Projects Undertaken

Assessment and Socio-Economic Valuation of the Impacts of Irrigational Water Use on the Ecosystem Services of Rivers and Wetlands in Shivna River Basin, Aurangabad

Duration: September 2011-February 2012
Funded by: WWF-India

Rivers and associated wetlands in the river basin provide many ecosystem services of which the provision for water is only one. In recent decades, the water is being increasingly diverted through storage and abstraction for irrigation and urban/industrial supplies. This human use of water has drastically altered the river flows and has affected adversely all other ecosystem services of the rivers and wetlands. Some of the most obvious consequences are witnessed in the degradation of water quality, decline in ground water tables, loss of fisheries and floodplain resources, decline or total loss of biodiversity, spread of invasive species and diseases, and the loss of recreational, social-cultural and aesthetic values of the rivers and wetlands. These changes in turn impact the socio-economic fabric and livelihoods of the local communities, particularly the weaker sections which are largely dependent upon these ecosystem services of rivers and wetlands.

The planners and decision makers have so far ignored the values of these ecosystem services in their cost-benefit analysis of the irrigational and other human uses of water. Recognising that a reduction in the amount of water provided for irrigation (and other human uses) may decrease the agricultural production (IF the water use efficiency cannot be enhanced), such losses have to be evaluated against the benefits accruing from the ecosystem services in the long-term keeping in view the goals of sustainability.

An example of over-abstraction of water from the rivers is in the Shivna River basin. River shivna is the largest tributary of River Godavari in district Aurangabad (Maharashtra). It joins River Godavari upstream of the Jayakwadi dam (Nathsagar reservoir) that was built in 1965. From its source near Kannad on the border between Tapti and Godavari catchments in Aurangabad district, the river flows southwest, then south and then southeast to discharge into the Nathsagar reservoir (Jayakwadi dam) near Gangapur. There are about a dozen large water storages on the river Shivna and more than 50 smaller dams are in different stages of construction or are planned. Obviously, this seasonal river is heavily stressed and its flow has been greatly compromised. It is only to be expected that the wetlands of the river basin have been degraded, their biodiversity affected and above all the ecosystem services have been lost or severely affected.

The Proposed Study

Based on the available information on the surface and ground water resources of the river basin and their current agricultural and other use, the proposed study aims at an assessment of (a) the extent and distribution of wetlands in the river basin, (b) the biophysical attributes of these wetlands, (c) the major ecosystem services (other than the provision of water) provided by the river and associated wetlands, and (d) the impacts of agricultural water use on the ecosystem services.

Methodology: It includes:

a. Extensive field survey in the river basin, coupled with analysis of available information from different sources, studies, maps, etc. to identify the wetlands and their major characteristics, and to select representative wetlands for detailed study;
b. Detailed analysis of the biophysical (including hydrological) characteristics of selected wetlands;
c. Socio-economic survey of representative areas to assess the views of the local communities on the ecosystem services of the river and wetlands (both natural and man-made), their assessment of changes with increasing agricultural water use, and their preference between benefits from agricultural use and other ecosystem services as well as their willingness to provide river flows for ecosystem services (i.e., environmental flows);
d. Economic valuation of the ecosystem services employing relevant tools of ecological economics

An attempt will be made to assess the Environmental Flow requirements in Shivna river, and based on the inputs from the community survey and the economic valuation of goods and services, suggestions will be made for policy interventions for overall and equitable, socially acceptable, water management for wetland conservation, water flow and quality as well as human needs


Baseline Studies of the Tons River Upper Catchment for Conservation of River Yamuna with Reference to Potential for Improvement of River Flow

The Ministry of of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, has undertaken the above noted project involving the National Institute of Ecology (NIE), New Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), Dehradun. The studies will be monitored regularly by a Committee chaired by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests. The studies by the NIE will cover biological, hydrological, and ecological phpects of both the terrestrial and aquatic systems in the study area that lies in the Himalaya at an altitude of 2000 to 4000 m. The IIRS will map the forest and land degradation in the area on 1:25000 scale using remote sensing and GIS.

The NIE has been asked to implement and coordinate these studies with the IIRS, Dept of Forests and other concerned departments and institutions of the Government of Uttaranchal, and then to prepare a Detailed Project Report for the rehabilitation of the upper watershed of river Tons. The entire project will be centrally funded, implemented by the State Government and monitored by the NIE over the next 4 years.

The project is the FIRST of its kind in India whereby the catchment scale rehabilitation will be attempted in order to improve river hydrological regime and water quality.

Protected Area Management for Hawf (Republic of Yemen)

The World Bank funded Project under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the Ministry of Environment and Water, Republic of Yemen was executed by the Consulting Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, jointly with the National Institute of Ecology and Ghayth Aquatech Ltd, Sanaa (Yemen) during July 2003 to September 2004.

The Project involved a detailed survey of biodiversity of a 90 sq. km area of dry deciduous monsoonal forest in the eastern part of Yemen bordering the Sultanate of Oman, socio-economic analysis of the local communities, and the preparation of a Protected Area Management Plan that included a Biodiversity Conservation and Management Plan and a Community-Based Natural Resources Management Plan, besides organising several workshops and training programs for various stakeholders.

A summary of the Project Report will be posted here soon.

Identification and Prioritization of Lakes for Conservation and Restoration under the National Lake Conservation Plan

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India, invited the NIE in August 2003 to conduct a rapid survey of Indian lakes and submit a Report identifying lakes in the country, in order of priority, for conservation and restoration under the National lake Conservation Plan (NLCP). The Report was submitted within a record period of two months. It developed a Lake Conservation Index based on a number of criteria and subcriteria for prioritizing the lakes. The report identified tentatively, based on very limited published information, about 65 lakes out of a list of more than 1800 waterbodies in the country.

It is heartening that the MOEF has accepted the Report in principle. It has also circulated the list to all the State Governments asking their Chief Secretaries to prepare similar inventories and prioritised lists of lakes for support under the NLCP. The Ministry also circulated a proforma prepared by the NIE for collecting basic information about each lake in order to develop and refine the Lake Conservation Index further.

A summary of the Report will be posted here soon.

Background Document for the Proposed River Regulation Zone

A National Workshop on “Conservation of Rivers and Floodplains in India” organised by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in New Delhi, during 23-24 November 2001, urged the MOEF

“to take necessary steps towards issuing a notification under the Environment Protection Act, to protect river floodplains, and areas surrounding all inland water bodies, from uncontrolled anthropogenic activities (tentatively called as River Regulation Zone notification)”.

A Committee set up by the MOEF to examine various issues, has asked the National Institute of Ecology to prepare this Background Document.. The Document, to be prepared within four months, will form the basis for further discussion within the MOEF and later at an inter-Ministerial meeting. The National Institute of Ecology is proud to be associated with this national activity.

We thank the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the recognition..

It is expected that the National Institute of Ecology will also be associated with the implementation of another resolution concerning “the conservation and restoration of floodplains, and protection of upper watersheds of rivers”. Plans are being prepared to undertake Pilot-scale Demonstration Projects in the upper watersheds of several rivers, especially River Yamuna.

Integrated Management of Water Resources of Lake Nainital and its Watershed: An Environmental Economics Approach

The abovenamed 18-month project is funded by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai, through the Environmental Economics Research Committee (EERC), under the World Bank-aided Environment Management Capacity Building Project (EMCaB). The project originally submitted by the NIE, was being executed by the Kumaon University, Nainital (Uttaranchal), in collaboration with the NIE.

Prof. S.P. Singh (Nainital), former Joint Secretary, NIE, was the Principal Investigator, and Dr Brij Gopal (Delhi), Secretary General, NIE) was the Co-PI.

Dr Malavika Chauhan was associated as the Research Scientist. Dr Vinish Kathuria (IEG, Delhi) was the economist associated with the project.

Prof. Kanchan Chopra (IEG, Delhi) and Prof. D.K. Marothia, Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, Raipur) are associated as Consultants.