The centrally sponsored National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) presently covers 38 rivers in 178 towns spread over 20 States. Sewage treatment capacity of about 4064 million litres per day (mld.) has been created and an expenditure of Rs.4085 crore has been incurred so far under this Plan. River conservation activities such as creation of civic infrastructure for sewage management and disposal are also being implemented under other central schemes, such as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns, as well as under state schemes. Conservation of rivers involves collective efforts of the Central and State Governments. The Central Government is supplementing the efforts of the State Governments in river conservation.
Based on independent monitoring undertaken by reputed institutions on some of the major rivers under NRCP, the water quality in terms of BOD (Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand) values has improved at most locations as compared to water quality before taking up of pollution abatement schemes.
The Central Government , in February 2009, has set up the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) as an empowered planning, financial, monitoring and coordinating authority to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga by adopting a holistic approach with the river basin as the unit of planning.
Discharge of untreated wastewater constitutes the major source of pollution load for the rivers. Drawing water for irrigation, drinking, industrial use, power etc. are other aspects which compounds the challenge to maintain flow in the rivers and cleaning the rivers. Interception and diversion of sewage and setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants have therefore been among the main components of pollution abatement schemes under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).