- A total of three STPs will be set up in Haridwar and Varanasi
- The STPs will be constructed at a combined cost of nearly Rs 325 crore
- Namami Gange aims to create 500 MLD sewage treatment capacity by 2018
Untreated flow of sewage has been the major contributor to river pollution in India, as industries and households discharge waste which reach major rivers like Ganga and Yamuna without prior treatment. The Namami Gange project’s focus for the past two years has been the construction of new sewage treatment plants (STPs). With regard to the project, the Ministry of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation flagged off the construction of three STPs in Haridwar and Varanasi, two of the largest and most important cities on the Ganga basin. These STPs will be constructed following the private public partnership (PPP) model to tackle the unprecedented flow of sewage from these two cities.
Varanasi has had a poor record of sewage treatment, which has remained unchanged at 102 million litres daily (MLD) from 1986, when the Ganga Action Plan was launched. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2016 estimated that the city needed sewage treatment capacity of at least 260 MLD to treat the daily sewage generated. The story is similar for Haridwar where daily sewage generation ranges from 90 to 120 MLD, but the city has no functional STP as of now. The importance of the newly announced STPs is far-ranging as three new STPs will together treat a combined amount of nearly 350 MLD of sewage. Of these three, one will be constructed at Varanasi and two will be constructed at Jagjeetpur and Sarai in Haridwar.
The model adopted to build these two plants is also unique in nature. The Ministry has undertaken a “hybrid annuity” approach to ensure that participation between the private and government sector is successful as far as National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) projects are concerned. Under the model, the construction cost will be shared on a ratio of 60:40 between the government and the private organisation. The government will also bear the cost of operation and maintenance for 15 years from when the STP begins to function. This model adopted by the Ministry is to ensure that the functioning of STPs is not hampered, as many STPs during the Ganga Action Plan had to become non-operational due to state government’s inability continue financial support.
The most important feature of this economic model is that there is no pressure on either the private party involved, or the government. The construction costs are shared and since the government is also paying for the operation and maintenance costs, the STPs can continue to function healthily for the next 15 years, said Samir Sinha, Spokesperson, Ministry of Water Resources.
Essel Infra Projects Ltd. has been awarded the contract to build the STPs. As per Ministry estimates, the STP at Varanasi will come at a cost of Rs 153.16 crore and the two at Haridwar will be constructed at a combined cost of Rs 171.53 crore. The Ministry is hopeful that the STPs will become functional by mid-2018. Under Namami Gange, 68 STP projects have already been sanctioned, and more than 30 of them are expected to be completed by early 2018. The Ministry has stated that given the delay in the launch of the project, which was announced in 2014 but formally launched in May 2016, the construction of STPs has also seen delays. However, the Ministry is now confident of consistently continuing with the major Namami Gange works and having in place by the end of 2018 a sewage treatment capacity of at least 500 MLD against its target of 1187.33 MLD.