Namami Gange: A prominent water conservation mission

Non-Aligned Movement, being an important pioneer in environmental concerns, has always recognised the importance of water bodies conservation and both in words and actions have contributed to the same. NAM has long-recognised the inextricable link of sustainable supply of clean water with the international and national goals of development and advancement in all spheres of civilizational framework.

In lieu of the Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that states that clean and accessible water for all is a necessity for survival in the world we live in, India being an important member of the NAM nations have augmented its efforts in fulfilling the duties it holds towards the natural world order.

India in recent years have significantly augmented its efforts to safeguard the health of its water bodies and the overall environment by introducing several flagship programmes including the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that aims to clean India, the National Rural Drinking Water Programme and the Namami Gange initiative that aims at the conservation of the River Ganga- a source of spiritual, ritual, religious and economic significance.

The Union Government of India introduced an integrated conservation mission under the name- “Namami Gange: Mission of Ganga Rejuvenation” in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 Crore for a period of five years to accomplish the twin objective of operative reduction of pollution, preservation and rejuvenation of the national river Ganga. The main pillars that supports the overall infrastructure of the Namami Gange programme stretch from construction and maintenance of sewerage treatment infrastructure, plans for river-front development, initiatives for river -surface cleaning, conservation of biodiversity, implementing afforestation, educating so as to increase public awareness and target the conscience of the nationals, industrial sewage monitoring, and actualizing the concept of Ganga Gram into a thriving reality.

The holy river of Ganga which because of its purity acclaimed the religious title of being the goddesses, in the contemporary situation has lost most of its so-called “aviralta” or purity because of human interventions that force the Ganga to tolerate domestic wastes such as defecation, untreated industrial wastes, and pollutants dumbed during religious ceremonies- that in unison contribute to making the river a waste-bin for human civilization. Per reports, 1.7 billion litres of such wastes and 89 million litres of sewage run into the river daily making the river, India’s most polluted river with the pollutants level being 3000 times more than the permissible limit defined as ‘safe’ by the World Health Organizations (WHO).

The Government of India with the Namami Gange initiative has pledged to stop the plaguing of the life-sustaining river realizing the imperativeness to keep the purity and sustainability of natural resources intact to maintain the ecological balance. The Clean Ganga Mission glued to the ideals of the Non-Aligned Movement has been showing visible ground-breaking results. Till date, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)- the nodal agency of the project, has sanctioned 254 projects for more than Rs.24,000 crore and has spent about Rs.5,000 crore in the last 4 years. Addressing the three-day long India Water Impact Summit 2018 (5th to 7th December 2018) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Nitin Gadkari- the Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India, informed that out of the 254 projects, 133 are for sewerage management, 11 bioremediation, one modular STP, 1 rural sanitation, 64 ghat and crematoria, 6 bio-diversity and 16 afforestation projects.

The Namami Gange initiative has attained several milestones till date as the programme aided in freeing Kanpur from all the ill effects of Sisamau drain after a long gap of 128 years, which was ill-famed for the pollution it was causing to River Ganga. Per development reports, about 140 MLD of waste has been stopped from flowing into the Holy Ganga, 97 towns within the stretch of 5kilometers of the Ganga have been identified to make necessary interventions, and several user-friendly mobile-based applications have been launched for the sake of convenience be it the Green Ganga App or the Bhuvan Ganga App.

Green Ganga App is used for geo-tagging of saplings and delineation of plantation boundaries under ongoing afforestation activities of Namami Gange programme, whereas the Bhuvan Ganga App is used by public to collect and report information on various pollution sources that affect the water quality of Ganga. Thus, upholding the mantel of water resource management and conservation of the Non-aligned Movement, India has been playing its part in the essentiality of the conservation process necessary for the conservation of the life-giving and life-sustaining natural resources.

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