Waste and water
Mains Paper 4: Environment
Prelims level: Clean Ganga Mission
Mains level: Environmental impact assessment
- When the National Clean Ganga Mission was launched in 2015, a
common criticism was that the project would come a cropper if it did not
address the problem of municipal solid waste (MSW) flowing into the river.
- The mission did have plans of bolstering the network of waste
treatment plants across the Ganga’s 2,500 km stretch.
- However, an analysis of the river’s water by the Quality Council
of India has proved the naysayers right.
Important highlights of the study
- The study points out that 66 of the 97 towns along the river have
at least one drain that flows into the Ganga and notes that only 19 towns
across the river’s basin have a plant to treat MSW.
- Data on the Clean Ganga Mission website offers some insight into
where things have wrong. Till November last year, the project had completed
barely a sixth of the sewage treatment plant (STP) coverage it had
- The issue, however, is not just about the construction of STPs but
also their performance.
- Such plants perform sub-optimally because a large part of India’s
urban population lives outside sewerage networks.
- This means that much of the waste they generate does not reach the
- The Clean Ganga Mission did aim to strengthen the urban sewerage
- But the mission’s website reveals that only 31 of the 131 sewerage
infrastructure projects have been completed so far.
Steps taken by the government
- Union Minister of Water Resources Nitin Gadkari said that the
government would try to ensure a 70 to 80 per cent improvement in the
Ganga’s water quality by March 2019.
- He also spoke of a project to create a cadre of village and
town-level volunteers who would help local bodies to monitor the quality of
the river’s water.
- However, by all accounts, the Clean Ganga Mission has adopted the
same top-down approach which proved to be the undoing of earlier projects to
- The failure to reach out to local communities has been
particularly telling when it comes to dealing with MSW.
- It’s well-known that such waste is best dealt with at source
segregated into separate heaps meant for recycling or for treatment at MSW
plants. But that rarely happens in India’s cities.
- The Quality Council of India study shows how this failing has
worked to the detriment of the Ganga.
- It found rubbish heaps close to ghats in 72 of the 97 towns along
- The director of the Clean Ganga Mission has said that his team
will take stock of the situation in mid-March. Chances are that by then, the
project will miss the target set by the water resources minister.
Q.1) Which date will be observed as NMCG’s Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas?
A. May 2
B. May 3
C. May 5
D. May 6
Q.1) What is the Clean Ganga Mission? What steps are needed to implement this