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Government's cleansing of Ganga will be visible only after two years

New Delhi: Nearly a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to revive river Ganga, the government on Monday said it would take at least two-and-a-half years to make the cleansing drive visible on ground.

The government said work has started on setting up sewerage infrastructure in 50 of the 118 towns located on Ganga in five states. Sixty-eight more towns will be brought on this infrastructure road-map by June 2016.

All the major cities like Allahabad, Varanasi, Hardwar, Patna and Kanpur will get sewage treatment plants under the 'Last Mile Projects'. The results of all these efforts would not be visible for at least two-and-a-half years from this day.

According to officials of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a body floated by the Water Resources Ministry for abatement of pollution in the river, at least six months would be required for completing the tendering process while another six months would be needed for starting the implementation of the project, which would further vest with the states.

The sewerage infrastructure to be created in 118 towns would comprise interception, diversion and treatment of waste water flowing in the open either at the STPs or on-site, rehabilitation and augmentation of the existing STPs, creation of new STPs to treat 4,000 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage generated from all towns and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) for major industrial clusters and their operation and maintenance for a 15-year period.

The government has said it wants to focus on sustainability of the systems then following as mission-mode approach. "We want to create systems that are self-sustaining by assigning ownerships (to urban local bodies and state agencies). Without their ownership, systems would fail, as had happened during the Ganga Action Plans I and II," said a senior NMCG official.

With nearly 62 per cent of the total outlay for five years (till 2019-20) on creating sewerage infrastructure, the government believes it would remove up to 70 per cent of pollution in the river.

For curbing the 501 MLD untreated effluents discharged by industries into the river, the government said it would help smaller units (especially tanneries in Kanpur) to set up their CETPs by facilitating soft loans for them.

The bigger units, however, would be given no assistance and would have to set up their ETPs on their own.

For tackling ghats and surface pollution, the government is also contemplating to employ technologies like Trash Skimmer Machines, Aerators, River Surface Cleaning Boats and Arresting Booms. In the initial phase, eight towns-Kanpur, Allahabad, Mathura-Vrindavan, Patna, Sahibganj, Hardwar, Nabadwip and Varanasi-would be taken up for setting such systems to be financed by private donations.

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