The Environment Ministry has taken up a new strategy for conservation and rejuvenation of major river water systems, which takes into account the entire river basin.The decision was taken here on Wednesday at a meeting chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, as per a release.The Minister said the new approach was holistic for rejuvenation of rivers, "wherein water management and environment management are taken together for implementation to restore the lost ecology of the polluted stretches of the rivers." He said the current strategy for conservation of rivers was limited only to tackling pollution load from domestic wastewater and regulation of industrial pollution.The Central Pollution Control Board has identified 302 river stretches on 275 rivers in the country as polluted, based on Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand-- a critical parameter of water quality.Harsh Vardhan said that a tentative action plan was drawn up."To begin with, we need to try it out on a few stretches in the country covering sub-basin or catchment area of river," the release quoted him as saying.
He pointed out that independent institutions like IITs would be entrusted with the study for preparation and finalisation of river basin management and rejuvenation plan for nine selected stretches.The Minister said projects to treat sewage into the selected river stretches, which are the most significant polluters, would be taken up immediately and it would be made mandatory."Since enforcement of provisions of the Water Act and Environment (Protection) Act comes under the local bodies in respective states, the Environment Ministry plans to set up a sewage management system with private participation," he said."Some of the other actions include watershed management, construction of small check-dams along the catchment area, scientific assessment of quantum of environmental flow in each stretch, rejuvenation of lakes and wetlands along the river basin and protection of floodplains from encroachment."Harsh Vardhan also took a decision to call a meeting of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal and work out an implementation plan for Ganga river basin, in addition to roping in the resources from Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund.