A mere six projects were cleared under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Namami Gange project to clean the holy river during financial year 2015-16, documents accessed by dna has revealed.The six projects were worth Rs760 crore while the flagship scheme was allocated Rs2,700 crore during the on-going year. Cleared by the cabinet in May 2015, the Namami Gange project is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga and it has a budget of Rs20,000 for a period of five years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Empowered Steering Committee of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), comprising of secretaries of water ministry, environment ministry, power ministry, urban development ministry and chief secretaries of Ganga basin states, is the nodal body that clears Ganga cleaning projects. The ESC held their last meeting in May 2015 when they approved the six projects. Two sewage treatment plant (STP) projects, two projects related to Yamuna, one project related to development of Chandi Ghat and one regarding conservation of Indo-Gangetic Dolphin in West Bengal were the six projects that were approved.Approval for projects such as sewage treatment plants (STP) and Ghat works for riverfront cleaning nearly came to a halt after ESC’s May meeting. This largely happened as the water ministry changed tracks in the middle of 2015 and went for an overhaul of the process adopted to award projects, said top ranking officials from the ministry and NMCG.”After June, we undertook a survey of existing STPs and related infrastructure. We saw that the STPs were functioning at sub-optimal levels because of multiple factors such as lack of manpower, issues with developers and sluggish disbursal of funds from states at times,” said a water resources ministry official on the condition of anonymity. In the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal 30 per cent of STP’s were not operational and 94 per cent were not meeting pollution norms.The water resources and Ganga rejuvenation ministry thus proposed the hybrid annuity based public private partnership (PPP) to the cabinet, wherein the projects would be awarded to the lowest bidder and a part of the capital investment will be paid by government through construction linked milestones. The balance will be paid on an annuity basis for a duration of up to 20 years.According to a top ranking official of the water resources ministry, a ‘condition assessment’ of 30 major towns across Uttar Pradesh is being carried out by Engineers India Limited. This includes assessing condition of drains, ghats and crematoriums along 1100 kms of Uttar Pradesh. Based on their assessment the ministry is likely to restart the process of inviting bids for river cleaning projects from April. “Once we get bids, projects will be awarded at the earliest by September. We will resume holding ESC meetings from this month to appraise projects,” a top ranking official told dna.

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Only six projects cleared under PM Modi’s flagship Namami Gange project