The World Bank and India today signed a loan agreement to enhance support for the Namami Gange programme that seeks to rejuvenate the Ganga river. The Second National Ganga River Basin Project will help stem pollution in the iconic river and strengthen the management of the river basin, which is home to more than 500 million people, says a government press release.
The $400-million operation comprises a loan of $381 million and a proposed guarantee of up to $19 million. The agreement for the $381 million loan was signed today by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Qaiser Khan, Acting Country Director (India), World Bank. The Guarantee instrument will be processed separately.
Khare said that the Ganga is India’s most important cultural, economic and environmental resource, and the government’s Namami Gange program seeks to ensure that the river returns to a pollution-free, ecologically healthy state. The new project will extend the Government of India and World Bank’s engagement in this critical national programme to make the Ganga a clean, healthy river.
The World Bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, said that the continuity provided by the Second National Ganga River Basin Project will consolidate the momentum achieved under the first World Bank project, and help NMCG introduce further innovations, and benchmark its initiatives against global best practices in river rejuvenation.
“The government’s Namami Gange Program has revitalized India’s efforts to rejuvenating the Ganga,” Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this project will help scale this up to the tributaries. It will also help government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin.”
The sprawling Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security. Over 40 percent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated Basin. But the Ganga river today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows.
Over 80 per cent of the pollution load in the Ganga comes from untreated domestic wastewater from towns and cities along the river and its tributaries..