New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): The director general of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), G Asok Kumar said that the Namami Gange initiative, aimed at restoring the Ganges river, has entailed a substantial financial commitment of USD 4.5 billion.
“Namami Gange Mission involves a substantial financial commitment of USD 4.5 billion and the interventions have already made positive impact as evidenced from restoration of polluted stretches of the river and significant improvement in river water quality,” Asok Kumar said.
“There has been a noticeable surge in sightings of aquatic species such as Gangetic Dolphins, Gharials and Turtles. More than 9.3 million Indian Major Carps (Katla, Rohu, and Mrigal) and 90,000 Hilsa fish have been ranched in the Ganga Basin. In addition, capacity development programs for forest officials have also been initiated to strengthen conservation efforts,” he noted.
The Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) chaired an online session on Monday in Stockholm Water Week on the theme ‘Peer Networking for Integrated River Basin Planning and Management’ with an interactive discussion on the adoption of the river basin management approach.
Delivering the keynote address, DG, NMCG, said that Namami Gange is premised on the five important pillars of – Nirmal Ganga (unpolluted river), Aviral Ganga (unrestricted flow), Jan Ganga (People’s Participation), Gyan Ganga (knowledge and research based interventions) and Arth Ganga (people-river connect through the bridge of economy).
He informed that Namami Gange is among the world’s acclaimed river rejuvenation programs and was recognized as one of the top 10 “World Restoration Flagships” on December 13th, 2022, during UN Conference on Biological Diversity (COP 15) in Montreal.
Kumar gave an overview of the five-tiered governance structure of NMCG with the National Ganga Council headed by the Prime Minister at the top and District Ganga Committees at the district-level.
He also spoke about Arth Ganga heralding economic growth, livelihood advancement, and community engagement in the river basin. Through Arth Ganga, he said, NMCG aims to establish resilient institutions to guide and harness sustainable development endeavors via institutional building, zero-budget natural farming, formation of FBOs, public participation, monetization of wastewater and sludge, cultural heritage, tourism, and livelihood generation.
He emphasized the role of District Ganga Committees (DGCs) in effective execution of Arth Ganga interventions. “We have revitalized the DGCs and launched DGC 4M (Monthly, Mandated, Monitored and Minuted). This has resulted in routine meetings of DGCs discussing crucial issues at hand,” he said, adding, “Between April 2022 to July 2023, a total of 1689 meetings have been conducted.”
DG, NMCG informed the participants that to foster awareness and youth engagement through a network of universities, a MoU signing ceremony – Namami Gange: Universities Connect – was organised in April 2023. This was preceded by a year-long webinar series with universities – ‘Igniting Young Minds, Rejuvenating Rivers’. “A dynamic shift from engineering to public participation is being made for comprehensive solutions,” he added.
The River-Cities Alliance, DG, NMCG said, is another novel initiative providing a dedicated platform for Indian river cities to ideate, deliberate, and share insights for sustainable urban river management. NMCG is harnessing expertise from entities such as GIZ.
He noted that steps are being taken to strengthen institutions, with a strategic focus on setting up a River Basin Management Unit.
“By engaging international experts, NMCG is poised to ensure well-grounded plans and effective guidance. The collaborative framework will facilitate development of a river rejuvenation model which can be emulated to rivers worldwide,” he added.
The Head of Programme, Support to Ganga Rejuvenation/India EU Partnership GIZ India, Martina Burkard highlighted the need for more collaborative efforts in river basin management.
She noted that the trajectory of Ganga basin governance has evolved through distinct phases, from development of comprehensive Ganga basin management plans to implementation-oriented sub-basin plans.
“These sub-basin plans are aligned with district-level and overarching river basin management strategies,” she said, adding, “NMCG adopts a dynamic approach, drawing on international experience.”
The engagement of stakeholders forms the bedrock of this approach, facilitating a cyclical progression, she said, adding, central to this approach is bringing districts to the forefront. She added that an intricate framework has been developed, fostering collaboration between districts and NMCG to delineate the blueprint of District Ganga Plans.
She concluded her address by highlighting how peer networking stands as a powerful tool, uniting stakeholders from diverse domains. (ANI)
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