Recently, a guideline issued by the Central Government stated that hydropower projects whose construction has not followed the Ecological Flow Notification can be closed.
What is ecological flow notification?
- According to this notification, companies producing hydropower will have to ensure that their construction keeps the flow of water to a minimum extent throughout the year. So that there is no negative impact on the bio-ecology coming in the river flow area.
- This notification was issued in October 2018. Under this, companies were required to hand over the design related to their project (making changes as per requirement) to the government by October 2021 which has now been converted to December 2019.
- Hydropower producers often store more water than they need, thereby increasing their production capacity. Due to this the water supply in the river flow is blocked which is a matter of concern for the aquatic ecology.
- In this notification, in the direction of Ganga conservation, it has been said that the flow of water from the upstream area of Ganga, from its origin to Haridwar will have to be maintained in a certain proportion. For this, 20 percent of monthly average flow from November to March, 25 percent of average in April, May and October and 30 percent of monthly average flow in monsoon season will have to be maintained.
The National River Ganga (Revival, Conservation and Management) Bill 2018: Key Points
- The Bill prohibits the construction of embankments, ports and permanent hydraulic structures in the Ganga unless ordered by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority in this regard.
- Under this, a management body will be created which will take care of the health of Ganga up to 2500 km. The Bill defines Ganga as a national river.
- The bill provides for several restrictions to ensure the continuous ecological flow of the Ganges water. Presently the presence of several dams in the upper part of the Ganges has hindered its passage.
- The proposed bill calls those activities unauthorized due to which there is a deadlock or discontinuity in the flow of Ganga. This includes changing the direction of flow of water or stopping it.
- To comply with this, an Armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC) will be established under the Ministry of Home Affairs and will be deployed by the Ganga Rejuvenation Authority. The GPC will have the right to arrest anyone who pollutes the river or blocks the flow of the river for commercial fisheries.
Criminal activities under the Bill
- Construction activity that impedes the flow of the river.
- Land that is close to the river or its tributaries and from there exploitation of ground water for commercial or industrial benefit.
- Commercial fisheries or aquaculture in the Ganges and its tributaries.
- Treatment of untreated or untreated sewage in the river.
Importance of ecological flow notification
- The construction of dams reduces the availability of water in rivers. This has a negative impact on the natural habitat of the species present in the river route and on the banks. With the implementation of this notification, it will be controlled.
- The availability of water throughout the year in the rivers will lead to development of aquatic ecology as the decrease in the water level of the rivers expands the local non-aquatic species along the river and threatens the survival of aquatic organisms.
- This will develop the food chain and environmental balance present in aquatic ecology.
- This notification will help in conservation of aquatic ecology and biodiversity.
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