Jal Shakti Minister presides over the event – ‘Yamuna Par Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’

New Delhi : Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat today presided over the event ‘Yamuna Par Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. The event took place in New Delhi along River Yamuna in the presence of Shri Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, D/o WR, RD & GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, NMCG and Shri Ganji K.V. Rao, Director General, Tourism, Ministry of Tourism.



Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of Independence and the glorious history of her people, culture and achievements. After arriving at the venue, Shri Shekhawat unfurled the Indian flag and the National Anthem was played by the BSF band.  He then took a boat tour on River Yamuna with the jawans of National Disaster Response Force. A batch of Kayaking experts also demonstrated their water sport skills to mark the occasion. The Minister also took stock of the local farm products put on display at the venue and interacted with the students participating in various capacities in the event.

This event marked the launch of many new initiatives under Arth Ganga concept, enunciated by PM Modi to get the river-people connect through the economic bridge to ensure sustainability to the activities under “Namami Gange”, the flagship program of the Government to clean Ganga and its tributaries. Arth Ganga initiatives include the virtual launch of Jalaj initiative at 26 locations on Ganga basin main stem states, a MoU with Sahakar Bharati to achieve the vision of a sustainable and viable economic development by public participation and a tourism-related portal ImAvatar to promote livelihood opportunities along the Ganga basin by promoting Arth Ganga initiative through tourism. Also included in events of the day was felicitation of the winners of the Ganga Quest 2022 and launch of the new River Champ course on the Continuous Learning and Activity Portal (CLAP) by Shri Shekhawat.  Ganga Quest is an online quiz aimed at enhancing knowledge and sensitizing the children and youth about various aspects of River Ganga.

Addressing the gathering, the Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that India is a country that revers its rivers but this is also true that our water bodies and rivers are getting contaminated. It is, therefore, imperative that to keep our water bodies and rivers Aviral and Nirmal, we all must come together and make it a Jan Andolan.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion of Independence Day, Shri Shekhawat said: “The Hon. Prime Minister in his speech emphasized the sacrifices made by the leaders and today after 75 years of experience we have reached a pedestal where we can we proud of ourselves and the world looks at us with respect.” The Minister added that the Prime Minister has given us the vision for the next 25 years and it is our responsibility to imbibe certain lifestyle that respects environment and devote ourselves completely to fulfil the vision.

Emphasizing on the importance of limited water resources, Shri Shekhawat said that the very beginning of economic development is our water resource and energy. “The graph of requirement of our natural resources and economic development is identical. Given the demographic, geographic vastness of India, limited water resources and willingness to face environmental challenges, it is imperative that we ensure sustainable use of water and other natural resources,” the Minister added. The Minister expressed his happiness on the work being done under Namami Gange Programme and said that the difference can be seen now as exemplified in the form of good water quality during the Haridwar and Prayagraj Kumbh Melas. “A lot of infrastructure has been created to clean Ganga and its tributaries and projects worth more than Rs. 30,000 crores have been sanctioned,” he added. He also expressed satisfaction on Namami Gange transforming into a Jan Andolan with the support of various organisations and informed that in more than 100 districts along River Ganga, proper discussions take place on issues related to Ganga and remedial actions are taken.

The Minister also talked about Arth Ganga, a concept espoused by the Prime Minister during National Ganga Council meeting in Kanpur in 2019 that focuses on creating economic livelihood opportunities to sustain the activities under Namami Gange Programme. “As you all witnessed today, Jalaj was launched at several locations to establish people-river connect. Besides, river-based tourism is also being promoted under Arth Ganga,” he added.

Speaking on the commitment of the Central Government to clean the polluted 22 km stretch of River Yamuna in Delhi, Shri Shekhawat said that by December 2022, a marked difference would be seen in downstream of River Yamuna in Delhi. Giving the example of treated water from Mathura STP being sold to Indian Oil, he said that a national policy for reuse of treated wastewater is also being framed. Reiterating on the need to come together to make Jal Andolan a Jan Andolan, the Minister urged everyone to be proud of our culture and congratulated all the winners and participants in the event for their contribution.

Shri Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Department said that through Namami Gange Mission, we have got a lot of vigor in the work of rejuvenation of Ganga and its tributaries. Talking about the rejuvenation of Yamuna, he said, operation of Coronation Pillar STP has already started in Delhi, while the operation of 3 big STPs is also targeted to be completed by December this year.

Talking about the further action plan, he said that in the next 5 years, our focus will be on the conservation of the tributaries of the Ganges, for which public participation is very significant. He hailed the aspect of the people-river connect through the Arth Ganga Project, and said these initiatives are in the direction of bringing wonderful results not only on ecological and cultural front, but also on the economic front as regards the development of the society and in turn of the nation as a whole.

Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, while congratulating everyone on the historic occasion of India marking 75 years of Independence, said that building a nation in the true sense is not possible without honoring and preserving the most significant gift of nature- the Rivers. The rivers holistically have had cultural, economic and spiritual significance since time immemorial.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech on the Independence Day, Shri G. Asok Kumar informed that in the past couple of days, Har Ghat Par Tiranga campaign was carried out on the ghats of River Ganga in line with Har Ghar Tiranga and from today onwards a slew of focused activities under Arth Ganga will be carried out on the banks of River Ganga.

Giving an overview of the Namami Gange Mission, he said that since its launch in 2015, a lot has been done to accomplish the objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of river Ganga and its tributaries. He also informed that projects worth more than Rs 31,000 crore have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange Programme and Ganga and its tributaries are becoming Aviral and Nirmal. “We are now focusing on tributaries of Ganga, particularly Yamuna, our focus has been on cleaning River Yamuna and I am happy to share that by December 2022 there will be a marked difference in the water quality of River Yamuna by stopping the flow of about 1300 MLD wastewater into River Yamuna.”

Shri Kumar informed that as part of the Arth Ganga Project, espoused by the Prime Minister during the first meeting of the National Ganga Council in Kanpur in December 2019, a number of activities will be launched today including a MoU between NMCG and Sahakar Bharti to promote natural farming on 5 km on either side of River Ganga, as suggested by the Hon. PM, provide sludge to farmers as fertilizers and treated wastewater to industries, Jalaj at 26 locations that involves setting up of small shops or floating mobile centres to promote livelihood on the banks of River Ganga and a tourism portal ImAvatar, another livelihood programme, focusing on religion tourism, facilitating visits of older citizens to religious pilgrims through Ganga Sewaks trained by NMCG.

The positive impact of District Ganga Committee meetings that are being held regularly since the launch of DGC Forum (4M-Monthly, Minuted, Mandated and Monitored) on April 06, 2022 by the Minister is also a step in the right direction to enhance people-river connect.

Shri Ganji KV Rao, Director General of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, while praising the Indian culture said that in our country, mountains, forests, rivers, are all considered godlike and that river Ganga, especially, is revered by all Indians.

Talking about the income of farmers on the banks of rivers, he said that many welfare schemes have been bringing positive results in this direction. All the historical sites along the banks of the rivers are big centers of tourism, which has increased the livelihood opportunities of the local people. ‘We have started various skill development schemes near tourist centers, so that people can be trained well’, he said, while recognizing the recent trend of the homestay culture in the tourism industry. He also talked about linking the newly launched tourism related portal- ImAvtar to all the websites of the Ministry of Tourism so as to get better and efficient overall results in tourism development in the future.

Arth Ganga Initiatives

The event also saw various initiatives launched under the Arth Ganga campaign including the virtual launch of Jalaj initiative under Arth Ganga by the Minister for Jal Shakti at 26 locations out of the proposed 75 locations proposed during this year on the main stem of Ganga basin states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Jalaj is being implemented in association with Wildlife Institute of India. A trained cadre of Ganga Praharis have been created from among the local people by WII for biodiversity conservation and Ganga rejuvenation. Jalaj, innovative mobile livelihood centre, are aimed at aligning the skill enhancement activities with Ganga conservation. Jalaj is visualized as a model for livelihood diversification, through promotion of local produce and facilitates stakeholder participation in ecological and economic spheres for river conservation in line with “Arth Ganga” objectives.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between NMCG and Sahakar Bharati to achieve the vision of a sustainable and viable economic development by public participation, creation and strengthening of local cooperatives directing their cooperation towards realizing the mandate of Arth Ganga. Some of the major objectives the MoU envisages include identification of 75 villages in five states on the main stem to be designated as ‘Sahakar Ganga Grams’, promote natural farming among the farmers, FPOs and Cooperatives in States along Ganga and generate ‘More net-Income Per Drop’, facilitate marketing of natural farming/organic produce under brand Ganga through creation of market linkages, promote people-river connect through economic bridge etc.

A tourism related portal ImAvatar to promote livelihood opportunities along the Ganga basin by promoting Arth Ganga initiative through tourism, marketing of local products, both agriculture and handicrafts, sustainability of ghats and other assets created by NMCG was also launched on the occasion. Both NMCG and ImAvatar would work together in the areas of public participation through religious and spiritual tourism and creating market linkages. Digitalizing NMCG and Namami Gange touch points and assets is also part of the collaboration.

Arth-Ganga concept, espoused by the Prime Minister during the 1st National Ganga Council meeting in 2019 in Kanpur, is being developed into an economic model for sustainable river rejuvenation. At the helm of the Arth Ganga concept is people-river connect that aims to firmly establish a collaborative relationship between the river and the people. The central idea of  “Arth Ganga” is linking people and Ganga through the bridge of economics in line with the slogan of “Banking on River Ganga”. Under Arth Ganga, six verticals are being worked upon: a) Zero Budget Natural Farming that includes chemical-free farming for 10 kms on either side of the river, generating “more income, per drop”, ‘Gobar Dhan’ for farmers, b) Monetization and Reuse of Sludge &Wastewater that envisages reuse of treated water for irrigation; industrial purposes and revenue generation for ULBs, c) Livelihood Generation Opportunities such as ‘Ghat Mein Haat’, promotion of local products, Ayurveda, medicinal plants, capacity building of volunteers like Ganga Praharis, d) Public Participation to ensure increased synergies between stakeholders, e) Cultural Heritage &Tourism that looks to introduce boat tourism through community jettis, promotion of yoga, adventure tourism etc. and Ganga Artis and f) Institutional Building by enhancing the local capacities for better decentralized water governance.

The event – Yamuna Par Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav – today also witnessed dance/skit performance by students of Nursing School, Delhi, Geet performance by students, cultural programme by Rangsarthi team, launch of a movie trailer on ‘A Film on the Plight of Our Rivers’, plantation and nukkad activities. Students, NGOs, paramilitary, DJB, MCD, sports enthusiasts, BSF, NDRF, kayaking experts etc. participated in the event.Tri-color balloons were also released to mark the occasion. The Minister felicitated the winners of the Ganga Quest 2022 and launched new River Champ course on the Continuous Learning and Activity Portal (CLAP). The Ganga Quest 2022 was hosted on CLAP4Ganga, the Continuous Learning and Activity Portal, an initiative under Namami Gange. Nine winners of three categories of Ganga Quest were felicitated including Mawiya Srivastava (1st prize), Bandana Kaur (2ndprize) and Monika Swami (3rd prize) in Category-I: Up to Class VIII, Anirudh Nair (1st prize), Renu Saini (2nd prize) and Pratik Adarsh (3rdprize) in Category II, Class IX-XII and Sanjay Holani (1st prize), Preeti Maheshwari (2nd prize) and Shubham Mantri (3rd prize) in Category III, Adults. Besides, top ten schools and institutions in terms of participation including USO, CBSE, Navodaya and Kendra Vidhyalaya were also felicitated for their involvement in the Ganga Quest 2022. This online quest witnessed about 1.7 lakh participants, a record number.

This event is part of the campaign being run by NMCG on Yamuna ghats in Delhi to spread awareness about cleaning of River Yamuna. The cleaning of tributaries of River Ganga, especially, Yamuna, is one of the focus areas of Namami Gange Programme. While 318 MLD STP at Coronation Pillar has been commissioned recently, 3 other main STPs on Yamuna funded by NMCG are targeted to be completed by December 2022. These include Rithala, Kondli and Okhla, which is one of the biggest STPs in Asia. This will help in preventing sewage from drains falling into Yamuna. A total of 12 projects for the treatment of 1385 MLD sewage have been taken up at a cost of about Rs. 2354 crore under Namami Gange Program in Delhi, to abate the pollution in River Yamuna.

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