Unsolved Secrets of Environmental Flows?

Hydropower Project| Dam| Barrage| River Bed| Water Release| Winter| Monsoon| Minimum Water Release

A hydropower project blocks the flow of the water. Often times not a drop of water is released from dam leading to stretch below the dam becoming totally dry as you can see in this picture of Vishnu Prayag Dam.

Vishnuprayag Dam in Alaknanda River

The government was seized of this problem and it has notified that all hydropower projects will release 20-30% water as environmental flows. 20-30% means that during winter when the total amount of water is less they will release minimum 20% and during monsoons when the total amount is more they will release minimum 30%. So 20 to 30 means both are minimum amounts to be released in different seasons.

Notification by Government on Release of Water

IIT Consortium| Environmental Flow| Ministry of Jal Shakti| National Mission for Clean Ganga| Ganga River| Central Water Commission|

Are these figures reasonable? The consortium of 7 IIT’s had recommended in 2015 that 20-56% water should be released as minimum environment flows i.e. during the monsoons for certain projects minimum 56% water should be released. Then subsequently the Central Water Commission, which is a unit of Ministry of Jal Shakti, constituted a committee which recommended that 20-30% water should be sufficient i.e. this committee has reduced the minimum amount of water to be released during monsoon period form 56% to 30%. Then, the ‘National Mission for Clean Ganga,’ (NMCG) which is a unit of Ministry of Jal Shakti, came up with another report in 2018 which said that 20-56% water should be released. It endorsed the earlier recommendations of the IIT consortium.

So we have three recommendations. IIT Consortium recommended 20-56%, Central Water Commission of Ministry of Jal Shakti recommended 20-30% and NMCG of the Ministry of Jal Shakti recommended 20-56%. Yet the ministry of Jal Shakti ignored the recommendation of its own National Mission for Clean Ganga and adopted the recommendations of Central Water Commission which specified the lowest e-flows of 20-30% among the three studies. So it is clear that the Ministry of Jal Shakti is being driven by some external forces which are not necessarily in the favour of Ganga.

Minimum Water Release Suggested by Three Committees


International Water Management Institute| Srilanka| World Wildlife Fund| IIT Delhi| National Institute of Hydrology Roorkee|

Most importantly the report of Central Water Commission which was relied upon the Ministry of Jal Shakti and has given the details of e-flows recommended by about 5 studies which have recommended about 20-30% release of water. But they did not mention two very important reports which recommended higher amounts of e-flows to be released.

IWMI Report  

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a multilateral institute located in Sri Lanka in which Government of India is also a partner. The IWMI has recommended release of 67% water if Ganga is to be considered of A category, 44% if it is considered to be of B category and 28% if it is to be considered of C category. Another report by the World Wildlife Fund has recommended that 72% of water should be released. The CWC ignored these reports which give higher recommendations for release of water.

A K Gosain| S K Jain| Conflict of Interest| Credibility

As said above, the Central Water Commission had made a Committee of three persons to suggest the environmental flows. Two of these were Professor A K Gosain of IIT Delhi and Dr S K Jain, who is Director of National Institute of Hydrology. These two persons were also members of the IIT Consortium which recommended 20-56% water to be released. They were also members of the CWC committee which recommended 20-30% water to be released. In other words they sat in judgment over their own study and reduced the water to be released from 56% to 30%. We have studied both their reports and we find that they have not given any cogent reasons for such a reduction.  So the academic integrity of these two scientists is very much questionable.

Therefore we suggest that the Ministry of Human Resources should take strict action against these scientists and Ministry of Jal Shakti should adopt the environmental flows recommended by the  IIT consortium or the NMCG and not rely upon the CWC report which lacks credibility because two of the three scientists have reduced their own recommendations without any cogent reasons.

For Related Video Click Here