India has a vast network of 14 major rivers and their tributaries, covering 83% of the drainage basin and accounting for 85% of the surface flow. Anthropogenic activities like damming, channel modification, water abstraction, sewage and effluent disposal, sand mining, unthoughtful exploitation of biotic resources, etc. are the major threats faced by the rivers in the country. Monitoring protocol of Indian rivers lacks an integrated approach based on judicious use of both abiotic and biotic components as well as a total lack of consideration for ecological health. Index of Biotic Integrity is a flexible multimetric index that can be modified and adapted to the various zoogeographic regions of the world. A fish-based multi-metric IBI was developed by modifying and incorporating metrics that are sensitive to the various ecological stressors faced by Indian rivers, fishes being excellent indicators of river health. The adapted IBI was validated and used to assess ecological health of two rivers—Mahanadi, and its distributary Kathajodi-Devi—flowing through central-eastern India. The study indicated that in River Mahanadi, around 25% of the freshwater river stretch was slightly impaired and the remaining 75% stretch was moderately impaired. In Kathajodi-Devi, most of the river stretches were in a moderately impaired condition, except at Italnga stretch where the river was severely impaired. The Index of Biotic Integrity scores estimated could reflect the ecological health of the rivers. The study shows that use of Index of Biotic Integrity is a useful and reliable approach to assess the health conditions of Indian aquatic resources warranting initiatives to be taken to implement and incorporate it into the country's water resource management.
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11 October 2022
Development and validation of a fish-based index of biotic integrity for assessing the ecological health of Indian Rivers Mahanadi and Kathajodi-Devi
Aliyamintakath Muhammadali Sajina,
Samir Kumar Paul,
Subir Kumar Nag,
Basanta Kumar Das