Three Agreements Signed with World Bank for Cleaning Ganga and Conservation of Biodiversity

EQUALITY INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The Government of India and the World Bank today signed three agreements to for cleaning Ganga River and to Strengthen Rural Livelihoods and Biodiversity Conservation in India. The River cleaning project is to the tune of US $ 1 billion (approximately Rs 4,600 crore) loan and credit that will form part of the Bank’s long-term support for cleaning the Ganga River. Two Biodiversity Conservation agreements are for a credit of US$15.6 million and US$8.14 million grant.

On this occasion, Sh Jairam Ramesh , Minister of State for Environment and Forest Minister said, “Two protected areas, one each in Uttarakhand and Gujarat, will put in place a complete new model of managing the protected areas while safeguarding the livelihoods of local communities. So far local community was looked as enemies of protected areas, but this has to be changed. We have to make local communities full partners in the protection and regeneration of these protected areas. These new models will be applied in other areas of the country.” Giving details of cleaning operations of last few years, the Minister said, “The objective of Ganga project is ‘ by 2020 no municipal sewage and industrial effluent will be let into the river Ganga without treatment. With the help from the World bank, we are taking a big step forward in achieving the Mission Clean Ganga.”

An empowered and collaborative body of the Central and state governments, National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) will implement the National Ganga River Basin Project with the assistance of the World Bank. The Project will focus on building and strengthening the NGRBA’s related institutions at the Central and state level; establishing a world-class Ganga Knowledge Centre; enhancing river basin management; and financing select priority investments to reduce point-source pollution in a sustainable manner. The Authority has resolved under its “Mission Clean Ganga” that by year 2020 no untreated municipal sewage or industrial effluents will be discharged into the river. Today, only about one-third of the sewage generated by the towns and cities on the mainstream of the river is treated; and a significant volume of untreated or inadequately treated industrial effluents is also discharged into the Ganga.

The Ganga faces great challenges from expanding population, urbanization and industrial growth. Managing the complex interplay of water quality and quantity is essential to meet these challenges. A comprehensive approach will be adopted under which industrial pollution, solid waste management, and riverfront management will also be addressed besides the essential sewage treatment and infrastructure. Dedicated institutional mechanisms will be established in order to plan, prioritize and manage these investments for the long term.

The Project, with an estimated cost of Rs 7,000 crore (approx US$ 1.5 billion), has been approved by the Government of India and the World Bank. The share of the Government of India will be Rs 5,100 crore (approx US$ 1.1 billion) and that of the five state governments (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal) will be Rs 1,900 crore (approx US$ 0.4 billion). The World Bank will support the Government of India by providing technical assistance and financing of US $ 1 billion. The assistance would be in form of a loan of $801 million from IBRD and a credit of $199 million from IDA. The NGRBA Program will be implemented through close coordination between the Central, state and local governments, and with the implementing agencies and civil society. It will encourage innovative approaches, including new technological solutions and results-based financing mechanisms to ensure desired improvements in water quality.

The Project will have two components focused on institutional development and priority infrastructure investments. The institutions which are built to implement the NGRBA Program at the Central and state levels will receive support to establish a state-of-the-art Ganga Knowledge Centre to act as a repository for knowledge relevant to conservation of the Ganga; and to strengthen environmental regulators (Pollution Control Boards) and local institutions (ULBs, etc) under institutional development.

The investments will be made in four key sectors: wastewater collection and treatment, industrial pollution control, solid waste management, and riverfront management to reduce pollution in a sustainable manner under finance priority investments

Dedicated implementation entities, staffed by technically qualified professionals, are being set up in the Central and State Governments to coordinate and oversee implementation of the Project. Project implementation will be in accordance with a Program Framework, developed by the Centre and States for NGRBA. This Framework includes detailed arrangements for implementation, detailed criteria for selection of investments, a Procurement Manual, a Financial Manual, an Environment and Social Management Framework, a Communications Plan, and a Governance and Accountability Action Plan. Infrastructure investments under the Project would be selected on the basis of criteria laid out in the Framework, and included in the NGRBA’s Annual Plans.

Building on lessons from the past, several measures have been proposed to improve implementation on the ground. These include provisions to ensure that: all sub-projects are designed and implemented in accordance with the new MoEF guidelines for sub-project preparation; sewage treatment plants (STPs) are built on a Design, Build and Operate (DBO) model to ensure they are operated and maintained properly; technology for STPs is selected based on an analysis of lifecycle costs; stakeholder consultations are built into implementation; independent appraisal of sub-project Detailed Project Reports (DRPs) is undertaken; synergy with related programs (e.g. JNNURM) is ensured; third party inspections are conducted by independent institutions; and roles and responsibilities are clearly defined through tripartite Memoranda of Agreements (MoAs) between Centre, States and ULBs.

The agreements for the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project were signed by Mr. Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India, and Mr. Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director in India in presence of Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister Environment and Forests, Government of India.

India is home to 8% of the world’s biodiversity. The challenge is to maintain this rich biodiversity under pressure from increased population and demand on resources. BCRLIP will be implemented at two biodiversity rich landscapes, namely, (1) Little Rann of Kachchh,Gujarat and (2) Askot landscape,Uttarakhand. BCRLIP is unique in more ways than one. It breaks new ground in envisioning a multi sector, multi theme project on a landscape which has often been talked about but not addressed before in a time bound project mode. The project will strengthen the Government of India’s efforts to conserve high-value biodiversity areas while improving the livelihoods of dependent communities. It will conserve biodiversity, while improving rural livelihoods by applying culturally appropriate and tested participatory approaches to support opportunities for improving rural livelihoods. The government policy aims to expand conservation action beyond the Protected Areas (PAs) boundaries to make sure that development around protected areas is carried out in a manner that is more consistent with biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihood development objectives.

In recent years, the Government of India (GOI) and several states has established a network of more than 600 protected areas across different ecosystems and bioregions to conserve the country’s unique biodiversity and natural habitats. However, there are constraints to the viability and effectiveness of the conservation of the existing PAs. These PAs are largely managed as “islands” surrounded by other forms of land use that are often not compatible with conservation goals. The absence of an integrated land and natural resource use focus, particularly for areas surrounding the PAs has constrained conservation strategies to reduce threats to biodiversity. The project promotes a more focused and holistic approach that attempts to integrate development and land-related concerns with biodiversity conservation within the PAs and surrounding lands

The World Bank has been a major financier of biodiversity projects globally and has supported innovative participatory models of biodiversity conservation in and around protected areas. This experience has allowed unique perspective in piloting and replicating management approaches that integrate conservation and production landscapes within the framework of sustainable land and natural resource management. The project will last six years with core activities undertaken by communities themselves. Total outlay of the project is US$30.52million (Rs 137.34 crores) and is going to be funded by 26.7% GEF grant US$ 8.14million (Rs 36.36crores); 50.3% IDA credit US$ 15.36million (Rs 69.12crores), the credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 35 years and a grace period of 10 years; 19.9% Government of India/State US$ 6.06mill (Rs 27.27 crores) and 3.2% Beneficiaries US$ 0.96million (Rs 4.32crore).

The project was negotiated on 22ndMarch, 2011 and was approved by the World Bank Board on 17thMay, 2011.

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