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Centre issues notification for e-flow norms of Ganga

New Delhi : The Centre has notified the minimum environmental flows (e-flows) for the Ganga river that have to be maintained at various locations. The move is aimed at restoring and maintaining continuous flow of the Ganga and comes along with efforts to curb flow of untreated wastewater in the river.

The recent notification issued by the Union Government will help ensure that the river has at least the minimum required environmental flow of water even after its flow gets diverted by projects and structures for purposes including irrigation, hydropower, domestic and industrial use.

The notification marks an important step taken towards maintaining the uninterrupted (or aviral) flow of the river.

The notification order will apply to the upper Ganga basin originating from glaciers and through respective confluences of its head tributaries and finally meeting at Devaprayag up to Haridwar and the main stem of the River up to Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh.

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 three years.

All mini and micro projects that do not alter the flow characteristics of the river or stream significantly have been exempted from these environmental flows.

The flow conditions in these river reaches will be monitored at hourly intervals on a regular basis. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has been made the designated authority and custodian of the flow data. The CWC will also be responsible for supervision, monitoring and regulation of flows and reporting of necessary information to the appropriate authority as and when required.

It has also been asked to take emergent decisions about the water storage norms in case of any emergency.

Union Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari said the notification of e-flow for the Ganga would go a long way in ensuring its aviralta or continuous flow.

Reiterating the Government’s commitment towards an aviral and nirmal Ganga, Gadkari said the draft Ganga Act will also soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

“This is a very significant moment. The discussions on notifying e-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”, Gadkari said.

E-flow is very important for the health of any river, said Gadkari, adding that a three-member panel had been set up to prepare a draft for implementation of environmental flows for Himalayan Ganga.

As per NGT order, another panel was formed to study the minimum and necessary e-flow of Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao.

"Based on the recommendations of these committees, we have issued an e-flow notification. As per the directions of this notification, in the dry season (November to March) the e-flow will be 20 per cent, in April to May it will be 25 per cent and from June to September we have kept it at 30 per cent of the monthly flow of high flow season", the minister said.

Hydro projects have been given three years to comply with the notification.

"We have given three years of time to current hydropower projects and within that time they have to abide by the e-flow notification", he said.

The Central Government and the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) will have the authority to issue directives for the release of additional Ganga water as well.

"We are committed to maintain an incessant flow of river Ganga and this is a step in the same direction. From Gangotri to Ganga we have conducted studies and have started various projects in different cities. We are working on Ganga and different tributaries of Ganga. As many as 34 projects are ongoing on Yamuna and 12 projects in Delhi are also being worked upon," Gadkari added.

The notification also stipulates that the concerned Central and state authorities will have to implement demand side management plans to reduce water withdrawal from Ganga by adopting good and scientific practices such as efficient method of irrigation, reuse and recycle of water including monitoring and regulation of groundwater withdrawals for various purposes.

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