BBMB’s pursuit under Environment Management
Dams Help Manage Water
Water is a critical natural resource. Without it, life could not exist and people could not survive. For more than 5,000 years, dams have provided people with a reliable source of the water they need to live. Dams have enabled people to collect and store water when it is plentiful and then use it during dry periods. Dams have been essential in establishing and supporting human establishment and farms, as well as providing food through irrigation of cropland. Today, dams and reservoirs also help control flood waters to protect people and property, keep rivers navigable, provide electricity from renewable energy for towns/villages and factories, and provide recreational opportunities such as fishing, water sports, etc.
Today more than 45,000 large dams improve the living conditions of the world’s population that continues to grow at a rate of more than 100 million people per year. Yet, about 1.5 billion people still do not have access to a reliable source of suitable drinking water and more than two dozen countries do not have enough water to properly sustain their populations. Today more than one billion people are malnourished or starving. In many countries, increased food production is only possible through improved irrigation, which frequently depends on diminishing groundwater resources. Therefore, more dams are needed now and into the foreseeable future to improve the management of existing surface water resources.
The availability of energy is essential for the socio-economic development of a nature. Today energy is largely supplied by fossil fuels, but these fuels are being depleted and they contribute to air pollution and possibly to climate change. It is clear that we should look for ways to generate electricity without releasing harmful substances in the air. In many countries, hydropower is the only natural energy sources. Hydropower accounts for about 20 percent of electricity production, and about 7 percent of total energy production in the world. Hydropower is clean and the production from existing projects can be increased without a harmful impact on the environment. At present, hydropower is the largest renewable source of energy. In other words, hydropower from dams is one of the key sources for providing energy for expanding development.
Dams provide domestic and individual water supply, energy, water for irrigation and industrial use, flood control and recreational opportunities, but there is a cost. Our quest to provide the growing world population with a better life means we will change the natural environment. Natural resources will be used and the environment will be transformed to meet human needs. People and other forms of life are inevitably affected when dams and reservoirs are built. Engineers must avoid or mitigate any environmental damage caused by water projects.
Historically, the priority was given to meeting people’s immediate needs for water and energy. Today, we recognize the importance of the natural environment and the need for long-term protection against pollution. The BBMB comprised of professional engineers believe that we must preserve the environment for long-term benefits while also providing dams and reservoirs to meet immediate human needs.
Water Resources of India are contributing to the prosperity of the country a lot in general and Northern India in particular through River Valley Developmental Projects like Bhakra-Beas Project.
Concern for environmental pollution is rather a recent phenomenon emerged from the ill-effects of industrial growth through the planning process which somehow overlooked the role of natural resources in developmental activities.
Over the years, the information accumulated in course of working of River Valley Projects, revealed that the River Valley Projects like all other developmental projects, have been beneficial but have some adverse impacts. These impacts must be carefully assessed and balanced for achieving sustained benefits.
All River Valley Projects Irrigation Power and Multipurpose, began to be referred to the Govt. of India for environmental clearance in 1978. The objective of environmental impact assessment is to ensure that development proceeds hand-in-had with ecological preservation so as to achieve sustained growth.
The objective of considering environmental aspects as integral part of development projects is to achieve:
Environment Management In BBMB Projects
All the three-river valley projects managed by BBMB i.e. Bhakra-Nangal, BSL Project and Beas Dam Project were planned and executed before 1978 when environmental clearance from Govt. of India was made mandatory.
The EIA studies of BBMB Projects show that the beneficial impacts of BBMB Projects are much more compared to the negative impacts. Bhakra and Beas Projects being the multi-purpose projects have brought ‘Green Revolution’ in the country. Bhakra And Beas Reservoirs have saved the regional ecology from the devastating floods. These Reservoirs have provided a source of tourism and fish production enhancement. In addition, BBMB Projects brought socio-economic upliftment of the Region by way of enhanced employment opportunities on BBMB Projects, better energy and irrigation facilities, enhanced industrialization, ecological improvement in the downstream areas of the dams due to non-devastation of floods etc.
BBMB also started studying and evaluating the post-construction status of environmental components and assessing the impacts, if any, for short-term and long-term mitigative measures.
BBMB is also evaluating and improving the environmental status for all the project colonies under its management in respect of potable water, waste water, solid waste management and hospital wastes etc.
BBMB is improving ecological environment by ‘Plantation Programme’ undertaken every year on BBMB spare land, maintaining gardens, terraces, fringe areas of the reservoirs, project colonies etc. by developing its own horticulture-wings at project stations.