Bhutan and India have agreed to work towards an integrated river basin management plan for the transboundary Manas river which flows from Bhutan to Assam.
US-based Global Environment Facility (GEF) has cleared the concept for the Manas integrated river management project and both the countries now have to prepare the proposal.
The Manas river basin is the largest in Bhutan, flowing north to south for 272km (169 miles) in Bhutan and 104km (65 miles) in Assam before joining the Brahmaputra and eventually joining the Bay of Bengal. Originating at over 7,500m (24,600ft) in the glacial systems of the Himalayan range to near sea-level. The river system services an extremely rich diversity of ecosystems and key wildlife including tigers and elephants, and two critical national parks in Bhutan — the Royal Manas National Park (108,370 hectares) and the Manas wildlife sanctuary (391,000 hectares), which is also a recognised Unesco World Heritage Site.
The overall catchment spans 41,350 sq. km, both in eastern Bhutan and Northeast India.
Sources said the project has been initiated by the WWF under international waters focal area and will involve a number of departments from both countries, the ones in Assam being the water resources department, Bodoland Territorial Council, central water commission, Assam State Disaster Management Authority and others. In India, the focal point would be the Union ministry of environment and climate change.