Congress Slams Modi Govt for 'Mission Ganga' Mismanagement

Congress accuses the Modi government of failing to clean the Ganga and engaging in corruption within the river cleaning project. Despite rebranding initiatives and substantial investments, the river remains highly polluted. Allegations include inadequate implementation, financial mismanagement, and contracting to BJP-affiliated firms.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 31-05-2024 11:51 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 11:51 IST
Congress Slams Modi Govt for 'Mission Ganga' Mismanagement
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The Congress on Friday accused the Modi government of being a ''complete failure'' in cleaning up the Ganga and indulging in ''huge corruption'' in initiatives related to the river cleaning project.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that on June 1, the ancient and holy city of Varanasi will cast its vote and Narendra Modi, who has been its MP for 10 years, has spent 10 years promising to revive the Ganga.

''One of the outgoing PM's first steps was to rebrand Mission Ganga, launched in 2009, into Namami Gange. Mission Ganga had two key objectives: Nirmal Ganga (Clean Ganga), and Aviral Ganga (Continuous Ganga with an uninterrupted flow of water). Prime Minister Modi's Namami Gange fully abandoned the objective of an Aviral Ganga,'' he claimed.

The Manmohan Singh government had also set up the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) in 2009 to coordinate state and central government initiatives on the Ganga, he said.

''Even this important institution was first rebranded as the National Council for River Ganga, and then put in cold storage for ten years by the outgoing PM. It has met just 2 times in 10 years and has not met since 2022,'' he said.

Ramesh, a former environment minister, said that finally, in a historic move, a consortium of seven IITs had come together and prepared a Ganga River Basin Action Plan for the protection and rejuvenation of Ganga River Basin.

The final report, consisting of multiple volumes, was submitted to the Modi government but no action was taken on this report either, Ramesh said.

''Instead of building on the work of previous Governments and listening to expert inputs, the PM spent his efforts rebranding and starting from scratch. He pivoted away from the Aviral Ganga project to focus entirely on water purification, specifically for sewage treatment (which corners 80% of the budget) and has spent Rs. 20,000 crore on it in the last ten years,'' he said.

''The end result: the Ganga today is more polluted and unclean than in 2014,'' he said.

Accusing the Modi government of being a ''complete failure'' in cleaning up the Ganga, Ramesh claimed that the renewed focus on water purification has not yielded results.

''The number of polluted river stretches has increased. From 51 polluted stretches in 2018, there are now 66 polluted stretches,'' he said.

As of January 2023, 71 per cent of monitoring stations in the Ganga reported extremely high levels of dangerous bacteria, he pointed out.

In some of the stations, the bacteria level was 40 times higher than the safe limit and antibiotic resistant bacteria have been found in the river as well, Ramesh said.

A February 2024 Bihar government report found that the water is not safe for bathing, or even for irrigating crops, he said.

Ramesh alleged that the Uttar Pradesh government, with ''double-Anyay engines delivering double-failure'', has been repeatedly criticised by the National Green Tribunal for allowing illegal construction on the Ganga floodplains.

Alleging ''huge corruption'' in the project, Ramesh said the model adopted by the Namami Gange project has been to appoint private contractors for every single function, funnelling huge amounts of money to them, despite poor performance.

He claimed that huge STP contracts have been given to firms run by BJP affiliated leaders.

''Thousands of crores have also been handed over to Modani. Almost Rs 2,000 crore in project contracts have been given in the last few years,'' Ramesh alleged.

''Scientific'' studies worth 5 crores have been awarded to the Patanjali Organic Research Institute, he further alleged.

Ramesh said a CAG audit report pointed out severe deficiencies in financial management, planning, implementation, and monitoring.

''With this level of corruption, it is little wonder that Rs. 20,000 crores have disappeared while the Ganga is more polluted than ever. Varanasi will not stand for this. The outgoing PM is destined to be an outgoing MP,'' Ramesh said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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