Sustainable use of water and land resources requires that these scarce resources be appropriately allocated among various competing human activities. Worldwide, there is a realization now that sustainable river basin management should be accorded the highest priority, because it deals not only with technical, but also with ecological and socioeconomic aspects, and thus calls for a multidisciplinary and integrated approach. However, most of the policy and planning documents have either remained silent, or have made only implicit reference to the importance of environmental water demand (EWD) and its quantification. Therefore, in the light of its importance, a methodology has been evolved in this article for quantifying EWD for various forested areas in two distinctly different Indian river basins: Brahmani (humid zone) and Sabarmati (dry zone). The article analyzes and discusses EWD estimates at three different spatial levels: river basins, states, and districts within them, and finally presents a comparative analysis of all these results. Findings of the present study will be immensely useful in understanding various ecological issues connected with water resource projects and proposals in these river basins.
Keywords: Environmental water demand (EWD) - Interlinking of rivers - Indian ecosystems