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Centre to SC: Cleaning Ganga to take 18 years, big money

After being rapped by the Supreme Court for its approach to clean the Ganga, the Narendra Modi government has placed before it a blueprint of short-, medium- and long-term measures that are spread over 18 years and need thousands of crores of investment to restore the glory of the river.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government filed that it had identified 118 towns on the banks of the Ganga as a first target to achieve total sanitation, including water-waste treatment and solid-waste management.

“The plan envisages phase-wise timelines in terms of short- (three years), medium- (five years) and long-term (ten years and more) periods,” the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court said.

It said the timelines for the completion of ongoing projects had been prepared after consulting five Ganga-basin states primarily responsible for the implementation of the projects for the rejuvenation of the 2,500-kilometre Ganga.

It said, “Seven riverfront locations have been identified by the ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation for the development of the ghats at Kedarnath, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi.”

As a medium-term goal, it said 118 urban habitations on the banks had been tentatively identified by the ministry of urban development for extending coverage of sewerage infrastructure at an estimated cost of Rs 51,000 crore. Also, it would make 1,649 gram panchayats along the Ganga free from defecation in the open.

It said the long-term plan would emerge from the Ganga River Basin Management Plan being prepared by seven Indian Institutes of Technology for “restoring the wholesomeness of Ganga in terms of defining the concept of ensuring Nirmal Dhara, Aviral Dhara and maintaining geological and ecological integrity of the river”.

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