Intro: For Modi Government, Namami Gange Programme is the biggest challenge. Everybody hopes that Modi will overcome all obstacles and revives the river as he did in Varanasi with resolute efforts.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project of Rs 20,000 crore, Namami Gange Programme aims to restore the pristine glory of the river Ganga. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) will implement the programme by involving people living on the banks of the rivers, State government machinery, grass roots level institutions, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj institutions. Plan is afoot to establish a four battalion-strong Ganga Eco-Task Force, a Territorial Army Unit and a three tier mechanism comprising of Cabinet Secretary at the National level, Chief Secretary at State level and District magistrate at District level who will monitor and ensure smooth implementation of the project in different phases.
The Namami Gange Programme is scientifically devised keeping in view of the massive leakage of funds from similar preservation programmes which have been implemented since 1985. The successful implementation of the programme is the biggest challenge before the country.
The flagship programme is expected to save India’s most revered river Ganga—the heart of the world’s one of the richest civilisations. The river is rightly called as Mother Ganga as it provides livelihood to more than 500 million people and has untapped potential to generate huge employment on a sustainable basis. For ages India has preserved an equitable growth model which is an integration of economic, social, cultural and spiritual development. The agriculture fields on both sides of the river basin spreading over 400 miles do not need any fertiliser as the river water makes it fertile with the nutrient rich soil it carries from the ridge areas.
In view of the growing demand for organic food world over, the farm land on both sides of the river can produce huge quantity of organic food. While growing orga-nic food crops, the rich bio-diversity should be preserved as the global traders may lure Indian farmers to a mono crop trap the way it happens in small countries.
The myths and mysteries associated with the river Ganga have sprung sprang up hundreds of pilgrim places which should be kept as natural as possible for pilgrim sector growth. In fact, the USP of tourism sector is its natural beauty. The river Ganga can be the new hub for yoga tourism as the place inspires spiritual pursuit. The river Ganga while travelling through its mountainous path creates bewitching artistry in nature which has become the favorite haunt of both Indian and foreign tourists. Quality implementation of the Namami Gange Project is expected to generate huge employment opportunity in tourism sector.
Every Indian is emotionally attached to the river Ganga as the river knits together India’s more than 5000 year old civilisation. Many of the places associated with the world’s greatest epics, the Mahabharat, the Ramayana and the Puranas still exist on the banks of the river. Haridwar, Rishikesh, Prayag, Varanasi, the Char Dhams and scores of other important places attract large number of pilgrims. Prayag and Varanasi are the venue for the Kumbh Mela. Those places witness the world’s largest religious congregation. Varanasi, the abode of Lord Shiva and the spiritual capital of India where Sant Tulsi Das wrote Ramcharitmanas has got a new lease of life after Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives.
Dedicated audit and strict monitoring would improve the quality of implementation of this mega project. Unless the government initiative is backed by public involvement, the river preservation would be difficult.
Sudhansu R Das (The writer is Hyderabad based freelance journalist)