The lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 crisis has imposed severe concerns on the economy; meanwhile, it is showing some positive developments in the natural environment of India. For example:-Cleaner rivers and fresher air.
-Significant drop in Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
-Animals and birds enjoying their habitats.
-Noticeable improvement in the water quality of the Ganga and Yamuna.
-The sighting of Gangetic Dolphin, an indicator species,becomes frequent during lockdown in Ganga and its tributaries.
By taking the above factors in consideration, on May 1, 2020, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organized an IDEAthon, a webinar on a theme “The future of River Management” to formulate River Management strategies for the future by learning lessons for river management from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown positive impact on rivers.
Urban river management plan: NIUA collaboration with NMCG
As of now, the cities are capitalized on the basis of socio-cultural significance of the river, but this should not be the scenario. Aspecial focus on the river’s ecological & economic importance is also required which can help the city to grow.Also there is a need for inter connectivity of Cities with the River. Concerning this, NIUA collaborated with NMCG in developing the urban river management plan to mainstream River Management in a city’s Urban Planning framework.
- As a part of partnership, NMCG has been developing a template for an Urban River Management Plan with the NIUA.
- NMCG introduced Ganga Quest (an online quiz at gangaquest.com) as one of the initiatives to engage people with knowledge on River Ganga.
- Point to be noted: NMCG is also working with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) of Germany in developing the River Basin Organization and also River Basin Planning and Management Cycle to develop an adaptive framework under Namami Gange for Ganga river basin management.
Namami Gange initiative with respect to COVID-19 Lockdown:
As we all know that in June 2014, Namami Gange programme was initiated by the Union Government with an outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore as one of the largest river rejuvenation programs aimed at ensuring effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the Ganga basin.
- Notably, the river Ganga during lockdown is free from the problems of solid waste dumped on its banks by visitors and also effluents from industries and other commercial establishments.
- Now, to keep this condition similar after lockdown a behavioral change to supplement infrastructure creation is required. Lockdown has shown that the river can be rejuvenated if all of us do the right thing.
Namami Gange and NIUA plan to bring out a policy paper based on the deliberations of the IDEAthon.
During the webinar, the concept of ‘Arth Ganga’ was also elaborated which envisioned by the Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi while chairing the National Ganga Council. Government expenditures on irrigation, flood control and dams, interventions like promotion of organic farming, fisheries, medical plantation, tourism and transportation and biodiversity parks are some of the proven models of Arth Ganga.
- Its focus on promoting religious and adventure tourism on the river to generate sustainable income to clean the Ganga.
The international webinar attended by 500 participants. There were expert panelists from different countries and international organizations.
-Dr. Peter King, Senior Policy Advisor, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Bangkok, Thailand.
-Mr. Micheal Affeldt, Head, Los Angeles (LA) River Works Authority, Los Angeles, USA
-Dr. Alex Smajgl, Managing Director, Mekong Futures Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand
-Dr. Chris Dickens, Principal Researcher Ecosystem, International Water Management Institute
It was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860. It acted as the implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to the constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council). NMGC is chaired by PM of India.
Director General– Rajiv Ranjan Mishra
Supported by– Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Headquarter– New Delhi