Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
Prelims and Mains focus: about the issue and e-flow norms; about CWC, its functions
News: Over a year after the government made it mandatory for hydro power projects on the upper reaches of the river Ganga’s tributaries to release minimum quantities of water through the year, 4 of the 11 projects are flouting norms, says a report by the Central Water Commission (CWC).
The Centre’s e-flow notification came into effect last October and gave companies three years to modify their design plans, if required, to ensure that a minimum amount of water flowed during all seasons. Power producers generally hoard water to create reserves to increase power production.
In September 2019, the government advanced this deadline, from October 2021 to December 2019. This was after the CWC undertook field visits to hydro power sites and reported that most of the power projects could begin implementing the norms right away and didn’t need three years.
What are these norms?
The ecological flow, or e-flow notification as it is called, specifies that the upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain: 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.
The CWC is tasked with measuring the flow and ensuring that plants comply with the law.
Violating the e-flow norms can mean closure of the project or a hefty fine but the government isn’t contemplating such action yet.
About the Central Water Commission (CWC)
Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
CWC is headed by a Chairman, with the status of Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India.
The work of the Commission is divided among 3 wings namely,
Designs and Research (D&R)Wing,
River Management (RM) Wing and
Water Planning and Projects (WP&P) Wing.
Each wing is placed under the charge of a full-time Member with the status of Ex-Officio Additional Secretary to the Government of India and comprising of number of Organizations responsible for the disposal of tasks and duties falling within their assigned scope of functions.
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