The $1.5 billion Ganga Rejuvenation Project has opened up a plethora of opportunities for the various players in the water and waste-water industry.
At the recently-concluded India Water Week in Delhi, the 52-member Australian water delegation focused on ways in which Australia can work with India. Australia was the partner country for the event and the delegation sought to develop trusted commercial partnerships with local firms and assist India in addressing its water-related challenges.
The $1.5 billion Ganga Rejuvenation Project is going to present opportunities across urban water management; water resources management; catchment modelling; catchment area development; industrial water treatment and management; water quality monitoring tools and techniques. And the Australian companies are willing to share their expertise and know-how in all relevant domains.
Geoffrey Gray, National Manager - Industry Development, Australian Water Association shared that he and the delegates were keen to work with the 700+ companies that have to be zero discharge under the Ganga Rejuvenation Plan. ´We do work with governments and we do believe that our opportunity in India lies with those companies. We may not sell many things here as Australia is a very expensive country, but we do have a lot of technology that we could share. It´s a project that´s going to take many years and it´s going to bite off little bits and get them successful. Not all is going to be successful at once and there´s no point in doing one part and neglecting the other part,´ according to Gray.
Nicola Watkinson, Australian Trade Commission´s Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner for South Asia, said this mission reinforces the message that Australia is keen to identify, strengthen and deepen relationships with India. ´We want to share our hard-learned experiences in the Murray-Darling Basin with India. This experience could be particularly relevant for Ganga rejuvenation efforts,´ she adds. Adding more force to the mission and to check pollution in the Ganga River, the Central government plans to create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for setting up and maintaining sewage treatment plants (STPs) in 118 cities and towns located by the river. The Urban Development Ministry has proposed to set up an SPV which will ensure that the demand-supply gap with respect to sewage treatment in urban areas will be met in line with the time-frame for cleaning the river.
Under National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), 56 schemes in 44 towns have been covered and Rs 3,031 crore sanctioned. New Delhi has spent Rs 785 crore till September 2013 on project implementation, according to the Environment Ministry. The Union Budget 2014-15 has set up an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission, namely Namami Gange with an allocation of Rs 2037 crore for Ganga Rejuvenation. The plan formulated for Ganga Rejuvenation provides for short-term, medium-term, and a long-term action plan, incorporating the projects already sanctioned by NGRBA. ´Presently, a World Bank assisted National Ganga River Basin Project (NGRBP) for Rs 7,000 crore and a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted Project at Varanasi for Rs 496.90 crore are under implementation,´ says Madhava Kumar R, Senior Eco & Finance specialist, the National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG), the main executing agency for cleaning the river.
NMCG is conceptualized as a Nodal Centre for monitoring the critical aspects of Ganga rejuvenation, such as water and effluent quality at identified suitable locations throughout Ganga, using IT-enabled systems, etc. The government proposes to free all villages along the banks of the river from open defecation under the Namami Gange project.
Up for grabs
Industry players have cited a plethora of opportunities up for grabs in the project that is bound to push the water & waste-water industry in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also advocated that Namami Gange, the mission to clean and rejuvenate the holy river, must focus on urban sewage and industrial effluents, in order to check pollution at its source.
In one of the major orders awarded under the mission, water treatment company VA Tech WABAG has bagged a Rs 220-crore project, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, for construction of a sewage water treatment plant in Varanasi. The project, which is part of the Ganga Action Plan, involves design and construction of 140 MLD sewage treatment plant at Dinapur, Varanasi including operation and maintenance for ten years. According to a company statement, the scope of work includes design, engineering, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the sewage treatment plant whereas the civil construction would be carried out by the joint-venture partner. Apart from Australia, Israel had also shown keen interest in sharing its expertise in the water & waste-water treatment to help clean the river Ganga.
The Central Government has approved the projects for ´World Bank´ assistance to National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) for abatement of pollution of river Ganga at an estimated cost of Rs 7,000 crore. The bank will support the government of India by providing technical assistance and financing of $1 billion (approx Rs 4,600 crore). The World Bank Board has approved this project on 31st May 2011. The loan agreement with World Bank has been signed on 14th June 2011. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is supporting one project on Ganga in Varanasi worth Rs 496.9 crore on an 85:15 basis. According to NMCG, the investments required to create the necessary treatment and sewerage infrastructure would be shared between Center and State governments on a 70:30 basis. The State governments would be required to motivate ULBs for resource recovery and revenue generation. Also, the cost of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) for the initial five years in NGRBA projects would be shared between Center and States in the ratio of 70:30 with a periodical review.
Course of worries
The mission has had a troubled past. The Ganga Action Plan Phase I launched in 1986, GAP Phase II (1995), and the National Ganga River Basin Authority (2009) ù have failed. ´Ganga is suffering with triple ´R´ problem i.e. Reduced flow; Reduced water carrying capacity and reduced quality of water, i.e., pollution. Our plans for the control of pollution, enhanced flow of water shall minimise 60-80 per cent pollution load,´ says Professor BD Tripathi, Founder Coordinator of the Centre for Environmental Science & Technology of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and an expert member of the NGRBA.
Tripathi has also raised concerns that even after the declaration of the river as the National River in 2008, it is still under the control of five different States-Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Each State has its own regulations for consumption and management of the river water and implementation of the Ganga-related projects. Looking at past failures of Ganga-related projects implemented by different State governments, it is necessary that the Central government has direct control over implementation of all Ganga projects to speed up the management.
Tripathi´s concerns have also been reflected by think tanks across the country. The logistics involved in the entire project do paint a daunting image. To get the environmental and pollution protection agencies, Central water authorities to work in coordination with five State governments and urban local bodies in 36 cities and dozens of other small towns along the river´s banks is a challenge. Untreated sewage waste reaching the Ganga is responsible for 75 per cent of the river´s pollutants. The players in the water and waste-water segment are eyeing the entire project with a lot of interest as the quantum of opportunity is huge. A couple of them, whom INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY spoke to are eager to grab a slice of the pie. However, the need of the hour is to enable capacity building and local participation at the ULB and the State level for the mission to succeed. Given the natural spread of the river, it´s going to be a challenge to get the various State governments to partner together and work in tandem for the mission to succeed.
The story so far
National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) has so far sanctioned a total 72 projects in 47 towns in Ganga States costing Rs 4607.82 crore under NGRBA Program including Externally Aided Projects (EAP) component with the assistance of Japan International Agency (JICA) and the World Bank of Rs 2,626.64 crore. These include projects of Rs 1,914.36 crore in Uttar Pradesh, of which Rs 1160.38 crore is in Bihar, Rs 99.36 crore in Jharkhand, Rs 934.21 crore in West Bengal and Rs 251.21 crore in Uttarakhand, for laying of sewage networks, treatment plants, development of river fronts, etc. These sanctioned projects also include three CPCB projects worth Rs 198.48 crore on Pollution Inventorization, Assessment and Surveillance (PIAS) on the River Ganga; Strengthening of Environmental Regulator (SER)-CPCB and a project of setting up the Ganga Knowledge Centre (GKC) in NMCG (Rs 48.54 crore) and Educating Schools and Communities for conserving habitant of Ganga River Dolphin (Rs.1.28 crore). An amount of Rs 838.76 crore (as on 31st March 2014) has been released by both Centre and the States for implementation of the sanctioned projects.
Proposed initiatives under Namami Gange
(i) Nirmal Dhara-ensuring sustainable municipal sewage management
(ii) Nirmal Dhara- managing sewage from rural areas
Mo DWS scheme for all Ganga bank Gram Panchayats (1,632) free from open defecation by 2022, at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore as Central share.
(iii) Nirmal Dhara- managing Industrial discharge
(iv) Aviral Dhara
(v) Ensuring ecological rejuvenation by conservation of aquatic life and biodiversity.
(vi) Promotion of Tourism and Shipping in a rational and sustainable manner.
(vii) Knowledge Management on Ganga through Ganga Knowledge Centre
- Garima Pant