Prioritising aviral dhara (uninterrupted flow) over nirmal dhara (unpolluted flow) can deliver quick outcomes in the Namami Gange Programme. Treating human, municipal and industrial waste released into the Ganga is a long-term project requiring vast resources and political energy, besides behavioural change on a mass scale. But, Ganga’s dry season flows can be quickly improved by basin-scale conjunctive management of the surface water and groundwater. Irrigation in the Ganga basin today depends on tubewells far more than canals. A multipronged protocol is outlined to manage the old canal network and new hydropower storages in order to maximise irrigation benefits and improve dry season river flows.