Namami Gange

Namami Gange

This article deals with ‘ Namami Gange – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here


Namami Gange
  • Till now, various programs have been started by the government to clean Ganga, but all proved to be a failure. These programs include 
1986 Ganga Action Plan (GAP)
1992 Ganga Action Plan – 2 (GAP 2)
2008 Ganga declared as a National River
2009 National Ganga River Basin Authority established
  • 2014: Modi started “Namami Gange” to clean Ganga. It focuses not merely on the main river but also on the tributaries (like Ramganga, Kali and Yamuna as a first priority).  
  • 2016Girdhar Malviya committee formed to prepare a draft law to maintain the Nirmalta (cleanliness) and Aviralta (uninterrupted flow) of Ganga 
  • 2017-18: Chital Committee formed by the government on Desiltation of the river Ganga submitted its report. It recommended a region-specific approach instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Institutional Structure

Union Level

  1. National Ganga Council: Headed by Prime Minister and includes Chief Ministers of Ganga Basin States.
  2. Empowered Task Force: Headed by Union Minister of Water Resources.
  3. National Mission For Clean Ganga: Headed by Director-General

State Level

  • State Ganga Committee

District Level

  • District Ganga Committee

Why have all Programs till now failed?

  1. Faulty Area-specific Approach: The previous approaches were specific to a very small area. Only certain cities and clusters were selected and not the entire basin.
  2. No Coordination: Different bodies were involved in these schemes without any coordination.
  3. Identification of sources that pollute Ganga: All programs focussed on sewage to a large extent and completely missed agriculture pollutants (non-point pollutants) in policymaking.
  4. Neglected Tributaries: Various tributaries of Ganga like Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar, Mahananda etc., were not given adequate importance in cleaning efforts. 

Special Case of Ganga / Challenges wrt Cleaning Ganga 

  • Ganga flows through 5 states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal). It isn’t easy to take all states on board (Note: River Rhine in Europe flows through six countries and yet cleaned)
  • About 1,650-gram panchayats lie directly on the banks of the Ganga. The sewage they generate is almost entirely untreated.  
  • 750 grossly polluting industries lie on the banks of the Ganga. Effluents from all these flow untreated into the river. 
  • Ganga has pressure to sustain the religious faith and historical and social beliefs (e.g., cremation along rivers and immersion of remains).
  • Due to global warming, there is increased apprehension of adverse effects on the riverGlaciers, the source of water, are melting rapidly. 

Focus of Namami Gange

Components of Namami Gange

Namami Gange is different from previous schemes because it focuses on following things 

  • Namami Gange focuses on all sources that pollute Ganga, i.e. Sewage, Industrial Discharge, Open Defecation, non-point sources from Agriculture etc.
  • Ganga is not only getting polluted but is also dying due to numerous Hydel Plants and other man-made projects. To tackle this, Namami Gange has two specific components i.e. Aviral Dhara (Uninterrupted flow) and Nirmal Dhara (Clean flow).
  • It focuses not merely on the main river but also on the tributaries (like Rāmgangā, Kali and Yamuna as a first priority).
  • Instead of selecting a few cities or clusters, Namami Gange has taken the entire Ganga Basin into its ambit.
  • Coordinated approach: The program focuses on coordination between different Central Ministries & State Governments.

Features of Namami Gange

  • Sewage Treatment Plants will be installed
  • Riverfronts will be developed
  • Special emphasis will be placed on protecting the biodiversity of Ganga, especially of species such as Gangetic Dolphin.
  • Ganga Gram, i.e. villages located on Ganga, will be made open defecation free  
  • Ashes can’t be immersed in shallow banks
  • No sewage pipe will have an outlet into the river
  • Ganga Task Force to ensure that industry and civilians do not pollute the river
  • Cleanup of Ganga and its tributaries under one umbrella
  • Ganga Manthan to dialogue with stakeholders: Spiritual Leaders, NGOs, Policymakers, Academicians, Environmentalists etc.
  • Industries will have to install Common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) 
  • New Hydel plants to have a minimum environmental impact 
  • Build electric crematoriums

Case Study: Revival of Kali Bein River and Baba Seechewal

  • About 1,650-gram panchayats lie directly on the banks of the Ganga. The sewage they generate is almost entirely untreated.
  • The model of Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal of Punjab, who is credited with the successful cleaning of the Kali Bein river (Tributary of Beas) with public participation, can be used in Namami Gange. 
  • Seechewal Model includes 
    • Segregation of solid and liquid waste
    • Wastewater is treated through oxidation ponds & used for irrigation 
    • Solid waste is used to make compost 
    • The whole process is done with community participation => this has strengthened the feeling of ownership  
    • The government is now using this model in Ganga Gram Yojana. 
  • Baba Seechewal was awarded Padma Shri in 2017 for his contribution.

Case Study: Revival of Kuttemperoor and River (Kerala)

  • In 2017, the village Panchayat in Kerala revived Kuttemperoor, a channel of the Pamba and Achankovil rivers.
  • Earlier, the river was thick with weeds and heavily polluted.
  • It was revived after 70 days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) & can be used for cleaning other rivers as well.

Issues with Namami Gange Scheme

  • There is a delay in the construction of the sewage treatment plants. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding the poor performance of treatment plants constructed under Namami Gange.
  • There is a decrease in the flow of the Ganga due to the construction of Hydroelectric plants. Since the 1970s, the flow has decreased by 56%. Presently, Ganga cannot maintain the Minimum Ecological Flow except during the monsoon.
  • According to CAG Report, 60% of the funds allocated under the Nanami Ganga program have remained unutilized.
  • Meetings of the National Ganga Council are not held regularly. 

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