On this day in 2015, the massive Nepal earthquake of 7.9 intensity (Richter scale) shook the scenic Himalayan Nation. The earthquake left a major trail of destruction affecting over 20 districts and killing over 9 thousand people. According to expert Dave Petley, Langtang rock and ice avalanche was the most dramatic and significant landslide, that killed the most individuals. The earthquake killed over 9000 people, with 255 still missing. The severity of the quake can be gauged from the fact that more than a third of the disaster related deaths in 2015 occurred in Nepal’s April 25 earthquake. The earthquake-induced flash floods, landslides and aftershocks also damaged up to 15 hydropower plants, which has not been still restored fully. Surprisingly despite the increasing number of disasters taking place across the globe, world only spends less than a fifth of the money on Disaster Risk Reduction Compared to Disaster management. Nepal will still take years from recovering socio-economic losses caused by the quake. But it is pertinent that in the wake of the quake and other disasters, human civilisation must learn its lesson. It’s true that development and disaster cannot be stopped but we must make our developmental decisions more informed, rule based and democratic so that it helps us deal better with disasters by decreasing their intensity and velocity and our short-sighted developmental choices do not get translated into a disaster itself.
SANDRP Blog Latur crisis highlights absence of policy & management Inefficiencies in the system, leakages, wastages & no metered supply is a reality for most Indian cities today. Latur has sugarcane added to the equation. A look at discussions on water allocations for IPL following the HC orders indicates that equitable water allocation is still not a moot point for Collectors, Water Resource Department or even the Judiciary. This epic drought is also an opportunity of putting things right. In the last 4 years of drought, we still have to see a single policy decision made & implemented to steer water management in the state to a new direction. We are clearly wasting our crises.
National Over 25% of India’s population hit by drought On 19 April Centre Govt has informed Supreme Court that a staggering 33cr people are in the grip of drought & consequently face drinking water shortage & agricultural distress. The number could be higher as Bihar & Haryana haven’t declared such a condition despite shortfall in rain. The govt also claimed that it has released Rs7321cr in addition to Rs12230cr disbursed earlier under MGNREGA as a relief measure. Interestingly, the Centre did not mention the crisis prevailing in Gujarat despite the state itself admitting that more than 637 villages were facing severe water shortage. Also see, Govt takes conflicting positions on drought
Not only sugarcane states, others too abuse ground water The onus of abusing groundwater also lies with wheat, rice producing states like Punjab & Haryana. The latest Central Ground Water Board report noted that though Punjab has only 20.32 BCM of annual groundwater availability, it extracts 34.88 BCM annually. Similarly, Haryana extracts 13.05 BCM as against the availability of only 9.79 BCM. Of this, Punjab uses 34.17 BCM for its irrigation needs, while Haryana uses 12.35 BCM of groundwater it extracts annually for the same purpose. Experts say free canal water in UP & free electricity to farmers in Punjab lead to indiscriminate use of water. Also see, Why blame only IPL for water woes? There is little doubt that many other things consume more water than a few IPL matches. But it finally ushered in the reality of drought and thirst into air-conditioned bedrooms. Pointing at sugarcane, weak water governance and tanker mafia is ducking under the bouncer of an inconvenient truth. With their lifestyle and consumption, the urban rich are a part of India’s water mafia. The punch should tell & hurt.
Water crisis: Drought of data compounds depleting stock According to Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP India still does not have an idea of its current ground water storage capacity because we have not invested time or resources in mapping ground water sources. He says more than 85% of rural water supply, about 55% urban & about 60% industrial water supply come from our ground water sources. And that 30% of all ground water units in India now come under the “over exploited” category. Lack of clear picture about groundwater storage capacity & how much of it is empty is indeed telling. Also see, Depleting water reservoirs; falling steadily since Jan Cumulative storage in India’s 91 biggest reservoirs is currently about half of their Jan levels. Maharashtra has drawn the most water the fastest, going from 30% of full capacity to 14% on 20 April. Currently, in every state except Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tripura, cumulative storage levels are below their normal levels.
Severe water crisis; govt mulls management a priority The govt is planning to make demand management a priority by funding drip irrigation for farmers, penalising overexploitation of groundwater and enacting a model water law. No doubt these are interesting series of steps and coming from current water resources secretary, they carry certain credibility, even though the track record of the govt is not very inspiring so far. Let us hope these steps are implemented effectively. While on the other hand CMs & Minister wasting water amid drought Haryana CM has been embroiled in a controversy over use of around a thousand litres of water to prepare a helipad in Yamunanagar on 20 April at a time when the state faced water shortage. Notably, the visit of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to Lalitpur on 19 April had also got mired in controversy as thousands of litres of water was used to ensure a dust-free makeshift helipad at a time when the area is witnessing drought. Earlier, a similar controversy involving Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse had erupted when 10K litres of water was used to prepare a helipad for his visit to drought-hit Latur district. On 20 April a controversy also erupted over 2 water tankers emptying 10K litre of water to prevent dust from rising from a road ahead of CM Siddaramaiah’s visit of drought-hit areas.
Field Report School is a dry lesson in life This report provides painful reality of drinking water scarcity in various parts of India including Maharashtra, Telangana, Damoh (MP) and even Jammu. Written lucidly it says about Maharashtra that people are referring to the CM’s flagship scheme jalyukta shivar yojana as the JCB yukta shivar yojana, expecting little outcome. No matter which party, the therapy has at best been symptomatic and even now there is little seriousness about taking a long-term view. Damoh, incidentally is the upstream catchment area of Ken River that is declared surplus under Ken Betwa River Linking Program of this government!
हिमालय को ‘पाइप में बंद’ करने की योजना महाराष्ट्र के उद्योग, खनन और पर्यावरण राज्य मंत्री प्रवीण पाटिल, केन्द्रीय मंत्री नितिन गडकरी और जलसंपदा विभाग के उपसचिव ने अलग–अलग पत्र लिखकर नागपुर के विश्वेश्वरैया नेशनल स्कूल ऑफ़ टेक्नोलॉजी के निदेशक को हिमालय ग्लेसियर का पानी पाइपलाइन के ज़रिये पूरे देश में सिंचाई और बाक़ी काम के लिए पहुंचाने की योजना पर ज़रूरी शोध करने को कहा है. इसके लिए हिमालय के इलाक़े में 12.5 लाख करोड़ की लागत से 55 डैम बनाने और उन से होकर देश के बड़े भाग तक पानी के पाइपलाइन के जाल का प्रस्ताव तैयार किया गया है. Another of Gadkari’s mega project balloon, this time to get the water from glaciers to Mah, Karnataka and other states.
Beed girl dies after heart attack at water pump The 12-year-old had been unwell for days with dysentery; but her family needed her help. On her fifth journey on 17 April to the water pump, she collapsed. Doctors who attended to her, said she died of a heart attack and dehydration. Across India, a heat wave of frightening proportions has killed over 110 people so far. 45 people have died in Odisha, another 35 in Telangana in the last 3 weeks.
After Latur & Parbhani section 144 imposed on Kukadi canal This time it is regarding water releases from Kukadi Dam Complex which is situated in Pune and Ahmednagar Districts. The issue if Kukadi Dam Complex and releases from Ghod Dam had gone in appeal to the MWRRA. Starkly similar issues a predominantly sugarcane growing region in a rain shadow part which refuses to release water to the downstream.
Early water releases in Jayakwadi on cards While the Minister’s Promise that water will be released early from upstream dams into Jayakwadi, the largest dam in Marathwada, sounds good, it holds little value. Intra State Water Conflicts have been brewing strong in Maharashtra. Although there are decisions taken to release water into downstream dams from the upstream in July or August or October, we have seen that the upstream goes in appeal against this. In the High Court or even the Supreme Court! The case drags for months and no water release actually happen a scary scenario which played out fully this year.
7 out of 11 major irrigation dams have no water left According to the latest Water Resources Department data for the week ending April 15, the 75 minor irrigation dams in Marathwada have just 4% water stock while 728 minor irrigation projects are left with paltry 3%. The 7 major irrigation dams where water stock is ‘zero’% are Jayakwadi, Purna Siddheshwar, Majalgaon, Manjra, Lower Terna, Mannar and Sina Kolegaon located in Aurangabad, Parbhani, Beed, Nanded and Osmanabad districts. So far, 70lakh litres has been delivered by train to Latur.
Only 3% water left In Marathwada Dams In more bad news for the drought-hit Marathwada region, only 3% water is left in dams in the parched region. 8 of the region’s 11 major dams are at dead storage level, meaning water from these dams cannot flow out but has to be lifted. The severity of the water crunch has forced Govt to ban digging of borewells below 200 feet to check further depletion of ground water. The decision came close on the heels of cut in water supply to industrial units including breweries in the severely affected Aurangabad district which has already announced a 20% water cut to local breweries and a 10 per cent overall cut to local industry. This is the 4th year of drought in Marathwada in the past 5 years. Each of its 8,522 villages have been affected for 2consecutive years. As many as 2,745 water tankers are being used in the region compared to 939 this time last year. Dams across the state have only 19% water left compared to 32% this time last year. Also see Sachin with Pepsi to help combat crisis in Marathwada
Thane, Navi Mumbai to get water from railways dam Thane & Navi Mumbai, which has been battling severe water scarcity, have finally got some relief with the railways giving permission to the civic bodies to use water from its dam in Parsik Hills near Thane. Meanwhile railway officials said that they are not sure how much water the dam has at present. When it was being used by the railways, it had the capacity to supply 15 million litres water daily.
Govt Efforts To tackle water pollution, new policy puts spotlight on sewage treatment In a policy shift, the state govt has decided to tackle water pollution, including river cleaning, through increased investments in sewage treatment, along with solid waste management. In the past, the focus was on untreated industrial effluents alone. The govt is also considering public-private partnerships to raise funds for river cleaning along with mega infra or industrial projects. Overseas companies are ready to give soft loans at lower interest to be repaid over 30-40 years.
Law to make recycled water must for industries? Against the backdrop of severe drought plaguing the state, Maharashtra government is mulling to bring in a law that will make it mandatory for industries to use recycled water. The govt has also instructed authorities concerned at Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation to study the feasibility of raising the height of dams, desilting & deepening of lakes under its jurisdiction as part of its Watershed Management plan
Govt planning cloud seeding during monsoon To ensure that the state does not face the situation like last year, the govt is planning to carry out cloud seeding between the months of June & Aug. Last year in Aug a cloud seeding experiment wasn’t that successful due to unavailability of moisture laden clouds as Monsoon was bidding farewell to the country. This year, the project will start during the Monsoon months to ensure that enough rainfall is observed over the region.
Recycling of water is essential: MIDC officials With 212 IT units in Hinjewadi using 13 MLD water and over 2,000 units in Pimpri-Chinchwad using nearly 100 MLD water, the State Govt is mulling mandatory recycling of water for these units in a bid to curb wastage of water. Officials from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation have said that it is high time that the govt initiates quick action to take care of the looming water crisis. Experts say while industries do recycle, rules on rain water harvesting are vague and need to be changed.
Water rationed for beer companies The govt has rationed water to the beer industry and has been critical of the use of water for sugarcane – known to be a water guzzler – as it tries to control a fast worsening situation. Use of water from Jayakwadi, one of the largest reservoirs in India and a lifeline of the Marathwada region, which has a population of 2cr, is the current bone of contention. Very belated move to reduce water intake by beer industry.
Ground Report Climate change ruining farming & farmers According to experts, if measures like watershed management, changing cropping pattern, focus on agro-forestry, tree-farming and allied sectors like poultry and dairy are diligently followed on a larger scale, it will surely help in reversing the negative impacts of climate change, they suggest. It might take years, but it’s not an impossible feat. Also see, History of state’s sugarcane addiction long precedes water crisis
Indiscriminate use of groundwater is the bane of Latur The number of irrigation borewells in Latur stood at 34,778 in 2007, only second after Nashik at 37,545. As per groundwater rules, there can be only five borewell per square kilometre. This simply means, in an ideal situation, the 715 sq km of the 10 talukas should have only 3,575 bores. But the unofficial number is 90,000. The administration is yet to install water meters in most households even when taps have been provided in 50 per cent homes under centrally funded Amrut Yojna. This is an excellent report on indiscriminate boring in Latur. The 1st part of the series with some interesting stuff can be read here.
Sugarcane is hero and villain in Beed Sugarcane continues to divide the academic discourse as well. Agriculture experts and agro-scientists who blame sugarcane for the current water crisis in Marathwada claim the cash crop guzzles up to 3cr litres an acre of water annually. Those in favour, peg this number at 1.5cr litres with the flow irrigation technique and nearly half of that with micro irrigation methods. Those criticising claim soyabean & chickpea only uses less than 50 lakh litres. Sharad Vyas here explains why sugar industry on the decline in Marathwada in general and Beed district in particular.
The circle of economy, the cycle of drought The water train chugging into Latur took the spotlight away from the daily struggle of lakhs of people facing the immediate consequences of extended drought and acute water scarcity in Latur district. The vagaries of nature have already taken their toll: the farmer in the hinterland has no way out & the common man clings to a collapsing water infrastructure in the cramped city.
Op-Ed Without fixing leaks, pouring money in irrigation is useless The cumulative public expenditure for irrigation over these 10 years in Maharashtra works out to Rs118235cr. During this period, the irrigation potential created was 8.9 lakh ha and irrigation potential utilised was just 5.9 lakh ha. This gives us the cost of IPU at Rs 20 lakh/ ha. So the real issue is not that Maharashtra spent less on irrigation. It’s why its costs are so high compared to MP (Rs 4.26 lakh/ ha) and Gujarat (Rs 2.71 lakh/ ha). Is it really topography or the massive leakages in irrigation systems? An interesting piece from former CACP Chief Ashok Gulati, demolishing Nitin Gadkari’s claims about investment as an issue in irrigation in Maharashtra. Also see another op-ed titeled Lessons of thirst Quoting Gadkari to fund more contractor driven & failed large irrigation projects notwithstanding, this editorial makes some interesting points. However, it clearly refuses to say anything about the ELEPHANT in the room: Sugarcane in drought hit areas except ending with an indirect reference.
Karnataka Cauvery Basin in Deep Distress The drought this year is different: in addition historically vulnerable areas in the rain-shadow districts of Telangana & northern Karnataka, it has spread to areas that were hitherto unaffected, such as the normally lush Cauvery basin. With no water in the interior villages of Hannur on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, farmers are putting their cattle up for sale at throwaway prices. The situation is similar in eight of the nine districts of Telangana.
Only 4 ft water available at Thumbe dam Water scarcity at Thumbe vented dam, supplying water for both drinking purposes & industrial use in city, is grim with only 4 feet water available for pumping in reality. Once the water-level fell to four feet, water could be lifted up to 3.5 ft level using a pump and not beyond that due to technical reasons and silt accumulated in the dam. With the vented dam of AMR Hydel Power Project at Shambhoor, on the upstream of Thumbe, having no water, it cannot feed water to the Thumbe dam.
Drought-hit town wastes 5K litres water to clean road for CM A controversy has erupted over 2 water tankers being emptied to prevent dust from rising from a road ahead of CM Siddaramaiah’s programme at Bilagi in the district during his ongoing visit of drought-hit areas. The two tankers containing about 5000 litres of water were emptied before Siddaramaiah was to garland the statue of saint Kanakadasa as the road where it is located was dusty. Siddaramaiah was scheduled to visit Badagandi village in Bilagi taluk as part of his current state wide tour of the areas reeling under drought.
Telangana Water emergency in Hyderabad, the first in 30 years According to KT Rama Rao minister for municipal administration there is a water emergency in Hyderabad, with four major reservoirs that supply drinking water to the capital city bone dry for the first time in 30 years, Amid a deadly heat wave & the state’s third successive drought, the shortage is so severe that people in many areas of Hyderabad are now getting water in their homes only on alternate days. The situation is far worse in the villages of Telangana, where drinking water has to be fetched from long distances. This is another sign of unprecedented crisis.
Apartments bear brunt of water shortage The depleting groundwater table and storage level in the reservoir is of concern to everyone now & all the people living in the apartment complexes in Karim Nagar have volunteered to construct a water harvesting structure in each complex to recharge the groundwater table in the coming rainy season. Some environmentalists are coming forward to sponsor the construction of rain water harvesting structures. Also see, Some district wise details of drought
In time of drought illegal mineral water companies minting money There are around 7K mineral water plants out of which only 113 are certified & the remaining 6,887 are illegal companies. The reason for such a boom in the number of illegal mineral water companies shooting up is because more and more people are turning to packaged water in the wake of acute shortage of drinking water. As opposed to the earlier years where the number of people dependant on mineral water was 30%, this year the figure stands at 70%. It only goes on to show the dearth of water in the state. Another report about Telangana is about thousands of illegal bottled water companies in drought period.
Police, villagers solve water problem The Nalgonda Police & Narsingbatla villagers have set an example in dealing with the ever-increasing water crisis in the rural parts of the district. To put to optimal use the seepage water leaking out from the AMRP canal, which passes close to the village, they made arrangements to fill up the village tank with the seepage water, which was otherwise going waste and flowing down into the Kanagal stream.
Gujarat Dams in distress By rough estimates, most of the state’s 202 dams, barring the Narmada, are set to run out of water by the first week of May. With 468 villages being added to those declared water scarcity-hit on 19 April, the number of such villages is already 994, and it may well cross 2,500 by mid-May. Among the 468 villages, 301 villages are in Kutch district, 64 in Porbandar, 56 in Jamnagar and 47 in Devbhoomi-Dwarka district, stated the notification issued by the state Revenue Department. Earlier, state govt has declared 526 villages of three districts as partially scarcity-hit. Out of these 526 villages, 157 are of Rajkot, 288 are of Jamnagar and 82 villages are of Devbhoomi-Dwarka district. The State could be heading towards a big water crisis.
Govt increases water supply from Narmada dam In a meeting to review the water scarcity situation in the state, govt has increased water supply from the Narmada dam to 1100 from 900 million litres per day to keep water in other dams reserved for nearby areas till the monsoon arrives. During the meeting, it was also decided that another 1300 million litres per day will be supplied from Kadana, Panam, Dantiwada, Dharoi and Sipu dams. Currently 317 villages in 14 districts are being supplied water by 252 tankers. 150 SRP jawans had been deployed along the Narmada canal to ensure that no theft of water takes place.
National No farmer suicides in watershed areas: Nabard The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development has said that there were no instances of suicide by farmers in areas where the bank supported watershed programmes. Addressing a press conference its chief general manager Hairsh Java said the bank released a grant of Rs.175cr for 166 watershed projects in AP last year & 154 of them were completed. This is interesting & if true, it means a lot.
Drought spiral: Sugar output falls, prices of pulses may remain high India’s sugar and cotton output is showing signs of falling for the first time in 5 years and insufficient pulses production could keep prices high, early estimates showed in the midst of a crippling drought across a vast swathe of the country. Also see, 6 Key factors that determine a monsoon’s impact
Crop insurance inadequate to cover cultivation costs The report has some interesting discussion on agriculture insurance, how it does not even pay the cost of cultivation, premium is high, coverage is limited and so on.
Bihar Villagers embracing dug wells to escape cancer-causing arsenic The ultimate source of arsenic in groundwater is the arsenopyrite mineral. In1970s when tubewells began to get popular, groundwater extraction became rampant. This changed the chemistry of the aquifer, breaking the insoluble arsenopyrite into highly soluble arsenic ions & iron ions, both of which started showing up in the water. Interestingly arsenic & iron are mostly absent in water drawn from dugwells because in an open well, water is exposed to oxygen. This leads to oxidation of the arsenic ions & iron ions, which get converted to arsenic oxides and iron oxides respectively. These oxides are insoluble in water & settle down at the bottom of the dugwell. Good work by Megh Pyne Abhiyan & team in reviving traditional dugwells.
UP Bijnor cane farming methods draws interests in India & abroad Better management of cane cultivation in the district have drawn farmers and sugarcane officers from 9 neighbourhood districts, who have come to study the crop pattern and the farming practices in the area. Recently, a foreign delegation had also visited Bijnor to understand cane farming methods. Bijnor district has 2.09 lakh hectares under sugarcane cultivation. It occupies second place in UP in sugarcane area. In addition to this, the recovery rate of sugarcane in Bijnor district is 11.40, which the second highest in UP & is better than that of Maharashtra. Interesting to see this water saving method of sugarcane cultivation, but this should certainly NOT be adopted in areas water scarce areas like Maharashtra, where there is no justification for this crop.
National Rain water harvesting, river check dams are way forward G Madhavan Nair, Former Chairman ISRO on 19 April said that conserving each rain drop and putting in place a resource management system were key to addressing the drought issues. Good to see former ISRO Chief emphasising rainwater harvesting and water management as key, though his certificate that MP and Rajasthan are doing better on these fronts does not seem correct.
INTER LINKING OF RIVERS
National Why linking rivers won’t work From the Himalayas to the Western ghats, the Modi regime pushes ahead with a mammoth river-linking project with questionable benefits as SANDRP estimates the project will displace nearly 1.5 million people from their homes by submergence of at least 27.66 lakh hectares of land needed for the storage structures and the network of planned canals apart from the human cost. According to Himanshu Thakkar SANDRP the NWDA’s simplistic identification of ‘water surplus’ & ‘water deficit’ river basins is premised on “flimsy & dubious scientific data & NWDA has “deliberately overlooked examining the complete water resource management options before decreeing a particular river basin as ‘surplus’ or ‘deficit’. This is EXCELLENT detailed story on ILR, quoting SANDRP extensively. Also see, The second Panna wipeout Ken-Betwa may be the death knell for its tiger reserve, when it has just about recovered from the 2008 crisis. The accompanying story also has very apt title, telling the whole story of Ken Betwa link succinctly.
Karnataka Union Minister moots river linking H.N. Ananth Kumar Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers has favoured the linking of rivers to address issues like drought and water scarcity. The leader said linking of rivers across Karnataka would create a water grid that would end drought & ensure constant supply of water to all regions.
Arunachal Flash flood damages 2 hydro projects Sixteen persons, all construction labourers, most of whom were from neighbouring Assam were killed when a landslide buried them alive in Tawang district, in the wee hours on 22 April. The labourers were working at a hotel construction site at Famla, a village about 5 kms from the Tawang district headquarters. The incident occurred at around 3:30 AM when the labourers were in deep sleep in a tin-shed house in which they were staying. The hotel was allegedly constructed by blocking the flow of a stream in the heart of Itanagar. 2 hydro-electric projects – Kitpi Phase 1 and Kitpi Phase 2 – in Tawang district have also suffered major damage due to heavy rainfall in the past few days. Rains have also caused landslides, water-logging and damage to drains in Itanagar. Government has issued a general alert to the people against flash floods and landslides in view of heavy rains that have been lashing the state for the past one week. Rains have cut off roads and damaged houses in several districts of the state. In a fresh landslide 2 people died on 23 April in Tawang district, taking the death toll in two days to 19. The fresh landslips occurred at Thongleng Village, 20 km from Tawang town in between Tawang- Lumla road. While 30 houses were badly damaged, one house where the victims were staying was washed away. First wave of floods hits North East India with at least 19 deaths in Tawang district alone in landslide after overnight rains. The High Rainfall areas can be seen in this NASA map.
Arunachal NGT halts Tawang hydro power project The green court has suspended clearance granted in 2012 for 780mw Nyamjang Chhu hydro power project. The court noted that the clearances didn’t consider the impact of project on the habitat of the black-necked crane, a species that breeds on the Tibetan plateau & migrates to Tawang for the winter. The bird, most commonly found in China, is legally protected in Bhutan & India and is considered sacred to certain Buddhist traditions. Other species that are found in the region include the red panda, the snow leopard and the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala. The 6400Cr project was largest of 13 others to be built in the Tawang basin. With the NGT’s order, project developers will need to revisit their environmental clearance process.
WETLANDS & WATERBODIES
National NGT asks states to submit complete list of wetlands The green court has directed all state govts to submit a complete list of wetlands under their jurisdiction after a plea claimed that large areas which are ecologically important are being lost as these have not been notified as protected under law. The court also directed the Environment Ministry to place on record within 2 weeks the states which have submitted their plans regarding wetlands. The matter was listed for next hearing on May 19.
Uttar Pradesh जलदूतों ने संभाली कमान ताकि लातूर बनने से बचा रहे मेरठ पश्चिमी उत्तर प्रदेश के ज्यादातर तालाब अतिक्रमण के शिकार हैं। जो बच गये हैं, उनमें पानी से ज्यादा गंदगी है। हालात की गंभीरता से चेतते हुए नीर फाउंडेशन ने जल संचरनाओं को बचाने की शुरुआत काफी पहले कर दी थी। नीर फाउंडेशन, ‘तालाब बचाओ-तालाब बनाओ’ के नाम से बाकायदा एक अभियान चला रहे हैं। अभियान के तहत् जहां नए तालाब बनाने का कार्य किया जा रहा है, वहीं पुराने तालाबों को पुनर्जीवित करने के प्रयास भी लगातार जारी हैं। तालाबों की कब्जामुक्ति भी इस अभियान का एक हिस्सा है। Excellent report on how people in Meerut in Ganga Yamuna Doab area are trying to save the local water bodies there.
National Haphazard quality monitoring strategies letting water pollution get worse The different set of standards set by pollution control authorities for rural and urban water quality monitoring is based on a fallacious assumption that surface water in rural areas is pristine and free from toxic heavy metals. The points of discharge into surface water bodies and the points of use of water for irrigation, drinking or bathing are all variously monitored in rural and urban areas, leaving out crucial indicators during one measurement or the other. This detailed article provides glimpses of sad state of water quality monitoring situation in India by CPCB and others, how it involves wrong assumptions.
Centre ‘Mann Ki Baat’: PM Modi calls for ‘save water’ movement PM do some mentions of drought & water crisis, but provides no clarity why we are here, there is not even an acknowledgement of seriousness of the crisis, nor any clearly defined road map that the govt will follow to tackle this. It seems the govt is meandering along in ad hoc fashion, the same way it was doing so far.
Government plans model water bill to guide states The Centre is planning to take the legislative route on conservation and distribution of water by giving precedence to drinking water supply over allocation for agricultural and industrial purposes in the country. Under the plan, the water resources ministry will come out with a draft National Water Framework Bill and circulate it to states as a model bill for suitable action as water is a state subject. The draft, replacing the existing draft law of 2013, will serve as a model for legislation at the will focus on that part.
Delhi Paswan warning on DJB water Drinking water supplied by the Delhi Jal Board is not safe for consumption as prescribed quality standards are not being met, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on 19 April. The Minister also urged consumers to complain if packaged drinking water is sold above maximum retail price at places like 5 star hotels, cinemas and airport so that the government can take strict action against such sellers. The Minister said regulation of quality of piped water should come under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, while also regulates packaged drinking water.
Maharashtra Packaged water firms face bromate deadline Acting on the findings of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre that had last year flagged the presence of carcinogen (cancer causing) ‘bromate’ – a byproduct of disinfection – in packaged drinking water in Mumbai, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has made it mandatory to test for this substance in packaged water and set April 30 for its enforcement across India. Though BIS had earlier made it mandatory to test for other carcinogens like Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides, Bromate emerged as a threat after the World Health Organisation and other international agencies reported how the presence of this substance was hazardous.
Haryana Central water body asks MCG to explain on water pollution in Aravali The Central Ground Water Authority in the affidavit filed on 19 April before the NGT has partially agreed to the allegation in a petition that the groundwater in Aravalis is being polluted by untreated waste lying near Bandhwari waste treatment plant on Gurgaon-Faridabad Road. In its 3-page affidavit, filed on the direction of the NGT, the authority has agreed to most of the allegation related to unscientific dumping of waste around Bandhwari waste plant by municipal corporations of Gurgaon & Faridabad. It has also taken notice of the claims that leachate has contaminated ground water, thus affecting Gurgaon, Delhi & Faridabad water tables.
Study India’s groundwater depletion shifting Earth’s axis Groundwater depletion in India is a calamity that now calls for urgent measures. What is less well known, though, is that Earth’s spin around its axis too is especially sensitive to changes in the mass of water beneath Earth’s surface. By the law of rotation, the 45 degrees North and South latitudes would play an especially important role in determining the spin. And India’s groundwater depletion has been causing a shift in the axis, scientists have explained in a paper published earlier this month in the journal Science Advances. The finding came as a surprise, because the quantity of the loss due to depletion of aquifers and drought in the area is nowhere near the losses caused by changes in the ice sheets.
Karnataka Yettinahole not a river diversion project According to CM Siddaramaiah the Yettinahole project was not a river diversion project & the plan was to lift excess water during the monsoon. He also said that a separate board would be formed to speed up work & the project would not harm the coastal region in any way. The CM said that according govt technical reports the project would be a success & he was ready to hold discussions with environmentalists opposing the project.
Odisha Drying Koel leaves steel city parched In steel city Rourkela, a massive drinking water crisis is unfolding in the Rourkela Steel Plant township due to the drying up of the river Koel which provides water to the city. With no let-up in intense heat wave conditions in Odisha and over 59 sunstroke deaths being reported across the state, the govt on 20 April has asked all schools in the state to extend their closure till April 26 & has announced provision of free drinking water to the poor in all urban areas for which an amount of 40cr has been earmarked for the purpose while the office of Special Relief Commissioner will give another 25cr.
Maharashtra Rivers at receiving end of unscientific water conservation efforts Experts have raised concern over “unscientific” voluntary or govt-led initiatives, water conservation measures that could permanently harm river ecosystem. For instance, environmentalists have raised the red flag against 20 Poclain and 24 tipper trucks working round the clock since April 3 to broaden and deepen the Manjara river flowing through Latur so as to increase its water capacity. Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP said while intention of the people cannot be faulted, care must be taken to carry out the conservation properly since rivers in Maharashtra are already abused by dams, pollution and encroachment.
State to crack down on river pollutants Nearly 24 hours after the Supreme Court lifted the stay on an NGT order levying higher penalty for river pollution, the State govt has decided to crack down on industries found polluting rivers. On 22 April , the water resources department issued a govt resolution based on the principle, ‘polluter will pay the price’, announcing that industries found polluting rivers will have to cough up a hefty fine & even face a cut in the water supply. The fines will also apply to non-agricultural and commercial water consumers.
GANGA Centre Think tank on Ganga basin management set up The National Mission for Clean Ganga in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur has launched a think-tank, the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies. The centre will work as a “knowledge hub” to coordinate all activities within the Ganga river basin, including science, technology, research, innovation, social and investment related aspects. The Water Resources Ministry has signed a 10-year Memorandum of Agreement with IIT-Kanpur on 17 April evening on the issue to ensure dynamic evolution of the Ganga river basin management plan.
Uttarakhand Ganga muck may swell during Char Dham yatra Ganga pollution starts right from its origin. According to a latest survey about 1500 Hotels, ashrams along the Char Dham route besides 60 industries in Haridwar continue to dump their waste into the Ganga despite restrictions & the volume might increase by 70% when they reach the capacity during the yatra. The situation might become complex as the STPs along the river are under capacity. Over 6 lakh pilgrims are reported to go on the Char Dham pilgrimage every year.
YAMUNA Uttarakhand लखवार परियोजना के लिए 4 हजार करोड़ मंजूर 20 हरियाणा के मुख्यमंत्री मनोहर लाल केआग्रह पर केंद्रीय जल संसाधन मंत्री उमा भारती ने चार हजार करोड़ रुपये की लखवार व्यासी बहुउद्देशीय परियोजना के निर्माण को हरी झंडी दे दी है। मंत्रलय की ओर से शीघ्र ही इस परियोजना को केंद्रीय मंत्रिमंडल के पास भेजा जाएगा। उत्तराखंड स्थित इस परियोजना के पूरा होने से हरियाणा, उत्तराखंड, उत्तर प्रदेश, हिमाचल, दिल्ली और राजस्थान राज्यों को यमुना का पानी मिलेगा। परियोजना के कुल जल संसाधन में सबसे अधिक 48% हिस्सेदारी हरियाणा की रहेगी, जिससे हरियाणा योग्य भूमि को 1.22 लाख एकड़ फीट अतिरिक्त पानी मिलेगा। Earlier to this on 15 April Haryana CM visited the Lakhwar multipurpose project site & called up Uma for Lakhwar funds. Lakhwar dam will prove biggest of all threats for River Yamuna in its homeland. The impact will be greater than that of Tehri is having on Ganga. The site is infested with landslide as shown in google image. See SANDRP detailed blog on the issue. The CM is reported to have got a positive response from Bharti. How can she allow Lakhwar on Yamuna the largest tributary of Ganga while opposing same on Ganga. Lakhwar matter has already reached NGT where concerned have challenged the construction of dam on the basis of clearances granted in 1980s. The SANDRP latest photo blog also shows how Gangani Small (built) & Vyasi Large (under construction) Hydro Projects have been playing havoc with the Yamuna river.
Delhi NGT poser on Yamuna funds The green tribunal on 19 April directed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to apprise it on how it planned to utilise Rs1400cr sanctioned under Centre’s Namami Gange project for the Yamuna sewage system.
AOL Row The art of ‘cover-up’ on Yamuna floodplain after Ravi Shankar’s event According to media report on April, 23 millions of bits of plastic, chunks of carpet, biscuit wrappers and bottles are strewn for miles and enmeshed into the soil at the Yamuna floodplain that hosted AOL event a month ago. Earlier on on 21 April the green tribunal pulled up AOL for not allowing NGT expert panel to have inspection of event site. The NGT asked the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-led foundation why and on what authority it had disallowed a high-powered committee, set up by the tribunal, from inspecting the site where the festival was held. Beofe the AOL says that NGT teams have not collected water & soil samples and their reports were based on visual assessment hence it would pay fine only after scientific study According AOL claim post-3 days event 28 truck-loads of dry waste and 10 tonnes of wet waste were removed from the flood plain. Now by opposing & countering the 3 reports from NGT expert panel, it seems AOL is only interested in extending this otherwise open-shut case to no end. Almost a month of interview of Sri Ravi Shankar in ToI reported him saying would think twice before venturing in Yamuna flood plain again Though the interview is full of lies yet its worth sharing. Has Sri Sri really got his lessons?
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Telangana Govt to hold talks with Karnataka over irrigation scheme The State Govt would hold talks with Karnataka on April 28 on the inter-state Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme (RDS) irrigation project. The State feels that it has been not able to provide irrigation facility to its farmers through the RDS for various reasons. Though Telangana is entitled to utilise 15.9 TMC of water from RDS, it is not getting even 5 to 6 TMC. RDS is built across River Tungabhadra in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and Raichur district of Karnataka. The inter-state barrage supplies water to Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Telangana to discuss with Karnataka about the share of its water from RDS on Tungabhadra, this is not likely to be rejoiced by AP.
Gujarat Dahej units halve production due to salinity ingress The industries of Dahej and Vilayat estates are facing severe crisis of salinity ingress after sea water gushed deep into the estuary of Narmada river, about 25 km, last week. The problem has multiplied with Sardar Sarovar Dam authorities releasing less water downstream in order to conserve water for drinking purposes. Serious downstream impacts of Sardar Sarovar Dam has increased with massive salinity ingress also affecting freshwater supply to industries and people. Judiciary is the only option for correcting the SSP authorities to release water for the river downstream.
Maharashtra Rs97000cr required to complete 515 irrigation projects: CAG report The amount the govt needs to complete its ongoing irrigation projects 515 of them in all now stands at Rs97101cr. Of these, 85 have been pending for more than three decades & 247 for more than 15 years, the report said. The cost overruns taxpayers have to fork out for such delays and corruption in nearly 401 irrigation projects work out to Rs44061cr. Another critical CAG report on Maha irrigation projects.
Punjab Centre sanctions 2 irrigation projects According to State Govt. Centre has sanctioned Kandi Canal Stage-1 & Bist Doab canal under ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna’ which will bring an additional 1.74 lakh hectares under irrigation. Rs551.87cr has been sanctioned for Bist Doab canal irrigation project & Rs73.44cr Kandi Canal Stage-1 irrigation project.
Madhya Pradesh Govt forms panel to identify sand mining zones in Chambal On 18 April state govt constituted a committee to carry out an exercise to identify river banks for quarrying while state wildlife board recommended inclusion of a hydrologist & an ecologist in the panel whose names are yet to be announced. Illegal sand quarrying is continuing in Chambal sanctuary despite a blanket ban on mining. During a recent hearing of a PIL in Gwalior bench of high court, the judge pulled up the govt & recommended various steps to check the mining.
Karnataka Sand mining to resume in Udupi district Deputy Commissioner Dr Vishal R said sand mining will resume on 23 April in the district as 23 sand blocks have been identified in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area and work will begin in 20 blocks and the remaining 3 will start functioning soon. In the non-CRZ area, 11 blocks have been identified. Among the, 9 are under process. As much as 403000 metric tonnes of sand is available. The sand mining activities will go on up to May-end and the work shall be banned for two months due to rain.
Arunachal Rise of another sun Field report by Nivedita Khandekar Solar power has many uses, interesting to see how it can be used for medical facilities, particularly in NE state like Arunachal Pradesh, where this could be answer to the push for big hydro as far as local needs are concerned. Also see, Sun’s lifeline for remote Indian hospitals Another story by Nivedita Khandekar about wider application of solar and Geo thermal power sources across Arunachal Pradesh.
Nepal The first anniversary of the earthquake The most dramatic and significant landslide was the Langtang rock and ice avalanche, which was probably the earthquake triggered event that killed the most individuals. Incidentally, this was one of the earthquake triggered 5,159 significant landslides in 14 districts. Of these, 464 landslides directly impacted physical infrastructure. The earthquake killed over 9000 people, with 255 still missing. Dave Petley provides more accurate description (based on information and survey since the event) of the Langtang landslide triggered by the earthquake. Also see, Damaged hydropower plants yet to bounce back Last year’s earthquakes, aftershocks damaged up to 15 hydropower plants, reducing power generation for the national grid by 120.22Mw. Earthquake-induced flash floods & landslides during last monsoon further damaged some already damaged projects as well as some new ones.
Approve share allotment to locals affect by Karnali HEP The Agriculture & Water Resources Committee of the Parliament on 18 April directed the govt to immediately approve the proposal put forth by Ministry of Energy regarding the amount of shares to be allotted to locals residing in areas to be affected by the 900Mw Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. Interesting development in Nepal about allocating shares in hydropower project to locals.
Bhutan Nikachhu Hydro Energy will be a model project Construction of the Nikachhu Hydro Energy project in Trongsa could start as early as July this year. Tangsibji Hydro Energy Ltd, the project developer, awarded the final contract for civil and hydro-mechanical works of the 118MW project to Hindustan Construction Company Ltd on April 20. The contract includes procurement of works, plant, services for construction of civil structures, erection, testing and commissioning of hydro-mechanical equipment of the project.
Bangladesh The return of the Hilsa The famous Hilsa fish is in sharp decline across Asia due to overfishing, pollution and lack of water in the rivers, but Bangladesh is the one shining exception. Ironically, the reason for the availability was a total ban on Hilsa fishing for a few weeks last autumn and the autumn before that. The ban during the season when the Hilsa migrate back to the sea was bitterly resented by fishermen at the time, but they have been happy since then.
REST OF THE WORLD
Brazil Amazon dam project suspended over concerns for indigenous people Plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon have been put on hold after Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, suspended the licensing process over concerns about its impact on the indigenous community in the region. In a letter sent to the heads of Eletrobrás, the state energy company & Funai, Brazil’s agency on indigenous affairs, the Ibama president, stressed the “unviability of the project given the indigenous component”. Around 10K Munduruku people live around the river Tapajós. The dam would flood a vast area, requiring the forced removal of at least some indigenous communities.
US Hydro Power the mean energy source All this goodness of hydro energy comes at a price, that is the harm dams do to fish runs. One more problem with dams, power generating or not, is sedimentation. Rivers naturally carry silt, and the faster they flow, the larger and heavier the suspended grains are. When a silt-laden river suddenly slows near the reservoirs the silt settles out to the bottom, decreasing the storage capacity. The short-term effect on fish of releasing all that material in 2020, when the dams are scheduled to be breached, is hard to predict.
Karnataka World Earth Day: Soliga folk songs to protect mother Earth The Soligas are among the over 35 lakh tribals of Karnataka who transmit their traditional knowledge about nature through their folk songs from generation to generation to protect the flora and fauna around them. Though all Soliga folk songs reflect the tribals knowledge of the forests, one song, Goruke, talks of a spider weaving its web, showing an intimacy with nature that is hard to imagine for city folk. They also speak about the animal habitats, their food habits and reproduction season. Interestingly they even make observations about animal biology & find explanations for it in their songs.