Patoda: How a village in drought hit State turned water self-reliant At a time when almost every village in drought-hit Marathwada is facing acute water scarcity tiny Patoda, on the fringes of water-starved Aurangabad city, is offering valuable lesson in water management conservation and harvesting. Though it is surrounded by arid villages but Patoda’s residents regard water as more precious than money. They follow strict rules about usage and strictly carry the water audits. Water meters are installed in every households and entire village recycles each drop of waste water it generates. Today no rain water flows out of the village. Percolation has recharged the aquifers and the water table has risen. So effective is its water conservation model that Patoda has now become a model for the rest of Marathwada and has won 22 state & national awards. But it did not happened over nights. In fact it is a result of over 10 years joint efforts done by villagers.
The water sources of the village like Kham River, had been reduced to a nullah with unchecked release of sewage and effluents & wells had no potable water. Even the govt water supply scheme was neither enough nor potable. All this forced villagers to look elsewhere for a solution. The first step was saving rainwater by building several bunds across the nullahs, stabilisation ponds set up for waste water where multiple forms of bacteria and algae act together to clean waste water which is then used for farming. The gram panchayat decided to set up a water filtration plant on its own. Then came the concept of a water meter and ATM machine. The gram panchayat provides 20 litres of filtered mineral water free to all the 581 families that use ATM cards. There are water meters installed to curb excess use. Water from the govt supply scheme and some wells is used for washing and cleaning. Though there were govt funds for various schemes the core contribution came from the villagers.
Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, a group of villagers from Malakpur in Shamli district are trying to breathe new life into Katha, a 150-km long river which is dead now. The self-made engineering plan is to put up check dams to harvest monsoon water along the one kilometre stretch of the river bed which is 5-40 feet deep. At present, in the absence of check dams, it flows into the Yamuna. Over the last two weeks the villagers have launched a “one house, one pot” water donation movement. In Madhya Pradesh people of two villages (Chhari & Tori in Palera block) in Tiakamgarh district in Bundelkhand got together to build a 150 ft long, 15 ft wide and 5 ft tall stop dam in Sanghani river to conserve water during monsoon. On the other hand, about 20 villages in the drought-hit Navalgund taluk of Dharward district stand as a stark contrast to the calamity prevailing in the neighbourhood. A majority of farmers in these villages are unaffected by the drought. They are able to cultivate crops and keep them healthy by sufficiently watering them, and are making profits all because of are the farm ponds. The farmers of Mandya district Karnataka which is notorious for farmers sucicides is presently experiencing an agricultural revolution of sorts as farmers are now selling organic produce for a profit.
National India is the biggest virtual exporter of water According to the Water Footprint Network India is a large virtual net export of water because of agricultural products. Its database for India shows that except for Brahmaputra and Mahanadi, all river basins with a population of more than 20 million experience water scarcity for a major part of the year. The two most populous basins Ganga & Indus suffer significant-to-severe levels of water scarcity for 7 and 11 months in a year, respectively. Also see, India’s farms have a far worse scorecard on water use The adverse effects of rice procurement in states such as Punjab & Haryana on water tables have been noted by many, including govt itself. For example, a 2014 finance ministry working paper notes that extensive rice cultivation in Punjab and Haryana has created serious erosion in water tables. No efforts have been taken to rationalize procurement destinations despite such concerns.
Op-Ed Invest in & improve micro irrigation system to cope with drought Minor irrigation structures play a significant role in recharging of wells, drought mitigation and flood control. Studies show that micro irrigation system helps save water, reduce cost of cultivation and improve crop yield. Unfortunately, minor irrigation projects have received only scant attention from policymakers over time. Micro irrigation system comprising drip and sprinkler irrigation has greater potential to improve water use efficiency in agriculture. Despite various promotional efforts undertaken by State govts, their level of adoption and spatial spread has remained low.
Sugar cane vs Marathwada’s drought Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP wrote in a November 2014 that a sugar factory uses 1,500 litres of water to crush one tonne of cane by the lowest estimate & in the 2014-15 season, 70 factories in Marathwada crushed around 15.4 mt of cane using 23.14 million cubic metres of water “by the lowest estimate of 1,500 litres per tonne”. She further mentions that this amount of water would have been sufficient to irrigate 8K acres of groundnut. It could have taken care of the drinking water needs of 1.5 million people till the monsoon of 2015. A detailed piece on the Sugarcane drought saga. There are several issues here, but it is good that a serious debate is ensuing.
Aurangabad farmers seek irrigation subsidy dues pending for 3 years A group of farmers from Aurangabad district and nearby areas on 25 April staged an agitation in front of the divisional commissioner’s office demanding the release of dues towards subsidy that the govt had promised for adopting drip irrigation techniques. The govt bears around 45-55% cost of the drip irrigation system installed by the farmers in the form of subsidy. Many farmers from Marathwada have adopted the water efficient techniques of irrigation in the wake of consecutive years of deficient monsoon. With the subsidy yet to be released, the farmers are reeling under mounting debt. The protesters also alleged that there is no online registration for claiming subsidy for drip irrigation.
‘People’s Assembly’ to save Pune’s environment With Maharashtra facing its gravest water crisis in decades, a group of environmentalists and water conservationists in Pune has decided to revive an age-old tradition to formulate innovative solutions. Two non-governmental organisations Biospheres & Tellus with the backing of the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Pune Forest Division, held the first ‘Paryavaran Chavadi’ an assembly to discuss environmental problems at the Parvati Hills on 22 April. A ‘Chavadi,’ a traditional facet of Maharashtra’s rural life, is a place where the village community gathers and public business is transacted.
Posh Mumbai apartments not immune to water crisis These towers are some of the sought-after addresses in Mumbai. Apartments here command premium prices; in fact, one of the most expensive ones in the country commands Rs 1 lakh a square foot. Yet, they have to depend on water tankers, even during a good monsoon. The municipal water supply is insufficient. Although the problem in towers cannot be compared to the one faced by slum-dwellers, it illustrates how people who can afford to spend crores on a flat still have to grapple with water shortage.
Madhya Pradesh Farmer beating the drought water smart farming With no proper rain since August 2015 in MP, Pritpal Singh Randhawa have shown how to fight the rain-starved land by switching to a crop needing less water. They grew coriander and made considerable profit at a time when other farmers growing wheat or soyabean made negligible profits. The news report also mentions that the Betwa river in the region has turned bone dry. Also the trend of farmers shifting from Punjab to Central and Western India and practicing water intensive farming in dry areas is not good.
Andhra Pradesh Kuppam staring at drinking water crisis The unusual rise in mercury levels up to 42 degrees Celsius in Kuppam in Chittoor district during the last one week is worrying people, followed by fall in the groundwater levels at several places. Villages around Kuppam town are facing severe water problem, and reports of women staging protests have come in recent days. At present, residents of Kuppam are being supplied with water once in three days, leading to uneasy situation. On 18 April, people of Dalavai Kothapalle hamlet staged a demonstration at the mandal office in Kuppam, demanding water.
Karnataka Water in Almatti hits dead storage level Almatti, one of the major reservoirs of Karnataka and the lifeline of Vijayapura district, has reached dead storage level over a month before the arrival of monsoon. Officials said the occurrence was not unprecedented. The available water can be used till June, when the monsoon arrives, the official said. Though norms prohibit the use of dead storage water as it helps maintain ecological balance, a provision has been made to use it for drinking purpose during emergencies.
Telangana VVIPs guzzle as Hyderabad struggles for water Interestingly, the VVIP consumers also owe huge dues to the board. The CM’s camp office itself owes bill dues of Rs 65,962 to the water board till April this year. Raj Bhavan owes about Rs 1.14 lakh & Even the assembly owes a mammoth Rs1 Cr to the water board. It was surprising that only a few offices including the assembly, council and protocol offices have been consuming such a huge quantity of water. Most of the water is being utilized for nurseries and watering plants on the premises of the assembly, instead of using recycled water for these purposes.
Uttar Pradesh Ponds go bone-dry in Bundelkhand villages With May yet to arrive, the Gorai-Mughli village in Banda village faces acute scarcity of drinking and irrigation water, as out of 142 hand pumps, 36 are damaged. Not a single government tube well, canal or pipeline is close to the village. Water-boring has also proved difficult due to the rough terrain. According villagers the last time the ponds went dry like this was in 1989. Out of the 12K odd Chandeli and Bundeli era traditional ponds known for their engineering brilliance which dotted the Bundelkhand landscape, only 2K remains.
SANDRP Blog Submission to Mihir Shah Committee For Restructuring of CWC & CGWB It is proposed that the current CWC and CGWB should be reconstituted along following lines. Encouraged by communication from the committee and MoWR that the suggestions need not be limited by the TORs since TORs are also extendable, I have proposed a new institutional structure that is different than the current one. A brief outline of this was presented at the 6th meeting of Mihir Shah headed committee on Jan 11, 2016, it is elaborated here further.
INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES
Karnataka Give and take water, govt tells Maharashtra According to CM Siddaramaiah the govt will explore a permanent solution on sharing water from the Krishna River & its tributaries with the upper riparian Maharashtra to meet the drinking water solution during summers on a “give and take” basis. Maharashtra needed 4tmc water from Almatti dam (for Jat, Akkalkot & Solapur) to meet drinking water needs & around same quantity of water was required for north Karnataka districts. Meanwhile in response to Karnataka’s request for 4tmc of water, Maharashtra on 18 April released 1tmc.
WETLANDS & WATER BODIES
Karnataka Asia’s second largest tank could dry up soon With heat wave sweeping across Karnataka, the water level has depleted in Shanti Sagara tank, said to be second largest tank ever built in Asia -after Joysagar Lake in Sibsagar town of Assam. According to Pakirappa H, a member of zilla panchayat last summer, the tank had 25 ft of water and now the water level is just a few feet. If the evaporation due to increasing temperature and use continue like this, the lake will dry up within two weeks. The 800-year-old tank, located about 270 km from Bengaluru, has a circumfer ence of 30 km and water spread area of 6550 acres.
Telangana Save city lakes from pollution: HC Making it clear that separate enclosures are a must to protect the Hussainsagar and other lakes in the city and Ranga Reddy district from pollution during Ganesh immersion, the Hyderabad High Court on 25 April asked the govt to take steps for construction of such enclosures. Stressing on the need for a coordinated effort between the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority for restricting the height of idols, the bench questioned the counsel representing GHMC as to why the civic body did not take steps to clean the lake.
Maharashtra MoEF misses deadline for Kopri wetlands reclassification, gets extn On 15 Jan this year, NGT had given the MoEF 3 months’ time to visit the wetlands & mangroves and classify the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) in this area. This direction came soon after greens filed a petition in the tribunal stating that the MoEF had faultily reclassified the wetland in Kopri from CRZ1 to CRZ 3, thus allowing construction activities in this green zone in Kopri. An area that falls under CRZ 1, which cannot have any constructions on it as against CRZ 3 where there is no restriction. The deadline to submit the report was extended by a good 10 weeks. The next hearing will be held after two and half months on July 11. The MoEF has enough time to survey the wetlands and submit their report this time.
Op-Ed Shrinking wetlands by Manas KR Das In the illustrative first part the author finds pollution and encroachment two single biggest reasons behind vanishing and degradation of India’s wetlands. He also mentions that massive urbanization is posing a serious threat to the protection of the wetlands. In the second part the writer concludes that public apathy and dearth of regulations leading to rampant commercial exploitation of wetlands by govts and private builders. Furthermore, river channels & irrigation tanks are excluded from protection status under the Wetland Rules.
Arunachal Man behind stalling 780Mw Nyamjang Chhu HEP arrested Sad to know that Lama Lobsang Gyatso, a fierce opponent of hydro power projects in Tawang and General Secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation has been taken to Tawang Police station following his comments that Guru Rinpoche, the Abbot of Tawang Monastery should stay away from the Hydro Power issues in Tawang district. It is not clear whether he has been arrested. When contacted, the OC of Tawang Police did not give any comments on the issue.
Assam Nearly 1lakh people affected by floods Unusual drought, flood, hail storm, snowing, heat stroke going together in country. Pre-monsoon floods like the ones being witnessed now are a rarer occurrence. Nearly 1 lakh people have been affected by the floods so far in the districts of Jorhat, Sivasagar, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Cachar and Charaideo. So far about 13,000 hectares of crop area is under water in the state. Train services on the Silchar-Lumding-Guwahati line are seriously affected due to landslides at 4 places between Lumding and Badarpur. Arunachal Pradesh is also badly hit by the rains. Parts of Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura have received rainfall and hailstorm.
Centre Real time data for flood forecast Statement by Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat in Lok Sabha on 28 April 2016. Ministry has taken up National Hydrology Project that envisages setting up of a system for timely and reliable water resources data acquisition, storage, collation and management. It will help in gathering hydro-metrological data for analysis on a real time basis. Also The National Water Informatics Centre shall provide a Single Window source of updated data on water resources & allied themes including real time data as per availability; and provide value added products and services to all stake holders for its management and sustainable development for the benefit of all communities across the nation.
National High air and water pollution in India’s 41 tier-II cities Central Pollution Control Board finds that the waste treatment capacity of the cities barely covers 10% of their sewage. Water quality monitoring indicates that the rivers are polluted in downstream of major urban centres due to large-scale water abstraction and discharge of untreated/partially treated waste water. According to the environment minister, municipal corporations are largely unable to handle the entire sewage generated with the existing infrastructure. Also see Delhi is home to unbreathable air & undrinkable water
Odisha River water in state not safe for drinking According to Bikram Keshari Arukha State forest & environment minister water in none of 11 major rivers or their tributaries in the state were suitable for drinking. He added that Kathajodi river in Cuttack and Daya river in Bhubaneswar were among the worst-polluted rivers. Incidentally, the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar witnessed spurt in jaundice cases, caused by polluted water.
Maharashtra NGT pulls up PCMC over Pavana river pollution A week after the green court slapped a show-cause notice on the Pimpri Chichwad Municipal Corporation for polluting the Pavana River, the officers remained blissfully unaware about the order. Although the legal department admitted to receiving the show-cause notice, the corporation’s remained oblivious.
NARMADA Sardar Sarovar dam-affected people on hunger strike for rehab Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar along with Sardar Sarovar dam-affected people from Barwani & Dhar districts started a three-day hunger strike in Bhopal on 27 April demanding rehabilitation of the 7000 homeless. Patkar said the height of the dam was increased from 122 to 139 metres and now the gates could be closed anytime, which would allow more water storage in the submergence area. Patkar termed the govt’s complete rehabilitation claim as false and said 7000 families from Madhya Pradesh, 1200 from Maharashtra and 300 from Gujarat are yet to get relief.
GANGA Centre Wildlife Institute to undertake biodiversity restoration WII 3 year long project to work towards the restoration of select aquatic species that thrive in the river will cost cost Rs25cr. Without ensuring adequate flow in the river, the success of project is under suspicion. For a flowing river govt must first refrain from building any new dam and hydro project and allow maximum e-flow downstream existing dams, barrages and hydro projects including Run of the Rivers. Working towards catchment restoration and reviving drying natural springs and streams is also desirable and sustainable solution in the long run.
Ganga clean-up plan to revive polluted Doon streams The Union ministry of environment has written to ministry of river development to get two drying streams (Rispana and Bindal which flow in Dehradun, enter the river Suswa before falling into the Ganga) of Uttarakhand revived under the Ganga rejuvenation plan. Municipal figures show that the streams are now highly polluted as about 30 metric tons of the city’s daily waste enters them. Another major cause of the rising pollution in them is that over 45 slums housing about 30,000 dwellers are situated on Rispana and Bindal banks.
CPCB instructs 31 municipalities to set up STPs on Ganga banks To prevent disposal of solid waste into the Ganga, the Central Pollution Control Board under the Namami Gange project has instructed the municipalities of 31 towns built on the river front across the state to set up sewage treatment and solid waste management plants. Instructions have also been issued to all municipalities to ensure door-to-door collection of solid waste and submit a project report on the same.
Uttar Pradesh Ganga ‘drying up’ as summer intensifies across India Locals in Allahabad, where Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati meets Ganga at Prayag, expressed their concern over the falling water-level of the Ganga amid worsening heat wave conditions. The condition is such that there is no water in the river. People can easily walk and cross the river from one end to another. The water level has become so less people are extremely worried as Prayag is losing its importance. The country is reeling under severe summer with temperature touching almost 45 degree Celsius in many parts of the country.
Gharials, turtles at risk as Ganga shrinks to a trickle The Ganga is a pale shadow of itself this year in the district, and the turtles, fish and gharials its waters teem with are at grave risk. Rivers are being deprived of essential flow when it matters most of survival of aquatic life which figures nowhere in water distribution policies of respective State govts. No doubt there is less water available than found in previous years, but it is also true that continue water diversion from barrages Madhya Ganga at Bijnor and Bhimgoda & Cheela in Haridwar for irrigation and hydro power has compounded the situation further. Last year, in its blog SANDRP has highlighted how Farakka Barrage is impacting Ganga River, aquatic system and fishing communities.
NGT asks CPCB, UPPCB to analyse soil samples near Aril river The green court has directed the Central and Uttar Pradesh pollution monitoring bodies to analyse soil samples from agricultural farms near Aril river in Moradabad district. It also directed Central Ground Water Authority to carry out a detailed survey of ground water contamination and submit a report by May 30. A paper mill has been continuously discharging its untreated effluents and dumping solid waste into Aril river which meets Ramganga at Bareilly. Consequently, Aril is blocked causing an overflow during the monsoons. As a result, the water and the effluents run into the adjoining agricultural lands in Sambhal district and damage crops and planted vegetation.
YAMUNA Haryana Water shortage hits several dists as Yamuna level drops After Ganga its Yamuna. Last year in April there was 13761 cusec water at Bijnor that has come down to 892 cusec this year. Similarly the average discharge of water at Hathnikund Barrage on the Yamuna this month stood at 2,278 cusecs against 5,716 cusecs recorded in 2014 and 6,323 cusecs in April 2015. Although post NGT order of increasing the share of Yamuna river from 160 to 352 cusec there is a little improvement and the river is still managing trickling upto Karnal which was not the case for almost past one decade. But seeing the hot spell it seems the river will turn dry completely in May 2016.
Uttar Pradesh A people’s movement in to revive Katha river A group of villagers from Malakpur in Shamli district are trying to breathe new life into Katha, a 150-km long river which is dead now. With help from a local scientist, farmers are leading the effort to turn a 1 km stretch of the barren riverbed into a lake. The self-made engineering plan is to put up check dams to harvest monsoon water along the one kilometre stretch of the river bed which is 5-40 feet deep. At present, in the absence of check dams, it flows into the Yamuna. Over the last two weeks the villagers have launched a “one house, one pot” water donation movement.
Water crisis looming large with searing temperatures, polluted Yamuna Agra facing double whammy of increasing pollution and decreasing water level in Yamuna River. The city needs 402MLD water but able to get only 250MLD. Due to pollution authorities are forced to add 10 times more chlorine and alum than WHO standards. The situation will go out of control if pollution levels in the river increase.
Madhya Pradesh NGT seeks reply on illegal sand mining Unsatisfied by information provided by state mining corporation, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, over social activist Medha Patkar’s allegation that rampant illegal sand mining was on in catchment and submergence areas of Sardar Sarovar Project in 4 districts, NGT directed respondent departments to come back with complete reply on May 25.
China starts construction of Tibet’s biggest hydropower plant on Yangtze River China has started construction of 1.2Gw Suwalong the first hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River the headwaters of the Yangtze River at the junction of Mangkam county in Tibet & Batang county in Sichuan province. It is also reported that the dam could pave the way for other projects in the headwaters of the adjacent Nu (Salween) and Lancang (Mekong) rivers to “fuel development” of hydro power in Tibet. Critics say that the Suwalong dam is being built at a time when the weak grid infrastructure and falling demand for electricity has left many hydropower stations lying idle in the mountainous southwest region.
THE REST OF ASIA
China’s water hegemony in Asia China is clearly not content with being the world’s most dammed country, and the only thing that could temper its dam frenzy is a prolonged economic slowdown at home. More fundamentally, China’s unilateralist approach underscores the imperative for institutionalized water cooperation in Asia, based on a balance between rights and obligations. Renewed efforts are needed to try and co-opt China in rules-based cooperation. It wasn’t geography but guns that established China’s chokehold on major transnational river systems in Asia
REST OF THE WORLD
US Texas and Louisiana residents sue dam operator over flooding Nearly 240 Texas and Louisiana residents have sued the Sabine River Authority over March flooding that inundated hundreds of homes and closed Interstate 10. Communities in Southeast Texas and Louisiana were flooded by up to 20 inches of rain last month that forced evacuations along and near the Sabine River, which serves as a long border between the two states. Interesting to see dam operators being sued in US for wrong operation of dams, creating damages in the downstream Texas, would look forward to knowing the outcome.
India No link between extreme rainfall events & climate change: Javadekar Responding to a quarry in Parliament on 25 April Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar has admitted that there is a rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events in the last 40-50 years in India, but doesn’t think the phenomenon is linked with climate change. Minister continues to be in denial mode about increased frequency and intensity of extreme flood events having climate change footprints.
Op-Ed Public policy needs to figure out the complexities of the polluter pays principle A highway cutting through Central India’s deep forests and a festival that was held along the banks of Delhi’s dying Yamuna river have thrown up related questions pertaining to the environment. In both cases, the activities were eventually condoned under the polluter pays principle which allows the project to go ahead & given the illegal/predetermined nature of certain projects, the system in the current form has aided wrong precedents. In essence, the polluter pays principle, when combined with a reading of fait accompli creates a complex nexus. A thought-provoking Hindu Op-Ed by Neha Sinha BNHS Quoting deforestation due to NH-7 & damage to Yamuna flood plain by AOL fest, the author questions the usefulness of polluters pay principle which in most cases contradicts the Public Doctrine Trust and suggests to adopt an ecosystem services approach to understand the damage & cost of damage to environment.