The Ganga is worshipped by Hindus, who make up about 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people. They call it Ganga Mata, or mother Ganga, and believe a dip in the river absolves a lifetime of sins. Hindus also cremate the bodies of their loved ones on its banks and strew the ashes in the river.
India’s $3 billion plan to clean the holy Ganga river is badly behind schedule with large stretches contaminated by toxic waste and sewage, according to government officials and documents seen by Reuters.
Much of the money allocated to the project, a flagship initiative for Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, remains unspent, say officials from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a government body overseeing the project.
A 2018 deadline to clean the river is “impossible”, one NMCG official said. “If we want to meet the 2018 deadline, we should have commissioned plants to treat half the sewage already,” he said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
Over three-quarters of the sewage generated in the towns and cities of India’s crowded northern plains flows untreated into the 2,525-km (1,570-mile) Ganga, according to the presentation which has not been made public.
“The situation has deteriorated every year, fewer people visit now and there are no prayers at this river bank,” said Ram Das, a Hindu priest at a riverside temple.
The Ganga Action Plan GAP was started way back in 1986 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then two years later he lost power and then GAP project did not take place.
But after Prime minister Modi took over in 2014 committed $3.06 billion for the clean-up in the five years to 2020 but the January presentation showed just $205 million had been spent between April 2015 and March 2017.
Cleaning ganga become his pet project and Modi government collected exclusive Swatch bharat tax from india people and he has appointed exclusive ministry under Ms. Uma bharathi and funds been allocated.
Then three years had gone but still no development has been cited and the state of the Ganga river remains unchanged and appear black water, full of plastic and other waste thrown by devotees, flowed slowly as mosquitos buzzed above.
India’s water resources minister, Uma Bharti, who is responsible for overseeing the clean-up and announced the 2018 deadline, did not respond to requests for comment.
India’s top environmental court in February ruled “not a single drop of the Ganga has been cleaned so far”, accusing the government of wasting public money.
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