Aiming to steer more private participation into its pet Ganga clean-up mission, the Modi government has asked corporates, cash-rich spiritual organisations and the global Indian community to fund specific projects of the programme. Indians abroad could get the projects adopted by them named after family members.
The move stems from the government’s view that the programme requires “all-round participation to succeed” and previous efforts had suffered as they were entirely bureaucracydriven, a senior official said.
A third of India’s 1.2 billion people live in the floodplains along the 2,510-km river. An icon of the Hindu faith, it is dying a slow death due to filth, untreated sewage and industrial runoff. Only about 45% of the 11 billion litres of sewage generated from 181 towns along the river is treated.
On May 13, the Union cabinet had approved the flagship Namami Gange programme with a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for the next five years — a four-fold increase. The National Mission for Clean Ganga, the authority implementing the programme, is set to launch the first public-private partnership programme next month on test mode in eight towns.
The project involves installing and maintaining equipment to trap “visible”, floating pollutants on the river’s surface. The equipment include fence-like devices called booms to physically cordon floating debris from ghats and high-tech aerators that pump in oxygen essential for breaking down biological wastes.
To institutionalise the framework, the government has called for proposals from organisations and potential investors and donors.
For instance, spiritual organisations, such as the one led by Kerala based Mata Amritanandamayi, and sanitation NGO Sulabh International have volunteered to build community toilets. A senior government official confirmed that an undisclosed number of private organisations will be taking on similar roles when the project kicks off in June.
To ensure dubious firms don’t plough in slush money, contributors will have to submit documentary proof of legal status and details of registration, foreign contribution and financial status. A committee with members from relevant government departments will vet the entries.
The government is also keen on roping in Indians abroad among whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi is popular. Donations by overseas Indians will be routed through the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians, a not-for-profit trust set up by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs.