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Posted at: Jul 23, 2019, 7:47 AM; last updated: Jul 23, 2019, 7:47 AM (IST)

INTACH identifying eco-zones along Ganga: Expert

INTACH identifying eco-zones along Ganga: Expert
Dr Ritu Singh, Director (Programmes), INTACH Natural Heritage Division, is working with the National Mission on Cleaning Ganga to revive the river and its catchment area. Tribune photo

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 22

While the revival of the overexploited aquifers of the country is a major concern for all environmentalists, the hope lies in protecting available resources of water and conservation of existing water bodies and glaciers which are their suppliers.

Dr Ritu Singh, Director (programmes), INTACH Natural Heritage Division, who is working with the National Mission on Cleaning Ganga to revive the river and its catchment area, shared her insights on water conservation in the NCR and the Ganga plain region here today.

In a conversation with The Tribune on the sidelines of an event held to address the issues of water conservation and sustainable agriculture, she spoke about the urgent need to revive languishing water bodies in the country and conservation efforts for lakes and ponds across Delhi. Excerpts from the conversation:

You are working with government on the plan to revive the Ganga. What is the major plan?

On both sides of the Gaumukh to Ganga Sagar zone there is a huge wealth of natural heritage. We are identifying ponds, ox-bow lakes, eco-sensitive zones and bio-diversity areas which have rare animal birds and plant species. Our work is to first get them identified and then earmarked as special zones. While the care of already protected or earmarked zones is easier, it is trickier when a certain zone isn’t even identified as eco-sensitive or special bio-diversity zone. One of the main projects which the Natural Heritage Division is teaming up with the government on, is the identification and then earmarking of zones across the stretch of the Ganga which may be under imminent threat of falling under the agricultural use.

Except Gangotri region which other areas along the Ganga is INTACH working on?

From the INTACH team similar efforts are also on across the entire length of the Ganga — Allahabad, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Uttarakhand, all the way to Bengal. The idea is to first revive the tributaries which would eventually strengthen the river’s revival. We are also working on the revival of the Hindon river in the NCR and the expanded region as well as the Asi river in Varanasi. Varanasi gets its name from the Varuna and Asi rivers. Asi is currently a nullah. It needs a major revival.

What are the major challenges in the revival of the Ganga?

Retaining the flow of the river is imperative for its revival. For that, two things have to be done. While agricultural process has to be made sustainable to aide the flow of the river, than hinder it. And for that recharge and reuse of groundwater should be the integral elements. INTACH has special working groups – one of them dedicatedly attached to promote sustainable farming along the Hindon. These eventually aide river revival and are connected. Secondly, the traditional STP and engineering modes to revive rivers have been working for ages. A natural, ecological solution has to be sought as the previous model isn’t helping matters.

How bad is the water crisis in Delhi and what are INTACH’s key projects there?

The water situation in Delhi is bad. All zones are overexploited and major efforts need to be made in its aquifers. We are working with the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Jal Board on a blueprint for water harvesting in the city. Work is also on the revival of the four lakes in Delhi, including Hauz Khas lake, Tikri Kund and a six-hectare lake in North Delhi.

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