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Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is a man on a mission. Incharge of the Rs 20,000 crore Clean Ganga Plan, he talks about government's intentions for a clean environment.
Take us through the latest development on the Ganga Rejuvenation plan. What are those projects mainly and what kind of technologies are used?
Most of the projects we have awarded are sewage treatment plants in various states. These plants use standard available technology. The banks of the Ganga are being polluted by discharge of about 3,000 megalitre/day (MLD) of sewage from 97 cities. Of this, 1,750 MLD sewage comes from just 10 cities. To make Ganga pollution-free, around 34 projects worth Rs 3,581 crore has been sanctioned for cleaning between 2008 and 2014, while 56 projects worth Rs 9,630 crore have been approved since 2014 till date.Around 18 of these projects are ready and others will also be implemented by March 2019.
We have also taken over sewage plants run by the state governments. So now, we are providing 100 per cent funding assistance to the state governments for operation and maintenance for the next 15 years. The challenge faced by sewage treatment plants - both brownfield and greenfield - is operation and maintenance. Most of the plants were handed over to urban local bodies, but due to either lack of funds or manpower, most of the already-constructed plants were not up and running. That is why our ministry has taken over all of them. Because of this, our project cost has almost doubled to Rs 20,000 crore.
How are the municipal corporations or state government helping in implementing these projects?
The funding is entirely provided by the central government and, by and large, implementation is done by the state governments. We are sort-of handholding them, especially for new modes like hybrid annuity mode (HAM) wherein we recently awarded two projects for Haridwar and Varanasi. It is the first time ever in India that HAM-based PPP is being applied in the sewerage sector. Under this agreement, the maintenance of the project will be the responsibility of the concessionaire, for which performance-based phased manner of payment will be made.
The 50 MLD STP in Varanasi was awarded to a consortium led by Essel Infra Projects at an estimated cost of Rs 153.16 crore. For Varanasi, funds have been roped in from JICA and we are now planning for capacity building of all important urban local bodies, so that the assets that we create do not go waste.
In Haridwar, HNB Engineers won the contract for a total sewage treatment capacity of 82 MLD at an estimated cost of Rs 171.53 crore. The awarded projects would ensure that untreated sewage does not flow into River Ganga, thus giving a boost to India's flagship Namami Gange programme.
Have you identified other locations where you can replicate this mode?
A second set of sewage treatment projects (STPs) under HAM are on the anvil. The upcoming projects which have already been sanctioned under HAM are at Naini, Jhusi and Phaphamau along with Allahabad (72 MLD); at Unnao, Shuklaganj, and Bithoor along with Kanpur (21.4 MLD); at Digha and Kankarbagh in Bihar (150); at Kolkata and Howrah (141 MLD); at Farukhabad (30 MLD) and at Bhagalpur (65 MLD). Tender documents for 10 of these projects are being prepared. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has also appointed strategic consultants for PPP design and transaction advisory support for integration of sewage treatment infrastructure in Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Kolkata.
How is the ministry monitoring such a huge programme?
Monitoring has been a weak point even in the states where we are primarily given the responsibility of running sewage treatment plants. These states were unable to collect the required data of inflow of waste into a particular treatment plant. However, most of the state governments are in the process of developing a dashboard, whereby we collect a daily figure, so that corrective measures can be taken.
We have engaged Tata Consultancy Engineering, mainly as a support unit for monitoring the projects.
- Rahul Kamat