Saving Chambal’s ecology: Will you give up 10% of water share? NGT asks MP, Rajasthan
National Green Tribunal directed Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments on Monday to provide their opinion if they would part with 10% of their water share for maintaining the e-flow in Chambal river in the lean period between January and June.
e-flow or environmental flow means the quantity, timing and quality of water flows required to sustain a river ecosystem, its aquatic life and the human livelihoods that depend on the river.
The green panel also directed that the details in this regard be worked out by both the state governments, particularly with reference to their various requirements and the excess water that can be safely made available for maintaining e-flow in Chambal river.
The directions were given by two-member central bench of NGT comprising judicial member justice Dalip Singh and expert member Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal while hearing a petition filed by Babulal Jajoo. The next hearing in case will be on February 6.
The petition concerns maintenance of e-flow in Chambal river downstream of the Kota barrage in Rajasthan. Water released after power generation at Gandhi Sagar dam, Rana Pratap Sagar dam and Jawahar Sagar dams is diverted by Kota barrage for irrigation in Rajasthan and in MP.
In its order, the NGT said a 2005 notification of Himachal Pradesh was placed before the tribunal, according to which minimum of 10% of the inflow during lean season needs to be the e-flow in the river.
“We prima facie are of the view that so far as Himachal Pradesh is concerned, it stands on a different footing altogether. Rivers there are snow fed and perennial whereas the Chambal is rain fed and post the monsoon there is no natural inflow…As such, in our opinion, situation that exists in the rivers of HP may not necessarily be applicable in MP and Rajasthan,” the order said.
Government counsel told NGT that seepage of 7.33 million litres per day downstream constitutes 25% of the intake in the lean period and as such nothing more was required to be discharged into Chambal river.
The tribunal responded to the argument: “Whatever inflow is there that is result of discharge from the Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar by the MP and Rajasthan, respectively. As such the above figure 7.33 MLD by way of seepage cannot be of any assistance,” the order said.
Tribunal maintained that the width of the river, the quantity of stagnant water downstream of barrage and aquatic life which is there, have to be taken into consideration while determining thesufficiency of water in the Chambal river. “We would therefore, direct the State government to carry out a detailed study in this behalf and submit their response”.
Chambal river: Connecting three states
The 960-km-long Chambal river, which originates near Mhow town in Indore district, flows through northeast Madhya Pradesh for 346 kms, enters Rajasthan where it meanders for 225 kms and then forms the boundary between Rajasthan and MP for nearly 217 kms before turning southeast to join the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. Before entering UP, it forms the boundary between UP and MP for nearly 145 kms. The river’s rich biodiversity includes Gharial, freshwater turtles, smooth-coated otters, Gangetic river dolphins and so on.