April 2017 \ Cover Story \ COVER: POLITICAL INTERVIEW
“Within one year we’ll demonstrate results on Ganga cleaning”

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ms Uma Bharti has the task of delivering

Namami Gange—please give us a sense of what benefits the people of India can expect, especially those on the Gangetic belt and how it will help investment flows into india?

Right now Ganga is economically beneficial for 40 - 50 crore people living on both its sides. Irrigation has made it possible. But there has been a reduction of activities in melas, Kumbhmelas, Ardh Kumbh, Shravanmas, Shivaratri, Makar Sankranti. During these times, all kinds of people come and open their shops. From barbers to pundits, all communities earn their livelihood from the Ganga. One has witnessed a definite reduction in these activities due to pollution. It is very important that the poor are employed. There is also less and less water in the Ganga and its tributaries. The primary reason for this is that the glaciers are moving backward. There is too much silt in the Ganga. So irrigation is eventually going to be affected. We are planning to have ghat repairs, this activity can be economically beneficial. If you remember, I was the first politician to throw a stone at Walmart, because I knew that the small vendors selling ribbons, handkerchiefs, bangles, the poor people and their livelihood would be affected.

Also, when we talk about Namami Gange, we are talking of an inclusive package. River Yamuna is included. We are planning a new reservoir in which monsoon water will be stored, and released in the lean period. We are planning to start navigation in Ganga. Mr Nitin Gadkari (Minister for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping) is involved. Ganga was used for navigation in ancient times. Even till about 15 years back, people could come by boat to Allahabad. People from Bihar and Bengal would come to Varanasi and Prayag by navigating the Ganga waters. Once we start opening up inland navigating routes, they will attract markets on both sides. Of course, there will be certain restrictions and regulations that everyone will be asked to follow.