PM Modi's 'Namami Gange' largely on paper, despite spending of 80 pc of allocated fund, reveals RTI
In what may come as a major embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government which largely banked on cleaning Ganga as one of its major pre-poll promises, a response to an RTI query has revealed that the much-hyped 'Namami Gange' programme is largely on paper, even as a substantial amount allocated to the scheme has already been spent.
The response to a Right to Information (RTI) poser by a Aishwarya Sharma, a Class 10 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.
According to the RTI report, very little changes have occurred in last two years, despite the expenditure of Rs 2,958 crore of the Rs 3,703 crore allocated - to improve the condition of the holy river.
In her RTI question on May 9, the 14-year-old Lucknow girl has sought answers to seven queries, which included details of the number of meetings the Prime Minister chaired on the sensitive issue, budgetary provisions and the expenses so far.
Subroto Hazra, the central public information officer with the PMO, had forwarded the query to the Union Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation ministry for a response.
Notedly, PM Modi just before filing his nomination from Varanasi Lok Sabha Constituency had promised that he would redevelop Ganga like Sabarmati river front in Ahmedabad.
"Ganga is the lifeline of Varanasi and is at the core of our identity- She is our Mother. The condition of the Ganga in several parts of UP is pitiable. We can't let this go on anymore! Need of the hour is to work towards cleaning the Ganga and restoring it to its previous glory. In 1986 the Government of the day brought the Ganga Action Plan but it merely remained a plan, the action was missing. Budgets were allocated but the money was never used for the intended purpose. The condition of the Varuna too is similar. Now is the time for urgent action to solve this anomaly," Modi had said as he reflected emotive connect with the river Ganga.
K.K. 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, specially in Varanasi, was little beyond an attempt to milk sentiments and votes.
The ministry said that 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself on cleaning the Ganga," an upset Aishwarya told IANS, adding she was deeply disappointed.
For the current 2016-17 fiscal, the student said the Union government does not have any details of the expenses so far of the Rs 2,500 crore allocated.