NMCG through its website had requested companies to serve the holy river by adopting CSR projects like ghat construction, cleaning of ghat, IEC activities, bio-remediation of nalas and drains Ganga gram, crematoria, river surface cleaning using trash skimmer, solid waste management and tree plantation, etc. but as per the RTI, no company adopted any project.
While the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) states on its website that, “the aim and objective of NMCG is to accomplish the mandate of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA);
1. To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management and
2. To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.”
However, according to the findings of RTI activist Dinesh Chadha, the Narendra Modi led government has also failed to add momentum to this in over 4 years of implementation. Documents accessed under Right to Information (RTI) by Chadha from the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, the government has so far released just about Rs 5,500 crore of the planned Rs 20,00 crore for the NMCG from 2013-14 to June 30th, 2018.
In his last interview with Down To Earth, GD Agarwal said, "I will give up fluids from October 10 and I would die before the Dussehra. I will have no regrets even if I die in the course of saving the Ganga" https://t.co/XYgeWluMDR pic.twitter.com/7LWYnU5vr9
— Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) October 11, 2018
This news breaks just two days after the death of environmentalist GD Agarwal, who had been fasting for 111 days to push his demand for a cleaner Ganga. A former secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country’s premier anti-pollution body, Mr. Agarwal passed away on Wednesday, October 10, after he quit fluid intake soon after talks regarding his demands failed. However union minister Nitin Gadkari said, the government had accepted almost all of the activist’s demands. But a look at the results so far would make it clear that Dr Agarwal was destined to die for his cause, as the 2020 deadline simply seems unattainable, and progress has been shockingly slow, in fact.
A year after coming to power in 2014, PM Modi’s government had launched the flagship Namami Gange mission with a budget of more than 20,000 crore. However, the apathy towards Ganga gets further highlighted with another piece of information accessed by Chadha. The NMCG through its website had requested companies to serve the holy river by adopting CSR projects like ghat construction, cleaning of ghat, IEC activities, bio-remediation of nalas and drains Ganga gram, crematoria, river surface cleaning using trash skimmer, solid waste management and tree plantation, etc. But as per the RTI, no company adopted any project, at least till July 30, 2018. Was it a failure of communication, red tape, or simply indifference to the cause? But of course, Union Minister Gadkari has said, that most of the 221 projects under the project are in advanced stages, and that the government expects the river to be completely clean by 2020.
In March, Minister of State for Water Resources Satyapal Singh told Parliament that “as on date no fund has been utlised by the Namami Mission for Clean Ganga under the CGF”. Gujarat contributed Rs 8.36 crore to the CGF between March 13, 2015, and March 31, 2016; 145 NRIs contributed Rs 24.92 crore and 224 private companies Rs 25.76, with Bank of America contributing the highest Rs 4 crore.
The list of individual contributors to the CGF does not include any of the “politicians who play politics on the name of Ganga”, says Chadha. But with a contribution of Rs 1 crore, Dr Simon John, Delhi Diocese of Believers Church, is the highest contributor among the 1,523 resident Indians who together gave about Rs 2.36 crore. Meanwhile, around Rs 255 crore was collected by the CGF under the CSR till July 27, 2018. Though the document do not reveal how much of it was actually utilised, a Parliament reply in March stated that till January 31, 2018, the Rs 221.75 crore collected under the head had remained unutilised.