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National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

Context:

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) recently signed a Memorandum of Common Purpose (MoCP) with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), which represents 124 cities/towns situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, the United States.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
  2. Challenges Faced by NMCG

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is a significant initiative aimed at the rejuvenation and cleanliness of the Ganga River, one of India’s most important and sacred rivers. Here are the key details about NMCG:

Formation and Legal Status:
  • NMCG was officially registered as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, on August 12, 2011.
  • Initially, it functioned as the implementation body of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which was established under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986.
  • In 2016, NGRBA was dissolved and replaced by the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga.
Objective:
  • The primary objective of NMCG is to combat pollution and facilitate the restoration of the Ganga River to its pristine state.
  • The “Namami Gange” program is a flagship initiative of NMCG, aimed at the comprehensive cleaning and restoration of the Ganga.
  • Achieving this objective involves promoting intersectoral coordination, comprehensive planning and management, and maintaining a minimum ecological flow in the river to ensure water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
Organizational Structure:

The Act envisages a five-tier structure at the national, state, and district levels to take measures for prevention, control, and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga as below:

  • National Ganga Council: Chaired by the Prime Minister of India, it serves as the highest-level decision-making body.
  • Empowered Task Force (ETF): Headed by the Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation), ETF plays a crucial role in the mission’s execution.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
  • State Ganga Committees: These committees operate at the state level, contributing to pollution control and river management efforts.
  • District Ganga Committees: Operational at the district level, these committees play a role in managing pollution and river conservation efforts within their respective districts, particularly those adjoining the Ganga River and its tributaries.

Challenges Faced by NMCG

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) faces several challenges in its efforts to rejuvenate and clean the Ganga River:

  • Delayed Commissioning of Treatment Plants: The commissioning of sewage treatment plants has been delayed due to issues with land acquisition, which has hindered the timely execution of projects.
  • Revisions in Detailed Project Reports: Many projects have required revisions in their Detailed Project Reports, which outline project execution steps and agency roles, causing delays and administrative challenges.
  • Misconception Regarding Responsibilities: State governments have sometimes assumed that building treatment plants is solely the responsibility of the central government, leading to coordination challenges.
  • Waste Management at the Source: Effective waste management, particularly the segregation and recycling of municipal solid waste (MSW), is most efficient when handled at the source. Implementing this approach has been challenging.
  • Volunteer Cadre Implementation: Plans to create a cadre of volunteers at the village and town levels to monitor water quality and support local bodies have faced challenges in effective implementation.
  • Funding Allocation: While NMCG is a ₹20,000 crore mission, in-principle approval has been given for projects worth ₹37,396 crore, with only ₹14,745 crore released to states for infrastructure work as of June 2023, indicating challenges in fund allocation.
  • Municipal Solid Waste Management: The mission has faced criticism for not adequately addressing the issue of municipal solid waste entering the Ganga. Many towns and cities along the river lack proper waste treatment infrastructure, allowing untreated waste to enter the river.
  • Limited Sewerage Network: A substantial portion of India’s urban population resides outside sewerage networks, leading to a significant amount of waste not reaching sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  • Improper Waste Disposal: Studies have revealed that rubbish heaps are commonly found near ghats in numerous towns along the river, indicating improper waste disposal practices that threaten the cleanliness of the Ganga.

February 2024
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