"India's $3 billion plan to clean the holy Ganges river is badly behind schedule with large stretches contaminated by toxic waste and sewage, forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene, according to government officials and documents seen by Reuters.
Much of the money allocated to the project, a flagship initiative for Modi's Hindu nationalist government, remains unspent, say officials from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a government body overseeing the project.
In one slide of a presentation to a top Modi aide in late January, NMCG officials marked almost the entire length of the river within three big circles to highlight "pollution in river Ganga".
A 2018 deadline to clean the river is "impossible", one NMCG official said. "If we want to meet the 2018 deadline, we should have commissioned plants to treat half the sewage already," he said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record."