Even though Ganga Action Plan-I, initiated seven years ago, has fallen short of expectations, work has already begun on the ambitious Yamuna Action Plan.
EVEN AS the Ganga Project Directorate (GPD) begins work on cleaning up the Yamuna, environmentalists are questioning the decision of the ministry of environment and forests (MEF) to commit as much as Rs 357 crore towards the project. They point out that there has been no proper evaluation yet of Ganga Action Plan-I (GAP-I), which has failed to live up to its expectations despite an expenditure of Rs 350 crore since it was set up in 1986.
MEF statistics reinforce the environmentalists' charge. GAP-I was designed to tap and treat 873 million litres per day (mld) of waste water from 25 cities along the Ganga at a total cost of Rs 292 crore in 1986. But, while cost estimates have shot up to Rs 423 crore, a GPD progress report says that till the end of March this year, sewage treatment facility was available for only 297 mld waste water, about one-third the target.
Meanwhile, GPD is all set to clean up the major Ganga tributaries -- Yamuna, Gomati and Hindon. The Damodar had been left out because the West Bengal government has expressed its inability to contribute to GAP-II expenses, which is supposed to be borne equally by the Centre and beneficiary states.
The Yamuna Action Plan, which started on June 5, is the first to begin, and will get Japanese assistance worth 17.7 million yen (about $164,200) over the next five years. Work on the Gomati will begin soon after the monsoon if the promised British assistance of L30 million comes through.
GPD had submitted an estimate of Rs 900 crore for NRAP in early 1993, but the Planning Commission has asked for a more detailed project report, containing exact data on crucial factors such as effluent discharge and nature of pollutants. GPD is now carrying out fresh surveys and the reports will be ready by September.
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