Gujarat has been granted a total of Rs1,790 crore under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) to clean three rivers, namely Sabarmati, Mindhola and Tapi. In the first phase of this project, the state has spent Rs1,010 crore as of June this year. One of the key components of the project is the setting up of a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report says that Gujarat has 20 polluted river stretches. This includes rivers like Amlakhadi, Amravati, Anas, Bhadar, Bhogavo, BalehwarKhadi, Damanganga, Khari, Kolak, Sabarmati, Vishwamitri, Dhadar, Triveni, Mahi, Shedhi, Tapi, Kim, Meshwa, Mindhola and Narmada.
Replying to the Lok Sabha, Bishweswar Tudu, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, said, “Cleaning and rejuvenation of rivers is an ongoing activity. It is the primary responsibility of the states to ensure that urban local bodies and industrial units located in their jurisdiction carry out the treatment of the sewage and industrial effluents to the prescribed norms before discharging into rivers and other water bodies, coastal waters or land to prevent and control pollution therein.”
However, there are a lot of discrepancies and uncertainty regarding how the fund is spent. According to sources, the government has released some information, but it is still not very clear and transparent.
The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for 2020-21 shows that a total of 11,588 effluent treatment plants were set up in the state. According to sources, the NRCP funds are directly transferred to municipal corporations, who then decide on how to spend them. Over the years, Gujarat’s main focus seems to have been building effluent treatment plants.