Ganga Action Plan: Information, Objectives, Ganga Action Plan UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : November 22nd, 2022

The Ministry of the Environment, Forests, and Climate Change originally proposed the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) to redirect, collect, reuse and recycle waste to enhance the quality of river water. It was implemented in 1986 to reduce pollution in the Ganga, but it was discontinued in 2000. Over the years, several projects have been started to address the Ganga River pollution problem. However, the Ganga action plan was launched as a 100% centrally financed program.

Ganga Action Plan UPSC is an important topic for the Civil Services exam as it covers a significant section on government schemes. To understand the background, overview, and objectives of GAP, we have provided detailed UPSC notes below for better learning and understanding.

Table of Content

What is Ganga Action Plan?

Government funds are used to support the Ganga Action Plan (GAP). Following this idea, the National River Ganga Basin Authority was established, and Ganga was designated a national river of India.

Ganga Action Plan PDF

In 1985, the Ganga Action Plan, the first river action plan, was taken up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Since then, the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), which extended the programme to other large rivers in 1995, has allowed it to cover all of the nation's major rivers.

Ganga Action Plan Background

Due to development along river stretches, waste dumping, and other problems, water pollution has consistently worsened. The catastrophic condition of the Ganga River is a manifestation of this issue. Since the Ganga Action Plan's (GAP) introduction in 1985, efforts have been undertaken in this direction. The Government of India first proposed the notion of cleaning the Ganga river in 1979. Still, the Ganga Action Plan could not be started until 1985, following a thorough examination of the Ganga by CPCB.

Overview of Ganga Action Plan

The ultimate aim of the Ganga Action Plan was to create an integrated river basin management strategy that considers the many dynamic connections between abiotic & biotic ecosystems. The Ganga Action Plan is essential because:

  • To reduce pollution in the Ganga River, the program was launched. The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) program was entirely funded by the federal government.
  • This tactic led to establishment of the National River Ganga Basin Board and the designation of Ganga as an Indian national river. Rajiv Gandhi oversaw the Ganga Action Plan. The prime minister & chief ministers of each state where the Ganga flows are in charge of the authority.
  • There were two phases to Ganga Action Plan. Phase I began in 1985 and encompassed the three states that were present at the time: UP, West Bengal and Bihar.
  • Whereas Ganga Action Plan Phase II was introduced in 1993, which includes the seven states of Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, & Delhi.
  • The Ganga action plan for each tributary was developed in the second phase. The second phase of the same programme saw the beginning of the national river conservation strategy. Along with Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar & Mahananda, it also comprised Ganga tributaries.
  • The general planning and execution of GAP were delegated to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The Central Ganga Authority (CGA), led by the Indian Prime Minister, was created due to the Environment Protection Act of 1986.

Need for Ganga Action Plan

The urbanization and industrialization that took place in the late 1970s led to a large rise in the amount of untreated sewage that was dumped into waterways. As a result of the increasing pollution, there was less clean drinking water available, which increased the danger of illnesses, including cholera, typhoid, and others transmitted by water.

The largest river, Ganga, saw a substantial rise in pollution due to practices like open defecation, the release of untreated industrial waste, and other causes. Because there were no regulations to keep these areas in check, none of this could have been prevented. That is why the government launched the Ganga Action Plan to clear the river Ganga nationwide.

Objectives of the Ganga Action Plan

The Ganga Action Plan aims to systematically and deliberately reduce pollution in the most important river.

  • To enhance the water quality of the Ganga to acceptable norms at the time the government developed the Ganga Action Plan, the goal was to stop the pollutant load from entering the river.
  • The Ganga Action Plan placed a high priority on reducing pollution and raising water quality. GAP places a lot of emphasis on sewage interception & treatment facilities.
  • Additionally, it emphasised biodiversity preservation, creating an integrated river basin management strategy, thorough research to advance these goals and experience-building for implementing the program to clean up other polluted rivers in India.
  • Along with reducing pollution, the Ganga Action Plan's overarching goal was to restore biodiversity along the Ganges River's path.

Phases of Ganga Action Plan

Phase I and Phase II of the Ganga Action Plan were each carried out separately. Let us learn the details of each phase of GAP in detail below.

First Phase of Ganga Action Plan

The first phase encompassed three states. The three states in Phase I are West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. The first phase of the Ganga Action Plan lasted from January 1986 to March 2000. The goal of this phase was to stop the Ganga from being contaminated. The overall cost to finish Phase 1 of the Ganga Action Plan was Rs. 452 crores.

The Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) 1984 research served as the foundation for developing this plan. According to the CPCB survey, the total amount of sewage produced by 25 Class 1 municipalities was estimated to be over 1340 million litres per day in 1985. To achieve this objective, a total of 261 pollution abatement projects totalling 25 towns in three states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Bihar, were authorised at a cost of Rs. 462 crores. The closure of phase 1 of the Ganga Action Plan was announced on March 31, 2000. This project developed an 865 million litres per day capacity for treating sewage.

Phase II of the Ganga Action Plan

Phase II covered Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Uttrakhand, West Bengal, and Jharkhand. The Ganga Action Plan Phase II project includes the Yamuna, Gomti, Mahananda, and Damodar tributaries. Phase 2 of the Ganga Action Plan, which included measures for the Yamuna, Damodar, & Gomti in addition to the Ganga, was accepted in phases between 1993 and 1996. Phase 1 of GAP did not fully address the level of the river's pollution.

The effort was expanded to other significant rivers in India under two distinct programmes, the Ganga Action Plan Phase-II as well as the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), along with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as its mother company (from the year 2014). In April 1993, the Yamuna & Gomti Action Plans were approved as a component of the Ganga Action Plan Phase II.

Role of Agencies in Ganga Action Plan

Outside Agencies played an important role in Ganga Action Plan.

  • The "Water Quality Management Plan for Ganga" Development Study has received technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
  • Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, & Varanasi are the four towns that are highlighted.
  • The JICA Study Team/Consultants were contracted by JICA to carry out the study, and their work lasted from March 2003 through August/September 2005.
  • The major objective of the Ganga Action Plan was to develop master plans & site analysis for the non-sewerage and sewerage components of the four towns, including sewage treatment.
  • The JICA Study Team provided a Master Plan as well as Feasibility Studies report for sewerage and non-sewerage works in Varanasi town in the first phase during 2004–2005, on the basis of which the JBIC had signed an agreement with the Government of India for providing a loan for starting pollution prevention schemes of the river Ganga in this town at an estimated cost of Rs.540 crore (13.248 billion Yen).
  • The final Feasibility Study Reports, which incorporate the views of the relevant organisations for the last three towns of Allahabad, Kanpur, & Lucknow, have been delivered to JICA.
  • Approximately Rs. 1100 crore would be spent on Ganga Action Plan Phase II developments in the three towns (Kanpur - Rs.425 crore, Allahabad - Rs.305 crore & Lucknow - Rs.375 crore).

Ganga Action Plan UPSC

The Government of India actively protected our water resources and stopped the spread of fatal waterborne illnesses through GAP. The UPSC notes of the Ganga Action Plan are essential from the point of view of IAS preparation. Studying the following important points will certainly help and further improve your knowledge.

  • In 1985, Ganga Action Plan started. On January 14, 1986, Ganga Action Plan Phase I officially began. Phase 2 of the Ganga Action Plan was implemented in 1993.
  • Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, supervised the implementation of the GAP.
  • The Central Ganga Authority was formed following the Environment Protection Act of 1986, overseeing the Ganga Action Plan's overall execution.
Important Notes for UPSC
DemonetisationScheduled Tribes
Important Boundary Lines of IndiaDisinvestment Policy
Tribes of IndiaConsumer Protection Act 2019
Bishnoi MovementImpact of British Rule in India
Competition Act 2002List of High Courts in India


write a comment

FAQs on Ganga Action Plan

  • Rajiv Gandhi introduced the Ganga Action Plan in India on January 14th, 1986. Its primary goal was to safeguard the river from hazards of pollution. It seeks to increase the water quality and stop additional contamination. It works by preventing the discharge of industrial waste into the water.

  • The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I launch in 1985 signified the beginning of the project. Then, Ganga Action Plan Phase II was started from 1993 to 1996.

  • Namami Gange Yojana has replaced the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) as its official name. With the assistance of several state and municipal governments, the project has advanced steadily since being renamed.

  • Because of industrialization along river stretches, open defecation, and other problems, the problem of water pollution has been continually worsening, especially for river water. To enhance the Ganga river basin's water quality, the government of India launched the Ganga Action Plan.

  • The main objectives of the Ganga Action Plan are as follows:

    • To remove hazardous and industrial toxic emissions from units that seriously contaminate the river.
    • To improve the water quality by intercepting, diverting, and treating residential sewage
  • No, One of the problems with the Ganga Action Plan was that it was purely a top-down, end-of-the-pipe bureaucratic effort. The plans failed due to a lack of information on wastewater creation and water usage.

  • Work on pollution reduction was undertaken in 57 towns as part of the Ganga action plan. There are now 215 approved pollution reduction plans. It is intended to intercept, redirect, and treat a million litres of sewage.

Follow us for latest updates