Govt issues norms for minimum Ganga flow
The central government on Wednesday notified the minimum environmental flows for river Ganga that has to be maintained at various locations on the river. Environmental flows refer to the acceptable flow regimes that are required to maintain a river in the desired environmental or predetermined state.
“The discussions on notifying environmental flow of Ganga have been going on for a long time. We have taken this step to ensure a minimum amount of flow in the river”, Union minister of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The notification issued by the government aims to ensure that the river has the minimum required environmental flow of water even after the river flow gets diverted by projects and structures for purposes like irrigation, hydropower, domestic and industrial use.
“ This is a huge step taken for the river Ganga today. We will do it for Ganga, Yamuna and other rivers also, all the rivers of the country will also say ‘me too’ now,” said cabinet minister for drinking water and sanitation Uma Bharti.
The government also announced that the draft Ganga Act will soon be sent to the cabinet for approval.
The draft Act addresses critical issues pertaining to Ganga on its cleanliness (Nirmalta) and uninterrupted environmental flow (Aviralta) and provides corresponding provisions thereof.
The Centre had formed a committee in 2016 under the chairmanship of Justice (retired) Giridhar Malviya to frame a draft for the Ganga act, in a bid to provide stricter action against polluting the river.
“The committee has adopted certain stricter provision to increase accountability and responsibility for use of resources made available by National River Ganga,” the ministry had said in a statement.
“The compliance of minimum environmental flow is applicable to all existing, under-construction and future projects. The existing projects which currently do not meet the norms will have to ensure that the desired environmental flow norms are complied with within a period of three years,” the ministry said in a statement.
The notification also states that the centre through the National Mission for Clean Ganga may direct the release of additional water in the river to meet special demand as and when required.
This also comes in the backdrop of a protest by a GD Agarwal who was former professor of civil and environmental engineering at IIT, Kanpur. Agrawal has been on a hunger strike for over a month, protesting about the Ganga is being conceptualized and administered.
“ The government has not defined the methodology in the process. What they have referred to is a minimum flow of the river which is very unclear. There is no clarity on the reference they have taken for the minimum environment flow; whether it was the flow in the 1950’s or the 70’s. The other issue is on how they are going to maintain the flow because they will have to cut supply from somewhere to cater to dry areas, so there has to be clarity on these things otherwise this is merely a political announcement,” said Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla Programme Director-Water Programme Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
On the issue of construction of hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand, Gadkari said that views of various stakeholders are being taken and a considered decision will then be taken in this regard.
On being alleged for commenting that the “government was advised to make tall promises” in a television interview, Gadkari said that the videos were fabricated.
“I would request Rahul Gandhi to learn Marathi first before sharing any videos in Twitter. In the interview which I gave in Marathi I never mentioned either the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Narendra Modi or Rs 15 lakh. The media reports are completely fabricated,” he clarified.