What River Ganga is expecting out of 2nd Term of Modi Government

The money spent on Ganga river restoration in 30 Years from 1984 to 2014, before Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, was INR 4000 Crores. When Modi came to power in 2014, he announced a budget of whopping INR 20,000 Crores; 5 times as compared to the money spent in the last 30 years combined.

Crores of people living in the Ganga basin, environmentalist, activists, etc were all very hopeful related to River Ganga. But, as Modi’s first term ended, he could spend just 4000 Crores, which is 20% of his announced budget.

To judge objectively, it is a failure to have spent just 20% of the budget on Ganga in 5 Years but it is a start to have spent an amount equal to last 30 Years combined.

Image: Reuters // Temples and residential buildings are seen on the banks of the
Ganges river in Varanasi.

How much Money is actually required for
River Ganga cleaning?

Video: YouTube // Dr. Jasper Wieck, German Charge D’affaires talking about collaborating
with India on Namami Gange

Dr. Jasper Wieck, German Charge D’affaires, German Embassy in India mentions in this video that it took Germany 30 Years and a cost of 45 Billion Euros to clean the River Rhine.

Let us draw a comparison between Rhine & Ganga to come up with an estimate related to the cost of Restoring Ganga.

Parameter Rhine Ganga Times
Population in Basin (in millions) 58 600 10
Length of River (in km) 1233 2525 2
Area of Basin (in km2) 2,00,000 9,00,000 4.5
Average Volume of Water in River
(in m3/s)
2330 16648 7
Time Taken to Restore 30 30 (Assumption) 1
Cost of Restoration (Billion Euros) 45 450 (Our Estimate) 10

We estimate the Cost of Cleaning the Ganga to be way over 450 Billion Euros but let’s assume 450 Billion Euros for now for the sake of upcoming calculations. Also, looking at the current downward trend, I do not think we have 30 Years but let’s roll with 30 Years for now for the sake of easier calculations.

Image: Reuters // Untreated sewage flows from an open drain into the Ganges river in Kanpur, India.

An article by TheQuint mentions the current facts related to our Spending on Ganga:

  • Our budget allocation for 5 Years 2014-19 was INR 20,000 Crores which roughly translated to 3 Billion Euros. This translates to an average budget of 4,000 Crores/Year – approx. 0.6 Billion Euros/Year.
  • India spent just 25% of this budget in 5 Years. i.e. 0.15 Billion Euros/Year.

Comparison –

If we are to spend 450 Billion Euros in 30 Years; it translates to about 15 Billion Euros/Year at an average.

We are spending just 0.15 Billion Euros/Year currently.

We need to ramp up our spending by (15/0.15) 100 TIMES if we ever wish to clean the Ganga.

Image: Reuters // Devotees take a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, during “Kumbh Mela”

That means, even for conservative estimates, we need to keep our budget (& actually spend correctly) for Ganga Restoration for the coming 5 Years (2019-2024) as 75 Billion USD; i.e 5,00,000 Crores; i.e 1 Lakh Crore Anually.

1 Lakh Crores is 0.6% of India’s GDP. Spending 0.6% of the GDP on a single river which houses 40% of India’s population still sounds like a doable task.

Contradicting Opinion on Modi Government’s Work on Ganga River from 2014-2019

People from different backgrounds have different opinions on how Modi Government fared during 2014-2019.

Many are happy related to work on sanitation. The amount of toilets built in India in the past 5 years has been a feather in the Government’s cap. A lot of work has begun related to installation of sewage pipelines and construction of STPs across the country. In this regard, the Modi Government has fared well.

Image Source // A public toilet which was recently built under the Swachh Bharat Mission in Delhi.

Ask any environmentalist or Ganga activist and he would respond by saying that Ganga has become more polluted in the past 5 years. Inland waterways; planned for an alternate means of communication are changing the natural state of rivers and harming bio-diversity vastly. There are many other shortcomings related to water scarcity as well.

Conclusion & Summary

With Modi announcing that water is going to be his priority for the upcoming 5 years, we are hopeful towards efforts for a Restored Ganga. In his last term, he spent an amount equal to the past 30 Years. We have higher hopes from him this time.

Image Source // Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Ganga Aarti at Varanasi

Everything boils down to what budget Modi Government allots for Ganga Restoration. If the upcoming budget for 5 Years is anything shorter than 100 times the last budget, the fate of Ganga River is not going to change. Whereas increasing budget of anything in Indian Government’s history to 100x is unheard of.

Ganga River and millions of its sons await eagerly holding their breath for Modi Government’s next move.

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