New Delhi: India has turned to seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to help it prepare a plan to clean the Ganga. The move comes after the government has failed to do so after spending around Rs900 crore over 25 years through the Ganga Action Plan.
The joint committee comprising representatives from the IITs at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee will submit their first plan to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) within the next 12-18 months. Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, said the situation would have been worse without GAP and added that the “involvement of the IITs is a good step for the Ganga and all other river conservation (efforts) in the future.” IIT-Kanpur will co-ordinate the effort, monitor progress of the plan and help set up a project management board and project implementation and coordination committee, according to the agreement between the ministry and the IITs. “IITs will develop the detailed plan, maps and database of the river conservation and advise implementable actions,” IIT-Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande said. He added that the plan will be implemented by the National Ganga River Basin Authority.
Nearly 400 million people depend on the Ganga for water and livelihood along its 2,500km main branch. Ramesh said the government is for a “a clean and flowing” Ganga and confirmed that two hydel projects, in Pala Maneri and Bhaironghati (both in Uttarakhand) has been shelved. He added that 40% of work, at a cost of Rs600 crore, has been completed in the case of the Loharinag Pala hydro power project in the same state that some believe may be blocking flow of water into the Ganga. “In a month, the issue (about this project) will be solved,” he added.