Why Uttarakhand Deserves Green Bonus and Ganga Bonus?

Uttarakhand| Green Bonus| Ganga Bonus| Alaknanda| Bhagirathi| Mandakini| Badrinath| Kedarnath| Gangotri 

Uttarakhand deserves both Green Bonus and Ganga Bonus. About 45.43% land in Uttarakhand is covered with forest. The scope for putting up industries, agriculture and other activities is, therefore, limited. Uttarakhand is finding difficult even to make roads because of few trees which need to be cut which is not possible without obtaining permission from Government of India under the Forest Conservation Act. A similar situation has arisen regarding the flow of the Ganga river. Uttarakhand is home to the hill stretches of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini rivers which are the three main tributaries which form the Ganga. These tributaries flows below the Holy Shrines: Alaknanda below Badrinath, Mandakini below Kedarnath and Bhagirathi below Gangotri.

Flow of Main tributaries of Ganga from their holy shrines

 Devprayag| Ganga| Varanasi| Patna| Gangasagar| Prayagraj| Kumbh

 These river brings the spiritual charges from these shrines and these charges combine at Devprayag. They flow as Ganga Downstream to Varanasi, Patna and Gangasagar. The spiritual charges are benifiting not only the people of Uttarakhand but also the crores of the pilgrims who flock to the river at Kumbh at Prayagraj, at festivals at Sultanganj, Gangasagar and so on.

spiritual charges flows from Uttarakhand to Gangasagar

 Uttarakhand| Government of India| Hydropower projects| Spiritual charges

Uttarakhand provides the spiritual charges but, in order to provide these spiritual charges, the Government of India  has put ristriction on construction of hydropower projects on the Ganga. We support the restrictions. The holding of river water behind hydropower projects and passing the river water through turbines will certainly lead to decline in spritual charges.

However, the problem is that Uttarakhand is not able to develop hydropower because it has to supply spiritual charges to rest of the country. So Uttarakhand bears the cost whereas the benefits are reaped by the rest of the country. This is similar to the fact that Uttarakhand conserves the forest and rest of the country benefits from them. Therefore, there is a need for rest of the country to compensate Uttarakhand for the benefits provided by Uttarakhand to the rest of the country. The question is how?

Clean Develop Mechanism| CDM| CDM credits| Gujrat| Forest credits

Uttarakhand government along with other hill states has being demanding Green Bonus but the Government of India has not taken any concrete action on this demand. We feel that the precedent of the Clean Develop Mechanism (CDM), which is now adopted internationally, could be applied to Uttarakhand and the hill states. In the Clean Development Mechanism, an industry which is polluting and emitting carbon dioxide into the air can buy CDM credits from another industry which is using solar or other eco-friendly technologies. The eco-friendly industry sells the CDM credits to the polluting Industries. The eco-friendly industry gains because it is getting money from the CDM credits and the polluting industry loses because it has to pay for the CDM credits. The government of India can create a similar Forest Bonus Mechanism for the country. Let us say that the government of India stipulates that every state should have 20% of forest cover.

 Those states which have forest cover less than 20%, for example Gujarat has the forest cover of 7.52%, so Gujrat should have to pay Forest Credits for balance 12.48% and that money should flow to Uttarakhand which is home to 45.43% of its land under forest. In this manner the forest will give profit to Uttarakhand because it will able to sell the Forest Credits and it will become the cost to Gujrat which will have to buy Forest Credits. Then holding of the forest by Uttarakhand will become benificial for the state.

 Ganga Credits| Uttarakhand| Uttar Pradesh| Bihar| West Bengal| Farakka Barrage

Similarly we can have Ganga credits. Those states that are destroying the Ganga will pay; and those that are maintaining the Ganga will receive Ganga Credits.

Payment of Ganga Credits

  • Every state has to contribute, say, Rs. 5 per person for the maintainence of the Ganga.
  • Uttarakhand by developing certain Hydropower projects.
  • Uttar Pradesh by drawing the water of the Ganga for irrigation.
  • West Bengal by developing the Farakka Barrage and restricting the free flow of the Ganga.

Receipt of Ganga Credits

  • Uttarakhand for the hydropower projects foregone, i.e, the hydropower projects that are not developed on Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini.
  • Bihar should get the money for not using the water of the Ganga.

 Uttarakhand is has foregone cutting of forests and developing hydropower.  Rest of the country should pay Forest Bonus and Ganga Bonus to Uttarakhand because they reap the benefits from the loss borne by Uttarkhand.

Uttarakhand| Tehri Dam| Ganga Bonus| Bihar

It will become profitable for Uttarakhand to remove the Tehri Dam if it is compensated by payment of Ganga Credits

 We can develop an equitable sharing of the cost of maintaining the Ganga. It will then become profitabe for Uttarakhand even decomission the existing dams because if Uttarakhand will remove the Tehri Dam it will get some money through Ganga Bonus. It will become profitable for UP to reduce the water abstraction for irrigation because it will not have to pay for the Ganga Credits.

We need an equitable distribution for both forest and Ganga river.