India accepts Israel’s offer to assist in cleaning up world’s fifth most polluted river, worshipped by almost 900 million Hindus.
An Israeli delegation of water experts has been invited to India next week to meet with officials and gain a first hand impression of the polluted Ganges river worshipped by close to 900 million Hindus worldwide.
The Ganges, which provides water to more than a third of India’s vast population is considered to be the fifth most polluted river in the world.
One of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election vows was to clean up the river, and starting in 2012, the Indian government has been promoting a large scale endeavor to clean the river.
Israel has repeatedly expressed interest in sharing its expertise on water purification and waste water treatment under Modi’s three-year “Namami Ganga” project.
India has long been aware of the urgent need to clean up its befouled river, but previous projects have so far led nowhere, which the Indian press has generally attributed to a combination of corruption and incompetence.
“Apparently the worst source of pollution ruining the Ganges is industrial,” Oded Distel, the director of the investment Promotion Center and Israel New Tech at the Economy Ministry, told the Israeli daily Haaretz.
“Israel is considered a world leader in water technologies, and is well prepared to offer various solutions to the Indian government in this matter,” Distel said in 2012 when an Indian delegation visited Israel in preparation for the current project.
The first stage of the cleanup will be for India to stop its industries from pouring their toxic waste into the sacred river, Distel explains to Haaretz. Only then the actual cleanup can be tackled.
“The technology exists. Now we have to see that all the other components are in place,” he says. “From our perspective, we have the industry, and companies that know how to clean these things up.”
Israeli and Indian delegations have met numerous times in recent years with as many as 11 Israeli companies hoping to participate in the cleaning efforts.
“We have already met the Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and the concerned Secretary few times, we want to be involved. We offered our knowledge, technology and technical know-how (for the project),” Israel’s Head of Economic and Trade Mission Yonatan Ben-Zaken said at the sidelines of a 2014 seminar on “Water Security & Waste Water Management.”
“We are in talks and we think that cleaning industrial pollutants from the river (Ganga) should be first priority,” Ben-Zaken said.
In 2011 India was the 13th most important trade partner of Israel, and fourth in Asia. Israeli import from India totaled in $798 millions compared to $714 millions in the previous year, focusing primarily on chemicals, vehicle parts and rubber and plastic products.
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