NEW DELHI: With a panel report on the environmental flow (e-flow) of rivers still pending, the Union Water Ministry has asked the Central Water Commission (CWC) not to approve any new dam or barrage so as to ensure the survival of rivers.
Ministry of Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar had on August 25 written to Central Water Commission Chairman A B Pandya that Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharti had directed the same. An expert panel has been studying the impact of existing and proposed dams on the flow of rivers and the report will decide fate of dams.
The Central Water Commission conducts techno-economic appraisal of dams and studies on whether there is enough water or not, whether there is an inter-state dispute regarding the project or not and other issues. These reports reach the CWC before it can seek environmental clearance. He stated that the environmental flow (e-flow) in rivers was a necessity for the survival of a river, for it to perform its ecological functions and also to ensure that the cultural dependence a community has on the river is maintained, Shekhar said adding that unfortunately, in the past, structures like dams and barrages were designed without factoring in e-flow.
“In the process, not only have the rivers become fragmented, but most of the floral and faunal species have become extinct. There are certain stretches where a river has become completely dry,” said the letter.
According to the water secretary, a river is a very active ecological entity, which supports a large number of activities that includes recharging of a large number of aquifers that provide drinking water and other needs of the community, supports floral and faunal lives unique to each habitat, supports rich bio-diversity and carry silt to the sea. Considering the above, he said: “I have been directed by Minister Uma Bharti to convey to you that no dam or barrage be designed or approved by the Central Water Commission without factoring in adequate e-flow and also ensure that the rivers longitudinal and latitudinal connectivity is maintained.”
NCP Eyes Water from Tata Dam
Mumbai: As half of Maharashtra reels under acute water shortage, the NCP wants the Tata Group to make water from its private dam available for public use. NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the party believed that Tata Group’s dam at Mulshi in Pune would help lakhs of people from Pune, Solapur and Osmanabad overcome the water shortage. This is the area in western Maharashtra where the NCP has not yet been rooted out.