During the second meeting of the National Ganga Council, which will be held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday in Kolkata, THE CENTER will highlight its initiative to revitalise around 75 small rivers, primarily in Uttar Pradesh, over the past four years using funds from the national rural job guarantee scheme, according to The Indian Express.
It will be the first meeting of the Council since 2019; the Council is the apex body responsible for cleaning the river, and its members are the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. The Council also consists of various Union ministers, including the Minister of Finance, Minister of Rural Development, and Minister of Energy.
According to sources, the agenda for the meeting, produced by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which implements the Government’s Namami Gange programme, has been distributed to the five relevant Union ministries.
According to sources, the NMCG has advocated making urban river management plans (URMPs) and river sensitive master planning obligatory for river cities as one of the meeting’s agenda items.
According to the meeting’s agenda, UP’s Gomti, Sai, Mandakini, and Varuna are among the main small rivers being revitalised. It also provides a breakdown of the rejuvenation work done on rivers in Uttar Pradesh through which the majority of the Ganga flows — around 1,100 kilometres out of 2,525 kilometres.
In 2018-2019, the MGNREGA funded work on six rivers in the state, 19 in 2019-2020, six in 2020-21, and 14 in 2021-22. During the last four fiscal years, four UP districts — Pilibhit, Sitapur, Lucknow, and Shahjahanpur — worked on the Gomti river (2018-19 to 2022-23).
Pulkit Khare, who was the District Magistrate of Pilibhit when the revitalization of the Gomti was initiated earlier this year, told The Indian Express, “The River Gomati begins in the district of Pilibhit and travels approximately 47 kilometres before entering Shahjahanpur. The continuity of the river’s flow was interrupted, thus, we decided to widen and deepen the river using MGNREGS funding.
Khare stated that the objective of the exercise was not only to restore the silt-clogged river channel but also to engage the public with the programme.
The agenda for Friday’s conference highlights work done for the revitalization of small rivers in UP: “Two small rivers in each district have been designated to undertake these initiatives. This item has also been designated an MGNREGA priority… Under MGNREGA, 75 rivers totaling 3,149 kilometres have been improved in 71 districts at a cost of Rs. 139.55 crores.
State governments must “integrate river-sensitive thinking” into present and future master plans of cities located along rivers, according to sources who noted that the country has 53 metropolitan areas, 42 of which are river cities.
Sources indicate that the states and the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will be responsible for preparing URMPs for all metropolitan river cities, and that the concept of river cities was discussed during the last meeting held in Kanpur three years ago.
In addition, the Council will assess the status of different projects, such as Project Dolphin, being carried out under the Namami Gange initiative.