Gomti in need of urgent conservation
Most of the river's 24 tributaries have dried up due to extensive deforestation, frequent change in land use and diversion of land for urbanization.
Its main tributary Sai in Hardoi district, which drains 43% of the total catchment area (12,900 sq km) of Gomti basin (30,437 sq km), is also under threat, given the increasing biotic pressure and lack of conservation efforts.
While Bhainsi, Choha and Andhra Choha are endangered in the upstream in Lakhimpur kheri, Sarayan and Gon are heavily polluted due to sugar distilleries in Sitapur.
"The Gomti had about 40 tributaries in its entire stretch some four decades back. Of these, 15 have vanished completely," said assistant professor at the school for environmental sciences in Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar University Venkatesh Dutta.
Since the river's tributaries are very low on intensity, the Gomti has a sluggish flow all through the year. Insufficient management of irrigation water with intensive usage and unsustainable cropping pattern is leading to rapid decline of groundwater in the basin.
Scientists said there is a need to declare the origin as well as confluence of the tributaries as "eco-fragile areas".
"There is also a need to freeze its land use by buffering and ensuring there is no violation of land use change," said Dutta.
"Desilting of the river is the topmost requirement. The Gomti gets flooded with a slight increase in rainfall every season," said environmentalist Abhay Mishra.
To conserve water, and to redirect it into the river in the lean season, there is a need to construct reservoirs, dams and revive old tributaries.
"Ponds can be dug along the banks of the river for storing excess water. In the lean summer months, water can be redirected into the river," said Mishra.
* Gomti, a tributary of the Ganga, originates near Mainkot, from 'Fulhar Jheel' in Madhotanda, about 3km east of Pilibhit
*Its length is about 940km and it flows entirely in UP
*Total drainage area of the river is 30,437 sq km
*Most of its 24 tributaries were perennial but now now 25% of them have dried up in the upper catchment area
* After flowing southwards along Lucknow, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Faizabad and Jaunpur, it confluences with Ganga in Varanasi
* It receives untreated waste-water and effluents from urban settlements through 40 waste-water drains
* It is most polluted in its 22-km stretch in Lucknow
* Decreasing forest cover and wetlands are major concerns
* Except Pilibhit and Kheri, all districts under the basin are deficient in green cover