The World Bank on Monday said it has enhanced its support for Government of India’s program to rejuvenate Ganga river with a USD 400 million (about Rs 3,000 crore) assistance that will help stem pollution in the river.
The assistance will help strengthen the management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people, the World Bank said in a statement.
“The Second National Ganga River Basin Project (SNGRBP), approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on June 25, will support the government’s Namami Gange program and its long-term vision for controlling pollution in the river and restoring its water quality,” it said.
It further said the bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.
“The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this project will help scale this up to the tributaries,” World Bank Country Director (India) Junaid Ahmad said. “It will also help the government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin,” he added.
The Ganga basin covers a quarter of India’s landmass, and is a critical economic and environmental resource for the country. It provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area and is key to India’s water and food security, the statement said.
“Over 40 per cent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated basin. But the Ganga river is today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows,” it added.
The Second National Ganga River Basin Project comprises a loan in the amount of USD 381 million and a proposed Guarantee in the amount of up to USD 19 million.
The variable spread loan has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of 5 years, it said.
Meanwhile, the Government of India, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank on Monday signed legal agreements to help low-income groups in the state get access to affordable housing. The legal agreements were signed for two projects — USD 200 million First Tamil Nadu Housing Sector Strengthening Programme and USD 50 million Tamil Nadu Housing and Habitat Development Project — to strengthen the state’s housing sector policies, institutions, and regulations, the Finance Ministry said in a separate statement.
The loan agreements were signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank.
Khare said providing safe and affordable housing is a key priority for the state of Tamil Nadu as identified in its vision document.
With the allocation provided under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and the two projects from the World Bank, a large number of urban poor in the state are expected to get access to better housing and, in the process, improve their living conditions, he added. Nearly half of Tamil Nadu’s population is urban, and this is expected to increase to 63 per cent by 2030.