Namami Gange Project: Scripting a new chapter
The Namami Gange initiative to restore India’s revered River Ganga has been named one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships to restore the natural world by the United Nations (UN). On December 14, 2022, World Restoration Day, Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General of Namami Gange, accepted the award at a ceremony held in conjunction with the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada. Namami Gange was chosen from among more than 150 similar projects from more than 70 nations. They were chosen as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, an international initiative coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is intended to stop and reverse the global deterioration of natural areas. The acknowledged programs—including Namami Gange—are now qualified to receive UN assistance, finance, or technical know-how.
Here it is worth mentioning that the National Mission for Clean Ganga, Government of India, is making concerted efforts to restore the riverine environment, as evidenced by Namami Gange’s ranking as one of the top 10 ecosystem restoration initiatives in the world. As India has assumed the G20 group of countries’ Presidency, this has come at a highly advantageous time for our nation. In the genuine spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, our Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to the preservation of the environment when he assumed the presidency by invoking the spirit of One Earth, One Family, One Future as the motto.
With 40 per cent of India’s population, 2500 kinds of plants and animals, and an 8.61 billion square kilometre basin that is home to more than 520 million people, the river Ganga is significant to our country. Ganga is also crucial from a spiritual perspective. It is directly related to our culture and tradition and served as a symbol of Indians’ beliefs, emotions, and collective consciousness. After Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, he recognised the need to revitalise River Ganga and pledged more than $5 billion to ensure that the river becomes clean. This led to the establishment of the Namami Gange Program.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) developed a holistic and multi-sectoral strategy, introducing cutting-edge concepts for thorough conservation of the riverine environment and its health. Its projects are made to guarantee that no untreated sewage, industrial waste, or water flows to the Ganga River. Construction is underway on 176 STPs that can treat more than 5000 million litres of waste water each day. The Mission’s coordinated efforts have significantly improved the capacity for treating sewage and industrial effluents in the Ganga basin, improved the quality of river water and biodiversity, which is reflected in an increase in the population of dolphins and their young, turtles, otters, and gharials, as well as fish like the hilsa, and covered more than 30,000 hectares of land with trees.
An integral component of Namami Gange is Arth Ganga for strengthening the socio-economical river-people connect. This has transformed the Mission into a Jan-Andolan or people’s movement. It is admirable that our senior political leaders are fully committed to the Namami Gange programme, which is necessary for the success of such extensive environmental restoration initiatives. The National Ganga Council, which is presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and frequently reviewed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union Minister for Jal Shakti, demonstrates the steadfast dedication to the Namami Gange programme.
Here I would like to emphasise that any initiative that doesn’t include young people will inevitably fail. In order to ensure that the issue of poor water management is addressed, we had to connect with the youth and women as India is the youngest nation with the largest young population. In India today, women and young people are educated to respect water and are aware of the problems with water security. The overuse and improper management of our water resources will end immediately if we can teach the next generation to respect water. In light of all of this, efforts are being made to promote water recycling as a component of the circular economy, and measures are being taken to preserve biodiversity and safeguard spring sheds, among other things. In our efforts to leave a better world for the youth of today and the following generation, Namami Gange is not only an inspiration for us but also a modest offering to Mother Ganga for environmental protection and restoration.
By Nilabh Krishna