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River Rejuvenation Projects in India

Last Updated : 28 Mar, 2024
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River rejuvenation Projects often aim to restore the health and functionality of rivers that have been deteriorated by human activities such as pollution, damming, deforestation, and urbanization. These initiatives seek to improve water quality, increase aquatic ecosystems, restore natural flow patterns, and lessen the effects of flooding.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC ) has proposed the rejuvenation of 13 major rivers across the country. They released Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) on river rejuvenation. Rivers include Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Luni, Narmada, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri.

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List of River Rejuvenation Projects in India

Project Name Description
Namami Gange (Ganga Rejuvenation) Aims to clean and rejuvenate the Ganga River and its tributaries. Focuses on reducing pollution, conserving biodiversity, and promoting sustainable use of water resources.
Yamuna Action Plan Initiated to clean and rejuvenate the Yamuna River, particularly in the Delhi region. Aims to reduce pollution, improve water quality, and restore the river’s ecological health.
Clean My Coach (Swachh Neer) Implemented by Indian Railways to clean and rejuvenate rivers along railway tracks. Involves the installation of sewage treatment plants and adoption of eco-friendly practices.
National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) Centrally sponsored scheme launched to address pollution in major rivers across India. Focuses on implementing pollution control measures, wastewater treatment, and riverfront development.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) Comprehensive program to clean and rejuvenate the Ganga River basin. Involves various initiatives such as sewage treatment, solid waste management, and afforestation along the riverbanks.
Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan (SSJS) Implemented in Gujarat to promote water conservation and rejuvenation of rivers, lakes, and ponds. Involves desilting of water bodies, construction of check dams, and promotion of rainwater harvesting.
Mula-Mutha River Rejuvenation Project (MMRJP) Launched in Pune to clean and rejuvenate the Mula and Mutha rivers. Involves construction of sewage treatment plants, riverfront development, and public awareness campaigns.

River Rejuvenation Projects in India

India has launched several river rejuvenation projects to restore the ecological health of its rivers, focusing on cleaning, pollution control, and ensuring sustainable water flow. Notable projects include the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) for cleaning major rivers, the Namami Gange Programme aimed at the Ganges, and efforts for the Yamuna, Godavari, and Krishna rivers. These initiatives involve sewage treatment, riverfront development, biodiversity conservation, and public awareness campaigns to reduce pollution and revive the rivers’ natural flow and cleanliness.

River Rejuvenation Projects in India Map


River Rejuvenation Projects in India

List of River Rejuvenation Projects in India

  1. Namami Gange Programme: Launched in 2014, this is one of the most ambitious river rejuvenation projects in India, focusing on the Ganges River and its tributaries. It aims to reduce pollution, conserve biodiversity, and promote sustainable use of the river’s resources.
  2. Yamuna Action Plan (YAP): Implemented to clean up the Yamuna River, especially in Delhi, the YAP involves various pollution control measures, sewage treatment plants, and riverfront development projects.
  3. National River Conservation Plan (NRCP): This program, initiated by the Government of India, aims to clean up major rivers across the country by funding pollution abatement projects, sewage treatment plants, and solid waste management systems.
  4. Clean Kaveri Initiative: Focused on the Kaveri River, this project aims to improve water quality, restore ecosystems, and promote sustainable water management practices in the region.
  5. Brahmaputra River Rejuvenation Project: Addressing issues such as erosion, sedimentation, and pollution in the Brahmaputra River basin, this project aims to enhance the resilience of communities living along the river.
  6. Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project: This project in Ahmedabad aims to rejuvenate the Sabarmati River by developing riverfront promenades, parks, and recreational spaces while also implementing measures for flood control and water conservation.
  7. Gomti Riverfront Development Project: Launched in Lucknow, this project focuses on rejuvenating the Gomti River by improving water quality, developing riverfront spaces, and controlling pollution.
  8. Krishna River Rejuvenation Project: Aimed at restoring the ecological balance of the Krishna River, this project involves measures such as afforestation, soil conservation, and sustainable water management practices.

Importance of Rejuvenation of Rivers

Developmental activities like as road network growth, hydropower project construction, and agricultural expansion have all had an impact on rivers and basins. The most common problems are:

All of these difficulties have contributed to the rivers’ poor health, which is seen in both the amount and quality of water. This has implications for agricultural production, livelihood security, public health, and aquatic systems.

Why we need Rejuvenation of Rivers?

  1. Biodiversity Preservation: Rivers host a diverse range of plant and animal species, many of which rely on aquatic habitats for existence. By conserving and restoring rivers, we maintain and promote biodiversity, preserve fragile habitats, and ensure the survival of many species.
  2. Improvement in Water Quality: Pollution from diverse sources, including agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and urban garbage, endangers the health of rivers. Conservation and rejuvenation projects aim to improve water quality by lowering pollution levels, improving filtering systems, and restoring natural cleansing processes. Clean water is required for human use, agriculture, and the survival of aquatic ecosystems.
  3. Flood Mitigation: Degraded rivers are more prone to flooding, which can have disastrous repercussions for both populations and ecosystems. River conservation projects may include restoring natural floodplains, enhancing channel morphology, and introducing flood control systems. These measures to reduce flood hazards improve public safety, protect property, and defend important infrastructure.
  4. Sustainable Water Management: Rivers are essential sources of fresh water for drinking, irrigation, industrial activities, and environmental purposes. However, irresponsible water usage, combined with climate change-induced changes in precipitation patterns, endangers the availability and reliability of water supplies. Conservation and rejuvenation projects encourage sustainable water management methods, ensuring equal access to water while preserving ecological integrity.
  5. Cultural and Recreational Value: Rivers are significant sources of cultural and recreational value in many communities. They serve as sources of inspiration, spiritual connection, and historical legacy. Rivers offer various leisure activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and environmental enjoyment. By conserving and renewing rivers, we can preserve cultural and recreational assets while also enhancing the quality of life for present and future generations.
  6. Ecosystem Services: Healthy rivers offer a range of essential ecosystem services including water purification, nitrogen cycling, sediment transport, and habitat provision. These services are crucial for human well-being, agricultural productivity, and the sustainability of natural ecosystems. Conservation and rejuvenation activities play a vital role in safeguarding these essential ecosystem services, ensuring the resilience and productivity of riverine ecosystems.

Detailed Project Reports(DPRs)

There are several DPRs made by our Indian Government and we succeed in those also. The prime example is “Ganga Bachao Abhiyan” or we can say “National Mission to Clean Ganga(NMCG)” and started in 2015-16. So after only this the DPR on River Rejuvenation started in India. This is based on 4 components

  • Implementation of Forestry Interventions.
  • Improving knowledge management and national capacity development.
  • The maintenance phase involves scaling up the replication of successful models.
  • National coordination of forestry actions and river conservation.

It focuses on acknowledging that the growing water crisis is on account of the degradation of river ecosystems. The project used a multi-scale, multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary, and holistic strategy to achieve the overarching goals of ‘Aviral Dhara’ (uninterrupted flow), ‘Nirmal Dhara’ (clean water), and ecological rejuvenation.

The 13 rivers cover a total basin area of 18,90,110 square kilometers, which accounts for 57.45% of the country’s geographical area. The 13 rivers and their 202 tributaries total 42,830 kilometers of designated riverscapes. It suggests many types of river afforestation, including timber species, medicinal plants, grasses, shrubs, fire feed, and fruit trees, with the goal of increasing water, recharging groundwater, and containing erosion.

The Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) are created for three main environments along the rivers: natural, agricultural, and urban. Each river has its own unique plan. To address prioritized locations in the riverscape, site-specific treatments for soil and moisture conservation are recommended. This includes planting grasses, herbs, forestry, and horticultural trees using GIS approaches. In addition to these treatments, other supporting activities will be implemented. This includes policy-level interventions, strategic and adaptive research, capacity building, awareness creation, project administration, and participatory monitoring and evaluation.

Benefits of River Rejuvenation Projects

River Rejuvenation Projects provide numerous benefits to our environment and ecosystem. Some are

  • Improved Water Quality
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Flood Mitigation
  • Erosion Control
  • Enhanced Recreational Opportunities
  • Climate Resilience
  • Cultural and Aesthetic Value
  • Economic Benefits
  • Community Engagement and Education
  • Long-term Sustainability

While work that were suggested under these DPRs

  • Afforestation on river banks offers various benefits such as increased green cover
  • Control of soil erosion
  • Recharge of groundwater
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Treatment of catchment areas
  • Ecological restoration
  • Conservation of moisture
  • Improvement of livelihoods
  • Promotion of ecotourism
  • Raising awareness about improving water quality and flow in rivers

India’s International Commitments

In 2016, as part of its commitment to COP21 and the requirement for countries to communicate actions toward meeting the Paris Agreement’s stated goals of holding “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursuing efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” India adopted three additional quantitative targets for the period until 2030, including:

  • Reduction in the emissions intensity of GDP
  • Increase in non-fossil electricity generation capacity.
  • Development of novel carbon sinks

Along with these quantifiable targets, the 2016 NDC included other policy-oriented promises. Notably, the aim of 175 GW was not listed on the list, although being mentioned in the text.

And recently At COP28(Conference of Parties) these are told

  • India has the world’s largest population and a projected $7 trillion economy by 2030.
  • The country’s growth potential is significant, which will increase its resource demand and environmental impact.
  • The International Energy Agency predicts that India’s energy consumption will rise by 30% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, while carbon emissions from energy use will rise by 32% and 72%, respectively.
  • In response to this, India has set and worked toward ambitious climate goals.
  • India promotes itself as a growing economy that values environmental conservation.
  • Realizing these ambitious targets will also be critical to the world achieving a 1.5°C trajectory, given that India is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 7% of global emissions each year.

Next Step

Freshwater supplies are rapidly declining, which is contributing to the growing water crisis. The most urgent issue that needs to be addressed at the national level is the decreasing and degradation of river ecosystems, in order to achieve environmental conservation, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development objectives. Climate change, the possibility of planter method failure, improper implementation, and other factors all pose significant challenges to the success of the River rejuvenation DPR. To minimize the risk of failure, the departments concerned should ensure that all prior knowledge is gathered before any implementation.


What is India’s first river rejuvenation project?

North India’s first river rejuvenation project, ‘Devika’, is nearing completion and will soon be inaugurated by Prime Minister.

Which 13 major rivers in India are rejuvenated?

The 13 Rivers that will form part of the rejuvenation project include: Himalayan Rivers: Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, and Brahmaputra. Deccan or Peninsular Rivers: Narmada, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, & Cauvery. Inland drained Category River: Luni.

How do you rejuvenate a river?

River rejuvenation is the process of bringing a river back to its natural state after it has been damaged by human activities. This can involve removing pollutants, cleaning up riverbeds, and restoring the natural environment around the river.

What is the DPR for river rejuvenation?

The DPR includes a geospatial analysis of the Riverscape, a review of the river environment, prioritization of areas using remote sensing and field verification for proposed interventions, and designing treatment models for natural, agriculture & urban landscape.

What is dynamic river rejuvenation?

A result of isostatic change, when land rises due to faulting and the river must begin active downward erosion.

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