Ganga Action Plan


The Ganga action plan was, launched by Shri Rajeev Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India on 14 Jan. 1986 with the main objective of pollution abatement, to improve the water quality by Interception, Diversion and treatment of domestic sewage and present toxic and industrial chemical wastes from identified grossly polluting units entering in to the river.
Ganga runs its course of over 2500 kms from Gangotri in the Himalayas to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal through 29 cities with population over 1,00,000 (‘class-I cities’), 23 cities with population between 50,000 and 1,00,000 (‘class-II cities’), and about 48 towns. It is a river with which the people of India are attached spiritually and emotionally. Department of Environment, in December 1984, prepared an action plan for immediate reduction of pollution load on the river Ganga. The Cabinet approved the GAP (Ganga Action Plan)in April 1985 as a 100 per cent centrally sponsored scheme.To oversee the implementation of the GAP and to lay down policies and programmes, Government of India constituted the CGA (Central Ganga Authority)in February 1985, renamed as the NRCA (National River Conservation Authority)in September 1995, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The Government also established the GPD (Ganga Project Directorate)in June 1985 as a wing of Department of Environment, to execute the projects under the guidance and supervision of the CGA. The Government renamed the GPD as the NRCD (National River Conservation Directorate)in June 1994.

»Control of non-point pollution from agricultural run off, human defecation, cattle wallowing and throwing of unburnt and half burnt bodies into the river.
»Research and Development to conserve the biotic, diversity of the river to augment its productivity.
»New technology of sewage treatment like Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and sewage treatment through afforestation has been successfully developed.
»Rehabilitation of soft-shelled turtles for pollution abatement of river have been demonstrated and found useful.
»Resource recovery options like production of methane for energy generation and use of aquaculture for revenue generation have been demonstrated.
»To act as trend setter for taking up similar action plans in other grossly polluted stretches in other rivers.
»The ultimate objective of the GAP is to have an approach of integrated river basin management considering the various dynamic inter-actions between abiotic and biotic eco-system.

GAP Phase-1

The GAP-I envisaged to intercept, divert and treat 882 mld (Million litres per day) out of 1340 mld of wastewater, generated in 25 class-I towns in 3 States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. The NRCD had scheduled the GAP-I for completion by March 1990, but extended it progressively up to March 2000. While the GAP-I was still in progress, the CGA decided in February 1991 to take up the GAP-II, covering the following pollution abatement works:

(a) On the tributaries of river Ganga, viz. Yamuna, Damodar and Gomati.

(b) In 25 class-I towns left out in Phase-I.

(c) In the other polluting towns along the river.

GAP Phase-2

The CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) approved the GAP-II in various stages during April 1993 to October 1996 (Annex I). The States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi and Haryana were to implement the GAP-II by treating 1912 mld of sewage. GAP-II is scheduled for completion by December 2001.
The GAP aimed to tackle 2794 mld of sewage; 882 mld under the GAP-I and 1912 mld under the GAP-II. The NRCD records put the estimates of total sewage generation in towns along river Ganga and its tributaries as 5044 mld. Delhi alone accounts for 2270 mld. The GAP-II was to tackle only 20 mld in Delhi, and Delhi Government was to handle the balance 2250 mld separately from augmentation of its own available installed capacity.
To achieve the objective of pollution abatement, the GAP took up core and non-core schemes. The core sector schemes consist of interception & diversion schemes and STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants), designed to tackle ‘point pollution’, i.e. pollution that is from measurable sources such as drains, sewage pumping stations and sewage systems. Non-core schemes comprise low cost sanitation schemes, river front development schemes, electric and improved wood crematoria; and, tackle non-point, non-measurable pollution, such as dumping of solid waste and open defecation, dumping of unburnt / half-burnt dead bodies etc.
For each of the GAP schemes, the States had to obtain administrative approval to the PFRs (Preliminary Feasibility Reports)of the targeted towns, and expenditure sanction to DPRs (Detailed Project Reports) of each of the schemes.

Financial profile

Approved outlays for the GAP-I and the GAP-II were Rs 462.04 crore and Rs 1276.25 crore respectively. The Central Government was to bear the entire expenditure on schemes under the GAP-I, and to share it equally with the States in the GAP-II. The Government of India decided in November 1998 to bear the entire expenditure on schemes from April 1997, as the States found it difficult to provide their matching share.
The review covers the implementation of the GAP-I and II, spanning the period 1993-94 to 1999-2000, involving Government releases of Rs 655.23 crore. For this purpose, Audit test checked documents in the NRCD, the offices of the nodal departments and the implementing agencies in the States of Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi.

Selection of towns

12 towns in Uttar Pradesh, 3 in Bihar and 15 in West Bengal taken up on directives from the Supreme Court.
6 towns in Haryana taken up on direction of the Supreme Court.

The GAP-I had sought to address the issue of pollution abatement in class I towns along Ganga. For the GAP-II, the NRCD did not fix any clear parameters in terms of sewage characteristics or downstream water quality for selection of towns; and had left the selection to the States. The EFC (Expenditure Finance Committee) recommended, however, in its first meeting held in August 1996, that the States might not include towns with BOD (Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand)less than 3 mg/l (Milligram Per Litre) downstream of the river. Towns approved by the NRCD included 23 towns in West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where BOD levels were below 3 mg/l. The NRCD did not have information about BOD levels of 5 towns it had approved.
On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh Government excluded Kannauj where BOD was always above 3 mg/l during 1994 to 1999 and touched 4.8 mg/l in 1999. Danapur in Bihar, with 8 drains discharging 0.6 mld of raw sewage direct into Ganga, did not get selected. Likewise, Uluberia in West Bengal with a BOD of 43.07 mg/l of wastewater also remained excluded, even though this exclusion violated the State Government’s adapted parameters of 30 mg/l BOD of wastewater.

Estimates of sewage generation

Under the GAP-I, the NRCD sewage estimates were based on population and water supply rate, with the sewage generation taken as 80 per cent of water supplied. The NRCD found that criterion to be flawed which led to over estimation of sewage in several cases; and, fixed the criteria of actual flow of drains at the outfalls to estimate the generation of sewage in the towns in the GAP-II. The NRCD also had no mechanism to evaluate and check the estimations of sewage by the States. Test audit observations on estimations of sewage are as follows:

(a) The sewage estimation of 70 mld in Noida town of Uttar Pradesh was incorrect as it did not include the sewage of Shahadra drain, which discharges 404 mld sewage in the river Yamuna at Okhla barrage.

(b) The estimate of 200 mld sewage in Varanasi did not include 50 mld sewage by-passed into the river Varuna, which finally meets the river Ganga.

Core schemes: Interception & Diversion schemes

» The NRCD sanctioned 17 interception & diversion schemes under the GAP-I, which involved laying of 53.71 km of sewer line. The BRJP had reportedly achieved that target by March 2000. It was to lay 23.66 km of sewer line and to strengthen 5.02 km of sewer line under the GAP-II. The BRJP (Bihar Rajya Jal Parshad)did not, however, take up laying and strengthening of sewer line till March 2000. It could not submit the DPRs per guidelines of the NRCD; and, consequently, could not obtain sanction for any interception & diversion scheme for the GAP-II from the NRCD.

» The GPD sanctioned Rs 20.70 lakh for recommissioning of Exhibition Road Pumping Station, Patna for diversion of 6.9 mld of sewage. The BRJP did not correctly assess the incoming and outgoing flow of raw sewage. It laid 4 sewer lines, 1 of 9 inches diameter, 2 of 15 inches diameter and 1 of 18 inches diameter for incoming sewage, but one of 18 inches diameter for outgoing sewage. Defective designing resulted in overflow of sewage from 4 manholes, and non-achievement of targeted sewage treatment.

» The BRJP executed the work of diversion of sewage from Krishnaghat in December 1988 for Rs 14.72 lakh. It could not, however, divert the sewage due to unauthorised connection of the drains by the PMC (Patna Municipal Committee)directly to the sewer line, resulting in overflow of sewage and its continuous discharge directly to Ganga from Krishnaghat.

West Bengal
The NRCD sanctioned 4 schemes of interception & diversion under the GAP-II. The implementing agencies could complete none till March 2000, though stipulated dates for 3 schemes were already over. CMDA (Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority)did not furnish the details of targeted and laid sewer lines under the GAP-II. Test check in Audit revealed the following cases of mismanagement of works.

» The PHED (Public Health Engineering Directorate)entrusted the work of laying of sewer line at Nabadwip in 1989, without undertaking soil investigations, even though the sub soil of Nabadwip town was sandy in nature. It commissioned the scheme in January 1994. Soon after, in June 1994, it noticed defects in sewer lines. The PHED had to repair the damaged pipeline thrice from July 1994 to October 1996 at a cost of Rs 11.10 lakh. It also had to abandon 385 metre pipe line costing Rs 6.10 lakh laid in the sand boiling zone in December 1996. The PHED incurred avoidable expenditure of Rs 17.20 lakh, because it did not do the basic work of soil investigation beforehand.

» The PHED commissioned interception & diversion and STP schemes at Behrampore for treatment of 4 mld sewage at the total cost of Rs 2.32 crore. The sewer line collapsed in different stretches in 1996 as the soil was sand boiling, and the STP remained non-functional. The PHED could not restore the damaged sewer line till March 2000 due to encroachment on its alignment. Clearly, failure to do necessary spadework such as proper soil investigation has resulted in wasteful expenditure of Rs 2.32 crore.

» The CMDA commissioned an interception & diversion scheme at Hooghly-Chinsurah at a cost of Rs 4.91 crore in June 1994. It noticed severe depression of road surfaces along the alignment of sewer lines in June 1997, due to displacement of the sewer line from the alignment. The defects occurred, as the CMDA did not cast bed concrete before laying the sewer lines. Thus, technical flaws in execution of work, led to failure of the sewer lines. The CMDA noticed similar road subsidence during 1998-99 along different alignments of sewer lines in Bhatpara. Though CMDA took up repairing of damaged sewer lines as well as surface roads, the work remained incomplete as of March 2000.

Uttar Pradesh
The NRCD sanctioned 51 interception & diversion schemes under the GAP-II. The UPJN (Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam)could complete only 30 by March 2000. Stipulated dates of 17 of the remaining 21 schemes were over. Against the target of laying 95.49 km of sewer line, the UPJN laid 72.94 km of sewer line till March 2000. Test check in audit revealed the following cases of mismanagement:

» As against the target of procurement and installation of 103 pumping sets, the UPJN purchased 96 sets at a cost of Rs 9.85 crore between June 1998 to December 1999 and installed only 70 sets as of March 2000. The UPJN did not install 26 pumping sets in Mathura and Etawah till March 2000 as it had not completed the civil works.

» The UPJN purchased 10 diesel generating sets at a cost of Rs 0.73 crore during 1997-99 for Mathura and Vrindavan. It delayed installation of 6 sets by 5 to 19 months and did not install 4 sets purchased at a cost of Rs 46 lakh as of March 2000 as generating rooms were reportedly not ready. The warranty period of 18 months of 2 out of 4 uninstalled sets has already expired.

» The NRCD sanctioned Rs 7.88 crore in October 1997 for ‘Rehabilitation of MPS (Main Pumping Station), Rising Main and Effluent Channel Part-I’ at Agra for completion by March 1999. The works included mainly electrical and mechanical works, viz. installation of pumps, diesel generating sets, electric sub-station and transmission line. The work remained incomplete, reportedly due to change in its scope by the State Government. The UPJN had incurred a total expenditure of Rs 8.63 crore till March 2000.

» The NRCD sanctioned 19 interception & diversion schemes in 12 towns of Haryana. The implementing agency could not complete 10 of these schemes, even though the stipulated dates of their completion were over.
» The PHD (Public Health Division), Faridabad allotted the work of construction of 1530 meter of brick circular sewer in June 1995 at a cost of Rs 64 lakh for completion by April 1996. It sought the approval of the Forest Department, the owners of the land, only in August 1995 and obtained it by May 1996. Later, on the ground of compliance of the orders of the Supreme Court to complete the works by 30 June 1997, the PHD laid RCC (Reinforced cement concrete)pipe sewer by April 1997 in place of brick circular sewer, and incurred an expenditure of Rs 1.99 crore. That expenditure was much higher than what the PHD had originally envisaged for brick circular sewer. The Ministry’s reply of August 1999 to audit justified Haryana’s action to time constraints arising out of the Court orders. This should be viewed in the light of the facts that there were avoidable delays prior to the Court orders because of which the work could not be completed as contemplated and in time at the first place.