Millennium Post

Modi pays back: Announces `2,000 cr Namami Gange conservation mission

Modi pays back: Announces `2,000 cr Namami Gange conservation mission
Keeping his poll promise, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre has proposed an outlay of Rs 2,037 crore for the development of Ganga. Modi on several occasions has said that development of Ganga was his top most priority. The save Ganga mission has some political connects too. The BJP has discovered the river deemed holy by Hindus as one of its possible vehicles to win back the lost ground in 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. It’s because of this that Modi retained Varanasi seat and vacated Vadodara parliamentary seat.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden budget on Thursday proposed an integrated programme for the conservation of river Ganga. While announcing the Ganga Conservation Mission called Namami Gange, Jaitley said the mission is being launched because a substantial amount of money has been spent in the conservation and improvement of the river, but that has not yielded desired results because of lack of concerted efforts by the stakeholders. The Centre has invoked Ganga to woo NRIs too. While announcing the setting up of an ‘NRI Fund for Ganga’, the finance minister said that in order to harness the enthusiasm of the NRI community towards the conservation of the river Ganga, the Fund will be set up to finance special projects.
A sum of Rs 100 crore has been set aside for Ghat development and beautification of the river front at Kedarnath, Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi in the current financial year since river fronts and Ghats are not only places of rich historical heritage but many of these are sacred, Jaitley said. Notably, prime minister Narendra Modi had emphasised on the need of development and beautification of ghats during his Lok Sabha poll campaigning in Varanasi.
The budget also contains the first ever effort to link the rivers across the country with the finance Minister setting aside a sum of Rs 100 crore in the current budget to expedite the preparation of Detailed Project Reports as a serious move in this direction, he said.

Stating that river linking can yield ‘rich dividends’, finance minister called for a serious effort in that direction even as he allocated Rs 100 crore in his maiden budget to expedite preparation of detailed project reports. In his budget address in Lok Sabha, Jaitley said that rivers are the lifeline of the country as they provide water not only for producing food for the multitudes but also for drinking.
The idea of linking rivers had received an impetus during the previous NDA regime with the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee pushing for such projects. The Ministry of Water Resources had formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for water resources development in 1980, envisaging inter-basin transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit ones. These are areas which comprise two components — Himalayan Rivers Development Component and Peninsular Rivers Development Component. The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has already identified 14 links under the Himalayan Component and 16 under the one for Peninsular Rivers. Five Peninsular links —Ken-Betwa, Parbati-Kalisindh, Chambal, Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada and Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna (Vijayawada) were identified as priority links for taking up detailed project reports.

Ganga also plays an important role in bringing farmers from every part of the state under a single umbrella. The river remains the primary source of irrigation for them. Anything related to Ganga cannot escape their attention and will indirectly help political parties to
bind with them together as about 28 per cent of the state’s farmers have their farmlands adjacent to the  mighty river.
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