World Bank and Government of India today signed a $400-million loan agreement to enhance support for the Namami Gange programme that seeks to rejuvenate the Ganga river.
The Second National Ganga River Basin Project will help stem pollution in the river and strengthen the management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people.
“The $400 million operation comprises a loan of $381 million and a proposed Guarantee of up to $19 million. The agreement for the $381 million loan was signed today by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Mr Qaiser Khan, Acting Country Director (India), on behalf of the World Bank,”according to an official statement.
Khare said the new project will extend the Government of India and World Bank’s engagement in this critical national programme to make the Ganga a clean, healthy river.
The World Bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, said, “The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this Project will help scale this up to the tributaries. It will also help government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin.”
“The Project will help expand the coverage of sewage treatment infrastructure to more towns in the Ganga Basin, and focus on making sure that these assets are operated and maintained efficiently in the long term,” said Xavier Chauvot de Beauchene, Lead Water & Sanitation Specialist and Shri Upneet Singh, Water & Sanitation Specialist, both co-task team leaders (TTL) for the SNGRBP. “The Project will also help NMCG develop state-of-the-art tools to help manage the river basin more effectively.”
Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security. Over 40 percent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated Basin. But the Ganga river is today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows.