Germany has a long-standing development partnership with India. In May 2000, both countries adopted the Agenda for the Indo-German Partnership in the 21st Century“, laying the foundation for a strategic partnership. They have been working together in various fields, including, more recently, in vocational training, renewable energies and urban mobility. The year 2018 will mark 60 years of Indo-German development cooperation. What’s Up, Germany? takes a look at a specific area of Indo-German cooperation: cleaning up the river Ganga.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Namami Gange Programme”, an ambitious initiative to clean the Ganga, has Germany’s full support. Back in April 2015, when the Indian prime minister met Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel at the Hannover Fair, Ganga rejuvenation featured high on the agenda.
1. The focus will first be on urban sewage management along the stretch of the river in Uttarakhand, and will later expand to other states. GIZ, the implementing agency, has already begun work upstream in Uttarakhand in collaboration with the State Project Management Group (SPMG). The aim is to identify pollution hot-spots in a more effective manner and eradicate pollution resulting largely from domestic and industrial sources. Assessment studies of wastewater treatment plants have also been undertaken.
2. Indo-German development cooperation will follow a comprehensive and holistic approach: it will concentrate on the whole river basin and work together with stakeholders at the national and state level. The idea is to enable these stakeholders to apply an integrated river basin management approach for the rejuvenation of the Ganga, which includes unpolluted flow (nirmal dhara) as well as continuous flow (aviral dhara). This will happen through Indo-German knowledge exchange and practical experience in strategic river basin management issues, effective data collection and public outreach. Industries will play an extremely important role here.
3. Waste management systems, including solid waste management, is also a priority. Germany already provides support to cities in Uttarakhand to improve their sanitation management. The industrial sector in the state gets technical cooperation of ₹11.1 crore towards bettering its waste management practices and reducing wastewater discharge.
The implementation agreement for Ganga rejuvenation functions in close cooperation with other Indo-German bilateral projects like Support to National Urban Sanitation Policy (SNUSP) II and Sustainable Environment-friendly Industrial Production (SEIP).
At the end of August 2017, Ambassador Dr Ney visited Uttarakhand. He conveyed Germany’s interest in setting up sewage treatment and management plants in Haridwar and Rishikesh. During his meeting with Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on 1st September, Dr Ney announced that the German Development Bank (KfW) will provide financial assistance of around ₹900 crore to ramp up the infrastructure of sewage treatment plants in the twin cities.
Since Germany has successfully cleaned up the Rhine, Danube and Elbe rivers, its technical know-how and experience will go a long way in India’s river rejuvenation efforts. The goal is to adopt successful river basin management strategies used for European rivers and, wherever possible, replicate them in India. But one needs to be realistic. Cleaning the Ganga is a massive task. Breathing life back into this toxic and complex ecosystem will require time and consistent effort, as it did with the Rhine.
SUPPORT TO NATIONAL URBAN
SANITATION POLICY (SNUSP) II
When you look at India’s population growth, it’s not surprising that its water supply and wastewater management systems have not been able to keep pace. Only 10 percent of its cities and towns have a sewage network. So, the untreated wastewater flows into surface water and groundwater, contaminating both. SNUSP II, a joint project between the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and GIZ, supports five Indian states—Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand—to take effective measures to deal with wastewater and municipal solid waste. SNUSP II applies tested solutions on a national, state and city level from the first SNUSP project.
SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION (SEIP)
India is looking at enhancing industrial growth while also protecting the environment. This is where SEIP comes in. This joint project of GIZ and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is part of the broader Indo-German technical cooperation. With a budget of €6.5 million, it supports Indian public and private stakeholders in jointly implementing strategies for environment-friendly industrial development. The focus is on dealing with national-level environmental problems, in particular, industrial wastewater and solid waste management. The idea is to showcase successful business and management models that combat industrial pollution, which can then be replicated nationwide. Delhi, Gujarat and Uttarakhand are currently participating in this project.