Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 31 Oct. 2016 (North to South India: Pharma Firms’ Waste Poisoning Rivers, People & Animals)

National The cost of cheap drugs The Bollaram-Patancheru region in Hyderabad, Telengana is famous for being one of the most polluted industrial areas in India. The periphery around the area has become so toxic one that 2001 article recommended that “most of the soils should be removed from agricultural production” in Patancheru. There is an increase in higher abortion rates to birth defects and stunted growth in children, as well as greater incidence of skin diseases in the region. In the district of Medak in the state of Telangana, Greenpeace in its several reports has identified that people, animals, crops and land have been afflicted by the pollution of industrial waste. Villagers report many serious health issues, including miscarriages, skin disorders, cancers and intestinal problems. The livestock suffer from the same problems. Most, not to say all, food grown in the village is unfit for human consumption. An inspection report published by CSE in November 2015 noted that most companies in Pattancheru-Bollaram were manufacturing pharmaceutical ingredients for which they did not have permission; using more water than the permitted limit and dumping more hazardous waste than allowed. Two of the units were operating without clearance from authorities.

In the case of the Ghaggar river in Punjab, all along its river course, one can witness foul smell, contamination of subsoil water, spread of water borne diseases and chances of damage of crop due to the presence of industrial chemical waste due to industrial waste from the industries in Punjab and Himachal. Media reports report similar occurrences around the Bhiwadi belt, where pharmaceutical companies discharge untreated effluents into drainages which then seep into the groundwater, making way into drinking water supply and agricultural land, resulting in environmental and health risks of unimaginable proportions.

In many low and middle income countries, weak laws and ineffective regulatory bodies have led to rising incidences of industrial waste flowing into ponds, lakes and rivers. If we examine the causes, the role of the pharmaceutical industry is similar to printing, chemical and paint industries. Pharma effluents contain hazardous chemicals which are leading to antimicrobial resistance or AMR where the human body is resistant to antibiotics, and thus, becomes susceptible to common infections. The very same ingredients used to manufacture antibiotics get mixed up with the bacteria during waste disposal, through our waters. Studies have shown that high levels of antibiotics are found in streams and lakes in the area close to many plant than in the body of human beings. The phenomenon is such that it is assuming the form of a serious public health issue in developing as well as developed countries. Over 700,000 people die every year because of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) all over the world. If this trend persists and resistance continues, McKinsey studies has shown that by 2050, around 10 million people globally will die because of AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance)

It is pertinent to note that New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase superbug (NDM-1), a bacteria, first found in New Delhi’s public water supply in 2008, is resistant to almost all known antibiotics and has spread to over 70 countries in the world.

On the other hand, scientists from multiple institutes having done a detailed study on river pollution concluded that arsenic in the study areas poses potential health risk to the residents and indicates that the “ingestion of water over a long time could magnify the probabilities of cancer.  They collected and assessed concentrations of 27 trace elements in surface water samples from 48 sites of waterways (lakes, canals, and tributaries of major rivers) in four states: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana. Analysis revealed that elements such as chromium, selenium, arsenic, iron, and manganese are the major pollutants, as their concentrations exceeded the acceptable national and international water quality standards in several sites of Vrishabhavathi, Ennore, Adyar, Cooum and Periyar rivers. Further, statistical analysis revealed that the Cauvery, Ennore, Adyar, Cooum and Periyar river basins are affected by various anthropogenic activities, leading to moderate-to-high pollution by arsenic, chromium, manganese, iron, and selenium. According to the scientists, potential pollution sources are industrial waste, sewage intrusion, paint industry waste, and automobile runoff. 

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 31 Oct. 2016 (North to South India: Pharma Firms’ Waste Poisoning Rivers, People & Animals)”

Dams

Living Planet Report, 2016: Rivers, Wetlands, Fresh Water Species Face the Greatest Threat

According to just released Living Planet Report 2016, the loss of habitat is prime reason behind declining of wildlife species found in and around wetlands, rivers and lakes due to increasing fragmentation, pollution and destruction of these ecosystems. Data in report also underlines that the global water crisis is real and water requirements worldwide will go up by 40 per cent by 2030.

The report emphasizes habitats based on rivers, wetlands and lakes command high economic, cultural, aesthetic, recreational and educational value. At the same time, these habitats are challenging to conserve because they are strongly affected by the modification of their river basins as well as by direct impacts from dams, pollution, invasive aquatic species and unsustainable water extractions.

Further, fresh water based habitats often are beyond administrative and political boundaries; warranting the extra effort for collaborative forms of protection. The report refers to several studies which have found that species living in freshwater habitats are faring worse than terrestrial species.

The report notes that Brazil, Russia, India, China and the United States (a different BRICS) account for nearly half of the planet’s total bio-capacity. These few countries function as global bio-capacity hubs as they are among the primary exporters of resources to the other countries. This results in great pressure on ecosystems in these countries, contributing to habitat loss.

This account summarizes the key findings of the report in context of threats and impacts over fresh water sources and species. 

Continue reading “Living Planet Report, 2016: Rivers, Wetlands, Fresh Water Species Face the Greatest Threat”

CAG Report · Environment Impact Assessment · Forest Advisory Committee

State plans to take up Human dam in eco-sensitive region of Vidarbha while existing projects in vicinity remain incomplete

(Above: Location of Proposed Human Dam and the tiger Corridor cutting across (Map by GREENPEACE) ( Source:http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/2011/Report-Undermining-Tadoba’s-Tigers.pdf)

While Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) has been undergoing inquiry by Anti Corruption Bureau and facing a Public Interest Litigation for financial irregularities & cost escalations exposed during the irrigation scam of 2012, the State Government of Maharashtra continues to push new projects in the ecologically sensitive region of Vidarbha.

State Government of Maharashtra has decided to give yet another try to revive Human River Project, a major irrigation project proposed on the Human River near Sirkada Village of Sindewahi Taluka, Dist. Chandrapur. Human dam with storage capacity of about 247 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) plans to irrigate 46,117.00 ha. for which it will submerge 7651.11 ha of land. This disproportionately large submergence (nearly 16% of the proposed irrigation!) also includes 1925.55 Ha of rich full grown forest of Vidarbha. (which is nearly 4.2% of the proposed irrigation!) (Earlier figure for forest submergence in print media and few other documents was 1535.85 ha. But latest official documents mention 1925.55 Ha)

Human River is a tributary of the Andhari River that merges into the Wainganga. The reservoir that will be created after impoundment of the waters will be just 4.25 km from the boundaries of the Tadoba National Park and 3.2 km. from the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary, both of which form the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), a vital area for tiger conservation in central India. The proposed dam falls in the Eco-Sensitive Zone of TATR and thus needs National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) clearance.

The project is being pushed by Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is currently a State Cabinet Minister of Finance, Planning, and Forest Departments in the Government of Maharashtra. State Government is seeking clearance from State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) before it could be sent to NBWL for approval. In September 2014 a four-member high-powered committee constituted by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to visit Human dam site at Sirkada, 3.5km from TATR in Chandrapur district.[i] The meeting in which the decision was taken to revive the project was held due to Mungantiwar’s follow up with then Minister of Environment Prakash Javadekar.[ii]

The report of the committee has been kept under wraps till date. Continue reading “State plans to take up Human dam in eco-sensitive region of Vidarbha while existing projects in vicinity remain incomplete”

Dams · Environmental Laws

Handbook on EIA Notification, 2016: An effort in making EIA accessible to all

Review of new book titled ‘Environment Impact Assessment – Law, Practice & Procedure in India 2016’, edited by Dr R.K Singh and Ritwick Dutta, LIFE, New Delhi, Oct 2016, p 374 + xvi

About the Book This book is a comprehensive compilation of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification (EIA), 2006, along with the amendments. It also has all Office Memorandums and Circulars issued by MoEF&CC for implementation of the EIA Notification, 2006 up to March, 2016. Environment Resource Center (ERC) plans to publish the book annually with incorporation of new updates, amendments, Circulars and OMs. It provides subject wise classification various Office Memorandums (OMs) and Circulars. The book also contains the text of all the official orders and amendments, classified according to subjects like: Prior/ Scoping clearances, public hearings, appraisal, violations, etc.

This is a much needed document and ERC team has done a commendable job by compiling all the relevant amendments and notifications in a single book in useful format and organized way.  The document will be of great value for all including Legal Experts, Academicians, Researchers, EIA professionals, Government Officers, Journalists, concerned NGOs, Civil Society activists, local community as well.

Continue reading “Handbook on EIA Notification, 2016: An effort in making EIA accessible to all”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 24 Oct 2016 (Big Dams Ineffective, Will Help Villagers Build Small Check Dams: CM Jharkhand)

Big Dams Ineffective & Destructive, Will Involved Villagers In Building Small Check Dams: CM Jharkhand On Oct 21 making an important statement during a meeting in Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das has said that State Government will not construct big dams and will go for smaller check dams. While addressing the Asanpahari villagers in naxal affected Kathi Kund, the CM also said that he was against big dams as they entail catastrophic and cascading impact on environment and local people. Admitting that big dams have not benefited the farmers, he criticized the former Congress Government for allowing construction of big dams.

The CM has also made another important announcement that villagers would be involved in the construction of smaller check dams to meet water need for irrigation. Announcing funding of 15 small water recharge ponds in every village, he also stated that villagers will be be financially assisted to develop their own plan for construction of check dams. He also urged villagers to produce electricity from Bio-Gas and use its by-product the sludge as manure in fields. 

Jharkhand CM here is making an interesting CLEAR statement that big dams have not helped Jharkhand  and they would prefer to go for smaller dams.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 24 Oct 2016 (Big Dams Ineffective, Will Help Villagers Build Small Check Dams: CM Jharkhand)”

Ganga

Turning Blind Eyes: Do we care for river dolphins or their habitat?

Above: (A) An image showing the Gangetic dolphin in its wild habitat (photo credit: Kadambari Deshpande), (B) a dead Gangetic dolphin calf (notice the pinhole like eyes), and (C) the calf is 1 m long, and adults measure to 2.6 m (photo credits for B & C: Sushant Dey).

Guest blog by Nachiket Kelkar

In 2015, The Times of India reported on the Ganges River Dolphin census exercise conducted in Uttar Pradesh, with the picture of a water buffalo to pass off as a dolphin. If you do not believe this, check out the image below[i]. Generally, most news reports on the river dolphin, some even by reputed news outlets (e.g. http://alert-conservation.org/issues-research-highlights/2016/5/30/rivers-of-destruction-the-implications-of-indias-national-waterways-bill-for-biodiversity), show the wrong species of dolphins, mostly marine species jumping acrobatically in aquariums. A forest department officer told us during their preparations for the Wildlife Week that, “if we put a beautiful dolphin’s picture, people will get more attracted to conserving the Gangetic dolphin, which is quite ugly, and the poor thing is also blind – toh achcha nahin lagta hai (it does not look good).” It does not stop here. A senior ecologist expressed concern recently in a public lecture, about the river dolphin becoming blind due to pollution. Against this background it is clear how little we know the Ganges Dolphin (our National Aquatic Animal, mind it) even today. Continue reading “Turning Blind Eyes: Do we care for river dolphins or their habitat?”

Dams

PM Inaugurates 3 HEPs, Amid Ongoing Environmental & Social Repercussions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today (18 October 2016) has dedicated to nation 3 big hydro power projects in Himachal Pradesh. The projects, namely the 800 Mw Kol Dam HEP on Sutlej River, 520 Mw Parbati HEP on Sainj River (Beas basin) and 412  Rampur HEP on Sutlej River have been involved in several controversies right from the day of inception. These projects were given clearances in questionable manner and even have not gone through proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs). The resultant impact on environment, Rivers, and local communities has been catastrophic. The projects have been facing long and unending protests by dependent communities and others and these controversial projects continue to threaten the environment and local people, as can be seen from some details given here.

Continue reading “PM Inaugurates 3 HEPs, Amid Ongoing Environmental & Social Repercussions”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 17 Oct 2016 (IMD’s River Basin Rainfall Maps Useful But Needs Improvement)

SANDRP Blog IMD’s River Basin Rainfall Maps Useful But Needs Improvement We have noticed during just concluded South West monsoon season that IMD has started a new and welcome feature in rainfall data reporting. The Data is available in maps, on daily, weekly and seasonal basis. We are not sure when this practice started, we noticed it only during 2016 monsoon season. This is most welcome development, since getting rainfall data at basin level is most appropriate and useful, since basin is the hydrological unit that will experience the impact of rainfall or lack of rainfall in the basin, in form of floods or droughts. There a number of limitations as of now. We hope IMD will take necessary steps to remove these limitations and improve the availability and access of basin wise rainfall maps and data in coming years.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 17 Oct 2016 (IMD’s River Basin Rainfall Maps Useful But Needs Improvement)”

Andhra Pradesh

Open Letter to Govt: Is there any justification for Polavaram dam? Will Govt probe the irregularities in the project?

E.A.S.Sarma

14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road

Maharanipeta

Visakhapatnam 530002

Mobile: 919866021646

Email: eassarma@gmail.com

15-10-2016

To

Shri Ashok Lavasa

Secretary (Expenditure)

Ministry of Finance

Govt of india

 

Shri Shashi Shekhar

Secretary

Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR)

Govt of India

 

Shri G S Jha

Chairmam

Central Water Commission (CWC)

Govt of India

 

Dr Shyam S Agarwal

Secretary

Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA)

Govt of India

to:        Ashok Lavasa alavasa@nic.in, ashoklavasa@gmail.com, secyexp@nic.in, secy-mowr@nic.in, envisect@nic.in, secy-tribal@nic.in, chairman-cwc@nic.in, mdr@nic.in, mrm@nic.in, mwp@nic.in

cc:        grievance-cwc@nic.in, hshso@nic.in, nmisra@rediffmail.com

Dear S/Shri Lavasa/ Shashi Shekhar/ Jha and Dr Agarwal,

Subject: Financial improprieties and illegalities in the execution of Indirasagar (Polavaram) Project & Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project in AP- Central government agencies conniving with the State public functionaries in committing serious irregularities- Demand an independent investigation

I refer to my previous letters dated 20-12-2015 & 7-10-2016 addressed to you on the subject.

In my correspondence with you, I had pointed out to you the injustice meted out by the Centre and the State to lakhs of adivasis whose lands are getting submerged under the Polavaram project. There have been serious statutory violations in terms of an outright infringement of both PESA and FRA, as well as bypassing of the requirements of the Environment (Protection) Act. In addition, the State has violated its assurance that each adivasi family displaced in Polavaram should be given an equivalent extent of ayacut land as a precondition to the clearance of the project. Continue reading “Open Letter to Govt: Is there any justification for Polavaram dam? Will Govt probe the irregularities in the project?”

Assam · Bhutan · Dam Induced Flood Disaster

Bhutan’s Kurichu Dam releases floods Assam, again

Above: Google Map showing relevant locations (Map by Bhim Singh Rawat of SANDRP)

Several media reports have alleged that sudden water releases from Kurichu Dam in Bhutan has led to floods in Beki and Manas rivers in Assam on Oct 13, 2016 (Thursday), affecting thousands of people in Barpeta district & also reportedly Baksa district. This is not the first time that Kurichu water releases have led to this kind of situation, it has happened in the past including in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 (150 villages affected[i]), among other instances. The Indo Bhutan joint mechanism, established in 2004-05, following the July 2004 floods, has clearly failed to effectively address this issue. Continue reading “Bhutan’s Kurichu Dam releases floods Assam, again”