The government will start surface cleaning of the Ganga in 10 major cities — Haridwar, Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata, Nabadwip and Gangasagar — from January 2016 under the Namami Gange programme.

An official release from the Ministry of Water Resources quoted Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti telling her ministry's Parliamentary Consultative Committee in a meeting on Tuesday that the trial for this has already started in Varanasi, with Tata Projects Ltd being assigned the job.

She also said NTPC, ONGC, and Petronet have expressed willingness to fund the project.

According to the statement, Bharti said a total of 93 projects for sewage treatment work under the NMCG have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 1,502.66 crore. This will result in the creation of treatment capacity of 858 mld and a sewer network of 3,623.10 km.

Of this, 29 projects, which have a treatment capacity of 123 mld, have already been completed at a cost of Rs 463.58 crore, besides a sewer network of 666.69 km, she said.

The meeting also saw discussion on other aspects of cleaning the river and sprucing up its surroundings.

Bhati told the meeting the development of four ghats in Patna had been completed, while work on Chandighat in Haridwar, Chhath Ghat in Delhi and Sahibganj would begin next month, with development agenda for Kedarnath, Allahabad, Kanpur, Kolkata and Rishikesh also lined up.

On the topic of rural sanitation, she said the Ministry of Water Resources has given Rs 263 crore to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for construction of toilets in villages along the Ganga. However only 3, 24,963 toilets could be constructed against the target of 15,20,106, said the official statement.

Bharti also said real-time effluent monitoring stations had been set up along the Ganga in 508 out of 764 grossly polluting industries, including distillery, pulp & paper, tanneries, textiles and sugar.

The statement said the action plan has also been prepared for reduction in effluent quality and volume for the pulp & paper and sugar industries, with a completion target of March 2017.