It is undeniable that no matter the size of a PPP project, it will always have some level of impact on environment around it.But the sad part is that quite often environmental sustainability is the last thing in the mind of developers. As a result more harm is done to it than good. Hence it is always stressed upon that outcome of a PPP project must be more than just a physical entity.
It thus becomes very important that development and protection of environment must go hand in hand. Besides, it must also achieve a vision of a just and sustainable world.
One of the prime examples where balancing efficiency and environment is a must is river Ganga says Arun Lakhani, MD Vishvaraj Infrastructure Ltd. and leading expert on PPP and water conservation.
The Ganga Story:
Perhaps there is no other river in the world that is as revered, spoken about and controversial as the Ganga.
Although the current government has started an initiative to restore the legendary river to its glory, there is much more that needs to be done says Lakhani.
It starts with PPP projects around Ganga. One of the biggest mistakes that are made is to underestimate their contribution to pollution of the river.Under the surface of Ganga flows huge, in fact millions of gallons, of industrial waste, effluents. This happens due to lack of planning.
It cannot be denied that starting and finishing the project in quickest time possible is what most PPP project are all about. Environmental factors are given least preference (until it happens to be around heritage sites or forest or similar zones).
The outcome of such lethargic attitude is shocking. The least of these is the spread of waterborne diseases. The polluted water has affected the free flow of river water making it stagnant.
So bad is the condition that even cleansing of river will be a monumental task; but it must be done.
River Ganga is in dire condition and it needs immediate attention.
It begins with inculcating a habit of making environmental sustainability a core consideration in the Ganga Cleanup initiative (or anywhere else for that matter).
Policies need to be drafted to prevent any further deterioration of the river. Extra care needs to be taken when any new projects are given the green light.
"Given the poor waste management record until now near Ganga, there must be stricter policies that ensure it does not remain so. In fact, it would be better if there can be projects that can minimise or even better remove the current problems that ails the river Ganga" says Lakhani.
Water is a priceless resource. It is the duty of those parties involved to ensure that it is utilised wisely (not only by themselves but also by the people who visit Ganga).
It is not as though river Ganga is the only one facing such problems. There are multiple such instances around the world. But our priority is must be to repair the damages done to it and remove it from the state of degradation and crisis.