The Modi government’s half-hearted efforts to clean the river have not yielded results and the river is dirtier than ever before, says a leading expert, Vishwambhar Nath Mishra. In 2014, the prime minister Narendra Modi had invoked ‘Maa Ganga’ while filing his nomination papers for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. And after winning the election, he had declared that Mother Ganga had chosen him to ‘clean’ her. Modi allocated Rs 20,000 crore for the Namami Ganga project and promised to clean the river by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. However, this year, the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said the Ganga would be ‘100 per cent clean’ by March 2020.
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Mishra, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) who also runs a Varanasi-based NGO Sankat Mochan Foundation, says scientific temperament with engineering solutions have to applied for cleaning the river. “Simply praying to Ganga ji is not going to solve the problem.” Mishra, who is also the manhant of the 500-year-old Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, said the work on Ganga River is related to civil engineering. He said the situation of the river has worsened. “90 per cent of the pollution is due to the disposal of raw sewage into the river. You cannot allow even a drop of raw sewage to move into the river stream.” The professor says he doesn’t think Modi’s promise of cleaning the Ganga by 2019 was realistic because the type of work should have three components, which are interception, diversion and appropriate STPs.
“The point sources of pollution must be physically intercepted, diverted away from the river and treated to a level that it becomes innocuous for reuse. This is the objective given in the Ganga Action Plan. If you don’t meet all these requirements, whatever arbitrary work you are doing, nothing is going to happen. Nobody is having a magical stick, if you pronounce henceforth Ganga ji is clean, that makes no difference.”