New Delhi: Government on Thursday approved an
ambitious Rs 497-crore project envisaging setting up of a
mega sewage treatment plant, renovation of ghats and other
steps for cleaning river Ganga in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)
chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today approved the
project under Mission Clean Ganga of the National Ganga River
Basin Authority (NGRBA) for the holy city.
"Under the project a sewage treatment plant of 140
million litres per day capacity, 34kms of sewer lines,
rehabilitation of existing sewerage systems and construction
of three new pumping stations is proposed," Home Minister P
Chidambaram told reporters here.
Besides building of community toilet complexes,
renovation of 26 selected ghats, development of seven `dhobi`
ghats and building capacity for public participation and
awareness is envisaged under the project, he added.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, "The project
is significant since it is the first in a series that will be
based on requirements of population in 2025-2030.
"Normally, such projects are planned keeping existing
demand in mind but the NGRBA is looking at future population
and formulating sewerage treatment facilities," he said,
adding the project will reduce th pollution load on the river.
The Centre will provide Rs 428 crore, 85 per cent of
the cost, while the remaining, Rs 69 crore, will be met by
The project will be executed by the UP Jal Nigam and
the Varanasi Nagar Nigam over a five-year period with the
Union Ministry of Environment and Forests monitoring
implementation through a tripartite memorandum of agreement
between it, the state government and the local water board.
The government has taken a soft loan of about Rs 550
crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
for the project repayable over 40 years at 0.75 per cent
interest rate with an initial grace period of 10 years.
The NGRBA is also supporting alternative technology in
Varanasi through a local NGO the Sankat Mochan Foundation. Two
technologies---advanced integrated wastewater pond system and
micro-tunneling for the ghat area are being experimented with,
Earlier the cabinet had cleared a similar Rs 305 crore
project for Allahabad. The Authority has so far approved three
projects amounting to Rs 240 crore in Bihar, Rs 105 crore in
West Bengal and Rs 65 crore in Uttarakhand.