As the first European development bank, OeEB provides financing for a wastewater treatment plant as part of the Indian government's "Clean Ganga" program. The aim is to reduce the pollution of the Ganges and to improve living conditions in the river basin.

Over 2,500 km, the Ganges flows through India and as a 'holy river' is not only of great religious importance, but also the basis of life for around 600 million people - almost half of the Indian population - who live in the river basin. This makes the Ganges basin one of the most populous in the world and is not only the key to India's water and food security, but also responsible for around 40% of India's gross domestic product.

At the same time, however, the Ganges is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Around 12 billion litres of wastewater are produced in its catchment area every day - the current treatment capacities are sufficient for only a third of it. With devastating consequences: Studies assume that around 80% of the diseases affecting the rural population of India are caused by inadequate sanitation and polluted water. In the long term, the reduced agricultural productivity of soils caused by polluted water poses a threat to food security in the region, where a third of the population already lives below the national poverty line, and the river's ability to maintain a suitable habitat for unique flora and fauna is decreasing drastically.

Nationwide mission to clean up the Ganges

To counteract this, the Indian government launched the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) program in 2014. In addition to expanding the infrastructure for wastewater treatment, the afforestation of the river banks to promote biodiversity, the monitoring of industrial waste water and raising awareness among the population were declared the main pillars of the initiative.

The National Mission for Clean Ganga ("NMCG"), an agency of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Revitalization of the Ganges, is the central body for the implementation, coordination, and financing of the programme.

Support from Austria

OeEB is the first European development bank to provide long-term financing of EUR 13.5 million for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant as part of the Clean Ganga program. With a capacity of 35 million lifters per day, it is being built in the city of Maheshtala in the Indian state of West Bengal and is intended to help reduce pollution in the Ganges.

"Clean water is an essential basis of life and indispensable for health and quality of life, economic development, poverty reduction and ecological sustainability. We are therefore pleased to be able to support this important project with long-term financing and thus contribute to improving the quality of life in the region," says Sabine Gaber, member of OeEB’s Executive Board.

"Actively contributing to climate protection and expanding infrastructure in developing and emerging countries and promoting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is firmly anchored in our strategy. The project therefore fits in perfectly with our priorities and contributes, among other things, to SDG 6 'Clean Water' and 13 'Climate Protection'," adds OeEB Board Member Michael Wancata.

The project is being implemented by the Indian group Vishvaraj Environment Private Limited (VEPL), which has extensive experience in the water sector in India. VEPL currently maintains and operates 27 drinking water treatment plants which supply around 40 million people as well as 15 wastewater treatment for 3 million people in India.

Financing with impact

With a total project portfolio of EUR 1.474 billion, OeEB contributes to sustainable economic development in developing and emerging countries. Around 20% of this is currently invested in South and East Asia. 34% of the portfolio contributes to the achievement of SDG 13 'Climate Protection'. 1.19 million tons of CO2 emissions were saved through OeEB-supported projects. You can find out more about the impact of OeEB projects in the current Impact Report at www.impact-report.at