Kollam (Kerala), Sep 11 (IANS) Noting the Ganga influences the lives of 40 percent of Indians who live in the river’s proximity, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday called for generous contributions to the Namami Ganga and Swachh Bharat (Clean Ganga, Clean India) campaigns launched by the government.
“Ganga is not merely a symbol of a religion. It is a symbol of holiness, culture and geography and most importantly it is one of the most powerful instruments of our economy,” he said at a ceremony here after receiving a cheque of Rs.100 crore from Mata Amritanandamayi for construction of toilets under the Swacch Bharat programme.
“We depend so much on the Ganga, being so devoted to it, but yet are careless in preserving the river, particularly in the area from Kanpur to Varanasi where industrial and household pollutants, all untreated, get into the holy river damaging the ecology, environment and the river itself,” he said.
Another Rs.100 crore would be given by the famous spiritual retreat of Kerala later this month, and Jaitley said: “It will send a message across the world that those committed to the cause should contribute.”
“It is not merely government contributions that will go from the budget, this is one campaign which which has become much more than a governmental campaign,” he added.
Speaking of the Clean Ganga programme, the finance minister said: “We have spent thousands of crores, but not much result has come.”
“The government has therefore launched a mission mode Namami Ganga programme and is determined to clean the Ganga in 2-3 years time,” he said.
The Namami Gange project was approved by the government in May this year with an allocation of Rs.20,000 crore over the next five years.