Reviving floodplains, Reviving the Yamuna River, India


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This presentation discusses how floodplains provide important ecological services to people living around the Yamuna River in India and why it is necessary to prtect and restore them in stead of embanking them for agriculture or construction.

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Reviving floodplains, Reviving the Yamuna River, India

  1. 1. Reviving floodplains , Reviving Yamuna Ritesh Kumar Wetlands International – South Asia
  2. 2. Based on the outcomes of a research project on assessing hydrological and ecological characteristics of River Yamuna floodplains , funded by National River Conservation Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Forests, implemented during 2004 – 06 Detailed Report and Published Findings available on request to
  3. 3. Floodplains in Delhi Palla • Floodplain is a narrow strip braided by bunds extending to 94.84 sq km (incl. river channel 19.31 sq km) • Forests and agriculture are the dominant land uses covering more than 90% Bhalsava Lake Wazirabad Barrage • 45 water bodies including lakes, pools, ponds and puddles etc. ITO Barrage identified play important role in Sanjay Lake biodiversity • Aquatic vegetation spread all Okhla Barrage across the floodplain particularly in Okhla is of significant ecological importance Jaitpur
  4. 4. Barrages reduce connectivity ! • Flow regimes are essentially controlled by three barrages leading to delineation of four zones within the river stretch. • Hydrologically theses zones function as separate entities within the river stretch, except during monsoon. • More than 75% of precipitation occurs during June to September which is critical to inundation of floodplain area
  5. 5. Inflows into river channels (6244 MCM) Floodplain aquifer Evaporaspiration (1,140 MCM) recharge Hindon (866 MCM) cut Sewage from (473 MCM) drains Wazirabad Catchment (767 MCM) Barrage d/s runoff discharge (772 MCM) Okhla Barrage D/S Discharge (2,834 MCM) (4,232 MCM) Agriculture (2,080 MCM) Yamuna Barrage Power Generation (266 MCM) Outflows from stretch Wazirabad Barrage (6,320 MCM) Abstraction from floodplain aquifers (942 MCM) Floodplain is a net groundwater recharge zone
  6. 6. Floodplains are full of life in various forms Vegetation 69 species 55% aquatic and 45 % for terrestrial Benthos 54 species 50% Insecta ,28% Mollusca and 22 % for Annelida Zooplankton 40 species 45% Rotifera, 42.5% Cladocera and 12.5 % Copepoda 6 coexisting species of Brachinous Phytoplankton 76 species 49.4% Chlorophyceae, 22% Bacillariophyceae, 16.9% Cyanophyceae, 6.5% Chrysophyceae, 3.9% Euglenophyceae, and 1.3% Dinophyceae. Fish 35 species Carps ,Murrels, Cat fishes and Minnows were recorded Avifauna 131 species Ducks, Waders, Rails and Cracks
  7. 7. Functioning floodplains, higher diversity 140 Macrophytes Benthos Zooplankton 120 Phytoplankton Stress Zone Fishes 100 Avifauna 80 60 40 20 0 Jhangola Wazirabad Wazirabad ITO ITO Okhla Okhla Upstream Downstream Upstream Downstream Upstream Downstream
  8. 8. Floodplains sustain riverine fisheries • Hardy and tolerant fish species found in the river stretch except in upstream of Wazirabad barrage where still major and minor carps are found • Floodplain lakes and ponds play a significant role as breeding and spawning grounds of riverine fish species and their restocking into the system
  9. 9. Recommendations Recognition of floodplains as ecologically fragile area under appropriate legal provisions considering its importance in recharging aquifers, improvization of water quality, and maintenance of biodiversity Delineation of floodplain for the entire river stretch highlighting their critical role Regulating land use changes to prevent fragmentation of floodplain habitats Integrating conservation and wise use of floodplain as an integral component of Yamuna Action Plan
  10. 10. Recommendations Environmental Flow Assessment for allocating water for developmental activities and ecosystem conservation Assessment of water demand for human and ecological purposes Minimum water flows should be based on ecological requirements of floodplains to harness the benefits accrued through their natural functioning Development of water allocation scenarios linking ecological, hydrological, and socio economic aspects. Ranking options for decision making using economic valuation techniques Barrage operation policies to be developed involving concerned stakeholders considering upstream downstream impacts
  11. 11. Recommendations Utilization of floodplain wetlands for treatment of diffused sources of pollution Promote development of vegetational belts in the floodplain area for improvizing water quality and enhancement of biodiversity Use of floodplain area to augment treatment of pollution from diffused sources. Operationalize test projects at Kailash Colony and Sonia Vihar in collaboration with MCD and other agencies
  12. 12. Recommendations Ecotourism Development Regeneration of floodplain area by aquatic / semi aquatic species to promote waterbird diversity and population Development of wetland interpretation center at Okhla Bird Sanctuary for communication, education and awareness generation Economic incentives to local communities through conservation and wise use of floodplain area
  13. 13. Recommendations Monitoring and Evaluation Integration of ecological indicators developed in the monitoring protocols Periodic evaluation to assess the efficacy of interventions using both water quality and biological parameters