The Ganga basin, the largest river basin of India, covers a diverse landscape, reflecting the cultural and geographical diversity of the India and is also the food bowl of India. The Ganga river, with a length of 2,525 km from its source at Gaumukh in the Himalayas to its mouth at Ganga Sagar in West Bengal, flows through one of the most densely populated river basins in the world with a population density of 520 persons per sq. km. The Ganga river basin covers an area of approx. 8,60,000 sq. km, spread over 11 states, 10 agro-climatic zones and several major tributaries like Yamuna, Gomti, Ramganga, Kali, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi, Chambal, Son etc. More than 43% of India’s population live in the Ganga basin. Availability of abundant water resources, fertile soil and suitable climate in the Ganga basin supports a large agriculture-based population. In 2018-19, nearly 40% of the GDP (at current prices) was attributed to the Ganga River Basin (Source: Central Statistics Office).
The Ganga basin consists of five distinct Bio-geographic Zones- Himalayas, Gangetic Plain, Semi-arid Zone, Deccan Plateau and Costal Zone. Predominant soil types are sand, loam, clay and their combinations, such as sandy loam, silty clay loam and loamy sand soils. This basin happens to be one of the most widely and heavily irrigated agricultural lands. The agricultural area consists of 64.1% of the total basin area. The net irrigated area constitutes about 57% of the total net irrigated area across the country. The basin has a very large agricultural area with an irrigation system developed way back in 1850s, when the Upper Ganga Canal, considered the largest irrigation system at that time, was developed.
Global studies and experiences indicate that health of the river in a country is a mirror-image of the economic condition of the vast population inhabiting the basin. Recognizing the significance and appreciating the national concern about environmental degradation of the river, Namami Gange Mission was launched as an integrated conservation program for Ganga and its tributaries. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG). An authority notified under EP act, is the implementing agency. This brought multi-pronged strategic approach for Ganga rejuvenation adopting basin based planning with multi-sectoral mandate to address the challenges of quality & quantity of water. The program got formulated based upon the detailed study conducted by a consortium of IITs which developed the Ganga River Basin Management Plan(GRBMP).
The vision of rejuvenation of Ganga under Namami Gange is to restore its wholesomeness defined in terms of “Nirmal dhara – unpolluted flow”, “Aviral dhara- continuous flow”, and recognition of the river as geological and ecological entity. To achieve these a diverse set of interventions have been launched. There can be categorised as pollution abatement intervention (Nirmalta), ecological restoration & improving flows for Aviralta and improving people-river connect through better sanitation amenities at ghats, public outreach and stakeholder involvement. Sustainable Agriculture is one of the key interventions.
Sustainable Agriculture is very important for Ganga rejuvenation in ensuring Nirmalta as well as Aviralta. Implementation of e-flow regime for the first time notified in country by NMCG has to be supplemented by proper demand side management of water to restore and improve flows in river. Developing sustainable agri-scapes in basin and improving water use efficiency are important steps taken up in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare along with promoting organic and natural farming in Ganga Grams.
• Complete conversion of the villages in the Ganga basin to organic farming would be a major contributor to reducing pollution of the Ganga by chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Hence the States should take this up in Mission mode through the various programs so that at least 25% of the villages in the 1-2 km belt along Ganga become chemical free by 2025. I congratulate the Govt of Uttarakhand for announcing their commitment for making the State organic. GOI would support you in this vision which will be especially important for the Ganga Basin.
• An Organic farming Corridor starting from Uttarakhand to West Bengal in the Ganga basin should be developed in next 5 years. In addition to addressing problem of pollution, the produce will also fetch premium prices, including exports, and improve livelihoods of the producers.
• Rising water stress is a global discourse and agriculture is a major consumer of ground water. The water use efficiency in Ganga basin is 35-40% only due to distribution loses. States should encourage and incentivise farmers to take up micro irrigation through the PMKSY – Per Drop More Crop. The farmers share should be topped up by States, as already being done by some States so that there is less burden on them for using this technology.
• States should dovetail organic farming and micro irrigation so that returns to farmers are further improved with least ill effects on the environment
• States should initiate survey of the traditionally organic areas so that these can be incentivised further by certification of the produce for better returns to the farmers under a brand say Organic Ganga. There is tremendous potential beyond field crops viz medicinal and aromatic plants, fibre, and phytochemicals
All Indian citizens are invited to Design a Logo for promotion of Organic Farming and Organic Products under “Namami Gange”
It is requested to note that no monetary prize is associated with the competition. This Ministry appreciates your participation.
Last date of submission is 15.09.2020
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