Seven years on, mission to clean the Ganga remains a work in progress

Key Points:– The article discusses the progress of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a flagship program launched in 2015 to rejuvenate the Ganga river.- It highlights that 7 years since its launch, the NMCG has been able to install sewage treatment plants (STPs) to treat only 20% of the estimated sewage generation in the 5 main Ganga basin states.

This is expected to increase to 33% by 2024.- As per NMCG’s projections, STPs will be able to treat 60% of sewage by 2026.

This is based on estimated sewage generation of 11,765 million litres per day (MLD) in the Ganga basin states.- NMCG plans to set up STPs to treat 7,000 MLD sewage by 2026.

Remaining capacity will be set up by states.- Till July 2022, STPs to treat 2,665 MLD sewage have been commissioned. Maximum plants set up in Uttarakhand, UP and West Bengal. – The pace of project implementation and commissioning has picked up recently.

Nearly 60% of the installed capacity was added in 2022-23.- Challenges like land acquisition, issues with Detailed Project Reports and lack of state involvement had earlier slowed implementation.- Signs of improved water quality – increased dolphin population and presence in new stretches, increased fish species tolerant to clean water.

About NMCG

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
  • It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. 
  • NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council) under EPA 1986.
  • The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below;
    • National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
    • Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).
    • National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG).
    • State Ganga Committees and
    • District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.
  • NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. 
  • Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. 
  • Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. 
  • Thus the newly created structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation.
  • The Director General(DG) of NMCG is a Additional Secretary in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.

Aim & Objective of NMCG

The core objectives of the National Mission for Clean Ganga include a range of targets, which include

  • The proposed approach involves the reconstruction and improvement of the current Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), with the implementation of prompt short-term measures aimed at mitigating pollution at the riverside departure points. 
  • The primary objective is to effectively minimize the inflow of sewage into the river system.
  • In order to maintain a continuous flow of water while minimizing disruption to natural seasonal variations.
  • The objective is to effectively rehabilitate and sustain the levels of groundwater and surface flow.
  • The primary objective is to rehabilitate and maintain the indigenous flora within the region.
  • The primary objective is to save and restore the aquatic and riparian biodiversity within the river Ganga basin.
  • In order to facilitate public engagement in the protection, rehabilitation, and management of the river.

Initiatives Related to Ganga


The Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission initiated by the Union Government in June 2014. It is regarded as a “Flagship Program” aimed at accomplishing two primary objectives: the efficient reduction of pollution and the preservation and rehabilitation of the National River Ganga.

The entity responsible for its operation is the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti. The implementation of the project (SPMGs) is under the responsibility of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and its state equivalent organizations, known as State Initiative Management Groups.The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) serves as the operational entity of the National Ganga Council, assuming the responsibilities formerly held by the National Ganga River Basin Authority since 2016.

The organization has a capital of Rs 20,000 crore, which is centrally backed and non-lapsable. Additionally, it oversees a total of 288 projects.

The main components of the program are: Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring,Bio-Diversity & Tree plantations

Social Awareness River-Front Development & River-Surface Cleaning.


The establishment of the Ganga Knowledge Centre (GKC) by the National Mission for Clean Ganga aims to enhance the execution of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) plan. The primary goals of the Ganga Knowledge Centre (GKC) encompass the establishment and administration of knowledge repositories, encompassing the analysis and modeling of various datasets pertinent to the Ganga River Basin. Additionally, the GKC aims to cultivate research innovation by identifying areas of knowledge deficiency, the necessity for novel concepts, and providing support for focused research endeavors. Furthermore, the GKC endeavors to promote discourse with stakeholders by engaging the general public and forging alliances with domestic and international universities, institutions, public and private entities, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


Established in 2016, the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga) is a data collection centre to ensure sustainable development of Ganga River Basin. cGanga acts as a think tank for the National Mission for Clean Ganga, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD & GR) and the Government of India.

National Ganga Council

The chairperson of the National Ganga Council is the Prime Minister.The establishment of the National Ganga Council is mandated under the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) of 1986.The entity has been entrusted with the overarching duty of overseeing the prevention and restoration of pollution in the River Ganga Basin, including the Ganga River and its several tributaries.The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) serves as the operational entity responsible for executing the objectives of the National Ganga Council.The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was created in 2011 as a recognized organisation.The organizational framework consists of a dual-level management system, which includes a Governing Council and an Executive Committee.The primary goals and objectives of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) include the following: to guarantee the efficient regulation of pollution and restoration of the Ganga river via the implementation of a river basin strategy, with the purpose of fostering inter-sectoral collaboration to facilitate comprehensive planning and management.The objective is to sustainably develop the river Ganga by implementing measures that preserve the minimal ecological flows, therefore safeguarding water quality and promoting environmentally responsible practices.

  • Currently, the National Mission for Clean Ganga encompasses more than just the task of cleaning the river. 
  • It also strives to enhance the river’s ecosystem and preserve its biodiversity via measures such as maintaining ecological flow, safeguarding wetlands, and conserving springs. 
  • Additionally, there is an emphasis on revitalizing lesser rivers. Furthermore, the National Mission for Clean Ganga is doing research on other rivers, namely Yamuna and Ramganga, with the objective of formulating an environmental flow analysis (e-flow) for the Yamuna River and its principal tributaries.
  •  The mission will further prioritize the enhancement of grassroots institutions and the implementation of community-driven programs.

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