The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for establishment of the Clean Ganga Fund (CGF). The Fund will finance the activities outlined under the 'Namami Gange' programme for cleaning of river Ganga. It will take control of non-point pollution from agricultural runoff, human defecation, cattle wallowing, etc. It will be responsible for setting up of waste treatment and disposal plants along the river around the cities.
The Clean Ganga Fund has also taken responsibility for the conservation of the biotic diversity of the river. It will undertake various community based activities to reduce polluting human interface with the river. Development of public amenities including activities such as Ghat redevelopment would fall under its ambit. Going a step further, the fund will foster research and development projects and innovative projects for new technology and processes for cleaning the river.
Considering that the measures taken till now are inadequate and a national effort is required to mobilize resources for improving the condition of the river Ganga, the Government announced the setting up of an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called "Namami Gange" and an initial sum of INR 2,037 crore was allocated in the Union Budget 2014-15. The Cabinet then set up "Clean Ganga Fund (CGF)" with voluntary contributions from residents of the country and Non-Resident Indian (NRIs) / Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and others to harness their enthusiasm to contribute towards the conservation of the river Ganga. The Fund will have the objective of contributing to the national effort of cleaning of the river Ganga. Domestic donors to the Fund shall be eligible for tax benefits as applicable in the case of the Swachh Bharat Kosh.
The Fund would be managed by a Trust to be headed by Finance Minister. The secretariat of the Trust will be set up in Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation under the Mission Director, Clean Ganga. The proposal to set up CGF is to attract private contributions globally for increasing people's participation in this massive task.
The Clean Ganga Fund will help to increase people's participation from across the country and abroad. CGF will explore the possibility of setting up daughter funds in other jurisdictions/countries of high donor interest such as USA, UK, Singapore, UAE, etc. to enable tax benefits to donors in their respective jurisdictions. CGF will be catalytic in nature and will identify and fund specific projects which could be pilot projects, R&D projects, innovative projects or other focused projects. The Fund will define specific and measurable objectives to form the basis for planning, funding, and evaluation.
Such an initiative is a welcome and innovative one. It will ensure that the Clean Ganga objective moves from being an engineering project to a movement. Considering the deep cultural and religious emotions that the river touches in people, developing such a movement would help in harnessing a lot of positive energy and drive amongst the people. The Clean Ganga Fund can go a long way in making it a personal initiative with strong social and community involvement. Such a gigantic challenge will require that kind of drive and commitment.
Sunil Ghorawat is Editor-in-Chief, EverythingAboutWater magazine.
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