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In order to determine some of the factors which contribute to the success of a

river restoration project, we looked at and analysed river reclamation initiatives


from three different corners of the world and contemplated on their success
factors.
The first case is that of the Suzhou River Rehabilitation in China. The Suzhou
Creek, a 125km waterway the lower portion of which runs through Shanghai, was
a historically important shipping and trading route till the 1920s when rapid
urbanisation and untreated sewage and wastewater disposal led to a depletion of
the aquatic biota and caused an algal bloom. The Shanghai Municipal
Government set up the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Leader Group in mid-1990s.
As part of the plan, water from the most polluted stretches of the channel were
diverted to treatment canals where anaerobic bacteria were introduced to
improve the oxygen content of the water. Furthermore, a six squared silt pool
attains a Class III national water level standard for the outflow. During the second
phase of the project, restoration of the creeks tributaries and creation of
landscaped green recreational spaces along the river were undertaken. The
project created job opportunities for over 4000 people. The driving factor for the
success of this project was the strong leadership which brought together the
different agencies and ensured clearly defined responsibilities for each
stakeholder in the project. The private sector investments in properties around
the creek also complemented the governments efforts.
The second case we analysed was that of the Thames River restoration project.
In 1957, the pollution levels in the Thames was so high that it was declared
biologically dead. Today the UK law has enacted strict regulations that prevent
dumping of effluents in the river. The Thames Tideway Tunnel now stores sewage
and storm-water discharges and directs it to treatment plants where the
extracted sludge is used for energy generation purposes. The Environmental
Agency has replaced concrete barriers with mud bank along the river which
provide a rich habitat for invertebrates and molluscs, food for many aquatic
species. The London Rivers Action Plan has identified over 100 projects to
reclaim and restore tributaries of the Thames in and around London. As a result
of these efforts, the river is today home to over 125 species of fishes and 400
species of invertebrates. In order to implement these learnings in India, the
Thames and Ganga Twinning Project was commissioned which achieved
restoration of freshwater wildlife such as the Ganges river turtle, dolphin and the
Gharial.
Lastly we looked at some of the river restoration efforts in Japan. During the
rapid industrialisation phase of 1950-1970, a philosophy of Develop now, cleanup later had led to massive river pollution. In 1990, the River Bureau launched
the Nature-oriented river works project which undertook more than 23000 river
restoration projects from 1990 to 2004. Most of these projects were driven by
small groups and NGOs which connected local people with scientists and local
river authorities. People were also aware of the importance of headwater
management and fishermen had been reforesting catchments at the sources.
Furthermore there is strong social linkages between upstream and downstream
communities due to migration which leads to a collaborative effort to protect the
rivers.