National River Conservation Directorate - Introduction


The National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD), former directorate under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has now became a part of the Ministry of Jal Shakti. The NRCD is implementing the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of National Conservation Plan (NRCP) and National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco­systems (NPCA) for conservation of rivers, lakes and wetlands in the country. Earlier the activities of NRCD were dedicated towards pollution abatement. Considering the successful model of river conservation, demonstrated by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun, under the Namami Gange programme, NRCD has now amalgamated biodiversity conservation and community participation in the conservation process. NRCD has taken up a Nation-wide river conservation project, and the rivers Cauvery, Godavari, Periyar, Mahanadi and Narmada were taken as priority rivers as suggested by His Excellency Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, in the Parliament. NRCD entrusted WII as a nodal agency for this initiative and initially six rivers viz., Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari, Periyar, Cauvery and Barak were selected. The project “Assessment of the ecological status of select Indian rivers for conservation planning” by the Wildlife Institute of India, in the first phase, aims to spearhead river conservation in identified Indian rivers for biodiversity conservation. Intensive ecological studies will be carried out in the six river basins of India and ecological status will be assessed. Conservation institutions/organizations working in the respective regions will be identified according to their expertise and capacity will be enhanced to engage them in long term networking and conservation planning. Latest methodologies and tools available to science will be used to achieve the project objectives.


  1. Prepare biodiversity profile of the identified rivers to derive the current status. 
  2. Identify direct and indirect drivers affecting the integrity of these rivers. 
  3. Assess the concentration of key pollutants such as micro- and macro-plastics, pesticides, heavy metals and other endocrine disruptive substances (EDSs) in identified rivers and bioaccumulation in species of conservation concern. 
  4. Derive the current trend in genetic variability and gene flow of identified species which might have been disrupted due to river fragmentation. 
  5. Identify conservation priority zones and prepare conservation action plan for select stretches to minimize the negative impact of the direct and indirect drivers on river ecosystem processes. 
  6. Identify, prioritize and enhance capacity of the regional institutions/organization for long term involvement in river conservation. 
  7. Strengthen the existing Ganga Aqua Labs at WII to cater to the requirements of other Indian rivers for conservation planning and information dissemination.

The project will lead to enhanced understanding of the occurrence and distribution of aquatic species of conservation concern, hydrology regime, extent of morphological alteration, extent of anthropogenic influence, and concentration of key pollutants in these rivers. The findings of the project will pave path for initiating systematic conservation for the identified rivers in the next phase. The existing Ganga Aqua Labs at WII will be strengthened to cater to the requirements of other Indian rivers for conservation planning and information dissemination