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Saturday, June 9, 2012

‘Management systems required for rivers’

Dehradun, June 8
Himmotthan Society, Dehradun, in assistance with International Rivers, USA, and the WWF-India, organised a workshop on ‘Environmental Flows’ in Dehradun today.
Welcoming the participants, Dr Malavika Chauhan, Executive Director, Himmotthan Society, said the workshop had been organised to understand the science and politics of environmental flows, because it is being currently used in environmental decision making on rivers in the country.
Dr Ravi Chopra of the People’s Science Institute, Dehradun, began by examining the history of river conservation through Kashyap’s principles. Dr Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala, spoke about the necessity of environmental flows. She exhorted the participants to consider the cumulative aspect of the many interventions planned across the rivers of India. Parineeta Dandekar from South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), spoke of the various environmental flow assessment methods in vogue today. She suggested that free-flowing rivers and controlled rivers require separate management systems.
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature-India (WWF) conducted an environmental flows assessment of the upper stretch of the Ganga. This experience was shared by Nitin Kaushal and Suresh Babu of the WWF. They explained the method used, the recommendations, and the lessons learnt from that process.
The post-lunch session included discussions on the impacts of dams in the Himalayas. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP explained that the cumulative impact of a stretch of dams is more that the sum of the impact of each dam taken singly. When impact assessments are done for individual dams, citizens lose sight of the fact that taken together, all the dams imply the death of the basins they are located in. However, the cumulative impact assessments as done today do not solve the problem, Thakkar pointed out.
Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala discussed the cumulative impact assessment of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity in Alakananda and Bhagirathi basins conducted by Wild Life Institute of India. The difference between a true cumulative impact assessment that looks at the basin as a whole, and a joint report of a series of individual project reports was also highlighted.

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