The government has ruled out funding polluting industries directly to enable them to switch to cleaner technologies on a critical stretch along the river Ganga, offering instead to facilitate incentives in the form of loans, HT has learnt.
Innovative measures currently being weighed by the government include “interest subvention” for loans taken to achieve pollution abatement targets, according to an official.
While the general approach of the NDA government’s “Namami Gange” programme to clean the revered river is to fund the entire infrastructure — from sewerage plants to sanitation — in the case of polluting industries, it is in favour of implementing “polluter-pays” principle, the official said.
The Modi Cabinet cleared a Rs 20,000-crore budgetary outlay in May spanning the next four years to clean the Ganga, which is dying a slow death due to filth and industrial run-off.
The government is set to begin work on installing treatment plants in eight cities, such as Allahabad, Hardwar, Patna, Kanpur and Varanasi, in the next three months.
However, polluting industries on a critical stretch along the Ganga, from pulp to tanneries, have told the government that in meeting the key goal of “zero liquid discharge”, they are being subjected to globally unprecedented pollution standards, with some of them stating they simply can’t afford the investments.
According to the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the main implementing agency, the Kanpur-Varanasi leg is the “most critical stretch” with almost 700 polluting industries.
Although domestic sewerage in the main reason behind the Ganga’s contamination, accounting for 85% of the pollution load, riverside factories contribute 15% of the mostly toxic waste.
Models under consideration for the industries include a common effluent treatment plant to treat both domestic and industrial wastes at Kanpur suburb Jajmau and Kashipur in Uttarakhand, as “financial incentives”.