NEW DELHI: Seeking to ensure minimum flow of waters round-the-year in rivers across India, the Centre is working to have a national framework for implementation and monitoring of e-flows (environmental flows) in all major rivers in the country.
Uninterrupted flow of water in any river is important not only to keep it clean through its natural ecological functions and processes but also to keep it organically alive to support aquatic lives.
“We have been working on guidelines for such national framework, keeping international experts on board under existing India-European Union (EU) water partnership,” Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, director general of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), told TOI on Monday.
The India-EU water partnership has already prepared a draft guidance document on the subject. The draft, released by the Union ‘Jal Shakti’ (water resources) minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday, aims to develop a mechanism for quantitatively assessing the benefits and impacts of e-flows on socio-economic and river ecosystem services.
Under the plan, detailed studies are currently being carried out in three different hydro-climatic regions as pilot study projects for evolving appropriate methodologies for assessment of e-flows in rivers across the country.
These three regions include Ramganga (perennial Himalayan river), Mahanadi delta (Peninsular river) and Bharatapuzha river (Western Ghats).
“After incorporating the lessons from the pilot e-flows assessment, this guidance will provide a pathway for Indian e-flows fraternity for robust and confident e-flows assessment and their successful implementation in India,” said the draft document.
The efforts for a comprehensive national framework are being made in the backdrop of the government’s decision to ensure e-flow of the river Ganga as part of its ongoing rejuvenation programme.
Under this decision, all existing projects in the upper Ganga basin will have to ensure desired e-flow in the country’s national river by December 15. This compliance deadline applies to hydro-power, irrigation and other major projects in upper reaches of the river in Uttarakhand up to main stem of the river in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh.
There are 784 dams, 66 barrages, 92 weirs and 45 functional lift schemes located in the river basin with over 75% of them being fall in upper Ganga river basin. Non-adherence to minimum flow by many major dams and barrages currently leaves the river without adequate flow, making it difficult to maintain its natural process of cleaning round the year.