Seeking to ensure the minimum flow of waters round-the-year in rivers across India, the Centre is working to have a national framework for implementation and monitoring of environment-flows of rivers in the country.

  • An uninterrupted flow of water in any river is important not only to keep it clean through its natural ecological functions and processes but also to keep it organically alive to support aquatic lives.

Draft Guideline For Environmental-Flows of River

  • The India-EU water partnership has already prepared a draft guidance document on the subject. 
  • The draft, released by the Union Jal Shakti minister, aims to develop a mechanism for quantitatively assessing the benefits and impacts of e-flows on socio-economic and river ecosystem services.
  • Under the plan, detailed studies are currently being carried out in three different hydro-climatic regions as pilot study projects for evolving appropriate methodologies for assessment of e-flows in rivers across the country.
  • These three regions include Ramganga (perennial Himalayan river), Mahanadi delta (Peninsular river) and Bharatapuzha river (Western Ghats).

Environmental flows for the River Ganga

  • The e-flow of Ganga has been categorised for Upper Ganga River Basin for the stretch between Gaumukh, its origin to the confluence at Devprayag up to Haridwar.

Aim of the notification:

  • 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.
  • To comply with Centre's Namami Gange river cleaning project, Aviral Dhara (uninterrupted flow) which is one of two important components, along with Nirmal Dhara (Unpolluted flow).
  • During the dry season (November - March) 20% monthly average flow has to be maintained, 25% during the lean season (October-May) and 30% of the monthly flow of high season flow has to be maintained during the monsoon season.

E-flow norms of the notification:

  • The efforts for a comprehensive national framework are being made in the backdrop of the government’s decision to ensure e-flow of the river Ganga as part of its ongoing rejuvenation programme.
  • Under this decision, all existing projects in the upper Ganga basin will have to ensure the desired e-flow in the country’s national river by December 15. 
  • This compliance deadline applies to hydro-power, irrigation and other major projects in upper reaches of the river in Uttarakhand up to the main stem of the river in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Non-adherence to minimum flow by many major dams and barrages currently leaves the river without adequate flow, making it difficult to maintain its natural process of cleaning around the year.

India-EU Water Partnership

  • The India-EU Water Partnership (IEWP) is an outcome of the ‘Joint Declaration on Water’ adopted by India and the EU on 30 March 2016 during the 13th EU-India Summit in Brussels, to enhance cooperation on water issues, including ‘Clean Ganga’ programme of the Government of India.

About Environmental Flow (e-flow):

  • Environmental flows refer to the acceptable flow regimes required to maintain a river in the desired environmental or predetermined state.
  • E-flow is the quantity and timing of water that is essential for the river to perform its ecological functions and also important from the social and cultural standpoint.

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