Inter Linking of Rivers_Shripad, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra_July 16,2014


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What does ILR signify? A look at the core idea behind it, its justification,benefits and issues & problems associated with it.
The author would like to thank UNESCO-IHE for the use of a few slides.

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  • MoWR affidavit said completion of the link projects ultimately will be by the year 2035 in respect of Peninsular Link Project and 2043 regarding Himalayan Link Project. / ILR in supreme court, in Other ILR Matters, NWDA
  • It is possible to describe flow regime in terms of five states or environmental flow components:
    Extreme low flows, Low flows, High flow pulses, Small floods and Large floods
    The health and integrity of river systems ultimately depend on these components, which may vary seasonally (Mathews and Richter, 2007). These components have repeatedly been considered as ecologically important in a broad spectrum of hydro-climatic regions and help in organising the information for the environmental flow assessments.
    The Environmental Flow Components do not have strict definitions and they grade into one another. In practice, statistical criteria are used (eg software IHA), but these should be verified.

  • This conceptual figure developed by Bunn and Arthington (2002) organizes the ecological functions of flow into four principles.

    Principle 1 considers the importance of flow as a major determinant of physical habitat in streams and resultant biotic diversity and composition. This begins with determining the shape and size of rivers (river form), the complexity of habitats and disturbance regime.

    Principle 2 considers the many ways in which life histories of aquatic and riparian organisms are adapted to natural flow regimes. The timing, magnitude, frequency, and duration of a given flow influences growth strategies and changes in flow often serve as cues for the beginning or end of stages in an organisms life history. Rates of flow changes also exert strong influences, especially with regard to necessary growth rates of aquatic plants and animals.

    Principle 3 considers the importance of given flows to maintain lateral and longitudinal connectivity in river corridors. This is especially important for organisms that migrate during their life history, either upstream and downstream or into adjacent floodplains. Connectivity is often lost when rivers are regulated by dams, dikes, and other infrastructural control measures.

    Principle 4 considers that alterations to natural flow regimes often advantage invasive species, allowing them to out-compete native species that are disadvantaged by modified habitats, losses in connectivity, and disruptions to annual cycles of flow variability.

    These principles are further clarified in the following slides.

    Bunn, S. E. and A. H. Arthington (2002). "Basic principles and ecological consequences of altered flow regimes for aquatic biodiversity." Environmental Management 30(4): 492-507.
  • Inter Linking of Rivers_Shripad, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra_July 16,2014

    1. 1. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra Image: Wikimedia Commons
    2. 2. Core Idea  Transfer of “surplus” water from one basin to another “deficit” basin  Transfer from “flooded” rivers to those with “drought and scarcity” Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    3. 3. Rationale and Justification  Need to irrigate 160 m ha for food self sufficiency by 2050, but assessed potential from conventional sources 140 m ha  Floods in one part of the country, droughts in other  Reduction of regional imbalances Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    4. 4. Benefits  Additional irrigation of 25 m ha from surface and 10 m ha from groundwater  34,000 MW of hydropower  Host of other benefits Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    5. 5. The ILR Plans Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Inter Linking of Rivers  Formal name – National Perspective Plan  16 links in Peninsular India  14 links in Himalayan region, several transboundary  Plus, many intra-state links
    6. 6. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Source: NWDA
    7. 7. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Source: NWDA
    8. 8.  Polavaram  Par Tapi Narmada  Ken Betwa  Parbati Kalisindh Chambal Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Some Active ILR Projects
    9. 9. Time Line  Idea of national water grid Dr. K.L Rao (then irrigation Minister), 1972  Garland Canal, Capt. Dastur 1977  Both rejected as “economically prohibitive and “technically infeasible”  MoWR and CWC in 1980 formulated the NPP  Supreme Court order to expedite ILR 2002, complete by 10 years  Supreme Court order of 27 Feb 2012, constitution of a “Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers” headed by Minister, WR Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    10. 10. Not a new thing Many earlier attempts  Periyar Project  Parambikulam Aliyar  Beas Sutluj Link  Narmada – Sabarmati ! Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Map by: Rehmat/Manthan
    11. 11. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    12. 12. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    13. 13. Issues and Problems  Notion of surplus and deficit problematic  Lack of recognition that different water flows represent different ecological systems  E-flows becoming a major issue in all river basins, e-flows show that current notion of surplus is limited and wrong understanding  A little digression… Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    14. 14. E-flows: Some Concepts Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 “The full range of natural intra- and inter-annual variation in hydrologic regimes, and associated characteristics of timing, duration, frequency, and rate of change, are critical in sustaining the full native biodiversity and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.” (Poff et al. 1997) Flow variation is the characteristic and all important parameter in defining river ecology, livlihoods and lives
    15. 15. 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 19 87- 88 19 88- 89 19 89- 90 19 90- 91 19 91- 92 19 92- 93 Cumecs Ten Day Flows at Demwe Lower Site, Lohit River 1987 to 1992 Flow in Lohit River Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    16. 16. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Mahanadi, Just Below Hasdeo Sangam
    17. 17. Components of the flow regime (Mathews and Richter, 2007)
    18. 18. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Brahmaputra Plains
    19. 19. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014 Hasdeo River, Tributary of Mahanadi
    20. 20. Ecological functions of flow Channel form Habitat complexity Patch disturbance Biotic diversity Principle 1 Life history patterns • Flowers & seeds • Growth strategy Principle 2 Lateral connectivity Longitudinal connectivity Principle 3 Natural regime discourages invasions Principle 4 Time Discharge Bunn & Arthington 2002 Environmental Flows20
    21. 21. Issues and Problems Apart from a mistaken notion of surplus  No proper definition of surplus or deficit  Surplus estimated based only on irrigation, water supply and hydropower needs  Needs of river, ecology, community, livelihoods not considered  Irrigation needs (maximum possible irrigation) assessed only on basis of large dams systems  Decentralised, rainwater harvesting potential not considered Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014
    22. 22. Issues and Problems  Many dams, canals, tunnels  SANDRP estimates at least 78 dams and barrages  Huge social and environmental impacts  Particularly downstream impacts, displacement  Very high lifts, up to 120 m  Huge financial costs 340,000 crore Himalayan, 103,000 crore Peninsular, at 2003-04 prices  Interstate issues as many rivers are multi-state  International issues – ILR requires dams in Nepal, Bhutan  Diverting attention from real solutions Manthan Adhyayan Kendra July 17, 2014