Ganga Action Plan

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The Ganga Action Plan was, launched on 14 Jan. 1986 by the then Prime Minister of India Shri Rajeev Gandhi, with the main objective of pollution abatement of the river Ganga, to improve the water quality by interception, diversion and treatment of domestic sewage, and to identify grossly polluting units to prevent their toxic and industrial chemical wastes from entering the river. The plan has been a dismal failure and a major source of corruption, with the Supreme Court of India regularly asking 'Will Ganga be cleaned in this century or not ?' .

Phase I : was taken up as 100% Centrally funded scheme and aimed at preventing the pollution of river Ganga. Ganga Action Plan (GAP). Phase-I was completed in March 2000.

Phase-II of the program began from 1993 with staggered approvals to include tributaries of the river Ganga namely, Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda known as National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).

The Government of India proposed to extend this model with suitable modifications to the national level through a National River Action Plan (NRAP). The NRAP mainly draws upon the lessons learned and experiences gained from GAP besides eliciting views from State Governments and other departments or agencies.

PIB reports (Ministry of Environment and Forests 09-August, 2011 13:55):

A project under the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) with World Bank assistance for abatement of pollution of river Ganga at an estimated cost of Rs.7000 crore has been approved in April 2011 by the Central Government. The World Bank will provide financial assistance of US $ 1 billion. The principal objective of the project is to fund creation of pollution abatement infrastructure for conservation and restoration of water quality of the river. The assistance would be in form of a loan of $801 million from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and a credit of $199 million from International Development Association (IDA).


The ultimate objective of the GAP is to have an approach of integrated river basin management considering the various dynamic inter-actions between abiotic and biotic eco-systems.

The other objectives of the Indian Government's Ganga Action Plan are summarised as :-

  1. Research and Development to conserve the biotic, diversity of the river to augment its productivity.
  1. Rehabilitation of soft-shelled turtles for pollution abatement of river have been demonstrated and found useful.
  1. New technology of sewage treatment like Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and sewage treatment through afforestation has been successfully developed.
  1. Control of non-point pollution from agricultural run off, human defecation, cattle wallowing and throwing of unburnt and half burnt bodies into the river.
  1. Resource recovery options like production of methane for energy generation and use of aquaculture for revenue generation have been demonstrated.
  1. To act as trend setter for taking up similar action plans in other grossly polluted stretches in other rivers.

Notwithstanding some delay in the completion of the first phase of GAP as a result of legal petitions and allegations of corruption, GAP has generated considerable interest and set the scene for evolving a national approach towards replicating this program for the other polluted rivers of the country.