The water flow in Ganga is decreasing because of the power projects in Alaknanda and Bhagiradhi basins, a study by the IIT Roorkee has warned, prompting the government to take necessary action.
Accepting the "study on Assessment of Cumulative Impact of Hydropower Projects in Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Basins up to Devprayag," environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said that the ministry would "re-stipulate minimum environmental flows" in the hydel projects in order to ensure uninterrupted flow of Ganga.
"The Bhagiradhi and Alakananda basins are important because...if there is no water in these two rivers, water flow in the Ganga is going to come down quite substantially," Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi after the government signed a $1 billion loan agreement with World Bank for cleaning the Ganga River.
"The most important feature of the IIT Rook study is that they have recommended what should be the minimum environmental flow in each of these projects in order to ensure that there is uninterrupted flow (of River Ganga)," Ramesh said.
He said that the environment ministry has traditionally followed a "mechanical approach" to minimum environmental flows and it was "unrealistic."
"We have been routinely stipulating three cubecs as the minimum environmental flow which is clearly unrealistic," Ramesh said and added that water is needed in the river for aquatic biodiversity, for vedic rituals, and for aesthetic purposes.
"We have accepted the recommendations of the IIT Rurkie study and we are now re-stipulating minimum environmental flows in some of these hydel projects," the minister said and cited the example of 400 MW Vishnughat Hydel Project in Uttarakhand in which minimum environmental flow which has been re-stipulated as 15 cubecs.
The minimum environmental flow in this project was three cubecs when environmental clearance was given.