Ecologist, architect of river regulation zone, Prof Brij Gopal passes away at 76
Professor Brij Gopal (76), former Jawaharlal Nehru University Professor and noted river ecologist, passed away in Delhi following a heart attack on Monday.
He conceptualised the river regulation zone (RRZ) on the lines of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) which would offer legal protection to river floodplains from various activities which can be detrimental to river health and ecology. Though the concept was discussed as early as 2002 and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh and later present environment minister Prakash Javadekar assured that RRZ will be implemented to secure floodplains from concretisation, the policy is yet to take off.
Ramesh made a special mention in Parliament about RRZ on July 16, 2019, when he wrote, “ An RRZ notification for the protection of floodplains of various rivers along the lines of CRZ which exists is urgently needed…the absence of such a notification has led to environmental destruction of the floodplain areas which are the safety valves for rivers.”
“Prof Brij Gopal helped me enormously on wetlands, especially when I was a minister. A true self-effacing scholar and mentor to many,” Ramesh tweeted on Tuesday.
“Dear @PrakashJavdekar & @gssjodhpur Now that d real propounder & architect of River Zone Regulation (RRZ) draft Notification Prof Brij Gopal has died this morning without seeing it Notified wud u b kind enough to do it as a memorial to him? @moefcc @cleanganganmcg @Jairam_Ramesh” tweeted Manoj Misra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
Many researchers, scientists and environmentalists remembered Gopal as someone who was honest in his criticism of river and wetland policies. In September, after government reports showed that water quality had improved following lockdown, he said, “The reason Yamuna is in better quality is because industries are closed. This will not last more than a few months unless the government has a strategy for industries after Covid-19 pandemic. What we are seeing today is a natural consequence of less effluents and better dilution due to monsoon.” He called for long term conservation of floodplains and rivers through legal interventions.
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