New Delhi: In view of the high costs involved in cleaning up and inter-linking of rivers, the government is considering levying a charge on river water users and those polluting them.
The government's plan, however, will keep the poor out its purview.
"The cost of inter-linking of rivers has risen from Rs 5 lakh crore to Rs 11 lakh crore. The cost of cleaning up Ganga is likely to be around Rs 50,000 crore," said a top government source.
Senior officials in the Water Resources Ministry have been asked to devise ways to generate revenue for such high-cost projects, the source said.
"The groundwater level is depleting at an alarming level in some states like Punjab. Barring the poor, there should be some charge levied on those using the water. The cost should be recovered even from those polluting rivers," the source said.
On cleaning up of Ganga, the source said the result of the project will be visible by next year.
"Immediate steps in this process are solid waste management, treating the sewage and industrial waste, ensuring environmental flow and beautification of river front while keeping the bio-diversity in mind," the source said.
The Water Resources Ministry will soon submit its plan for cleaning up Ganga to the NGT, as it did for Yamuna.
The government is also considering grading rivers in three categories such as A, B and C, according to their cleanliness level.
The government is also thinking of roping in Australia for river basin management and Israel for drip irrigation. It is also studying the rejuvenated Rhine river, which shows some similarities to Ganga.