National Workshop on

Conservation of Rivers and Floodplains in India

New Delhi, 23-24 November 2001


The participants of the National Workshop on the Conservation of Rivers and Floodplains in India (held in New Delhi during 23-24 November 2001), call upon the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India,

1. To treat all rivers, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, etc. as integrated components of a river basin, and to develop a mechanism for coordination between all programmes for their conservation and management;

2. To take necessary actions to ensure adequate flow in rivers for maintaining their ecological integrity, water quality and biodiversity;

3. To regulate the abstraction of river/surface water for various uses (including agriculture, industry and domestic supplies) in consonance with the hydrological conditions of the river basin and in a manner that under no circumstances the abstraction exceeds a maximum prescribed proportion of the total flow;

4. To ensure return flow of adequate quality by promoting sustainable land use, and recycling and reuse of wastewater;

5. 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);

6. To declare certain rivers and/or their reaches as "National-Heritage Rivers" and restore them;

7. To initiate measures, on highest priority, for the conservation and restoration of floodplains, and protection of upper watersheds of rivers throughout the country;

8. To establish a network of Protected Areas of River Systems for the conservation of riverine biodiversity;

9. To establish a National Institute for Inland Waters for research on inland surface waters, focusing especially on rivers and lakes;

10. To set up a National Authority for the Conservation and Restoration of Inland Waters which should coordinate between various ministries and departments, and function under the NRCA.

11. To coordinate with the Ministry for Urban Development and other concerned ministries and Departments to take measures on priority to decentralise treatment of domestic sewage by requiring the housing boards, housing societies, builders, etc. to treat domestic sewage at their end and to recycle treated water;

12. To promote alternate energy-efficient technologies for wastewater treatment (e.g., root zone./ constructed wetlands) that will help reduce costs of both capital and O&M.

13. To promote and support research on river-floodplain systems in the following areas of priority for achieving the goals of river conservation: A. adequate flow in various rivers/ stretches of rivers, B. hydrology of rivers in relation to their ecological functioning, C. river-floodplain interactions, emphasising nutrient dynamics, D. biological diversity of freshwater ecosystems, E. relationships between groundwater and river flows, F. biologicaVecological integrity of rivers, monitoring and assessment

14. To establish an ENVIS Center exclusively for inland surface waters;

15. To promote and support socio-economic studies of communities dependent upon rivers (including floodplains) and lakes;

16. To promote and support detailed studies on Ecological Economics, particularly of river-floodplain systems emphasizing water quality, biodiversity and natural resources, and

17. To promote Education and Awareness about river-floodplain systems. Year 2002 is the Year of Mountains. India must focus on mountain rivers. Similarly, Year 2003, the International Year for Water, should be observed in India by the MOEF as the Year of Flowing Waters.

18. To adopt a Vision Statement (motto) of the National River Conservation Directorate to reflect a holistic integrated approach to the conservation of rivers and other inland surface waters; (suggestion: Ensuring ecological integrity of inland waters for sustainable development)