Four hydro projects violate Ganga flow norms: Central Water Commission
GS Paper III
Topic: Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
Prelims: The ecological flow
What’s the News?
4 of the 11 projects on the upper reaches of the river Ganga’s tributaries are flouting norm to release minimum quantities of water through the year, says a report by the Central Water Commission (CWC).
The ecological flow or e-flow notification:
- For the health of any river, the amount of water drawn out for usage must be limited.
- The standards required for ecological flow are completely discarded in case of river Ganga which specifies that the upper stretches of the Ganga from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar would have to maintain:
- 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season;
- 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and
- 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.
- The Vishnuprayag and Srinagar projects on the Alaknanda River,
- The Maneri Bhali on the Bhagirathi and
- The Pashulok on the Ganga main stream.
- If the flow is not maintained all the money that is being sent on cleaning the river will go down in drain because the river itself will cease to exist.
- Flat 20-30 per cent limits needs to be evaluated and site-specific limits as to which site of the river stem would require how much flow.
- E-flow limits had been notified but no guidelines are out as to what modifications will the projects need to make.
- Government should try to come up with defined and structured guidelines for design structure as well for hydroelectric projects as it will help pave the way for implementation of guidelines.
- Monitoring: The water level had to be measured at points spanning short distances. The CWC’s role would be extremely critical and it would require them to be well-equipped and well trained. Only then this notification would serve any purpose.
Central Water Commission:
- It is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
- The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of coordinating with the State Governments concerned, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
- It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
Water planning is carried out through River Water Management Plans. River Basin Management Bill, 2018 has been notified.
Need: A lack of integrated river basin management often results in decision-making dominated by powerful economic sectors such as navigation, dam construction and intensive agriculture.
Some highlights of Bill:
- Repeal River Boards Act, 1956: which was enacted with a declaration that centre should take control of regulation and development of Inter-state rivers and river valleys in public interest. However, not a single river board has been constituted so far.
- River Basin Authorities (RBA): It seeks to establish 13 RBAs for development, management, and regulation of waters of an inter-state river basin, consisting of a Governing Council and an Executive Board.
- Binding Decision: Recommendations of the authority will be binding on all states within the river basin, except those concerning sharing of interstate river waters. The dispute between two or more states will go to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal only if governing council of the concerned authority fails to address it.