INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES
Center Meeting held to sort out Mahanadi issue Union Water Ministry on July 31 called a Meeting of representatives of Odisha & Chattisgarh Govts to consider the various water resources issues/projects in Mahanadi Basin. It was decided that the Central Water Commission would invariably ensure that the DPRs for the projects in Mahanadi basin which are appraised by it, are duly shared with the other riparian State and that the riparian State is given a period of 45 days to convey their views/comments on the project. It was also decided that the DPRs would be delivered to the Resident Commissioners of respective States and thereafter the representatives of the State would be invited to share their observations. The meeting was called in pursuance of the assurance given by Water Minister Uma Bharti in Parliament on July 26. Earlier, fearing that dams on river Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh would have adverse impact on Odisha, former union minister Jairam Ramesh has asked CM Naveen Patnaik to take up all party team to Delhi to raise the matter with the PM. He also said that Congress will send a delegation to Chhattisgarh in a week to study the sites where dam and barrages are proposed to be constructed. On the other hand, former CM Ajit Jogi having broken away from the Congress on July 25 attacked Congress over its opposition to Chhattisgarh’s plan to construct dams & barrages on Mahanadi river.
Mahadayi River Row Karnataka observes bandh The pro- Kannada and farmer associations have called for ‘Karnataka Bandh’ on July 30 to protest against the Tribunal’s interim order rejecting Karnataka’s interim plea for sharing the Mahadayi river water with Goa. All commercial establishments, schools, colleges and govt offices remained closed while no untoward activities reported yet. Incidents of stone-throwing, burning of tyres and effigies and blocking of roads and highways by thousands of farmers, students and pro-Kannada activists were reported. Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. According to a central water commission study, of the total (197-220 tmcft) water in the river basin, the yield in the state’s catchment area is 44-53 tmcft. The state plans to use around 37 tmcft of its water for drinking water and hydel power generation. The Kalasa-Banduri Nala (diversion) project, which will utilise 7.56 tmcft of water from the inter-state Mahadayi River, is being undertaken by Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag. It involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, tributaries of Mahadayi River, to divert 7.56 TMC to Malaprabha River which supplies drinking water needs of the twin cities. CM Siddaramaiah had earlier said that after consulting legal experts and leaders of all political parties the further course of action would be decided. Goa govt had earlier rejected Karnataka’s attempt for an out-of-court settlement of the dispute stating that the people of the state felt it was more prudent to settle the dispute through the Tribunal. Also see, 1200 outfits throw weight behind Bandh contary to this, Mangaluru refueses to observe bandh called by pro-Kannada organisations over Mahadayi tribunal verdict. The region presents a strong case to opt not to stand in solidarity with the protesting mass to get water. Earlier on July 26 Mahadayi tribunal rejected Karnataka plea to divert 7.56 TMC water from Mhadei basin to Malprabha River. The tribunal set up over Mahadayi river water dispute pronounced the oral judgement of its interim order in this regard. A detailed interim judgement would follow. Karnataka has been vigorously trying to divert the Mahadayi water to Malprabha basin by constructing canals between both the rivers. However, the tribunal, in the interim order passed, rejected the southern state’s plea. Following this interim order, the hearing would now continue before the tribunal.
Tamil Nadu & Karnataka Karnataka must release water in time for samba Farmers want the State govt to ensure that Karnataka released water in the Cauvery in time to undertake ‘samba’ paddy cultivation, “as ‘kuruvai’ had failed for five successive years in the delta and they were expecting water for at least the ‘samba’ crop. Raising the issue at the grievance day meeting here on July 29, district vice-president of Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Thozhilalar Sangam V. Jeevakumar said Karnataka was dodging release of water as per final orders of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and thereby denying delta farmers a chance to earn their livelihood. It was a gross violation of basic rights of delta farmers which needed to be countered by the Tamil Nadu govt.
Tamil Nadu & Andhra Palar check dam blocking water flow The apprehensions of farmers in Vellore district came true on July 29 as the check dam built across the Palar in Andhra brimmed with water following heavy rainfall in the last two days. Only a few weeks ago, Andhra govt completed work on raising the height of this check dam by 12 feet. It is located at Perumpallam in Chittoor district on Andhra -Tamil Nadu border. Farmers, particularly those in the upper Palar region, are worried that this would prevent any flow of water into the dry riverbed in the district.
Telangana & Andhra Telengana defying KRMB orders alleges Andhra The irrigation minister Devineni Umamaheswar Rao of Andhra has on July 30 said that his govt will also write Uma Bharati seeking ‘justice’ for the lower riparian state of Andhra. He alleged that the Telangana govt has been doing injustice to AP by not following the orders of the KRMB and releasing water to four new irrigation projects. A formal complaint was lodged on July 25. The fight between the two states has recently escalated after the Telangana irrigation officials released about 16000 cusecs of water to these new projects. Now, the AP officials are worried over the ‘diversion’ as it would further delay inflows into Srisailam reservoir. New reason for Krishna water dispute between Telangana and AP.
Good monsoon but over 25% of India is still thirsting for rains As on 28 July the monsoon has been normal so far, with countrywide rainfall being 1% above the long term average. But this information alone doesn’t provide the full picture. An analysis of IMD’s district-wise data reveals scanty or deficient rain in 178 districts across the country, more than a quarter of all districts, while 171 have seen excess rainfall. The rest of the country has received normal rain (253 districts), with data on the remaining districts missing or not available. Nearly half-way into the four-month rainy season, the district rain map reveals information that sub-divisional or state-wise data does not show. For instance, statewide data shows a rain deficit of 16% for Jharkhand, which puts it in the “normal” category. But the situation in the state’s districts is different. Half of Jharkhand’s 24 districts have received deficient rain (which at the district level is defined as rainfall that’s below 80% of normal). Likewise, Bihar has 13 districts with deficit rains, Odisha has 12, Haryana 9 & UP 13, in addition to four districts where rain has been scanty (less than 40% of normal). In fact, a swathe in eastern India, including north Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, parts of Bihar and interior Odisha, are yet to receive good rains. This is apart from Gujarat, west Rajasthan, many parts of northeast, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh where the overall rainfall in the state puts them in the deficient category. Gujarat is the worst hit of all states, with a huge 57% deficit in Saurashtra and Kutch, and 43% in Gujarat region.
Above Normal’ Rains Unlikely on Bleak La Niña Chances The monsoon rainfall this year may be normal & not `above normal’ as was predicted by the weather office in its forecast in June due to reduced chances of La Nina weather event. The July climate outlook issued by IMD Regional Climate Centre for south Asia expects July, Aug, Sep rainfall over the country to be more than 100% of the normal rainfall, but not `above normal’ (104% to 110%). IMD in June had forecast the average rainfall to be 106% of the normal monsoon rainfall of 89 mm (with +-4% model error).
IMD sees monsoon rains picking up pace in first week of August So far, 80% of the country’s area has received normal to excess rainfall and 20% has received deficient rains. Saurashtra and Gujarat are facing the highest rainfall deficit in the country of 57% and 43% from the long-period average, respectively. But the coming week may hold good news.
National Extent of damage due to flood as on 25 July 2016 (cumulative figures)
MP State has just 3 forecasting stations Even though the State is the second largest in area, it is 24th for the number of forecasting stations. UP has the highest 35, followed by Bihar 32, Assam 24 & Andhra 24. Only 5 states have lesser forecasting stations than MP, Delhi & Tripura (2 each) & Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1 each). In MP, the stations are situated in Hoshangabad, Mandla and Mandsaur districts. While the former two are on the Narmada river, the third is situated on a dam on the Chambal river. While the 3 stations cover two rivers, the 7 other major rivers in the state do not have these. Of these Tapti, Shipra and Kewai are either in spate or overflowing in the current floods. It also turns out that the deaths have not occurred in the districts where the stations are situated.
Assam Over 16L people hit as flood situation worsens The flood situation turned critical on July 27 as Brahmaputra, along with its numerous tributaries, inundated 21 districts in the Brahmaputra valley. Over 16 lakh people have been hit. Three more people drowned, raising the toll in this second wave of floods to 15. According to State Disaster Management Authority, more than 1.2 lakh people have taken shelter in 472 relief camps. Nearly 2 lakh ha of crop area has also been inundated. The floodwaters have completely inundated Kaziranga National Park, leaving the wildlife with no food. The animals have already started migrating to higher grounds outside the park. Many of them have been killed by speeding vehicles while trying to cross the national highway that runs parallel to the park.
Bihar Kishanganj reels under worst flood in 30 years Kishanganj district in north Bihar is reeling under severe flood affecting 1.65 lakh people across 285 villages. An alert has been sounded and a team each from the NDRF and SDRF are carrying out relief and rescue works. The district received 100 cm rain over the past week causing the worst flooding in the last 30 years. 3 people have died due to rain & 2 others because of lightening. The Mahananda river is in spate leading to massive flooding in the catchment areas. 85 villages are severely hit. Waters have reached National Highway No 31 along the Bihar-West Bengal border. People have taken shelter in relief camps set up at schools and other government facilities. Similarly, 6 out of 14 blocks in Gopalganj are reeling under severe flood conditions. With the water level rising in Gandak river and flood water entering several villages in the low lying areas, more than one lakh people have been displaced. DM maintained that Nepal discharged 2.5 lac cusec of water into the Gandak river. On July 26, Nepal discharged 3.5 lac cusec of water, prompting the Bihar govt to issue an alert in the district. Surprisingly, the DM refused to call the flood situation a crisis and instead asserted that it was mere water logging. Unconfirmed news reports claim death of 10 persons in the floods. Nearly half a million people have been affected by the floods in 8 districts. Flood situation is serious in a few districts following rising water level in rivers, particularly Kosi and Gandak. The state government issued flood alert in east and west Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali districts.
Himachal Unscientific road construction leading to landslides Landslides triggered by rain on July 27 night blocked the Dharamsala and Kangra road. The landslides occurred as hills were either cut for widening of the roads or for commercial purpose. Near lower Sakoh, the road was blocked three times last year. The said portion of the road is witnessing landslides due to unscientific and illegal cutting of hill by a private owner. The fragile hill has been cut up to about 40 feet. The area where the hill has been cut is caving in slowly. This has also damaged the Dharamsala-Kangra road. The PWD had imposed a fine of Rs 4 lakh on the owner of the land. The report clearly shows how ignorantly we are taking Himalayas to task and in process inviting the boomeranging effects.
Sangla-Chitkul link yet to be restored Tribals of Batseri, Chitkul, Rakcham, hoteliers and camping site tourist operators have criticized the state disaster management authorities, the PWD and the Forest Department for their failure to raise proper crate walls and put in place conservation works to protect apple orchards, houses and tourism sites from recurring flash floods in the Kharogla and Azad Kashmir nullahs in the flood-battered Baspa valley in Kinnaur district over the years. The flash flood in the Kharogla nullah, a right bank tributary of the Baspa that joins the Baspa about 3 km from Rakcham village, struck last on July 17. The tribals have joined hands to raise walls to protect the village from the fast-flowing Baspa that has changed its course by 60 m towards the left bank cutting the sandy soil. Kinnaur legislator and Deputy Speaker Jagat Negi said the work on the restoration of the road was on.
J&K Flash floods disrupt normal Life has come to a standstill in different parts of the region as vehicular movement on several vital roads in Udhampur and Reasi districts remained disrupted due to landslides and flash floods. Heavy rains also severely affected the electricity and water supply as power stations and machinery of water filtration plants were inundated with flood water. According to the IMD, Jammu, witnessed nearly 108.8 mm rainfall in the past 24 hours while Katra got over 71 mm rainfall. The administration issued a flood alert asking people not to venture near rivers and ‘nullahs’ as all major rivers, including Chenab, Ujh and Tawi, were flowing close to the danger mark.
Haryana 8 stranded people on rescued 8 persons who got stranded at Mandhewal village along Yamuna river in Yamunanagar district, were airlifted on July 27. As the velocity of water in the river was very high, it was impossible to reach the affected persons in a boat. Therefore, the only means to save them was to press a helicopter into service. The water flow in the Yamuna had started rising at the Hathnikund Barrage in the noon and reached 1.81 lakh cusecs by 3 pm. The DC said when the eight persons ran to an island situated in the middle of the river someone saw them and informed the administration. The sources said four tractor-trailers were also washed away in the Yamuna water, but no official of the administration has confirmed the report. The local administration has sounded an alert and asked the people living in the vicinity of the river to be vigilant.
UP Agra receives record rain for July Incessant rainfall in the past 3 days has left Agra and the neighbouring districts in shambles. The downpour, including for almost a week earlier, has seen the district receive 550 mm of rainfall in July alone against the annual average of 650 mm. With drains choked and community ponds usurped by encroachers plus the Yamuna flood-plains reduced by illegal constructions, the low-lying residential areas are in for trouble not only in Agra, but in Mathura and Vrindavan too. The Yamuna river’s water level in Agra on July 29 was rising and threatening to touch the danger mark of 490 feet, as water from upstream barrages, including Gokul and Hathini Kund, was being discharged at regular intervals.
Maharashtra Karnataka dams a Maha worry The water resources department of Maharashtra is in touch with its Karnataka counterpart to ensure there is adequate water release from Almatti dam to avoid flooding in Kolhapur and Sangli. Almatti is one of the largest dams over the Krishna river in Karnataka’s Bijapur district. Flood situation could be developing in Kolhapur and Sangli in Maharashtra with Almatti dam in downstream Karnataka almost full and imminent water release from Radhanagri dam in Maharashtra, to be followed by releases from Koyna, Kalammawadi, and the Tulshi dams.
Sikkim Threat from glacial lake burst Unseasonal rainfall, unusually stormy weather, landslides, receding glaciers, short winters, accelerated snowmelt, longer summers, fears of water scarcity, failed crops, mosquitoes, crows, tourism pressures and the clear and present of a lake that can burst its banks Sikkim is in grip of a climate calamity but finds no mention in the Sikkim’s State Action Plan on Climate Change.
Polavaram Row Govt gets Central fund for Polavaram irrigation project The Central govt will release Rs 3000 cr for the Polavaram irrigation project. This became possible through a loan that the Centre has taken from Nabard. The Centre had allotted only Rs 100 cr in the current year’s budget for the Polavaram Project while the state govt had allotted Rs 3000cr for it in its budget, under the impression that the Centre would release more funds for the project. By agreeing to release Rs 3000 cr for Polavaram project as per this report, the Union of India is not only disrespecting the opposition of the project by Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana, but also violating the law of the land as the project has no valid Environment clearance (no impact assessment or pubic consultations has happened in Chhattisgarh or Odisha) or Forest Clearance (No settlement of rights under FRA).
Maharashtra Good rains take Krishna basin’s stock to 200 TMC The Krishna river basin, the second largest in the state, currently holds 200 TMC water, thanks to the increased rainfall activity since the last week of June. As many as 37 dams in Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur districts in the basin have the capacity to store 425 TMC water. In terms of percentage, the current water stock in the basin is 47 compared to just 36.73 during the same period last year. Most of these dams were around 80% full in 2015 because of deficit rainfall. This report also mentions that Ujani dam rarely gets filled to capacity as its catchment area is an arid region, which is wrong as over 100 TMC water from Bheema gets transferred to Konkan by Tata Dams and if that water were allowed to flow naturally, Ujani would certainly be filled up, the catchment is not arid. On the other hand the govt. is considering to resolve the dealy in constructon of Shai dam in Thane district. At a meeting with civic officials, guardian minister Eknath Shinde said he would look into demands of villagers who are bound to be affected by the construction of the dam. The work on the dam has been held up since the last one decade. Stiff opposition from villagers has been a major hurdle. In stead of trying to restart work on this controversial dam opposed by people state govt should go for rainwater harvesting and recycling of treated sewage water, in addition to protection of local water systems and creating more of them as also demand side management.
Telangana Yellampalli backwaters enter villages Even as the Sripada Yellampalli project across the river Godavari at Ramagundam mandal is receiving heavy inflows into the project, the land oustees in Cheggam and Koti Lingala villages in Velgatoor mandal are reluctant to leave their villages stating that the Government had not provided them complete compensation and Relief and Rehabilitation package. About 260 houses need to be vacated in Cheggam, Velgatoor, Mukatraopeta and Undeda villages in Karimnagar district. Though, the Revenue authorities have issued warning through ‘Tom-tom’ and asked the villager to vacate their houses as the water level in the project was steadily increasing with the inflows from the catchment areas, but the villagers were not leaving their houses. People in Karimnagar district in Telangana are facing submergence even without full rehabilitation.
INTER-LINKING OF RIVERS
Center Need to define surplus water of rivers: Uma Chairing the 10th meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers on July 26, Uma Bharti has underlined the need for deciding the definition of “Surplus water” of rivers once for all. The Union Water Minister also that this issue has to be sorted out in consultations with the states. She said “till this issue is decided the dispute about surplus water will continue to crop up time and again”. The Minister said, for this we will require a detailed study of country’s agricultural land including irrigated land, non irrigated land, agricultural produce and their market. The Union Minister said her Ministry will take a final decision on this issue after detailed deliberation with the states. Addressing the meeting, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, Water Minister Bihar raised the issue of flood in the rivers flowing into Bihar form Nepal & suggested to take up inter linking of rivers in the state on priority. Surendra Singh Patel Water Minister of UP argued for starting the work on Ken-Betwa link at the earliest. He wanted to know the total cost of the project and his state’s in share in the same.
RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATERWAYS
IWAI & Maruti Suzuki sings MoU According to Pon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Shipping written reply in Rajya Sabha on July 25, the Ministry of Shipping plans to start Roll-on and Roll off (Ro-Ro) service to transport cars between Kolkata to Varanasi stretch of river Ganga. For this a MoU has been signed between Inland Waterways Authority of India & M/s Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. for transportation of cars through inland vessels. IWAI has deployed one vessel at Varanasi for this purpose. The IWAI has planned transportation of cars from Varanasi to Kolkata on National Waterway-1 i.e. River Ganga. The project would be completed over a period of six years at an estimated cost of Rs.4200cr. The minister also briefed on the the status of activities for the development of six National Waterways (NWs) of Goa which is as follows
|Mandovi (NW 68) Zuari (NW 111)||(i) Detailed Project Report (DPR) completed. (ii) Tendering process being initiated for fairway development of Mandovi and Zuari rivers under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract (Phase 1). (iii) Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) / Environment Management Plan (EMP) / Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and wild life clearance studies initiated.|
|Cumberjua (NW 27)||(i) DPR completed. (ii) EIA / EMP/ CRZ and wild life clearance studies initiated.|
|Chapora (NW25) Mapusa (NW71) Sal (NW 88)||Prefeasibility study completed.|
The expenditure incurred earlier on preparation of DPRs is Rs. 42 lakhs.
Maharashtra Govt to start water transport in 2 years As per CM Devendra Fadnavis statement in Legislative Assembly on July 26, the State Govt. is working to start the Navi Mumbai-Gateway of India water transport facility by March 2018. He also said that the govt is in process to make all necessary facilities to start this transport & Govt. is also working for Mumbai-Konkan water transport and the report making is in the final stages. The CM further added that the Govt. will ensure and keep in mind the rights of fishermen while developing ports.
Center Measures to bail out Thermal & Hydro Power Plants In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on July 25 has stated that Power Finance Corporation is taking various actions based on requirements in order to bail out thermal and hydro power plants which are facing cost and time overruns and do not have adequate funds. This includes, inter-alia, higher Debt/Equity ratio of funding up to 80:20 for project funding subject to project remaining viable and depending on progress of project; allow last mile equity ensuring timely completion of the project depending on progress of project; restructuring of repayment schedule in line with the revised project timelines allowing suitable moratorium period for commissioning and stabilization of operation, as per RBI guidelines; longer repayment tenure up to 80% of the project life in accordance with the dispensation allowed by RBI; structured repayment aligned with the cash flow of the project; fund projects with a minimum threshold level of Power Purchase.
35 hydro power projects awaiting concurrence by CEA Power Minister Piyush Goyal on July 27 informed the Lok Sabha that of the 50 proposals received from various states for setting up hydro power projects (HEPs), 35 are awaiting the CEA concurrence or appraisal. The minister further said that 15 HEPs have been concurred by CEA. The minister also added that as per Section 7 of the Electricity Act 2003, any generating company may establish, operate and maintain a generating station without obtaining a license/permission under this Act, if it complies with the technical standards relating to connectivity with the grid & sanction of the govt is not required for setting up of thermal power projects. However, for setting up of HEP, the detailed project reports are required to be submitted for concurrence of CEA.
MoU signed for establishing hydro engineering college State Govt., NTPC Ltd. & NHPC on July 28 have signed an MoU for setting up Hydro Engineering College in the State of Himachal to promote technical education in the State. Speaking on the occasion J.P. Nadda said that this college will provide great opportunity to strengthen hydro capacity of the state. Addressing the gathering, Piyush Goyal said that he will ensure proper funding for the basic infrastructure and proper operational needs of the college. NTPC & NHPC are committed to contribute Rs.37.50cr each (total Rs. 75cr) in the first tranche for setting up of Hydro Engineering College at Badla, District Bilaspur. NTPC & NHPC will also consider to release Rs.12.5cr each (total 25cr) in the second tranche.
Industry Hydro developer plans to raise funds through bonds Govt-owned hydropower project developer NHPC Limited is set to be the latest public sector entity to raise funds through bond issues to finance power projects. NHPC Limited recently informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it plans to raise Rs 4500cr to fund various power projects across the country. While the company did not elaborate on the specific projects it will fund from the proceeds of the bond issue, it did announce some large-scale solar power projects. Last month, the company announced plans to set up a 600Mw floating solar project at one of its largest hydro power complexes the 1960Mw Koyna hydro power project in Maharashtra. NHPC has plans to set up similar floating solar projects in other states as well. It will set up projects in Kerala, Andhra, Tamil Nadu & UP. In Kerala, the company plans a 72Mw project, in Maharashtra & UP, the company plans for a 50Mw project each.
Himachal Hydro Policy amended in to facilitate power projects State Govt on July 25 announced amendments in Hydro Power Policy 2006 to speed up upcoming hydro power projects in the state. As per the amendment the developer would now submit the proposals to the Deputy Commissioners concerned for obtaining approvals/ NOCs from different departments including Gram Panchayats. Under the certain clauses has been added in the policy for condoning the inordinate delays in approvals for commencing construction of projects. The changes will facilitate approvals in case of delay due to domain change, delay in obtaining clearances from National Board of Wildlife, delay in accordance of Terms of Reference approval by Ministry of External Affairs, delay due to change in Policy provisions, delay in grant of environment clearances and diversion of forest & govt land & due to hurdles created by locals/NGOs by way of threat to management & unethical demands, etc.
Telangana Mallannasagar claims first casualty The ongoing agitation against the proposed Mallannasagar reservoir on July 21 witnessed its first casualty farmer Bachali Narsaiah (70) of Pallepahad in Toguta mandal committed suicide by hanging. According to villagers, Narsaiah was worried about being forcibly evicted from the village once the notification was issued by the govt to acquire land for construction of the Mallannasagar reservoir. On the other hand, even after being beaten up by police on July 24, a large number of women participated in a relay fast on the 51st day of Vemulaghat agitation. They held a rally and burnt the effigies of CM & Irrigation Minister raising slogans against them. It seemed as if the police cane charge had brought the land oustees closer. The Rs. 9K cr Mallannasagar project was envisaged to irrigate up to 15 lakh acres of land in Medak, Nalgonda and Nizamabad districts besides ensuring round-the-clock water supply to industries and providing drinking water to Hyderabad. The 50 TMC capacity reservoir, which is also aimed at feeding Nizamsagar and Singur reservoirs, involves submergence of 16000 acres of land and 2700 houses belonging to eight villages and a hamlet in Medak district. Also see, 5 questions to State govt on Mallannasagar project Clearly, Telangana govt has started on the wrong foot on this project, with police firing, arrests, suicide and complete lack of basic authentic documents or even statutory clearances in place. On the other hand, Engineering staff of the irrigation department on July 27 warned that they will boycott a review meeting on July 29 to be chaired by irrigation minister T Harish Rao. They are demanding strict action against a group of local politicians who assaulted some engineers in Mahbubnagar district two days ago and want the govt to ensure that the ‘culprits’ in the attack be put behind bars. 2 days ago, while initiating a trial run of the pumps at the Bheema lift irrigation project, chief engineer Khagender, Bheema superintendent Bhadraiah and executive engineer Uday Shankar were allegedly attacked by four local politicians, who were angry that they were not invited for the trial run.
Maharashtra Gosikhurd project will be completed in 3 years: Govt The State Govt. on July 28 has promised through an affidavit before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court that it would complete the Gosikhurd irrigation project within the next 3 years. The project was granted ‘National’ status by the Centre on Feb 20, 2009, with 90% funds coming from the Centre and it was also included under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme. It was supposed to irrigate about 2.50 lakh ha, of which it had achieved a potential of 34000 ha. The project was sanctioned in 1983 with a first administrative approval of Rs372.22 cr. If completed 3 years from now, it would have taken over 36 years and a probably expenditure of more than Rs20K cr. The project is being monitored by the CM Office under ‘war room system’ established to expedite an early completion of various projects in the state. About another major decision of Fadnavis Govt to conduct work and technical audit of the irrigation projects, Officiating Advocate General Rohit Deo informed the court that it will be made applicable to all ongoing projects as well. Petitioner Jan Manch has been demanding physical audit of all project works to unearth massive irregularities.
Gujarat CM approves pipleline irrigation schemes for North Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel approved pipeline to be built with a cost of Rs54cr for irrigation to facilitate water scarcity talukas such as Unjha and Patan of North Gujarat. As the pro-farmer decision made by Patel, an approval has been received by Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation to expand the branches 4 & 5 of Dharoi Extended Canal to Brahmanwada of Unjha through Narmada based Khorsam-Matpur pipeline. Moreover, as a part of network planning, total 10 water reservoirs falling in the path of the pipeline such as Matpur, Visalvasna, Sunok, Tudav, Muktupur, Varwada and Brahmanwada could be connected. The natural sewage which is passing to Tundav, Sunok, Matpur is crossing the pipeline nearby Brahmanwada and Sunok. The surrounding area would be benefitted by refilling water in sewage line by the usage of taping. Ultimately, water for subsidiary irrigation in 1500 ha area will be provided through this work.
Andhra Minister promises irrigation facilities for upland areas Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnaudu has said that the govt is taking all steps to provide irrigation facilities to upland areas in the Rajanagaram, Jaggampeta & Prattipadu Assembly constituencies. According to minister there are many upland mandals in both the districts where farmers depend on borewells and other sources. He added that the govt will spare no effort to provide water to those farmers through lift irrigation, or any other means. Mr. Ramakrishnudu said that water was being provided to 1.80 lakh acres, covering the tail-end areas too, through the Pushkara lift irrigation scheme on the Godavari at Purushothapatnam.
SANDRP Open Letter Committee welcomed but there are too many gaps As can be seen above, some important GRs are in conflict with the 8th December 2015 GR on which the current 4thJuly 2016 GR is based on. It is unclear how Rivers, which are extremely important ecological and social entity, groundwater recharge mechanisms, suddenly came in the ambit of Jal Yukta Shivar (JYS) Abhiyan on 8thDec 2015 without any studies, when all other government orders before that specifically left them out of JSA ambit. Clearly a detailed study is needed before tampering with rivers because any damage wrought on rivers has far reaching social, environmental, livelihood and water security implications, and is likely to be irreversible on a long term basis: for the society as well as the ecology of the region. Similarly other news reports also mention that the flagship scheme, JYS is worrying for its myopic vision & faulty implementation. Experts argue that while excessively focusing on deepening and widening of streams and rivers to create water storage, the has failed to address issues that deal with equitable sharing of available water among communities, addressing drinking water security, reducing water demand through crop planning mechanisms and better water-sharing strategies to ensure sustainability in the long run. A section of irrigation department officials and certain water experts are also worried that the flagship JYS, while increasing water levels in rural areas, might also be chocking off the inflow to major dams and possibly cause a drinking water crises in urban areas. The problem might be particularly acute in Marathwada. Experts say that construction of cement bunds in an indiscriminate manner is likely obstructing the water supposed to reach downstream areas. While it is true that JSA works would reduce inflows in the downstream dams, particularly in areas like Marathwada, still the priority should be for such programs at the same time incentivising appropriate cropping patterns and demand side management measures, rather than privileging big dams over decentralised works.
Haryana As Gurgaon drowns, govt searches for mythical river As its flagship Millenium City Gurgaon struggles to stay afloat in the monsoons, the Haryana government, instead of focusing on creating better urban drainage systems, is focusing on a project to revive the mythical Saraswati river. As Gurgaon faces waterlogging and traffic jams, water experts argue against reviving river Saraswati. Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP says that govt need to actually put our attention to saving our existing rivers instead of trying to rejuvenate one that has dried up some 5000 years ago. He further added that there’s little information in the public domain regarding the project which is why architect PP Kapoor filed an RTI petition, asking about the evidence and the use of public funds.
Study Evolving human dimensions & need for continuous RHA For the societal well being, it appears that River Health Assessment (RHA) programmes associated with a culturally sensitive river such as River Ganga in India need a move beyond top-down technocratic approach towards one that creates inclusive spaces for collaboration and public participation. Moreover, there appears a need for continuous RHA of the river to bridge the gap between science and the sacred. Based on available literature we propose a community-based comprehensive RHA model which anchors on the premise that people’s relationship with the river and human values are central to any effort towards restoration and sustainable river health management in India.
Chhattisgarh State does a Nero while Kharun weeps The proposed Kharun riverfront development plan would severely affect more than 50% of the households of Bhotali and 21 other villages along the bank of the river. The river contamination has had negative health impact on the village and the urban residents. The amount of sewage that gets emptied into the river needs at least 8 STPs to treat it but only 1 has been sanctioned at the Mahadev Ghat area. The estimated cost of this wastewater treatment plant is Rs 6.2cr. The people living on the bank of Kharun are worried about their livelihood. The fear of getting displaced haunts them all the time. There is an urgent need to address the basic needs of the people before beautifying the river bank.
Kerala Islands in lake ‘sinking’ Some tiny islands formed by backwaters of scenic Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River in Kollam Disrict in southern Kerala, among the major tourist attractions, are sinking due to rising sea level and erosion. The authorities of Munroe Thuruth Gram Panchayat and political activists have sought assistance from global conservation organisations to deal with the “alarming” situation. Panchayat officials said the shrinking tiny islands, ranging from one acre to over one hectare, were inhabited by humans. But now people were leaving these tiny islands as they find it very difficult to survive here as saline water has invaded the localities. This is also due to unsustainable dams and upstream water use in addition to climate change and environmental issues.
Maharashtra NGT panel to study river pollution The Green Tribunal has constituted an expert committee, headed by an IIT-Mumbai faculty, to inspect the extent and specific causes of pollution in Mula, Mutha rivers from sources of discharge of untreated sewage in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas. According to tribunal, the objective is to have acceptable scientific material and data on the pollution of the river and connected irrigation canal, while raising concern over the “casual statements” made by authorities, including the PCMC, Pollution Control Board & the irrigation department. The committee has to file its report by Sep 1 when the matter is posted for the next hearing.
NARMADA Gujarat Narmada salinity ingress issue raised in Rajya Sabha Salinity ingress in Narmada river bed near Bharuch town, which has been a major cause of environmental concern, was on July 27 raised in the Rajya Sabha by senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Sea water has entered about 40 km into Narmada river resulting issues concerning drinking water, irrigation and marine environment. This was mainly because of less discharge of water from the Sardar Sarovar dam downstream. In his speech, Patel demanded discharge at least 5000 cusec water from Sardar Sarovar dam on a regular basis. Two months ago the discharge was reduced to mere 600 cusec which had made life miserable for all those residing near bank of river Narmada from Kevadia Colony to the estuary of the river.
NBA announces indefinite agitation against filling of SS Dam NBA leader Medha Patkar on July 29 announced launching an indefinite agitation against the Gujarat govt’s proposed plan to fill Sardar Sarovar Dam to its Full Reservoir Level. She claimed that as many as 45,000 families will be affected if the dam across Narmada in Gujarat is filled to FRL as planned by the Gujarat government. According to NBA, Sardar Sarovar Dam is filled up to more than 122 metres now but the govt wants to close the dam’s sluice gates to fill it up to 139 metres as a result 45000 families in MP, Gujarat and Maharashtra will face the problem of submergence (of houses and lands). Also see, प्रधानमंत्री को लिखे पत्र का आया जवाब, अधूरे तथ्यों और सरकारी अनदेखी का प्रमाण
MP Environmentalists oppose CM’s Narmada Yatra Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ambitious plans to hold a 118-day Narmada Sanrakshan Yatra for ‘purity and flow’ of the river has run into unexpected trouble with environmentalists. Invited to be associated with the yatra, environmentalists like Ravi Chopra, Shripad Dharmadhikary Brij Gopal and Himanshu Thakkar, among others, are not only rejected the offer but slammed the state government for allegedly working against conservation efforts for the Narmada river and questioning moves like the Ken-Betwa project. Ravi Chopra expert in water resource management accused the state govt of being ‘dishonest’ and ‘hypocritical’ while refusing to endorse the CM’s campaign. Environmental expert and water activist Himanshu Thakkar has critiqued the state’s recent plans for Ken-Betwa river linking.
GANGA Center Glaciers retreat to have no drastic impact According to National Institute of Hydrology, retreat of Gangotri glacier will not have drastic influence on the flow of river Ganga. The latter is not totally dependent on glaciers for its water even in the head-waters region. The percentage of snow and glacier-fed contribution progressively reduces as one moves downstream. Rainwater and sub-surface flows contribute more than 70% of the flow of river Ganga at Haridwar. In a collaborative project with MoEF, ISRO has carried out mapping of Himalayan glaciers using lndian satellite data during 2004 to 2007. Further, ISRO has monitored the glacier advance and retreat of 2018 glaciers, across the Himalayan region using satellite data of 2000-01 to 2010-11. The study shows that 87% of glaciers showed no change, 12% glaciers retreated and 1% glaciers have advanced. This information was given by Anil Madhav Dave, Environment Minister in Lok Sabha on July 26. Contrary to this, a media report says that the snout of Gaumukh, Gangotri, is changing. According to Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology scientists, around 3-3.5 feet of ice from Gaumukh was washed into the Bhagirathi River due to the incessant rains between July 14 and July 16. They attribute it to anomalies in temperatures and decreased snowfall. Though snout collapses and receding glaciers are nothing new, what is alarming is the extent of the collapse this year. Decreased snowfall, temperature anomalies or human activity, whatever be the cause, the seat of goddess Ganga is under threat. Also see, video of massive landslide near Gangotri in Uttarkashi district.
Op-Ed Life in Ganga faces unprecedented crisis Juhi Chaudhary With 60% of the Ganga waters diverted for hydroelectricity and irrigation even before the river reaches the plains, there is simply not enough water for the aquatic biodiversity. Even the small samples are staring at extinction if the new dams being planned stop their access to Uttarakhand’s Nyar River, a tributary of the Ganga. This is one reason why experts want to preserve the environmental flow of the Ganga while taking up development projects on the river. The term describes the volume, timing and quality of water flows required to sustain the river’s ecosystem and livelihoods of people dependent on it. But there are huge differences between hydropower project developers and environmentalists on what this volume should be. According to Nachiket Kelkar, a researcher, the negative impacts of dams upstream are already being felt in Bhagalpur, an industrial town in Bihar, close to the Vikramshila dolphin sanctuary.
YAMUNA Delhi Jumbo Bath
Fine on AOL had no scientific basis: NGT An expert panel of the NGT told the environment court that the Rs120cr penalty it recommended against Art of Living Foundation for holding its World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains in March had no scientific basis. Significantly, Shekhar wrote this letter to the NGT on March 3, eight days before the AOL event got under way. Clarifying the stand, Shekhar had said while members of the panel did discuss imposition of Rs 120 crore penalty on the AOL, he did not endorse the experts’ view (on the amount) and had, instead, suggested that the organiser must restore the Yamuna floodplains after the festival, with the experts assessing the cost of the repair job.
UP New plan to revive Hindon While the UP Govt. had initiated a Hindon Rejuvenation Project earlier this year, authorities in Noida are looking beyond the river itself, hoping that if the banks are revived the water quality would improve on its own. A special committee set up for the purpose has formulated a plan, which it sent to the State government this week, to not only rid the riverbank of the illegal constructions, but to get local farmers to contribute to the revival. The committee, which is headed by District Magistrate N.P. Singh and includes environmentalists, has proposed ‘social forestry’ as one of the measures. For activists, however, there is a worry that this plan may never take off.
मातृसदन प्रेस विज्ञप्ति: अवैध खनन को नियमित करने में जुटे हरीश रावत, विरोध करेगा मातृसदन हरीश रावत जी अवैध खनन को ,एक तरफ तो कभी न रुकने वाला गैर-कानूनी कार्य मानते हैं, दूसरी तरफ जो इस कार्य को रोकता है, उसे हरिद्वार से तत्काल हटा देते हैं। अब जो कार्य हरीश रावत जी ने किया है, वह अपने आप में माफियापरस्ती की समस्त सीमाओं को तोड़ रहा है। दिनांक 23 जुलाई, 2016 को श्री हरीश रावत जी ने स्वयं एक बिल इस आशय का पेश किया। बिल में कहा गया है कि चूँकि अवैध खनन नहीं रुक रहा है, इसलिये खनन एवं स्टोन क्रेशर माफियाओं द्वारा की जाने वाले चोरी को नियमित कर दिया जाये यानि ‘चोरी नियमितीकरण बिल’ स्वयं मुख्यमन्त्री हरीश रावत जी ने पेश किया। पूरे भारतवर्ष कौन कहे पूरे विश्व में शायद ही कहीं इस तरह का बिल पेश किया गया होगा, जिसमें राज्य के मुख्यमन्त्री ने अपनी अक्षमता / भ्रष्टाचार को छिपाने के लिये चोरी को नियमित करने का बिल स्वयं पेश किया हो। देवभूमि उत्तराखण्ड की यह विडम्बना ही है कि राज्य के मुखिया माफियापरस्ती की हद पार कर रहे हैं । प्रिन्ट एवं इलेक्ट्रानिक्स मीडिया चुप्पी साधे हुए है।
MP NGT urges action against buyers of illegally mined sand Green Tribunal on July 25, directed Alirajpur district collector and SP to book people buying or trading illegally mined sand under the section liable for possessing a property transferred by theft. The sand is illegally mined from catchment and submergence areas of Sardar Sarovar project (SSP) in Alirajpur district. The case, which is to be heard for three more days in a row, will be dedicated to one district each of Dhar, Khargone and Barwani. On Day 1, there were replies from Alirajpur SP and collector and covered commissioner’s report. Great to see the NBA efforts are persisting and hope NGT does take effective action, there seems no hope from the MP Govt or MoEF
MLA raises illegal sand mining issue BJP MLA R.D. Prajapati on July 26 took his own govt to task in the Assembly, alleging that illegal sand mining activity was going on unabated on the banks of the Ken river in Chhattarpur district & 800-1000 trucks ferry illegally-mined sand from the Ken daily at Chandla in Chhattarpur district, close to UP. He claimed that the people engaged in illegal mining, mainly come from UP and they fire randomly which has created a reign of terror in the area. Farmers in the area were living in fear due to the terror of the people engaged in mining and migrating. The MLA also claimed that two persons were killed and several others injured in firing in the Fattepur and Mawaighat areas on March 10 this year.
Karnataka Ban on use of machines for sand mining Dakshina Kannada district administration has made it mandatory that sand mining should be carried out manually from next season onwards. A district task force committee headed by the deputy commissioner has auctioned sand bars for Rs 86 lakh and the royalty expected from 25,000 truckloads of sand is Rs 1.5 crore. Sand extraction will begin in 19 sand blocks of CRZ and 19 in non-CRZ from August 15 after the monsoon ban. The district administration has included manual extraction as the first condition. Licence holders should not use bulldozers, earthmovers & dredging machines while carrying out sand mining on river beds. Similarly, mechanized boats also will not be allowed to carry out sand mining. Licence holders also should not use machines while loading sand to trucks and tippers.
Maharashtra Illegal mining at Taloja river jeopardises mangroves Large portions of mangroves and the natural flow of the Taloja river have fallen prey to sledging and dredging activities taking place in broad daylight. With no legal watchdog to monitor the illegal sand mining practices in the riverbed, local activists claim that there is no end to the malpractices affecting the river and its vicinities. A large potion of the riverbed, in the Kharghar section of the Taloja river, located opposite Vastu Vihar Road has apparently been affected by sand-mining activities. The traditional fishermen in the vicinity, dependent on the river for their daily catch, pointed out that in spite of numerous complaints, neither govt officials nor local police officers have taken any action to contain the sand mafia working in the belt.
Tamil Nadu 3 held for mining sand illegally Police seized a lorry, tractor & an earthmover which were used for illicit sand quarrying, & arrested 3 persons during two surprise raids conducted in the district on July 25 night. The police said Munneerpallam Inspector of Police Chandrasekar and his team conducted a check in Pachaiyar river at Desamanickam on Monday night following information about illicit mining.
WETLANDS & WATER BODIES
W-Bengal NGT raises red flag over Kolkata wetlands The Green Tribunal has asked for an accounting of the amount of waste-water released into the Kolkata wetlands, raising a glimmer of hope for the unique ecosystem struggling for survival. The wetlands in the east of Kolkata are part of a unique ecosystem that thrives on wastewater from India’s third-most populated metro city. It’s the world’s largest organic sewage treatment system that doubles up as a vegetable garden and fishery that supply more than a half of the city’s daily requirement. Despite their usefulness, the wetlands have been rapidly shrinking due to the hunger for real estate. After being declared a Ramsar Site of International Importance in 2002, steps have been taken to protect the ecosystem, but with limited success. The activists are also apprehensive that the prohibition on release of untreated wastewater into wetlands under the Central Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 will further aggravate the situation. According to Dhruba Das Gupta a researcher on wetlands there should be an exception for in terms of releasing untreated sewage and wastewater into the wetlands. Otherwise the fragile ecosystem will sustain further damage. At a time when climate action is receiving priority both in India and the world, it is all the more important to preserve and strengthen the Kolkata wetlands.
Maharashtra HC directs govt to form panel on wetland protection The Bombay High Court on July 25 while emphasising that the state must understand the need to protect wetlands directed Stare Govt. to constitute a committee headed by divisional commissioner of the Konkan region and to ensure restoration of wetlands wherever damaged. The court has ordered that the committee should comprise senior revenue officers, divisional commissioner Konkan region, senior police officers and experts besides other planning authorities and a representative of the petitioner. The govt has been granted six weeks to ensure that the committee is operational. The high court also directed the state govt to set up a redressal mechanism within 8 weeks to take quick action on complaints on the destruction of wetlands. The Court felt the need to create a grievance redressal mechanism after noting major violations of the environmental provisions and rules that were reported from Mumbai Suburban and Thane districts, where a large number of complaints about destruction of wetlands were reported. The matter has been kept for directions on Sep 30 and the state asked to file a detailed affidavit in this matter before Sep 27.
UP NGT pulls up govt for failing to protect wetlands The green tribunal has directed the State Govt. to explain why it failed to implement the tribunal’s March 3, 2015, order on protection of wetlands. The Court also sought an explanation on July 22 in an order on a contempt petition filed by Anand Arya. On March 3, 2015, NGT had directed the UP chief secretary to identify and notify all wetlands across the state by June 3, 2015. The order was issued on a petition filed by Arya. However, no action was taken by the government in this regard and Arya filed a contempt plea demanding action against officials for failing to implement the NGT order in a time bound manner. Acting on Arya’s contempt plea, the NGT on July 22, 2016, sought an explanation from UP govt. The govt counsel submitted before the green tribunal that the state was about to finalise compliance on the tribunal’s order. The matter will be heard next on August 1.
Karnataka 12 fish species on verge of extinction in Bengaluru lakes As many as 12 indigenous Indian species of fishes found in city lakes face the danger of going extinct in a few years due to increasing pollution and climate change, says an ongoing study by a team of researchers from the Bangalore University. It goes on to say that the native freshwater fish diversity in water bodies is declining rapidly. The crucial reasons for the decline are the destruction of habitat due to construction of dams and barrages, pollution and exploitative fishing practices. Climate change is generally causing the waters to warm as well as bringing changes to rainfall patterns, water levels, river flow and water chemistry. The predominant presence of exotic species like Tilapia, Silver carps, Grass carps and African catfishes in rivers and reservoirs is because they can tolerate high pollution and static water levels.
Kerala Protect wetlands, help curb climate change: CM Inaugurating an orientation programme on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction for Mayors and municipal chairpersons on July 28, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has said that a series of failures in the past had led to the decline of wetlands, causing water scarcity and triggering a crisis in the agriculture sector. Pointing out that the rising summer heat and erratic rains signaled a dire warning for Kerala, he said paddy output was estimated to drop by 10% for every degree rise in atmospheric temperature. He further stated that the govt will focus on protection of paddy fields and wetlands in the State as part of a programme to build resilience to climate change.
Expert Speak A flawed approach to managing water The draft National Water Framework Bill 2016 suggests that environmental flows adequate to preserve and protect a river basin as a hydrological and ecological system shall be maintained. However, the very science of arriving at a measure of “how much water a river needs” has been challenged globally. It is only in India that there is an over-reliance on a specified quantitative measure of the environmental water needs of a river. This precludes ecological scientific thinking that every flow regime is associated with certain ecosystem services, and merely providing a certain percentage of water to flow naturally amounts to adhering to the same reductionist arithmetic hydrology that has been the root of various problems.
Kerala Caste law may land Coca Cola in trouble Section 3(xiii) of the SC and The ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 law specifically makes polluting any water source used by the members of a scheduled caste or tribe a crime punishable with imprisonment up to five years and fine. This is the first time that a company has been booked for environment pollution under a law intended to protect historically oppressed communities. The Kerala case could trigger a plethora of litigation against companies, especially those operating in tribal areas of states such as Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Real-estate or mining companies could face the brunt of the Act.
Rajasthan Groundwater revival comes a cropper An NGO’s effort to recharge the groundwater in an area finds little success with water-guzzling crops that rule the market. This report shows that water harvesting alone wont help if there is no proper management and use of the harvested water.
SANDRP Blog Many colors of groundwater in a tiny Western Ghats village Here is a glimpse of some water harvesting structures to appreciate not only the utility and appropriateness, but beauty of small, local structures and traditional wisdom. Also important to note is the diversity and independence of water management in Konkan: as in India where communities own, maintain and manage their own water. There is a special kind of power and magic in this independence.
Maharashtra Jalyukta Shivar makes 3960 TCM of water available in district The Jalyukta Shivar works carried out in Nashik district across the 15 talukas has resulted in tapping of 3,960 thousand cubic meter of water in the villages which will be locally available for them. The district administration spear headed the move of carrying out measures to ensure the farmers have water at their disposal. This is the only thing that will guarantee the farmer that he can take crops in his field. While the drought had made this impossible, even otherwise the water would simply run down the hills of the slope with the ground water unable to recharge the aquifers.
HC gives govt. 3 weeks to clean Kushak nullah The Govt. on July 27 was caught on the wrong foot in the High Court when it submitted that the Kushak nullah was not a river and was therefore, good as it is, even as the judges were presented with photographs of tonnes of debris, waste and silt choking it. Giving State Govt. 3 weeks time to clean the drain, the court stressed on how even a drain should be not this filthy while the counsel for the Delhi government Peeyosh Kalra debated if the RWA wanted the nullah to be a river?
Centre Solar & Wind power generation during 2015-16 Quoting Central Electricity Authority as source Piyush Goyal, Renewable Energy Minister on July 28 informed the Lok Sabha that the quantum of electricity generated during 2015-16 through Wind and Solar was 33029.39 MU and 7447.92 MU respectively. The Minister also told that a capacity addition target of 4000Mw & 12000Mw has been proposed for generation of electricity by wind and solar respectively during 2016-17 & a total of 315 MW have been installed under Solar Roof top Scheme. The Minister further said that Chandigarh has empaneled 48 Solar Power Aggregators from whom any resident of city can install Rooftop Solar Power Plant & can avail 30% subsidy. Solar rooftop power plants of aggregate 7.70 Mw capacity are installed on 145 Govt buildings till May, 2016 in the city.
Industry Solar power tree: Maximum energy using minimum land Seeking to harness solar power without getting into the hassle of acquiring big tract of land, the CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur has developed and designed a ‘Solar Power Tree’ which will help harness maximum solar energy by utilising minimum land. One of such ‘Trees’, launched on July 22, covers only 4 sq feet of land for producing 5 kW of solar power as compared to 400 sq feet of land in case of the conventional solar photovoltaic set-up. Scientists claim that it is possible to harness 10-15% more solar power through use of such ‘Tree’ in a particular day. Also see, Solar power tariffs expected to fall to as low as Rs3.50 a unit in 3 years
Bhutan Millions in hydro equipment lost during flooding Hydro equipment valued at US$7.5 million to $15 million has been submerged or washed away during recent flooding. The materials were stored at Bangay Bazaar in Phuentsholing and belonged to the 1200-Mw Punatsangchhu I, 1020-Mw Punatsangchhu II & 720Mw Mangdechhu hydropower projects. BHEL is engaged in retrieving the submerged equipment and has been able to retrieve some. If the equipment cannot be found, BHEL will have to bear the losses. All 3 under construction projects, is estimated to cost US$1.74 billion to develop.
Nepal 58 killed, thousands left homeless by floods & landslides 14 of the country’s 75 districts have been hit hardest by the flashfloods. Several bridges were swept away by flood waters. The hill areas were affected by landslides while the plains, considered the agricultural basket of Nepal, were inundated by floodwaters. The flow of Saptakoshi was measured at 277,410 cusecs on July 27 morning, a new high for this year. A suspension bridge which crossed part of the Tinau River in the city of Butwal, was completely destroyed. Hundreds of people have been displaced after swollen rivers breached their banks and flooded homes. The Nepal army is racing to evacuate hundreds more from flooded villages as the waters rise. Tens of thousands of Nepalese are still living in tents following a set of devastating earthquakes that hit the Himalayan country last year. Nepal this monsoon is facing multiple landslides, many of them triggered by human induced causes including poor quality of road construction and poor planning and investigations.
Bangladesh Revisiting the 1996 Ganges Treaty The dispute over the sharing of river waters between India and Bangladesh originated in 1951 when Bangladesh was the part of Pakistan, because India decided to construct a barrage at Farakka. However, Pakistan opposed the construction of the Farakka Barrage in 1951 and series of correspondences they were subsequently exchanged. Between 1960 and 1970, several meetings were held where two countries shared substantial amount of data. In 1970 India for the first time acknowledged Ganges as an International river. This provides historical perspective on Ganga Water Sharing between India and Bangladesh since 1950s.
Natural fish resources see drastic decline There are around 190 dead rivers and 99% of the existing rivers have lost their depth due to siltation. On top of that, the natural flow of 761 rivers has diminished to an alarming level due to excessive heat in summer. Due to a reduction in river currents, a good number of fish species in 97% of rivers has reduced and fish production in 88 percent rivers has been hampered, reads the essay co-authored by Jubaida Nasreen Akhter, principal officer of the BFRI. Due to deforestation in the upstream, river erosion has increased, causing massive siltation and flooding.
REST OF THE WORLD
IR Blog World Bank Suspends Support for Inga 3 Dam in the Congo On July 25, the World Bank suspended its support for the giant Inga 3 Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What the World Bank once hailed as a “transformational project” for the region has become the latest cautionary tale of the enormous pitfalls of mega-dams. In 2014, the World Bank approved a $71 million grant to finance preparation of Inga 3, including the environmental, social and technical studies. Two years on, these studies have not even begun because of irregularities in the procurement process. In May, the Project Director of Inga 3 proposed that construction of the dam could commence next year even without these studies.
Chile Why small hydro pose a threat to indigenous communities The smaller dams are often considered less controversial than larger projects because they cause comparatively less erosion and deforestation while providing enough electricity for the immediate surrounding area. As a result, they have become an easy choice for entrepreneurial, non-indigenous Chileans and Europeans who see southern Chile as a source of untapped hydroelectric power. The new projects were built despite opposition from local activists and politicians and, above all, without consulta previa. In the absence of prior consultation, Chile’s indigenous communities are furious over the construction of small-scale dams.
Iran ‘Dying’ saltwater Lake Urmia turns blood-red While once Urmia spanned an area five times larger than Hong Kong, its volume has decreased dramatically since 1972. A study by hydrology experts at the University of California in 2014 painted the picture of a dying natural resource, highlighting how desiccation, or drying, had reduced the 5000 sq km lake by almost 90 percent. Its catastrophic demise has been compared to the loss of the Aral Sea, where poor irrigation and farming practices contributed to it drying up almost completely. In 2014, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced funding of $5 billion to save the former popular tourist location. However, there are fears that the damage done is beyond repair.
Laos Sand mining damaging the Mekong Grain by grain, truckload by truckload, Laos’ section of the Mekong river is being dredged of sand to make cement a commodity being devoured by a Chinese-led building boom in the capital. But the hollowing out of the riverbed is also damaging a vital waterway that feeds hundreds of thousands of fishermen and farmers in the poverty-stricken nation. It is a familiar story in a country whose natural resources have been steadily plundered by businesses many of them Chinese under the gaze of communist leaders who brook no dissent but welcome foreign cash.
Study Drought impedes tree growth, shuts down Amazon carbon sink The Amazon rainforest is popularly known as the “the planet’s lungs” absorbing and storing 100 billion tons of carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere. Maintaining that vast carbon sink is seen as vital to limiting climate change impacts. Now, new research shows that droughts can bring this crucial ecosystem service to a grinding halt. University of Exeter scientist Dr. Ted Feldpausch and an international team of researchers investigated the impact of droughts on tree growth and carbon storage across the Amazon basin.
Research Irrigation in Asia affects rainfall in Africa Agricultural irrigation is so widespread that it accounts for about 4% of the total evapotranspiration of water from Earth’s surface. Scientists have known for some time that water vapor from irrigation affects regional and global climates. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that irrigation in one region can directly affect the climate of another region thousands of kilometers away. That level of influence means that changes in South Asian agriculture could have profound effects on African rainfall and temperatures.
Center Efforts to save farming from the impact of Climate Change In a written reply in Lok Sabha on July 26, Anil Madhav Dave, Environment Minister stated that National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture launched in 2010 under National Action Plan on Climate Change addresses both mitigation and adaptation to climate change through programmes such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI) against conventional rice cultivation and coverage of milch animals under Ration Balancing Programme.
Global Temperatures are on course for another record The world is on pace to set another high temperature benchmark, with 2016 becoming the third year in a row of record heat. NASA scientists announced on July 20 that global temperatures so far this year were much higher than in the first half of 2015. Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said that while the first six months of 2015 made it the hottest half-year ever recorded, “2016 really has blown that out of the water.
Op-Ed Living in a warmer world Sujatha Byravan With the challenges that India faces and the need to provide human services in a sustainable manner to its vast underserved population, the country requires social and economic transformation at a scale that has not been attempted before. An acknowledgement that these kinds of changes need to happen would be a good beginning followed by perhaps a wide and open national conversation on what such transformational processes would look like and what the policies and associated social changes would be.
Center Compensatory afforestation fund bill, 2016 passed on July 28, by Rajya Sabha. The Bill had earlier been passed by Lok Sabha in May 2016. Kindly explore the link to know the details of Amounts Available with the Ad-hoc CAMPA As on 31.03.2016.
Punjab State shuts generation, buys cheaper power A steep fall in power rates at exchanges has prompted the state to cut down on its own generation. The state has shut down seven units of the three state-owned plants at Ropar, Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda as the state increasingly relies on either buying power by trading on the power exchange, or through long and short term purchase agreements. While the state is getting just 1140Mw of power from its own thermal plants, generation capacity of 1180Mw is shut down. The average rate at which the power was bought at the exchange (the state bought 942Mw) was Rs 2.50 per unit which was available for Rs 1.87 per unit two days ago. As against this, the rate at which the power is generated in the states thermal plants is Rs 3.50 per unit.
Tamil Nadu A port project divides opinion Flanked by the Arabian Sea on one side and a verdant forest on the other, Enayam is an idyllic village near Kanyakumari. For generations, villagers have lived off the sea and land here, eking out a living by fishing and farming. But over the past few months, they have been up in arms against a govt Enayam International Container Trans-Shipment project. Fishermen say the project will be a great disaster for the people of this region and will wipe out coastal villages. Those in favour of the project call the opposition politically motivated.
MP Tigers hold up Rio Tinto’s diamond mining plans The govt has shelved granting permission to mining corporation Rio Tinto to open a diamond mine, saying the plan endangers a rich forest area and a tiger corridor between the Panna Tiger Reserve and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary. Rio Tinto says there are diamonds worth Rs.20520cr in Bunder. But environmentalists are concerned that the Rs 2200cr Bunder diamond mining project involves clearing 971 hectares of forest area in Chhatarpur region. VERY interesting equation is posed by this report. Diamonds, GDP & exports vs forests, tigers & unmentioned rivers and everything connected with it.
Maharashtra Water pollution, traffic jam on the rise, waste disposal drops The environment status report for 2015-16, tabled by the Pune Municipal Corporation during its general body meeting on July 29, has thrown up alarming figures revealing a sharp rise in water pollution and a fall in garbage segregation in city, among other important issues. The report has given a wake-up call to civic authorities to take necessary steps to address the issues with immediate effect.