The Centre on Monday unveiled a Rs 19,000-crore proposal to rejuvenate 13 major river systems – including Cauvery and Krishna – by large-scale plantation of various types of trees in the river basins and maintain them throughout the year with active support from the state forest departments.
Besides the two Karnataka watercourses, other rivers to be covered under the mega scheme are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Luni, Narmada, Godavari and Mahanadi.
The Cauvery component of the rejuvenation scheme outlined by the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education, Dehradun is to cost Rs 3,069 crore whereas the proposed budget for the Krishna component would be Rs 2,327 crore.
The entire proposal – to be funded by the National Afforestatiton and Eco-development Board under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest – would cost Rs 19,342 crore.
“The projects will alleviate growing water stress and help achieve national goals related to climate change and sustainable development,” Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said, releasing the DPRs. The Centre will fund the entire programme that would be executed by the states.
The rivers cover a total basin area of 18,90,110 square km, representing 57.45% of India’s geographical area. The length of the 13 rivers including 202 tributaries within the delineated riverscapes is 42,830 km.
According to the ICFRE plan, different types of forestry interventions - natural landscape, agricultural landscape and urban landscape - have been proposed in the river basins.
The different models of forestry plantations including timber species, medicinal plants, grasses, shrubs and fuel fodder and fruit trees are aimed to augment water, ground water recharge and contain erosion.
The plans, if executed, will play an important role in achieving India’s international commitments such as the forestry sector goal of creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 under the Paris Agreement of UNFCCC.
It would also lead to restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030 as a land degradation neutrality target under UNCCD, halt the biodiversity loss by 2030 under CBD and Sustainable Development Goals, the environment ministry said in a press statement.
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