Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reviewed execution of his pet programme for cleaning river Ganga and is understood to have instructed officials to ensure its timely completion. Today’s meeting on ‘Namami Gange’ programme assumed significance as it was the first since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the river’s two key basin states whose previous governments were accused by the Centre of not cooperating fully. During the meeting, the prime minister is learnt to have instructed officials working on the ambitious project to ensure involvement of the people so that it doesn’t remain only a government programme, official sources said.
He also directed the officials to ensure proper dissemination of information related to the project, they said. Modi’s instructions came amid reports that the implementation of the programme was lagging behind schedule and that the government was faced with precipice, particularly in view of the October 2018 deadline set for cleaning the river. “The prime minister has asked officials to ensure the project is seen as a government-public project rather than only as a government programme,” an official source said.
“He (Modi) also asked them to ensure proper dissemination of factual information. There have been some incorrect reports in a section of the media. So, he has asked to disseminate the information properly,” the source added. The sources claimed that the prime minister was satisfied with the planning of the project and the officials gave a commitment to expedite the work.
Another source in the water resources ministry said the project could not be implemented at the desired pace due to “non-cooperation” by the previous governments in Uttar Pradesh, where Ganga’s longest stretch falls, and Uttarakhand, from where the river originates. Uttar Pradesh was earlier ruled by the Samajwadi Party while Uttarakhand had Congress government before the BJP came to power in the two states in March this year.
Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are the other basin states of the 2525-km-long river. “We can now expedite the work given that the two states have friendly governments. There is a BJP government in Jharkhand too. Bihar has so far cooperated,” the source added.
Principal secretary to the prime minister Nripendra Mishra, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, secretaries of Water Resources and Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministries, Amarjit Singh and Parmeswaran Iyer respectively, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) chairman SP Singh Parihar and National Mission for Clean Ganga director general UP Singh.