Ganga River: It is not just the Opposition that is out to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotive connect with the Ganga. Statistics show very little has been done in the past two years of BJP rule — in spite of spending Rs 2,958 crore of the Rs 3,703 crore allocated — to improve the condition of the river.
The response to a poser under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a Aishwarya Sharma, a class X student from the city, to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has revealed that the much-hyped “Namami Gange” programme is largely on paper, much like the previous schemes declared in the past 30 years.
In her RTI question on May 9, the 14-year-old Lucknow girl had sought answers to seven queries, which included details of the number of meetings the Prime Minister chaired on the issue, budgetary provisions and the expenses so far.
Subroto Hazra, the central public information officer with the PMO, forwarded the query to the Union Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry for a response.
KK Sapra of the ministry responded on July 4 and the answers explicitly show that Modi’s “Ganga Maiya ne bullaya hai” (Mother Ganga has summoned me) credo, which endeared Modi to the masses, especially in Varanasi, was little beyond an attempt to milk sentiments and votes.
The ministry said Rs 2,137 crore was allocated for the national mission of Ganga cleaning in 2014-15. This was cut by Rs 84 crore to Rs 2,053 crore. But the union government, despite the hype, spent only Rs 326 crore, leaving more than Rs 1,700 crore unspent.
The situation did not change much in 2015-16 either and, in fact, the union government slashed the budgetary allocation from the proposed Rs 2,750 crore to Rs 1,650 crore. Of the amended budget, Rs 18 crore was unspent in 2015-16.
“This is completely baffling, keeping in mind the high-decibel campaign by Modi on cleaning the Ganga,” said an upset Aishwarya, adding she was deeply disappointed. For the current 2016-17 fiscal, the student said the Union Government did not have any details of the expenses so far of the Rs 2,500 crore allocated.