ALLAHABAD: Union Minister Uma Bharti today asserted that the Centre was committed to cleaning up Ganga within three years even as she voiced dismay over the extent of pollution after an inspection here saying the people were getting only "effluents" and not "Ganga jal" from the river.
The Water Resources minister said that she was looking forward to holding a meeting with the Uttar Pradesh government to discuss its plans as the state has to pay a key role in the efforts to cleanse the holy river.
"We are committed to cleaning up the Ganga in the next three years. Since a major part of the holy river's trajectory runs through UP, the help and cooperation of the state government will be obviously required. We are looking forward to a meeting with the UP government scheduled for December 20," Bharti told reporters here.
The Union Minister was in the city to take stock of the quality of water at the holy Sangam - the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical river Saraswati - besides inspection of sewage treatment plants and drains through which waste water was being discharged directly into the river.
Bharti expressed grave concern over the discoloured water at the holy Sangam, for which authorities were recently rapped by the Allahabad High Court, and remarked "the reddish water gives an impression that Gangajal is not reaching Allahabad at all. The people are getting only effluents discharged upstream".
The Union Minister said "we are looking forward to make a visible difference in three years. We have a comprehensive three-step plan to clean up the Ganga".
Earlier this year, in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, an affidavit submitted by Bharti's ministry which has been renamed "Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation", had placed on record a three-phase action plan comprising "short term - a period of three years, medium term - a period of next five years and long term - a period of next ten years and more".
For the first, short-term phase, the affidavit had stated that "118 towns have been tentatively identified for necessary interventions to achieve total sanitation targets including water waste treatment and solid waste management".
Besides, the Ministry had said that it had identified "seven river front locations" which included the holy city Hardwar, Allahabad and ancient temple town of Varanasi which is also the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.