Ganga Rejuvenation: Governance Study Project 2015

The Institute of Water Policy partnered with the Lee Kuan Yew School Master of Public Affairs (MPA) programme on the 2015 Governance Study Project on “Ganga Rejuvenation: Governance Challenges and Policy Options.”

The Ganga River has significant economic, cultural, social and religious importance for India and for the more than 500 million inhabitants that live in the river basin. Yet the river faces a bleak future: over-extraction, encroachment and uncontrolled pollution have made the river unfit even for bathing. Attempts over the past three decades to clean up and rejuvenate the Ganga have had limited success due to the absence of long-term planning, poor coordination, and failure to develop and maintain infrastructure. The most recent effort is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicized ‘Ganga Rejuvenation Project’, launched in 2014.

The Governance Study Project is a year-long module for first-year MPA students that exposes students to real public problems. Students engage with stakeholders and government agencies and develop and apply their skills in policy analysis, presentation, and management in a complex, real-world setting.

In November and December 2014, 59 students travelled to Delhi and Varanasi to meet with stakeholders including the Ministry of Water Resources, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, Banaras Hindu University, the World Bank, and Eco Friends.

The students’ policy recommendations address various pressing issues faced by the region. One group is focusing its efforts on proposing strategies to help the Indian government deal with the uncontrolled flow of wastewater from surrounding cities and industries into the Ganges River. Another group conducted focus groups and discussions with teachers and students in Varanasi, to help formulate recommendations on how to encourage greater environmental consciousness among India’s young. A third group examines the role of international aid agencies involved in the Ganga Rejuvenation Project and how aid can be more effectively coordinated.

Participant papers were presented at the Governance Study Project 2015 conference and are will be published in an edited volume.