River Rejuvenation: Technology initiatives taken under the Namami Gange programme

Technology initiatives taken under the Namami Gange programme

The Namami Gange programme, an integrated Ganga conservation mission, was conceptualised by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in 2014. The programme consolidated all the ongoing programmes to rejuvenate the Ganga river under one collective intervention. It was approved by the central government on May 13, 2015, at a total cost of Rs 200 billion for the effective abatement of pollution, and conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga river. The programme identified short-, medium- and long-term activities for cleaning the river. The short-term activities involved the development of cremation ghats and cleaning of the river surface; medium-term activities included the setting up of new sewage treatment plants (STPs) and effluent treatment plants, and renovation of the existing ones; and long-term activities included the restoration and maintenance of the ecological and geological integrity of the river. The programme is currently active in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. Smart Utilities takes a look at the key technology initiatives taken under the Namami Gange programme…

Project monitoring dashboard

The National Mission for Clean Ganga’s (NMCG) project management tool (PMT) has been developed to track activity-level progress of various projects and performance of the existing and under-construction STPs under the programme in the Ganga towns. Designed by Tata Consulting Engineers Limited, the dashboard categorises projects into completed projects, under-development projects and projects in the pipeline. It gives information about the status of projects at the NMCG level, state level, city level and project level. The dashboard was made operational on April 1, 2019. Meanwhile, a mobile application with the geo-fencing feature is being developed to complement the PMT. The application will help in directly feeding and verifying project data into the PMT.

Automatic water quality monitoring

There is a growing acceptance that the traditional grab sampling method is unlikely to provide a reasonable estimate of the spatial and temporal variability in water quality at a particular site. In this respect, the automatic water quality monitoring system was proposed under Namami Gange to get real-time data on water quality of Ganga river. The network will consist of 113 stations at critical locations along the main stem of the river. These stations will be located on major tributaries upstream of the confluence with Ganga and downstream of STPs, in major nallahs downstream of industrial areas, at drinking water treatment plants and at important bathing ghats. The key objectives of automatic water quality monitoring are:

  • To assess the nature and extent of pollution
  • To understand the environmental fate of different pollutants
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of pollution control measures in place
  • To evaluate the water quality trend
  • To assess the fitness of water for different uses

The project is expected to provide information on the water quality of the Ganga through real-time data, which will be acquired from all the 113 stations on predefined parameters such as ammonia, fluoride, nitrate, hydrogen sulfide, pH and potassium. This data, collected at intervals of 15 minutes, will be transferred to the central repository/ data server/relational database management system though a global system for mobile communications/GPRS telemetry link. The filtered and calibrated data will be analysed and processed in the desired form to feed into the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) knowledge centre portal and other websites, portals and mobile applications. In addition to the 113 automatic stations, NGRBA has proposed to monitor water quality manually at 134 stations along the main stem of the river. Bio-monitoring has been proposed to evaluate the impact of pollutants on the aquatic ecosystem and identify additional sources of pollution through citizen groups such as schools, cultural and religious organisations, and non-governmental organisations. The aim is to conserve local water resources. As of May 31, 2019, 44 water quality monitoring stations have been made operational to keep the water quality in check.

Procurement monitoring dashboard

The procurement report and information management e-system (PRIME) has been developed by Grant Thorton to track the procurement process, starting from the pre-tendering stage (involving administrative approvals and expenditure sanctions) to the tendering stage and post on-boarding stage (including contractual management). The product aims to bring efficiency in the procurement work being carried out under the programme. It warns the clients of delays and upcoming procurement milestones such as tender deadlines, and contract and performance guarantee expiry. In this respect, a red flag feature has been incorporated in the dashboard to track delays in the tasks that have extended beyond the planned date.

The way forward

To conclude, the Namami Gange programme is expected to play a major role in reducing the discharge of untreated sewage into the Ganga river and improving the water quality. Despite the holistic approach adopted under Namami Gange to revamp the river, there have been lags in financial management, planning and implementation. Funds amounting to Rs 21.34 (for the period 2014-17) are lying unutilised as several action plans have not been finalised. There have been significant implementation delays as well. As per the target dates, all works pertaining to STPs had to be awarded by September 2016. However, as of August 2017, detailed project reports for STPs with a capacity of 1,397 million litres per day were yet to be finalised. Taking the current situation into consideration, the adoption of technology for maintaining project databases and dashboards is expected to expedite programme implementation. The project progress can be tracked on a real-time basis, thereby enabling the concerned authorities to identify the gaps in implementation and work on them at the earliest. Given the massive amount of infrastructure that will be created under the programme, keeping a track of all the activities is expected to ensure timely completion of the programme in a cost-effective manner.