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As the Prime Minister advises states along the river to shift focus from Namami to Arth Ganga, it is clear that the Ganga cannot be restored by only pollution-abatement measures. Discuss.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

1. As the Prime Minister advises states along the river to shift focus from Namami to Arth Ganga, it is clear that the Ganga cannot be restored by only pollution-abatement measures. Discuss. (250 words)

Down To Earth

Why this question:

Recently, the Ganga Council headed by Prime Minister (PM), in its first meeting held on December 14, 2019, floated a plan to promote sustainable agriculture in the Gangetic plain by promoting organic clusters in a five-km stretch on both sides of the Ganga basin in Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

It is a good policy move, considering the cumulative use of pesticides has doubled in the last one decade and most of it runs off in our rivers. For the short-term, the five-km stretch is fine, but the government should eventually plan to stretch it to cover more area in the basin. Agriculture along the entire riverbed should be organic.

Key demand of the question

The question is about analysing the significance of Namami Gange programme and the achievements made by it. One has to further discuss the challenges faced and measures needed to set the problems straight.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments        .

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines brief upon the background and mission objectives of NMCG.

Body:

       The question must discuss the following points:

The successes of NMCG so far:

  • Namami Gange has completed 114 projects and about 150 projects are in progress, while about 40 projects are under tendering, of which 51 sewage projects were approved before May 13, 2015 — the day Namami Gange was approved by the Union Cabinet.
  • Till April 2019, 1,930 MLD of sewerage treatment capacity in 97 Ganga towns has been developed, whereas the sewerage generation in these towns is 2,953 MLD.
  • It is further projected that the sewerage generation would touch 3,700 MLD by 2035.

The failures, challenges facing in the revival of Ganga

  • The industrial pollutants largely originate from tanneries in Kanpur, paper mills, distilleries and sugar mills in the Yamuna, Ramganga, Hindon and Kali river catchments.
  • Then, there is the huge load of municipal sewage which contributes two-thirds of total pollution load.
  • Water in India is a state subject and water management is not a truly knowledge-based practice.
  • The management of the Ganga lacked basin-wide integration and is not very cohesive between various riparian states.
  • Further, there is a greater challenge of upgrading the water supply and wastewater treatment infrastructure in the designated smart cities and of providing clean water supply to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Critical steps needed to overcome the challenges:

  • Promote only decentralised sewage treatment plants (dSTP) at the colony level.
  • Develop and restore local storages (ponds, lakes, wetlands) as permanent solutions to both floods and droughts.

Conclusion:

Give a balanced way forward.