The Centre has directed hydropower and irrigation projects on Ganga to ensure a minimum and uninterrupted flow in the river by December 15, a notification said.
Issued last month, the notification reduced by more than half the time that was originally given to the projects to ensure compliance with the mandated environmental flows.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in October last year had come out with a notification asking hydropower and irrigation projects to make necessary arrangements like controlled gated spillways and structural modifications in the next three years.
It was issued after demands from Ganga activists for ensuring necessary environmental flow that was being affected by irrigation and hydropower projects.
Environmental flows describe the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems.
There are 11 major projects from Uttarakhand to Uttar Pradesh that have the capacity to modify the flow and the NMCG had specified release of water from all of them.
NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra said the CWC submitted a report in July recommending that all the existing projects have a provision for releasing the mandated environmental flow through controlled gated spillways or water ways, and that structural modifications in the body of the project may not be required.
The Central Water Commission (CWC) is the designated authority for supervision, regulation of flows and reporting on quarterly basis to the NMCG.
Accordingly, a fresh notification was issued last month. It asked the hydropower and irrigation projects to start releasing the water by December 15.
"The central government is of the view that the time period of three years allowed to the existing projects to ensure proper compliance of the mandated environmental flows specified in the said order, is excessive and not necessary," a notification said.