NEW DELHI: The Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) launched in 2014 to enable Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origins (PIOs) to contribute towards the conservation of one of India’s holiest rivers has received a lukewarm response as donations stood at a meager Rs 19 lakh after four years.
“NRIs/PIOs have contributed over Rs 18.92 lakh to the Clean Ganga Fund till date,” said Satya Pal Singh , MoS, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. As per the ministry, businessmen of Indian origin have committed Rs 500 crore for Ganga cleaning projects.
As of now, the CGF has a balance of `220 crore and the major contributors are the central public sector and government departments. Of the `220 crore, private companies contributed around `20 crore and the public sector and government departments contributed about `177 crore. The rest of the funds came from individual donations.
Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari held a roadshow in London in November 2017 and urged business leaders to participate in the clean Ganga mission.
“Indian corporates, NRIs and PIOs in UK have committed more than $5 billion for the development of amenities like ghats, riverfronts, crematoria and parks as part of the Namami Gange Mission,” a statement by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said after the roadshow.
Among the MoUs signed were those by Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Group for ghats and amenities along Ganga at Patna, Ravi Mehrotra of Foresight Group for Kanpur, Hinduja Group for Haridwar and Prakash Lohia of Indo Rama Group for Kolkata.
The ministry said the projects would be developed, built and operated by these corporates under their CSR initiatives. “There has not been much progress after that,” said sources.
In May, Gadkari announced that to make Ganga cleaning a mass movement, he had appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind, PM Narendra Modi, Cabinet ministers, MPs, MLAs and other government officials to donate a month’s salary for the CGF in order to set an example.
A total of `20,000 crore was allocated by the Centre in 2015 for five years for cleaning the river. The funds utilization in the three years has been nearly Rs 3,500 crore. In 2015, Rs 602 crore was spent, Rs 1,062 crore in 2016 and Rs 1,625 in 2017.