Evolving human dimensions and the need for continuous health assessment of Indian rivers

River health assessment (RHA) protocols are the tools used globally that emphasize upon factors which contribute for ecological fitness of the river such as catchment health, floodplain health, channel health, flow health, quality health and biotic health indicators. Human intervention by constructions of dams, excess water abstraction, channel diversion and several other factors contribute to the depletion of diverse flora and fauna of a river. For the societal well being, it appears that RHA programmes associated with a culturally sensitive river such as River Ganga in India need a move beyond top-down technocratic approach towards one that creates inclusive spaces for collaboration and public participation. Moreover, there appears a need for continuous RHA of the river to bridge the gap between science and the sacred. Based on available literature we propose a community-based comprehensive RHA model which anchors on the premise that people’s relationship with the river and human values are central to any effort towards restoration and sustainable river health management in India.

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