India and Germany sign agreement for cleaning Ganga

Germany will contribute Rs 22.5 crore to the three-year-long project

By Rashmi Verma
Last Updated: Tuesday 26 April 2016

The initiative was pitched during Indo-European Water Forum (PIB)

India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Germany to clean Ganga by adopting successful models of management. The agreement was signed on April 13, 2016, between Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and German International Cooperation (GIZ), in the presence of water ministry secretary Shashi Shekhar and German Ambassador to India Martin Ney.

The agreement will allow Indo-German knowledge exchange on strategic river basin management issues, effective data management system and public engagement. German contribution to the three-year-long project will be Rs 22.5 crore.

The initiative was pitched during Indo-European Water Forum organised by National Water Mission co-partnered with the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission in November 2015.

The project will begin in Uttarakhand with the scope of expansion to other states downstream. The technical know-how of Germany will be "immensely fruitful" in pollution abatement of Ganga said secretary Shekhar. India plans to adopt successful river basin management strategies to clean Ganga and replicate the Rhine and Danube model.

Danube and Rhine model

Danube and Rhine, two of the longest rivers in the European Union were degraded due to domestic and industrial discharges. After the implementation of river basin management measures in 1970, chemical pollution and organic load of river Rhine has reduced by more than 80 per cent. The quality of Danube has also improved as compared to the 90s—now ranked “medium class” as per Czech water quality criteria.

To prevent pollution, sewage from adjoining areas was connected to treatment plants, reducing direct discharge of untreated sewage into the rivers. Treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater and efficient adoption of laws has decreased organic load and improved the water quality of these rivers in past 20 years.

While the geomorphological features of these rivers are different from the Ganga, their pollution related problems are similar (Table 1). The proposed project can be successful only if there is stringent implementation of laws.

Comparison between three rivers








Glacier fed

Glacier and snow fed

Spring fed

Length (km)




River Basin (km2)




Discharge (m3/s)




Pollution sources

Sewage and Industrial discharge

Pesticides, sewage and industrial effluent

Industrial effluents, municipal and agricultural waste 

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

India Environment Portal Resources :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • The Ganga cleaning project started almost 25 years' back during the time of Mr. Rajib Gandghi. I remember very well I have participated in the discussion on behaf of of a French company (at that time Copagnie Gégérale des Eaux now VIVENDI) We had numerous meeting with the Ganga cleaning authority. However nothing sustainable program has been evolved. I have told at that time that just by settingup a few treatment plants this huge river can never be cleaned. The main reasons are the followings
    1). Swer treatment plant works only when there exits a reticulated sewer system covering the whole settlement area so that all pollution can be collected, brought to the treatment plant both from point and non-point sources.
    2). There are many isolaed areas where the pollution sources (industrials, agriculturual, defecation, etc, ) goes directy to the river without even any primary cleaning and not even secondary or in depth purification.
    3). There is no legal laws or procedure to check and penalise the polluers.
    Facing these factors just by setting up a treatment plant will not meet the objective.
    Where as , onthe other hand, the ganges bassin collects the outfall of the whole ganges basin that is huge (+ than a million Km2). thereofre,, it requires a full drainage plan around the river and a proper survey to indentify the causes and consequences of the pollution of the Ganges Basin other wise the whole project will be meaningless. More over, the river itself bring a huge amount of alluvium during the rainy season that will block many drainages coursces during the summer. To conter act to this this there needs of river training action to mantain the proper flow of the Ganges including its network of riverine network. Therefore it needs a full hydraulic system analysis of this river, from the source to the ocean mouth. We cannot compare the Rhine and Danube including La Seine, The Rhône and La Loire basin in Europe. I remember very well when Mr. Nehru had given the construction of Damodar Valley project to the Collarado Authority, they hardly understood this Damodar river. If we look its present state, it is now a fiasco !!! I think in India there are good Hydraulic and River enginners. We can develop real workable project for Ganga Cleaning because they are well conversant of the nature of this river. Hope our Government should understand this !!!

    Posted by: BARAL | 2 years ago | Reply