In a big boost to Centre’s Namami Gange project, World Bank signed a loan agreement with the Centre to rejuvenate the Ganga river. The Second National Ganga River Basin Project will help stem pollution and strengthen management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people.
The $400 million operation comprises a loan of $381 million and a proposed Guarantee of up to $19 million. The agreement for the $381 million loan was signed today while the Guarantee instrument will be processed separately.
Ganga is India’s most important cultural, economic and environmental resource and government’s Namami Gange program seeks to ensure that the river returns to a pollution-free, ecologically healthy state. The new project will extend the Government of India and World Bank’s engagement in this critical national programme to make the Ganga a clean, healthy river.
The World Bank has been supporting Centre’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of National Mission for Clean Ganga, said that the continuity provided by the Second National Ganga River Basin Project will consolidate the momentum achieved under the first World Bank project, and help NMCG introduce further innovations, and benchmark its initiatives against global best practices in river rejuvenation.
“Government’s Namami Gange Program has revitalized India’s efforts to rejuvenating the Ganga,” Mr Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this Project will help scale this up to the tributaries. It will also help government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin.”
The sprawling Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security. Over 40 percent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated Basin. But the Ganga river is today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows.
“The Project will help expand the coverage of sewage treatment infrastructure to more towns in the Ganga Basin, and focus on making sure that these assets are operated and maintained efficiently in the long term,” said Mr Xavier Chauvot de Beauchene, Lead Water & Sanitation Specialist and Shri Upneet Singh, Water & Sanitation Specialist, both co-task team leaders (TTL) for the SNGRBP. “The Project will also help NMCG develop state-of-the-art tools to help manage the river basin more effectively.”
Over 80 per cent of the pollution load in the Ganga comes from untreated domestic wastewater from towns and cities along the river and its tributaries. The SNGRBP will finance sewage networks and treatment plants in select urban areas to help control pollution discharges. These infrastructure investments and the jobs they will generate will also help India’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
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