New Delhi, Dec 23  The work of cleaning of the Ganga — under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) — should sustain till 2050 and beyond so that the river remains clean and free-flowing forever, Director General of National Mission for Clean Ganga, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra said on Thursday.

“Just as one needs to clean his or her house regularly, not that you do it once and leave it, similarly, Ganga too needs cleaning regularly. For instance, one installs a sewage treatment plant with a life of 15 years. What happens after that? Therefore, our aim is to keep working at it and ensure that the river remains clean till at least 2015 so that its chances of being clean forever increase,” Mishra said here at a book release event.

The book – ‘Ganga: Reimagining, Rejuvenating Reconnecting’ – penned by Mishra and Puskal Upadhyay, who has had a stint with the NMCG and currently with the New Delhi Municipal Council, was released by Bibek Debroy, who is the chairperson of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

Explaining the thought behind the book based on the work being done by NMCG, both Mishra and Upadhyay said when the NMCG was formed, every single person they met asked them ‘Kuchh Ho Raha Hai Kya? (Is any work happening?)’ as, they said, most people had given up hope that there could be some progress in getting a clean Ganga.

“But now, after these many years – the Namami Gange programme under the aegis of NMCG was launched in June 2014 – we can now say, yes, work is happening but much more needs to be done,” Mishra said.

Upadhyay said: “Who is the real owner of the river? There are so many policies and acts, there are so many government agencies involved. But the real owners are the people.”

In fact, it is the participation of these ‘people’ – as documented in the book as case studies – that Debroy spoke of citing an example from Prime Minister’s one of the Maan Ki Baat and linking it with the current status along the Ganga.

“Cleaning up Ganga or cleaning up of rivers is not going to happen only because of what governments do. The first attempt to clean up the Ganga was by the citizens of Kashi in 1886.”

Debroy also mentioned: “There is a broader issue of the environment and the kind of premium we place on the environment as citizens, as countries, as per capita GDP comes out. There is clearly a co-relation between per capita GDP and environment. As per capita GDP increases, so does the quality of the environment.”

Yamini Iyer from Centre for Policy Research, Prof Vinod Tare from IIT Kanpur and journalist turned environmentalist Abhay Mishra took part in the discussion that followed the book launch.

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