Germany has announced it would provide a soft loan of euro 120 million to India to help clean the Ganga., said Jasper Wieck, the Deputy Head of the German mission in India.
He said that cleaning Ganga is a tough task and Berlin will utilise its experience to help New Delhi in strengthening sewage treatment infrastructure in an effort to clean the sacred river.
'We can only use our experience, it took us 30 years and 45 billion euros to clean the Rhine, which used to be called the sewer of Europe,' he said.
Wieck argued that the Ganga is twice the length of the Rhine and therefore, it is a tough task for the government to clean it in a very short span of time. 'The length of the Ganga is double Rhine's length, so this can give you an essence about problems India is facing in cleaning it,' he pointed out.
He said that under the project, Berlin will focus on extension and replacement of sewerage system, including complete house connection, construction of sewage treatment plants of around 15 million litres per day. Also, the initiative includes construction of 13 sewage pumping stations.
'The purpose is to reduce the inflow of untreated waste water into the Ganga and, thus, to improve the water quality of the river.'
An RTI enquiry last week has received a reply that stated that the level of pollution in Ganga in Varanasi has increased compared to what was the level of pollution recorded before 2014 – the year the Modi government had launched ambitious 'Namami Gange' project to clean the river. According to the reply, the government had allocated Rs 20,000 crore to be spent in the next five years. Till date, it said that a total of 221 projects have been sanctioned for various activities at a cost of Rs 22,238 crore, of which only 58 projects have been completed.
In 2015, Germany had pledged India an interest subsidised loan of up to euro 120 million through German Development Bank KfW to finance the construction of sewerage network and treatment plants. Wieck said that German development agency GIZ has prepared a ‘Ganga Box’ on the line of ‘Danube Book’. It will have all mythological, social-cultural and economic importance information related to the river. Also, it will contain suggestions to avoid polluting the river and distributed to people to make them aware of the importance of the river.
Earlier in May, the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari, had set March 2019 as the deadline to clean the river Ganga and ensure 70 to 80 improvement in the quality of the water.