Even as the Ganga awaits cleansing, half the population of the country depends on it for its livelihood. For the politicians, the Ganga is a tool to further their political agendas.
One step ahead is the Narendra Modi-led Central government, which has not only collected fund worth crores of rupees from the general public on the pretext of cleaning the Ganga but, by not actually spending the money, has also accumulated huge amounts of interest. The government is also making money through its postal network by selling bottled Gangajal from post offices.
Clearly, Ma Ganga’s so-called sons are leaving no opportunity to rake in money in her name, while the river struggles for survival.
The Clean Ganga Fund was set up under the National Clean Ganga Mission (NMCG) in 2016, which takes monetary contributions from the general public. According to information obtained from the Ministry of Water Resources through a Right to Information (RTI) query on November 6, 2018, Rs 266.94 crore was collected in the fund till October 15, 2018.
In addition, the government received interest worth Rs 7.64 crore on the money in the NMCG account in the form of donations or foreign loans in March 2014 (exactly two months before Narendra Modi came to power).
By March 2017, the interest amount had multiplied to Rs 107 crore, suggesting that, during the first three years, the Modi government had easily made an additional Rs 100 crore in interest singularly through the NMCG account.
Governments usually incur heavy interest on foreign loans but the Modi government made a hefty sum in the form of interest on the loan money itself. Does it mean that interest has accumulated in the NMCG account due to the delay in the usage of the fund money?
It’s also interesting to note how the government has made Rs 52,36,658 within two years by selling bottled Gangajal water from the Ganga river which has been providing a livelihood to millions of people for centuries without seeking anything in return.
As per the data from June 2018, 2,65,800 bottles (200ml and 500ml) were sold from post offices around 119 cities during 2016-17 and 2017-18.
This article is an excerpt from the book Vada Faramoshi which evaluates the Modi government’s major schemes, published with special permission. Based on information received through RTIs, this book is written by Sanjoy Basu, Neeraj Kumar and Shashi Shekhar.
Translated from the Hindi original by Naushin Rehman.