The mammoth Rs 20,000-crore Ganga Rejuvenation project is gaining some traction. To make the river pollution-free, around 34 projects worth Rs 3,581 crore were sanctioned for cleaning between 2008 and 2014, while 56 projects worth Rs 9,630 crore have been approved since 2014 to date.
'Around 18 of these projects are ready and others will also be implemented by March 2019; most of the projects awarded are sewage treatment plants (STP) in various states,' says Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. 'We have also taken over sewage plants run by the state governments and are providing 100 per cent funding assistance to them for operation and maintenance for the next 15 years.'
Recently, the ministry awarded two projects for Haridwar and Varanasi under the hybrid annuity mode (HAM) - the first time ever in India that HAM-based PPP has been applied in the sewerage sector. The 50-mld STP in Varanasi was awarded to a consortium led by Essel Infra Projects at an estimated Rs 153.16 crore. In Haridwar, HNB Engineers won the contract for a total sewage treatment capacity of 82 mld (68 mld in Jagjeetpur and 14 mld in Sarai) at an estimated Rs 171.53 crore. The awarded projects would ensure that untreated sewage does not flow into the Ganga, thus supporting India's flagship Namami Gange programme. The construction of these two new, greenfield STPs will commence shortly.
A second set of STPs under HAM is on the anvil. Upcoming projects that have already been sanctioned under HAM are at Naini, Jhusi and Phaphamau along with Allahabad (72 mld); at Unnao, Shuklaganj, and Bithoor along with Kanpur (21.4 mld); at Digha and Kankarbagh in Bihar (150 mld); at Kolkata and Howrah (141 mld); at Farukhabad (30 mld); and at Bhagalpur (65 mld). Tender documents for 10 of these projects are being prepared. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has also appointed strategic consultants for PPP design and transaction advisory support for the integration of sewage treatment infrastructure in Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Kolkata.
- RAHUL KAMAT