In its third meeting since February this year, the empowered steering committee of the National Ganga River Basin Authority has cleared projects worth Rs2,446 crore. The empowered steering committee (ESC), appraised and approved projects regarding development of ghats and crematorium along Ganga basin states and one major project on afforestation along Ganga.
The ESC is a nodal body that clears Ganga cleaning projects and comprises of secretaries of water ministry, environment ministry, power ministry, urban development ministry and chief secretaries of Ganga basin states. According to sources, projects for developing ghats and crematoria in the stretch from Haridwar to Uttarakhand, Garhmukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, Buxar, Hajipur and Sonepur in Bihar, Sahibganj, Rajmahal and Kanhaiya Ghat in Jharkhand were approved. These projects were worth approximately Rs.153 crore.
Development of ghats and modernization of crematoriums is an important component of Clean Ganga project. The water resources and Ganga ministry is looking at converting all old crematoriums to ones run on electricity and modernise them to associated solid waste pollution that goes into the holy river. All Ghat and crematorium projects will be implemented under the centrally sponsored flagship scheme Namami Gange.
The ESC also appraised a project on forestry along Ganga that will be jointly implemented by union environment ministry and union water resources, river development and Ganga ministry. Earlier in March, the two ministries had unveiled the ambitious project by releasing its the detailed project report (DPR). As part of the forestry project, the two ministries have targeted plantation of four crore trees along the Ganga between 2016 and 2021. The estimated cost of the project is Rs.2294 crore.
The DPR has identified 83,946 sqkm of area covering 98 districts across the five Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal for the forestry project. State forest departments will be implement the project with assistance from Eco-Task force of the Territorial Army.