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World Bank, TERI, Ganga River Basin & Networking of Rivers

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, May 23, 2011 | 8:47 AM

The World Bank was formally requested by Government of India to provide long-term support to National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) through several phases of substantive financing and knowledge support.

Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for World Bank Assisted National Ganga River Basin Project (NGRBP) is organized into two volumes.
 Volume I: Environmental and Social Analysis
 Volume II: Environmental and Social Management Framework

The 189 page first volume has been prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi in May 2011.

The 107 page second volume has been prepared by Programme Management Group (PMG), National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) dated May 2011. Both the volumes merits our attention.

The first volume reveals, "This report identified industrial pollution as one of the priamry sources of pollution, accounting for 25% of contamination in the basin. Additionally, the fact that only one-third of the sewage generated in the main-stem towns and cities receives treatment before entering the Ganga waters represents another major threat."

The second volume document says. "The Ganga basin (which also extends into parts of Nepal, China and Bangladesh) accounts for about 26 percent of India‟s landmass, 30 percent of its water resources, and more than 40 percent of its population."

It claims that "Ganga Action Plan (GAP) launched in 1985 have provided some gains in arresting rate of water quality degradation, but lot more needs to be done."

National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) has resolved that by year 2020 no untreated municipal sewage or industrial effluent will be discharged into River Ganga.

It may recalled that a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed in July 2010 by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) with a consortium of seven IITs (Kanpur, Delhi, Madras, Bombay, Kharagpur, Guwahati and Roorkee) for the development of Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP). It was claimed that the preparation of the first phase of the Plan will be completed within a period of 12 -18 months from the date of signing of this agreement at an expected to cost approximately Rs 15 crores.

Among several other things, the second volume of the ESMF refers to High impact category investments that would require a full EIA to be done by environmental consultants, separate from any evaluation performed by the design consultants.

Some months back there was an interaction organised by Bank Information Centre with some World Bank officials, wherein almost all the people present were quite disappointed to note that the Bank was undertaking contradictory projects in the Ganga basin without any sense of accountability. Both TERI and World Bank Group's position has consistently been contrary to what river basin approach is all about. Both TERI and World Bank Group have been supporters of ecologically destructive Interlinking of Rivers project.

The Supreme Court heard the Interlinking of Rivers project on 6th January, 2011 and ordered, "...the High Powered Committee appointed by the Government of India is hereby directed to submit to this Court the status report with regard to interlinking of rivers. We would request the learned Attorney General of India to remain present in Court on the next date of hearing to assist this Court." The next date of hearing is on 9th September, 2011.

Is Ganga river basin approach consistent with such projects which entails massive diversion of rivers and inter-basin transfers?
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