Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture
A South Asian Initiative on Development Communication
Gaurav Chopra

Executive Director

Cleantec Infra Pvt Ltd

1. You have recently taken an initiative to clean the Ganga. Please tell us what this is?

The Ganga is a critical artery of India’s lifeline. Sushri Uma Bharti led Ministry of Water Resources has assigned us a pilot project for the cleaning of Ganga at Allahabad. We are keeping the Ganga litter free during the ongoing Magh Mela at Allahabad. During this annual event that lasts for 45 days millions of devotees congregate at Sangam to take a dip in the Holy River. The river that already carries city sewerage, industrial effluents, animal carcasses and human remains. It is further polluted with food packets, plastic bottles and puja materials during the Mela. 

We are keeping the river trash free by using two floating trash skimmers that are workboats, which travel in the water collecting floating waste through conveyors. The waste is stored on board the machine until it reaches the shoreline where it is unloaded on the banks through an unloading conveyor.This is then disposed by city municipal authorities. 

Apart from the floating waste, we are also collecting dry waste on the riverbanks with a team of local boatmen and sanitation workers.

2. What have been your previous interventions? How do you gauge the success of these?

Prior to the Ganga, we have been involved in cleaning Dal Lake, Sabarmati River, Backwaters of Kerala, Udaipur lakes to name a few. We supply machines to the Government tailored to their cleaning needs and take on long term operation and maintenance of the machines. Our model is therefore to provide a holistic cleaning solution with tangible results measured in terms of area cleaned or volume of waste removed. 

Apart from quantitative targets, there is a perceptible visible improvement in cleanliness that is noticed not just by the local administration but also by the ‘aam admi’, which is the best gauge of our success. 

3. Cleaning the Ganga is a Herculean task and the new government seems to be committed to taking this task in letter and spirit. What, according to you, are the challenges in it? How can these be overcome?

The biggest challenge is multiplicity of agencies involved with different perspectives¸ without adequate coordination among these. Everybody wants to get involved in cleaning of the Ganga but they are all coming at it from different directions. Building consensus on the roadmap can be a challenge. Policy formulation, funding, implementation and monitoring of results are often done by separate agencies, which may cause avoidable gaps between intent and reality. 

The answer is to have a single agency that is given broad powers and sufficient resources to perform all these functions. Bringing the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Water Resources and making it the nodal agency is a step in the right direction. 

But, even NMCG functions through various State Chapters that can be challenging. Funds are not routed entirely through NMCG with Grants being made available directly to the State Government departments to pursue their own programs. Implementation is left to local authorities that again NMCG has no control over. 

To draw a parallel, we need to respond like the Indian Army does during a disaster. They take charge and coordinate all local efforts. They have their own men on the ground, sufficient funds and unquestioned authority. Cleaning the Ganga deserves no less.

4. Tell us about Cleantec. What are the solutions that you offer?

Our company provides mechanised cleaning solutions for water bodies that include aquatic weed removal, floating trash skimming, desilting and dredging. For each application we deploy custom-built machinery from leading OEMs all over the world along with our skilled staff of operators and engineers to deliver a comprehensive cleaning solution.

5. What is your view on sustainable development?

Sustainable development as the name suggests is development that can be sustained over a long period of time. For this it should not only be financially viable but should also be positive in terms of social and ecological impact. The triple bottom line impact in terms of people, planet and profits is commonly used to evaluate corporate sustainability and it should be no different for the Government sector. 

6. Environment in the Indian context does not get the attention it deserves. What are your prescriptions for this?

Sensitisation towards the environment must begin at the individual level and the best way to do that is by driving it into formative minds during early years at school. The disrespect for rivers in India that we see may have to do with a cultural deficit which has crept into our consciousness. While we value the Ganga or for that matter other rivers, we do not have adequate regards for their health and cleanliness.Respect for environment, including our rivers, should begin early in life.   

The State must also play an active role by stepping up budget spending on the environment and by creating clear guidelines on environmental best practices to be followed by city administration, corporates and individuals. Polluters should be heavily penalised and environmentalists generously rewarded.

Environmental audits of the State and Corporate sector should be made mandatory just like financial audits. 

I am of the view that along with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we must start a movement on Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) and this should be separate from CSR with significant tax benefits on such spending.  

7. How do you think media and platforms like Fijeeha ( can help in spreading awareness on critical issues like environment and sustainable development?

Media across all platforms – print, radio, television and social media can play an important role in building awareness by having exclusive segments highlighting environmental best practices in India and abroad. A page in the newspaper, an hour on television, a chat show on a radio channel, an environment portal with a Twitter handle all dedicated to cover environment news and to celebrate success stories are simple ideas that media houses can use to spread the word. The same can be used to name and shame the defaulters. 

Media can also be a powerful platform to exchange ideas, aggregate public opinion and to lobby with the Government in framing enabling policies. 




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