Recently, the Prime Minister reviewed the plans being envisaged for implementing the Arth Ganga project and pushed concerned states to speedily implement the projects under Arth Ganga. The PM also elaborated on the importance of the project in the sustainable development model with a focus on economic activities related to the river.
What is Project Arth Ganga?
- During the first meeting of the Ganga Council held in December 2019, the Prime Minister first coined the concept “Arth Ganga” which will be a logical evolution of the current “Namami Gange” project.
- The project will focus on the sustainable development of the areas around river Ganga with a focus on various economic activities related to the river.
- The project has been assisted by the World Bank.
What is the National Ganga Council?
- In 2016, the government released a notification replacing the National Ganga River Basin Authority by a new body named “National Council for River Ganga”
- The National Ganga Council is one of the tiers of the five-tier structure envisaged to prevent, control, and abate pollution under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
- It has been given the overall responsibility for the superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of River Ganga Basin including Ganga and its tributaries.
What are the features of the Arth Ganga project?
Under the Arth Ganga project, the following sectors will be focused
The farmers will be encouraged to engage in sustainable agricultural practices like Zero Budget Natural Farming.
The projects of developing freight villages and industrial cluster-cum-logistics parks to bring all the storage, manufacturing, and processing units together are underway which would ease the cargo movement by economizing it.
Along the banks of Ganga river, various recreational infrastructure like water sports, camp sites, tracks for cycling and walking will be developed.
Along with adventure tourism infrastructure, the tourism potential of the areas will be tapped into by creating a hybrid tourism model combining adventure and religious tourism.
While creating various economic avenues for the local community, priority will be given to the women Self Help Groups and ex-servicemen organizations.
What has been done till now under Project Arth Ganga?
- Ministry of Shipping has been developing small jetties for the benefit of farmers, traders, and the general public in the 1400km stretch of National Waterway – 1 from Banaras to Haldia.
- Ministry of Shipping is developing Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Freight Village and Sahibganj (Jharkhand) Industrial Cluster-cum-Logistics Park with an objective of creating synergy with Inland Waterways at the cost of Rs. 200 crores.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India is deploying small floating jetties and 10 RO-RO vessels for easier and cost-effective transportation of goods and cargo from Varanasi to Tribeni in West Bengal.
- National Waterway – 1 will act as a main route of connection with Nepal in a tri-lateral manner i.e. from Varanasi to Nautanwa (280km), Kaughat to Raxaul (204km) and Sahibganj to Biratnagar (233km).
- Apart from improving trade returns with Nepal, this move will also de-congest the Kolkata Port.
- “Project Arth Ganga” would catalyze economic development in the Ganga basin to generate economic benefit of more than Rs 1000 crores over the next 5 years.
What is the significance of the project?
- Almost half of the Indian population live around river Ganga which is dependent on the river for economic activities, may it be agriculture, trade, and other occupation.
- The project is a wholesome viewpoint of the Ganga rejuvenation project which seeks to promote sustainable livelihood of the population in this area.
- Inland Waterways being the most important part of the Arth Ganga project, will create huge economic activities while focusing on inclusive and sustainable development.
- The benefits in terms of trade and access to markets, the local community’s economic enhancement and passenger facilitation are very significant
- The infrastructural activities in this project will create 100-150 direct jobs per industry, according to the World Bank.
- The Arth Ganga project will also ensure large scale skills enhancement and public/private sector capability development.
- The ease of transportation and doing business will have a huge impact on the farmers, especially horticulture farmers in the region.
The Arth Ganga Project is an integrationist approach towards multiple objectives of cleaning the Ganga river, development of inland waterways, sustainable development of the dependent people. The success in achieving the goal of sustainable development is dependent on such integration of needs of economic development and employment generation with larger sustainability of the environment.
Practice question for Mains
One of the major challenges for India is to balance its needs of economic development with a commitment to sustainable development. Discuss India’s attempts in achieving this balance. (250 words)