New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview to ANI on Tuesday that he was confident that the action plan to cleanse river Ganga will show results. 

Modi, during a visit to his constituency, Varanasi, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, had said, "Pehle main soch raha tha ki BJP ne mujhe yahan bheja hain, phir lagta tha shayad main Kashi ja raha hu, lekin aj yahan aane ke baad lagta hain ki na mujhe kisi ne bheja hain na main yahan aya hu, mujhe toh Ma Ganga ne bulaya hain (I thought that the BJP had sent me to Varanasi, then I used to feel I am going to Varanasi (Kashi); but after coming here, I feel that no one has sent me here, Mother Ganges herself has called me here)."

The Prime Minister said in the interview that those words came straight out of his heart and he has honestly made efforts to clean up the Ganga. 

Modi went on to win the elections from Varanasi by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh votes, defeating Aam Aadmi Party supremo and subsequently the Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal. He had launched the Namami Gange project in June 2014 with a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore with the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of national river Ganga.

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Modi has, however, often been criticised for the Ganga clean-up plan not bearing the expected results.  

"I have to take five states along. In four of those states, we have BJP (and allied) governments, which makes things a bit easier. Earlier there were non-BJP governments, which had other priorities. So much was spent since Rajiv Gandhi's time on Ganga clean-up. Why has there been no success? We studied it and planned how to remove the deficiencies," Modi told ANI.  

"A 120-year-old nullah (canal) that used to pour crores to litres of dirty water into the Ganga has been closed. But only now was it closed. Four thousand villages on the banks of Ganga have been made open-defecation-free. The first course of action is to stop the Ganga from getting dirty and work is going on in this regard. Next, the rivers that flow into the Ganga also pass through many villages, and get dirty in the courses. They thus end up carrying dirty water into the Ganga. We have to stop that," the Prime Minister said.  

"Now there are international reports that the Ganga has become cleaner. But I am not satisfied. Our direction is right," Modi said.

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The government had informed the Lok Sabha in August last year that the quality of water in the Ganga had improved at several locations according to an assessment by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In a written response to a question, minister of state for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, Satyapal Singh, said that dissolved oxygen levels had improved at 33 locations and were above the primary bathing water quality requirement of 5mg/l. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels and faecal coliforms had decreased at 26 locations and at 30 locations.

The National River Ganga Bill, 2018 in its proposed draft asked for Ganga Protection Corps, who will be keeping an eye on people and arrest offenders who pollute the river.

The Central government, under the Namami Gange project, has been undertaking steps to rejuvenate the river, its tributaries and sub-tributaries. According to a report in August, a total of 221 projects had been sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs 22,238 crore for various activities.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari said in November that 70-80% of the Ganga clean-up work will be completed by March 2019, and by March 2020, the government hopes, the river will be entirely clean.