The densely populated basin of the Ganges River in India, measuring 861,452 square kilometer, is home to 575 million people, almost a quarter of the country’s population. The state of Uttar Pradesh alone would be one of the biggest countries in the world, with an irrigation system that is larger than that of China. The catchment area includes eleven states, each with its own responsibility for water management. That shows how complex coordinating measures can be.
After each monsoon, there is almost no rain for the rest of the year, making river discharge dependent on melt water, which is susceptible to climate change. Some tributaries of the Ganges are reduced to little more than flows of waste water. Due to the intensive pumping of groundwater, which is often the only source of water for cities, agriculture and industry, even less water reaches the river. The problem is getting steadily worse.
A good assessment framework ensures that the right investments are made in the right place in the basin. A clean Ganges alone could save India 53.8 billion dollars in health costs and other losses. An important non-economic reason is that the river is sacred to Hindus. So it’s hardly surprising that successive governments are working on a Ganges Action Plan. Recently about 2.6 billion euro was allocated for the Namami Ganga Plan.
Deltares supports those plans with a decision support system that shows the impact of any proposed intervention on the river and its many stakeholders of proposed interventions. The work started in September 2015 and continues to the end of 2017. The project contract amounts to three million euros, funded by the World Bank.
Water in India is very compartmentalized by state or department. It's very inspiring to work with the highly-educated and, motivated professionals from India towards an integrated basin approach, with the goal to explore its potential to rejuvenate the basin.
Deltares brings not only world-leading expertise in science-based river and groundwater systems modelling to inform policy and investment, but also considerable experience in multi-stakeholder consultation in complex socio-political development contexts.