World Bank loan to clean the Ganga

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New Delhi : India will sign an agreement with the World Bank for a $801-million loan to fund cleaning up of the Ganga, whose pollution levels have raised concerns among environment activists.

“India and the World Bank will sign an agreement for cleaning the Ganga river,” an environment and forests ministry release said.

The project is estimated to cost Rs.7,000 crore (around $1.6 billion). The central government share in the project will be Rs.5,100 crore (around $1.2 billion) and that of five states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal – through which the river flows – Rs.1,900 crore ($420 million).

“The World Bank will support the government of India by providing technical assistance and finance. The assistance would be in form of a loan of $801 million from IBRD and a credit of $199 million from International Development Association (IDA).”

The Ganga basin accounts for nearly one-fourth of the country’s landmass and is home to more than 400 million people. The Ganga faces great challenges from expanding population, urbanisation and industrial growth.

“The National Ganga River Basin Project will be implemented with the assistance of the World Bank. The project will focus on building and strengthening the National Ganga River Basin Authority’s (NGRBA) related institutions at the central and state level; establishing a world-class Ganga Knowledge Centre; enhancing river basin management; and financing select priority investments to reduce point-source pollution in a sustainable manner,” the release said.

“A comprehensive approach will be adopted under which industrial pollution, solid waste management, and riverfront management, essential sewage treatment will also be addressed. Dedicated institutional mechanisms will be established in order to plan, prioritize and manage these investments for the long term,” it added. (IANS)