The Gujarat government has spent Rs 1,010 crore, the highest amount spent by any state as of June, under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) to clean Sabarmati, Mindhola and Tapi rivers.
Setting up of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) has been one of the key components of the programme where almost Rs 1,790 crore has been sanctioned for the three rivers in Gujarat, according to a written reply from Bishweswar Tudu, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, in the Lok Sabha.
“Cleaning and rejuvenation of rivers is an ongoing activity. It is the primary responsibility of the states to ensure that urban local bodies and industrial units located in their jurisdiction carry out the treatment of the sewage and industrial effluents to the prescribed norms before discharging into rivers and other water bodies, coastal waters or land to prevent and control pollution therein,” the reply read.
It added that the ministry has been supplementing the states’ efforts by providing financial and technical assistance to abate pollution in identified stretches of rivers across the country through schemes such as Namami Gange for rivers along the Ganga basin and through the centrally-sponsored NRCP scheme where the funding pattern is in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and the state.
According to the last report published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2018, Gujarat has 20 polluted river stretches, including Amlakhadi, Bhadar, Bhogavo, Khari, Sabarmati, Vishwamitri, Dhadar, Triveni, Amravati (tributary of Narmada), Damanganga, Kolak, Mahi, Shedhi, Tapi, Anas, BalehwarKhadi, Kim, Meshwa, Mindhola and Narmada.
“NRCP has so far covered polluted stretches on 35 rivers in 78 towns spread over 16 states in the country with the project sanctioned cost of Rs 6,142 crore, and inter alia, a sewage treatment capacity of 2,745.70 million liters per day (mld) has been created. An amount of Rs 2,799 crore has been released to various states/UTs governments as Central share for implementation of various pollution abatement schemes under NRCP,” the reply stated.
The other state governments that have incurred higher expenditure under NRCP include Tamil Nadu and Punjab. While the Tamil Nadu government has spent Rs 901 crore for Cauvery, Adyar, Cooum, Vaigai, Vennar and Tamrabarani rivers, Punjab has spent Rs 797 crore on Satluj, Beas and Ghaggar.
According to the annual report of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for 2020-21, a total of 11,588 effluent treatment plants have been built in the state. However, concerns over pollution continue to exist in the state. “The fund from NRCP is transferred to municipal corporations directly and it is they who decide on the works that need to be implemented which includes augmentation of the Sewage Treatment Plants,” an official from GPCB told The Indian Express.
Rohit Prajapati, an environment activist associated with Vadodara-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, says, “It is not very clear, for what purposes the money has been used under NRCP. There is a lot of opaqueness on the part of the state government and local bodies. Also, the condition of the rivers has not improved. It has only become worse, including Sabarmati.”
Source: The Indian Express
Photo courtesy: The Indian Express.