The World Bank has announced additional funding for India’s Namami Gange program that is designed to rejuvenate the Ganga River. The $400 Million USD financing will finance the construction of expanded water networks and treatment facilities in order to stem pollution and strengthen river basin management.
The Ganga Basin covers about 25 percent of India’s landmass and is home to about 500 million people. It is a crucial economic and environmental resource, contributing about 40 percent of GDP, and provides about 35 percent of India’s surface water. Much of India’s irrigated land is in the region which is critical to water and food security.
The new funding, announced 25 June, supplements previous support for the government’s efforts since 2011 to control Ganga River pollution and restore its water quality. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) finances sewage treatment infrastructure in several towns and cities along the river and its tributaries.
“The government’s Namami Gange Program has revitalized India’s efforts to rejuvenating the Ganga,” acording to Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this Project will help scale this up to the tributaries. It will also help government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin.”
“The Project will help expand the coverage of sewage treatment infrastructure to more towns in the Ganga Basin, and focus on making sure that these assets are operated and maintained efficiently in the long term,” said Xavier Chauvot de Beauchene, Lead Water & Sanitation Specialist and Upneet Singh, Water & Sanitation Specialist, both co-task team leaders (TTL) for the SNGRBP. “The Project will also help NMCG develop state-of-the-art tools to help manage the river basin more effectively.”
The river’s pollution comes from untreated domestic wastewater from towns and cities along the river and its tributaries. The expansion of the sewage networks and treatment plants will control pollution discharges. It is expected that the financing will create jobs that will contribute to India’s recovery from COVID-19.
The new construction works will be financed under an innovative hybrid model whereby the government pays a private operation 40 percent of the construction capital cost with the remaining amount paid over 15 years. This is designed to ensure that the operator manages and maintains the facility efficiently.