Big hydel projects on river Ganga will continue despite opposition by Hindu religious groups and Save Ganga project will require Rs. 1,00,000 crore public investment, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have said.
A consortium of seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and three other leading universities in India has told the goverment that Ganga cannot be saved by just closing down existing and upcoming hydel projects.
"Environmental flows, as determined through analysis of gelogical, ecological, socio-economic and cultural functions of the river systems, shall be maintained in all tributaries and the main stems of the Ganga river irrespective of season and circumstances," Professor Vinod Tare of IIT Kanpur said in a presentation on the new approach to save Ganga to the government last week.
Tare is the coordinator of the project to prepare environment management plan for Ganga river Basin and his presentation is in wake of protests led by BJP's Uma Bharati and former IIT Kanpur professor GD Aggarwal against hydel projects on Ganga and its tributaries. The environment ministry has already set up a committee under B K Chaturvedi to allow projects without hampering environmental flow of the river for which IITs are providing crucual inputs.
To maintain the flows, the IITs have said 11 policy level interventions including regulation for minimum flow of water from hydel projects and their constructon were required. "It required a sound water resource management," Tare said. The premier institutes have also said that there was a need of a policy for policy framework for sustanaible use of water, restoration of existing water bodies and soil conservation.
But, the IITs believe that these policies will fall apart if there isn't an overarching law --- Ganga River Basin Act --- to ensure long term implementation of basin environment management plan. "We are already working on a new law for Ganga," said a senior environment ministry official.
Under the new management plan, the IITs have suggested to divide the Ganga river basin --- covering around 60 % of India's population --- into nine clusters based on unique topography and enivronmental concerns.
The nine clusters include river Yamuna from Delhi till Etawah in Uttar Pradesh and several of Ganga's tributaries from Uttarakhand to West Bengal --- such as Ramganga, Kali and Mandakini, Chambal, Ken and Betwa.
Implementing such a gigantic plan expected to cost additional Rs one lakh crore will not be easy without a coordinated efforts of the all the state governments and stakeholders. It will also require, the IITs say, enormous scientific work to gauge impacts on river Ganga which have been missing.