased sightings and thriving of aquatic species like Gangetic Dolphins and local fishes are indicative of improved water quality in the Ganga River. “In 2014, there were two polluted stretches in Category V and one each in Category II and III. In comparison to 2023, two stretches (Haridwar to Sultanpur and Buxar to Bhagalpur) are now ‘unpolluted’ and the remaining two in Category V (Kannauj to Varanasi and Triveni to Diamond Harbour) are exceeding the accepted range by minor points,” he said.

 DG, NMCG explained in detail the Hybrid Annuity Model used for sewage management projects in the Ganga Basin under Namami Gange. Under this model, the development, operation, and maintenance of the STP is undertaken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) at the local level.

As per this model, 40% of the Capital cost would be paid during construction while the remaining 60% of the cost will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost (O&M) expenses for the next 15 years.

Government Initiatives in Water Sector

In 2019, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Jal Shakti Ministry was created by bringing together various departments to enable quick decision-making without conflict. Some of the major initiatives in the water sector include the Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims to provide household tap connections to all by 2024.

The Atal Bhujal Yojana for effective management of groundwater through a participatory approach and Swachh Bharat Mission as part of which more than 100 million toilets were built, taking the burden off the world in the direction of sanitation for all.

DG, NMCG informed the dignitaries about the Catch the Rain: Where it Falls, When it Falls campaign that was launched for decentralized storage of rainwater (in-situ storage of water) as part of which lakhs of rainwater harvesting structures were constructed.

Giving an overview of the Namami Gange Programme, he said that it is a holistic and integrated river rejuvenation programme not just to clean River Ganga but restore its entire riverine ecosystem through public participation.

Mr Kumar also spoke on the River-Cities Alliance (RCA) initiative under Namami Gange which was launched in November 2021 with 30 members. Now, with 142 members, including the international city of Aarhus, RCA has become a desirable platform to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers. 

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