Recently, the MoEFCC released Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) on river rejuvenation. Read here to know the details of the project.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has proposed the rejuvenation of 13 major rivers across the country, including the Himalayan, and Peninsular Rivers, as well as one inland river – Luni.
The rivers identified for forestry interventions include:
It will be funded by the National Afforestation and Eco-development Board under the Ministry and the DPRs have been prepared by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun (ICFRE).
Why there is a need for the Conservation and rejuvenation of rivers?
The rivers and their basins have been impacted by developmental activities like the expansion of the road network, construction of hydroelectric projects, or expansion of agriculture.
The most common problems which have been identified include:
- reduced water flow in the rivers
- deforestation in the catchment area
- fragile ecology
- bank and soil erosion
- siltation and shifting cultivation
All these issues have led to the poor health of the rivers which is reflected in both the quantity and quality of water.
This affects agricultural productivity, livelihood security, public health, and aquatic systems.
Detailed Project Reports (DPR)
The DPR on river rejuvenation is based on the work done in the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in 2015-16. They are proposed under 4 significant components:
- Implementation of forestry interventions
- Strengthening knowledge management & national capacity development
- The maintenance phase includes scaling-up replication of successful models
- National coordination for forestry interventions and river conservation.
It focuses on acknowledging that the growing water crisis is on account of the degradation of river ecosystems.
The project adopted a multi-scale, multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary, and holistic approach to accomplish broad objectives of ‘Aviral Dhara’ (uninterrupted flow), ‘Nirmal Dhara’ (clean water), and ecological rejuvenation.
The 13 rivers collectively cover a total basin area of 18,90,110 square kilometers that representing 57.45% of the geographical area of the country.
- The 13 rivers and their 202 tributaries add together a length of 42,830 km of delineated riverscapes.
It proposes many kinds of afforestation for the rivers with timber species, medicinal plants, grasses, shrubs, fuel fodder, and fruit trees which are aimed at augmenting water, groundwater recharge, and erosion containment.
The DPRs are created for three major landscapes along the rivers- natural, agricultural and urban, including specific plans for each river.
Site-specific treatments in terms of soil and moisture conservation and plantations of grasses, herbs, forestry, and horticultural trees have been proposed for the treatment of prioritized sites in the riverscape supported by GIS techniques.
Supporting activities such as policy level interventions, strategic and adaptive research, capacity development, awareness creation, project management, and participatory monitoring & evaluation) will also be implemented.
These works are expected to be executed through the State Forest Departments together with State Agriculture, Horticulture, Urban Municipal Bodies & Rural Development, etc.
Benefits of a river rejuvenation project
Works proposed under these DPRs include:
- Afforestation on river banks leads to increased green cover
- measures to contain soil erosion
- recharge ground water table
- sequester carbon dioxide
- catchment area treatment
- ecological restoration
- moisture conservation
- livelihood improvement and income generation
- ecotourism by developing riverfronts
- eco-parks and bringing awareness amongst the masses for improvement of water quality and flow in rivers.
These efforts would help India meet its international climate commitments:
- Creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Restoring 26 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030.
- Cut short biodiversity loss by 2030 under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Sustainable Development Goals.
At the COP26 meeting, India promised to:
- reduce its projected carbon emission by one billion tonnes by 2030
- meet 50% of energy requirements with renewable energy by 2030,
- enhance non–fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030
- reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2030
- achieve net zero emission by 2070
Under the Bonn Challenge 2015, India had also pledged to restore five million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
The freshwater resources are depleting fast adding to the growing water crisis. The shrinking and degradation of river ecosystems is the major issue to be tackled on a national level to attain goals related to the conservation of the environment, climate change, and sustainable development.
The major impediments to the success of the River rejuvenation DPR are changes in climate, risks of plantation method failure, wrongful implementation, and so on. The concerned departments should ensure that full prior knowledge is obtained before any implementation to mitigate any risks of failure.
Previous Year Question
Which of the following are the key features of ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)’? (2016)
- The river basin is the unit of planning and management.
- It spearheads river conservation efforts at the national level.
- One of the Chief Ministers of the States through which the Ganga flows becomes the Chairman of NGRBA on a rotation basis.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3