River Ganga Current Affairs - 2020

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River Ganga drying up in summers due to groundwater depletion: Study

According to recent study conducted by IIT-Kharagpur, River Ganga has witnessed unprecedented low levels of water in several lower reaches in last few summer seasons. The study was carried out under IIT-KGP Science and Heritage Initiative (SANDHI) Initiative, which focuses on river systems and its relationship with settlement system. It had used combination of satellite images of groundwater levels of Ganga, numerical simulations and chemical analyses to draw the conclusion.

Highlights of Study

Drying of Ganga River in recent years during summer seasons is possibly related to groundwater depletion in Gangetic aquifers. The decline of groundwater inflow (base flow) is also impacting health of river. Present day base flow to Ganga from adjoining aquifers may be third or more of total river water volume in pre-monsoon months. The base flow might have dipped by 50% from beginning of irrigation-pumping phase in 1970s. In forthcoming summers, for next 30 years, groundwater contribution to river Ganga will continue decreasing. This trend can lead to disastrous effect on riverine ecology and lead to food scarcity for 115 million people in Ganga basin.

Significance of Study: It is of interest to hydrology, global change community and policymakers. It can help general public understand wider implications of groundwater depletion.  It also brings out scientific reasons for the decreased flows of the river Ganga, especially in the lower reaches. The findings will be extremely helpful in providing quantitative data for future planning of water resources projects in Ganga basin.

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CCEA approves implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project on NW-1

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on 1,380-km Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW1) on Ganga River.

The project will be implemented at a cost of over Rs. 5,370 crore rupees with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank. It is expected to be completed by March, 2023.

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

JMVP was announced by Government in 2014-15 Budget to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the Ganga river. The project envisages the development of waterway between Allahabad and Haldia on Ganga River that will cover a distance of 1620 km.

The project covers Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The major districts under its ambit are Varanasi, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chhapra, Buxar, Patna, Vaishali, Khagaria, Begusarai, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Murshidabad, Pakur, Hooghly and Kolkata.

The project aims to develop a fairway with three metres depth to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the river. It also includes the development of fairway, multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS) etc.

The World Bank has provided technical assistance and financial support to the project. Besides, WB’s lending arm International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) will provide loan of Rs 2, 512 crore for the project. Union government provide Rs 2,556 crore from budgetary allocation and proceeds from bond issue. Moreover, private sector participation under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode will provide Rs.301 crore.

Major Impact

Development and operations of NW1 will provide alternative mode of environment friendly and cost effective transport mode. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country and reduce traffic burden and congestion on roads and railways. It will result into mammoth infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids. It will also give impetus to socio-economic development and result in employment generation.

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