India Seeks Participation of UK Businesses in Clean Ganga Project
Vedanta's Anil Agarwal and Foresight Group's Ravi Mehrotra are said to have agreed to look after the riverfront at Patna and Kanpur, respectively.
Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari has called on the United Kingdom-based companies to participate in the Clean Ganga mission. The minister will meet UK ministers and officials with regard to the mission during his ongoing visit to the country.
Metal and mining company Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal has adopted the Patna riverfront while shipping firm Foresight Group’s Ravi Mehrotra will look after the Kanpur section, the minister said, Times of India reported. The two cities are the hometowns of the UK-based businessmen.
“We have a very good scheme for projects associated with Clean Ganga, where projects are being offered on a 15-year maintenance basis,” Gadkari said in London on Nov. 28, PTI reported. “These include plantation projects as well as anti-pollution measures.”
The minister added: “We have a very good plan for Ganga and 20 tributaries of Ganga, with the use of specialized technology…the idea is to give the responsibility to different corporates and companies with an emotional attachment to Ganga.”
The minister also spoke to the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, over the issue. “We have been talking about the things that we can do together,” Grayling was quoted as saying in the report. “The partnership that exists between our two countries is of enormous importance to us. As we go through the Brexit process, India is right at the top of the list of friends of the UK with which we wish to deepen our relationship.”
Out of the 95 projects associated with Clean Ganga, 25 have been started and the remaining will be open to tender by the end of March 2018, the Indian minister said. An ambitious river connectivity project is also underway. The plan is to use excess water from the Godavari river to address water scarcity problems in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, we have a great vision for progress and development of the country which is corruption-free,” he said.
The Clean Ganga mission is one of the key electoral promises of the BJP government, which the government has been trying to achieve before the next general elections in 2019. The river, associated with spirituality, is a source of livelihood through all states it passes through, and accounts for over 165 Lok Sabha constituencies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi is also situated on the banks of the river.
The Indian government has been repeatedly pulled up by various courts over its failure to clean up the river. Even after Rs 7,304.64 crore were spent up to March 2017 by the central government, state government and local authorities of the state of UP, the status of the Ganga had “not improved in terms of quality or otherwise and it continues to be a serious environmental issue,” the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had said in July.