Rejuvenating 9 major river systems is need of the hour, Speakers at DPR Workshop

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“Nearly 70% of the rivers are affected by a drastic fall in discharge parameters and water quality parameters. The initiative of MoEF&CC and ICFRE to rejuvenate nine major river systems of India is timely and need of the hour”, said Addl PCCF (CAMPA) Lokesh Jaiswal.

Delivering his welcome address at the stakeholders’ consultation meeting for the preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for rejuvenation of Godavari & Krishna Rivers through Forestry Interventions for Telangana State which was jointly organised by Institute of Forest Biodiversity (IFB) and Institute of Wood Science & Technology (IWST) in collaboration with the Telangana State Forest Department here today.

The Director, IWST, Bangalore Madan Prasad spoke on the genesis of DPR preparation for rejuvenation of rivers, which had its roots in the Namame Ganga project. He stressed on the need for different interventions for different landscapes. He spoke on the challenges of deforestation, extensive agriculture, urban sewerage and their effect on river health.

He informed that a multi-stakeholder consultative approach is followed to prepare the DPRs for rejuvenation of Godavari and Krishna. The riverscape approach and GIS-based multi-criteria analysis to identify and prioritize areas for forestry interventions. Using the parameters of erosion, slope and land use, Krishna riverscape have been categorised into 5 levels, he said.

The Director-General of EPTRI (Environment Protection and Training Research Institute) Munindra suggested that the DPR should include aspects of climate change and effort should be made to update the Biodiversity registers. 

He also complimented the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for taking up the river rejuvenation initiative and expressed his happiness that the stakeholders are getting involved from the very beginning. 

PCCF and HoFF, Telangana State Forest Department Smt. R. Sobha stated that what is needed is “Ananth Van” (Unending Forests), Aviral Dhara (Perpetual Flow) and Nirmal Dhara (Clean water), which are the three ideals which the DPR for Godavari and Krishna rejuvenation should strive to achieve. She called upon all the stakeholders to use this opportunity to provide their valuable inputs for DPR preparation. 

Special Chief Secretary, Environment, Forests Science and Technology, Govt. of Telangana and the Chief Guest for the meeting Rajeshwar Tiwari stressed on the need for water quality improvement. He said that the DPR should recommend sustainable interventions rather than temporary measures, and it should involve all stakeholders. He, also, said that nature provides for all our needs but not for our greed. 

After the inaugural session, three technical sessions followed where the approach to DPR preparation was presented by Dr S. Pattanaik, nodal officer for the Godavari and Dr Nagaraj, a consultant for Krishna rivers. Both the speakers informed that forestry interventions will be devised for three different landscapes, viz., Natural landscape, Agriculture landscape and Urban landscapes, besides soil and moisture conservation, wetland management and wildlife management. Treatment models will encompass Protection, Habitat management, Afforestation, Catchment treatment, Soil and moisture conservation works, ecological restoration of vital riparian forest buffer, Bioremediation, Improved livelihood of forest-dependent communities and forest dwellers and Regulated eco-tourism. 

A multi-criterion analysis based on GIS will be used for the identification of suitable zones for various forestry interventions. The criterion proposed to be used is land use, slope and erosion parameters to specifically identify low, medium and high levels of forestry interventions. HRSI- high-resolution satellite imagery will be used for the identification of priority areas of forestry interventions. Details of priority areas will be provided to the forestry field staff for confirmation on type and areas of interventions. 

The project development phase (DPR preparation) will last one year (2019-20), followed by a five-year implementation phase. Rejuvenation of the river will look into both improving quantity and quality of river discharge adopting a riverscape and multidisciplinary approach.