India to get 3bn dollar aid from World Bank for Ganga cleaning projects

      Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday said that India is soon expected to get an aid of 3 billion dollar from the World Bank for preparing projects to clean the river Ganga. Ramesh said this after attending the first meeting of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the national capital on Monday. "We are hopeful of clinching an agreement with the World Bank, as the President of the World Bank will visit India in December. The preliminary indications from the World Bank are very positive," Ramesh said. "Discussions between Environment and Forest Ministry and the World Bank are proceeding very rapidly and we are likely to get 3 billion dollars very soon for preparing projects under what is called the project preparation facility under the World Bank," he added. The Government had earlier constituted NGRBA, under the Environment (Protection) Act as an empowered Authority to adopt a new holistic river basin approach to the cleaning of the river Ganga and address the issue of minimum ecological flows, besides pollution abatement works. The meeting decided that the on-going sewage treatment projects would be put on fast track and States will formulate projects for critical pollution hotspots and major towns near river Ganga and its tributaries by November 30, 2009. "By 2020 mission the objective is that no untreated municipal sewage and no untreated industrial effluents will be allowed to flow into river Ganga without full treatment," Ramesh added. The Central and State Governments will also provide an estimated Rs. 150 billion for the initiative over the next 10 years. Industrial discharges, sewage, pesticides and the rotting remains of dead bodies have increased pollution levels in the river over the years despite Government promises to clean-up country's most sacred river.

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