The Public-Private Partnership for the wastewater treatment plants across the Ganga Basin, which has been supported by the Hybrid Annuity Model of World Bank won the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Vice President’s Award in 2018.
The Ganga Basin, where the project has been implemented, is home to 450 million people. The area has been reeling under problems like rapid urbanisation and population explosion which has directly affected the water assets in the area. Water pollution and water shortage are now two of the most potent problems in the area due to the stressed assets – around 8,000 million litres of untreated water flows through the Ganges every day, estimates say. However, if this is treated and reused for industrial purpose, it would relieve the area of the water shortage or pollution, even if not on a large extent.
The awarded World Bank model supported financing, maintenance and sustainable operations of the wastewater treatment plants across the banks of Ganges – in collaboration with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG). Under the Hybrid Annuity Model, 40 percent of the project cost is paid by the government, while the rest 60 is given away to the private bodies as annuities, over 15 years, the performance-linked payments associated with it also ensures the longevity and performance of the programme.
The public sector programmes trying to rejuvenate the Ganges had failed when this program was initiated, a World Bank blog post mentioned. Under an innovative PPP mechanism, the government then invited the private sector players for the municipal wastewater treatment.
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The project took off in 2015 when 2030WRG started collaborating with Ministry of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation (MOWR) to develop the PPP project and come up with wastewater solutions in the Ganges basin. Following this a demonstration project was carried out in Mathura and Vrindavan, to study the feasibility and scope of the project. The project in collaboration with the central and state government along with municipality and the stakeholder, collaborated with the local refinery to use the treated wastewater.
These projects eventually caused a paradigm shift in the mindset of the governing bodies towards the Public Private Partnership.
The first three wastewater treatment plants under the PPP were planned in early 2017, in Mathura, Haridwar and Varanasi under the flagship Clean Ganga program. Apart from the World Bank, IFC was retained as the Transaction Advisor, by the government. Two concession agreements for the project were signed in October 2017, while the last one was signed in June 2018. More PPP projects have also been sanctioned by the government, which not only prioritise wastewater treatment and reuse, but also water efficiency .