About the programme

WWF-India’s Rivers for Life, Life for Rivers programme envisions Ganga as a healthy river system that is rich in biodiversity, providing long-term water security to communities and nature. This initiative supported by the HSBC Water Programme (HWP), is a five-year partnership between HSBC, WWF, WaterAid and Earthwatch.
During 2012-17, HWP aims to deliver a powerful combination of water provision, protection and education resulting in the most ground-breaking water programme committed to by a financial organization.

WWF-India will be building on its Living Ganga Programme (LGP, 2007 -12), which has developed, validated and implemented some of the most innovative pathways and processes for sustainable water resources and energy management in the face of climate change. These include pioneering work such as methodologies for assessment of environmental flows, water and energy footprint work with industries, pollution abatement in cities using bioremediation, engagement in the development of the Dolphin Action Plan, reintroduction of gharials as well as climate vulnerability assessment and ecosystem-based climate adaptation. The LGP’s focus area was the critical 800-kilometre stretch of the Ganga from Gangotri to Kanpur spanning the Upper Ganga Basin.

It was these complexities that prompted WWF-India to initiate its Living Ganga Programme (LGP) in 2008 to develop a comprehensive framework for sustainable management of water and energy in the Ganga basin in the face of climate change. The focus area of the LGP was the 800 kilometer critical stretch of the Ganga from Gangotri to Kanpur covering the Upper Ganga Basin. The pathways tested now need to be mainstreamed and implemented in an integrated fashion.

The new phase of the programme, Rivers for Life, Life for Rivers seeks to implement the lessons learned from the LGP and apply this basin management framework to the Ramganga River – the first major tributary of the Ganga. This basin programme will ensure healthy rivers, healthy business and healthy communities. The Ramganga river replicates the Ganga in terms of major issues faced, thereby presenting some complex and nested challenges in water resource management. It attempts to maximize the impact of ongoing work in the Ganga and its mainstreaming by various actors. WWF-India plans to continue some of the key initiatives of the LGP. The focus lies in the 300-kilometre stretch of the Ramganga and the 900-kilometre stretch of the Ganga (from Bijnore to Varanasi).

Ganga- An introduction

© Harish Guleria/ WWF-India
 During its 2,500 km journey from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar there are complex, nested sets of challenges that threaten the very existence of this river revered by millions of Indians. In the upper Himalayan reaches the flow in the river is vulnerable to water abstractions by hydropower projects, both existing and proposed. From the time the river enters the plains, abstractions for agriculture, urban and industrial uses leave the river lean and polluted. As the river's dynamics have been altered by diversions and inefficient use, the freshwater flow has reduced, leading to a reduction in the assimilative capacity. With more pollution added on to the lean rivers, the pollution load in the rivers has gone up. Climate change is adding another set of complexities to the problems of the Ganga and to the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the basin.
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