Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 20 March 2017 (South India Reeling Under Severe Drought)

The drought has extended its grip in the South, with the South-West (S-W) monsoon falling significantly short and the North-East monsoon proving a total failure. Reeling under the impact of failed monsoons, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have declared themselves as drought affected. Kerala and Karnataka, which are the worst affected, are already contemplating actions such as cloud seeding to tide over the situation.

In Kerala, the S-W monsoon deficit stood at -34 per cent, and the North-East monsoon, -61 per cent. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, the deficits were -19 per cent and -62 per cent (North-East monsoon). For Coastal Karnataka, the shortfall stood at -21 per cent and -63 per cent, respectively. Drought-like conditions are also prevailing in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Water levels in key reservoirs in the region are at their lowest. The water tables have declined further even as the civic administration in many cities, small towns and panchayats has been increasingly tapping groundwater to ensure supplies. The situation is so dire that the Kerala govt has directed PepsiCo to cut down drastically on the use of groundwater for its Palakkad plant. Traders in Tamil Nadu are also boycotting these fizzy after claims that foreign firms are exploiting the country’s water resources.


Meanwhile, Madurai District Farmers’ Association has alleged that Rajshree Sugars and Chemicals Limited (RSCL) and Tata Coffee, both located near the Vaigai dam were using more than 12 lakh litres of water from the Vaigai dam at a time when the entire district was staring at drinking water crisis. The farmers body on March 11, 2017 have demanded to stop water supplies to these two companies immediately considering the acute water shortage. As per another news, with no sources to maintain regular supply, horticulturists in Dindigul, have started purchasing water nearby areas to protect the standing crops. Several fund- starved farmers were in distress as they could not afford to buy water to protect the standing crops.

Wildlife, flora and fauna have also borne the brunt of the prolonged dry spells and Kerala and Karnataka have reported increasing instances of man-animal conflicts in the recent past. Forest fires were being reported mainly in the Western Ghats.

As per report, this is perhaps the worst-ever drought over a century as water levels in major reservoirs have depleted to an alarming level. The situation is worst in Tamil Nadu where water levels in dams are 80 percent less than normal. According to the CWC statistics, Tamil Nadu is followed by Andhra Pradesh, with deficient storage of 48 percent. Karnataka and Kerala reservoirs have 37 percent and 31 percent less.  The cumulative water storage in 27 reservoirs spread across these drought-hit states has depleted by nearly 100 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) within 20 days. The alarming rate of decreasing water raises concerns over drinking and irrigation needs in the coming months. All the states have witnessed crop failure and farmer suicides with the highest number in Tamil Nadu.

The aggravating drought in has not only affected the output of agriculture and allied sectors, but has also triggered drinking water shortages, causing hardship not only to the masses but also to livestock and wildlife. Meanwhile according to a Hindu Business Line op-ed, the severe drought has somehow not received the national attention it deserves. Both the south-west and north-east monsoons have failed these States, raising fears of farm distress. Referring reports of good Rabi crops in North India, it urges Central govt not to lose sight of the contrary picture in the southern States, and its socio-economic impact.



New Zealand In a first, Maori river to gain legal human status UNPRECEDENTED AND WELCOME: The New Zealand river, known by Maori as Te Awa Tupua, is the third longest in New Zealand, and has been accorded the status of a person by the Parliament on March 15, 2017, the first such status for a river in the world. The local Maori iwi, or tribe, had been fighting to assert their rights over the river since the 1870s, in New Zealand’s longest-running legal dispute. As per tribesmen, this legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui iwi and its ancestral river. It deems the river a single living being “from the mountains to the sea, incorporating its tributaries and all its physical and metaphysical elements”. In practical terms, it means the river can be represented at legal proceedings with two lawyers protecting its interests, one from the iwi and the other from the government.

It responds to the view of the Iwi of the Whanganui River which has long recognised Te Awa Tupua through its traditions, customs and practise. This legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui Iwi and its ancestral river and creates a strong platform for the future of Whanganui River. As per Gerrard Albert, a spokesperson for the local Maori people, the community had long been concerned about the government’s impact on the “health and wellbeing” of the river.

The Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third-longest, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown. The recognition allows it to be represented in court proceedings. “From a Whanganui viewpoint the wellbeing of the river is directly linked to the wellbeing of the people and so it is really important that’s recognised as its own identity.” Members of the Maori community celebrated the news with tears and music in New Zealand’s parliament.

International Rivers Saluting women rivers warriors Meet three women who are standing up for their rivers. We are proud to call these women our partners and colleagues, and to work closely with them as they fight to protect freshwater. Great to see Latha Anantha being honoured as woman water warrior by International Rivers, in addition to two others.

International Rivers Film on Belo Monte dam available online In commemoration of the Day of Action for Rivers, International Rivers is making available, for free download, the documentary film Belo Monte: After the Flood.  The documentary is now available to view online and download at the film’s website. The film explores the history and consequences of one of the world’s most controversial dam projects, built on the Xingu River in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.

World Forum of Fisher Peoples Fresh water fish under threat across the globe The World Forum of Fisher Peoples is celebrating the International Day of Action for Rivers by calling for govts to implement the FAO’s International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries for rivers and other inland fisheries, and to develop policies to protect the rights of inland fishing communities, and ensure their food sovereignty.  Some details about riverine fisherfolks around the world.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum International Rivers Day observed The long march organized by Pakistan fisher folk forum, which started from Dooleh darya Khan Bridge of Indus River at Thatta-Sujawal to protest the upstream diversion of River Indus Water, ended on March 14, 2017 in Hyderabad, demanded to free the river from the manmade obstacles on the Indus. The PFF campaign demand the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for reserving at least 35 MAF water downstream Kotri for regeneration of Indus Delta.  

Centre for Research & Advocacy Let our rivers flow Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA) in association with the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, authorities of Sibilong and Toubam village celebrated two-day International Rivers Day at Sibilong village and Toubam village in Tamenglong district on the theme “Let our rivers flow free.” A community protest meet at Sibilong village along the bank of Barak River marked the first day of the celebration, where the possible impacts of proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, 190 MW Pabram dam, 67 MW Khongnem Chakha dam over the Barak River and the proposed oil exploration, Trans Asian Railway works in Manipur was deliberated.



Arunachal Pradesh Etalin project kept on hold Citing a large presence of tigers and the country’s richest biodiversity zone, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has put the proposed Etalin hydroelectric project on hold. As per FAC report the proposed project falls under the richest bio-geographical province of the Himalayan zone and is one of the mega bio-diversity hotspots of the world. Strangely, Contrary to FAC report, the chief conservator of forests, of the State, in his report had mentioned only a few mammals and plant species in the project area. The committee has recommended multiple studies on biodiversity assessment by an internationally credible institute, as the current study (environment impact assessment) is completely inadequate in this regard. The report also suggests that views of the National Tiger Conservation Authority should be taken as this is a vital tiger area of the region and a number of representations have been received regarding the project.

The 3,097MW hydel project, the biggest in the country, proposes to fell 2,80,677 trees during construction and involves a diversion of 1,165.66 hectares of forestland. Located in Dibang Valley district, the project envisages the construction of two dams – a 101.5m high dam on Dri river near Yuron village about 22km from Etalin and a 80m high dam on Tangon river about 800 metres downstream of Anon Pani confluence with Tangon river. The Dri and Tangon are tributaries of the Dibang. The project has already got environment clearance. Its estimated cost is Rs 25,296.95 crore and it is proposed to be completed in seven years. Great to see this decision by the Forest Advisory Committee.


Maharashtra Rs 1058 cr deal for Gosikhurd dam signed Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, on March 16, 2017, has signed a Rs 1,058-crore contract with state-owned National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd to expedite construction of Gosikhurd Dam project near Nagpur. The agreement has been signed for the first phase of project and is expected to be completed within 18 months. Gosikhurd dam project still needs to complete works worth Rs 6,500 crore. So far, the project has seen govt spending worth over Rs 8,000 crore with revised cost estimates crossing the Rs 16,000-crore mark. The project has already faced years of delays due to cases of substandard works and cost escalations. In the beginning the cost of the project was estimated upto Rs 350 crore.

Dam-affected farmers warn of stir if demands not met In a separate development, the farmers from Devargaon village, located along the backwaters of Kashyapi dam, have threatened to launch an agitation if their demands of employment and rehabilitation are not met before the release of water from the dam. For the past two decades, farmers who gave up their land for the construction of the Kashyapi dam are awaiting proper rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, the Command Area Development Authority’s (Cada) superintending engineer has wrote to the water resources department (WRD) Maharashtra asking it to take action against the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) for not keeping up its promises to project-affected people and to stop water supply from Kashyapi dam to the NMC as the latter failed to pay its share of the money for the dam’s construction. CADA also said that the NMC did not provide employment to the 37 project-affected people.

Part of Gangapur dam, Kashyapi Dam was constructed between 1998 and 1999. The NMC has since then been using the water to supply it to the citizens. Altogether, 60 tribal farmers were affected by the project. So far, the NMC provided jobs to only 23 tribal farmers. Around 630 acres of land were acquired for the project.

Sardar Sarovar Project Redressal body to help dam oustees set up As per Madhya Pradesh govt statement before the Supreme Court, the grievance redressal authority (GRA) to decide on disputes over compensation to the oustees of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on river Narmada, has been set up. The apex court on March 3, 2017 had asked the state govt to approach the high court for sparing two judicial officers to preside over the GRA for deciding the compensation disputes of the oustees.

Polavaram Row NGT directs MoEF, CPCB to inspect Polavaram dam site The Green Tribunal on March 16, 2017 has directed an inspection of the Polavaram dam construction site by the Environment Ministry and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after a plea alleged that large quantity of mud was being dumped in the nearby agricultural lands. The court refused to pass an interim stay on the construction of the project but ordered the joint inspection team to visit the site and submit a detailed report by March 21, 2017. Notably, state govt, has not handed over the project to the Centre constituted Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) and has been going ahead with the execution for the last two years. While this welcome, without inclusion of independent, non govt members, such committees are unlikely to bring out the truth. 

Special assistance to fund Polavaram project Meanwhile, a day before the NGT order, the Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Modi on March 15, 2017 has given its approval for the “Special Assistance” measure for funding of irrigation component of Polavaram project. As per the report, the Central Govt has provided central assistance of Rs.10,461.04 crore to Andhra Pradesh which includes Rs.4403 crore released during 2014-15, Rs.2000 crore released during 2015-16 and Rs. 4058.04 in released in 2016-17. The MoWR has also provided Rs.2081.54 crore for the Polavaram Irrigation Project during the current financial year.

Telangana Govt move to get CWC nod The State Govt is planning to make a strong bid with the help of facts and figures before the Central Water Commission (CWC) for securing hydrological clearances to Kaleshwaram irrigation project, a shoot-off of re-engineering and redesigning of the erstwhile Pranahita-Chevella project. The CWC has organised a meeting on March 20, 2017, after the State submitted the report of the Kaleshwaram project seeking clearances. This is mind boggling that Telangana wants to take up a single irrigation project on Pranhita, costing Rs 80 000 crores already, before the work starts, before getting any clearances or even doing any impact assessment.


MoWR New inter-state water disputes resolution bill introduced Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) on March 14, 2017 has introduced Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha. (Kindly see the soft copy of the bill in English and Hindi). The Bill proposes a Single Standing Tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of existing multiple tribunals. As per the ministry, the total time period for adjudication of dispute has been fixed at maximum of four and half years. The decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding with no requirement of publication in the official Gazette. The Bill also provides for transparent data collection system at the national level for each river basin and for this purpose, an agency to maintain data-bank and information system shall be appointed or authorized by Central Govt. 

Many experts have criticised this move, saying that it is nothing but a change of nameplate and will not solve the problem. They said that, there is a severe lack of comprehensive data that looks at hydrology, meteorology, ecology and economy in an integrated fashion. As per them, in the wake of climate change, older assumptions will not remain valid and fresh data is absolutely necessary. Without having that data backbone, it will be difficult for a state-level tribunal or a central body to solve any issue. The BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has also objected  to the bill saying that it is VERY BADLY DRAFTED bill and Centre needs to consult states before bringing it to the Parliament. Will this really help resolve the interstate water disputes? It does not seem like on the face of it. The water data gathering institute is in any case independent possibility, a real need, but not clear how and when it will be set up and how transparent, accountable and effective it will be. The rest of it looks more like changing the nameplates or tinkering.


IWAI Development of Inland Waterways in Assam As per Pon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Shipping written reply in Lok Sabha, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has developed NW-2 (River Brahmaputra from Dhubri to Sadiya) for navigational purposes. As per the minister, the NW-2 is fully operational with targeted depth of 2.5 m between Dhubri and Neamati; 2.0 m between Neamati and Dibrugarh and 1.5 m between Dibrugarh and Sadiya. He also said that dredging in NW-2 is undertaken, whenever and wherever required, for ensuring smooth navigation of vessels. An Inland Water Transport (IWT) cum Ro-Ro terminal is being constructed by IWAI at Dhubri. The project envisages direct connectivity with Hatsingimari on the opposite bank of the river Brahmaputra and avoids circuitous route of road connectivity through Jogighopa.

The minister further stated that, the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) on NW-1 is being implemented with the financial and technical support of the World Bank.  The Project entails development of fairway with 3 meters depth between Varanasi and Haldia (Phase-I) covering a distance of 1380 km at an estimated cost of Rs. 5369 crore with target for completion in six years. As per the report, the following sub-projects of this Project have commenced:

  • Construction of Phase – I (A) of the multimodal terminal at Varanasi at a cost of Rs. 169.70 crore.
  • Construction of Phase – I of the multimodal terminal at Sahibganj at a cost of Rs. 280.90 crore.
  • Construction of new navigation locks at Farakka at a cost of Rs. 359.19 crore.

According to minister, IWAI has raised Rs. 340 crore through issue of Govt of India fully serviced bonds during 2016-17 for implementation of infrastructure projects on inland waterways including JMVP. Projects worth Rs.1871.56 crore for development of National Waterways have been implemented till March 2016 from the inception of IWAI in October, 1986. National Waterway-1 (NW-1), NW-2 & NW-3 have been developed for shipping and navigation during this period.

As per the minister the Govt intends to have private sector participation for the development of IWT terminals, fairway, operation and maintenance of terminals, vessels and navigational aids. Maritime India Summit 2016 was organised in Mumbai during 14-16 April, 2016 to showcase investment opportunities in shipping, ports and inland waterways sector.


Tamil Nadu Opposition grows against Tamirabarani water to soft drink units Various citizen groups have submitted petitions to Collector M. Karuankaran on March 14, 2017, opposing the decision to supply huge quantity of water from the Tamirabarani to beverage manufacturing units in Gangaikondan Industrial area. They have asked the State govt to cancel the agreement with the soft drink manufacturing units on supplying the river water and make sincere efforts to revive the river. This is happening after Madras HC on March 01, 2017 has revoked the restriction on Tamirabarani river water supply to soft drink makers.  The temporary ban was imposed in Dec. 2016.

Maharashtra Rivers bear alarming water quality index Pollution Control Board’s water quality index (WQI) for Dec 2016 has revealed that the rivers flowing through the city are extremely polluted. Experts say that the WQI numbers may not even be the worst yet, as the data currently available from MPCB is from Aug to Dec months which has effects of Monsoon flow diluting the pollution level significantly. They believe that the numbers will be worse during the summer months of April and May.

Fine upto Rs 10K for polluting Godavari Nashik Municipal Commissioner Abhishek Krishna has decided to slap penalties anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 on those found polluting the Godavari. NMC is also in the process of deploying 80 former Armymen on the Godavari river bank to curb pollution. As per the report, the ghats of the Godavari will also be declared a ‘no washing zone’ soon. Notably, in July 2012, the NMC’s standing committee decided to recruit around 25 security guards to avoid pollution in the river. But, the decision did not work out.

Assam Brahmaputra to get a touch of Ganga The State govt is celebrating ‘Namami Brahmaputra’, billed as the biggest river festival of India, from March 31 to April 4 across 21 districts along the Brahmaputra in its entire stretch from Sadiya to Dhubri. Currently, the state govt has sanctioned a budget of Rs 10 crore for this event.

Meghalaya Rymben fish diversity under threat: Study As per a city-based researcher studying of the Rymben river along the India-Bangladesh border, the fish species of the Rymben river are facing extinction owing to “over-exploitation”.

GANGA MoWR River Sediment Management Policy soon Inaugurating a national seminar on Sediment management in Indian rivers on March 17, 2017, Narendra Kumar, Chairman, CWC has stated that Govt will soon evolve a river sediment management policy. He further revealed that many committees have been constituted in the past to look into the silting problems in rivers of India and suggest suitable remedial measures. According to the CWC Chairman common practices carried out by river management agencies demonstrate that sediment management till late has been based on limited scientific knowledge.

MoWR had recently expressed the view that urgent steps may be taken to formulate a comprehensive policy on sediment management in Indian rivers. The Ministry is of the view that such a comprehensive policy can be developed only with extensive consultations with stakeholders.  The issue of sediment management in rivers including siltation and dredging has been engaging attention of the public for quite some time. The need for formulating a comprehensive policy on sediment management in rivers cannot be overstated on account of its serious implications on flooding, environment, river health and navigation.

Uttarakhand Much for Saraswati, nothing for Ganga: HC The Nainital High Court has taken a stern view of “non-implementation” of various measures it had ordered on Dec 2, 2016 to clean the Ganga River. It has again issued a set of directions, including closing down of plastic manufacturing units not complying with law. The court also expressed “serious displeasure” over the manner in which State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has acted and has asked the state govt to take “stern action” against the state board. The court also said that the Central Pollution Control Board may take over the functions of state pollution board if it fails in discharging its duties. The court also asked Haridwar DM SA Murugeshan to ensure that all the industries/hotels/commercial establishments and educational institutions discharging effluent directly into Ganga are shut down within a week.  


Bihar Govt to make Farakka barrage a national issue Holding Farakka barrage for increasing floods in the State, Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh on March 15, 2017 has  said that river Ganga’s takes 20-22 hours to travel 170 km of stretch between Bhagalpur and Farakka while it takes merely 2-3 hours to travel 110 km of stretch between Buxar and Bhagalpur clearly showing that ‘High Flood Level’ (HFL) has increased many times in river Ganga. He also said that both Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC) and CWC have been putting spanner in the works of the state government’s projects, despite the fact that both the Central govt agencies’ offices have been set up in Patna to facilitate and help the state government. This is a serious charge by Bihar govt, has been repeated several times, but strangely, CWC and GFCC are silent on this.

Namami Gange 20 projects worth Rs 1,900 cr approved The Executive Committee (EC) of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in March 02, 2017 meeting, has approved 20 projects worth nearly Rs 1,900 crore for cleaning of the National River. Out of 20 projects 13 are in Uttarakhand that includes creating new and upgrading existing STPs and laying of sewage networks in Haridwar at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 415 crore. In the National Capital, a project to construct new state-of-the-art 564 MLD Okhla STP with best effluent standards has also been approved at an estimated cost of Rs 665 crore, which will replace the existing STPs phase-I, II, III and IV. Sewage related works in Karmalichak in Patna and Rajmahal in Jharkhand have also been given green signal for a cost of over Rs 335 crore. To address the issue of pollution of Ganga in Varanasi a project under Hybrid-Annuity PPP model worth almost Rs 151 crore has also been given EC approval.

Op-Ed BJP win may give Ganga a new life BJP’s victory is expected to expedite various projects under Modi’s ambitious ‘Namami Gange’ program through better coordination and monitoring while leaving no excuse for inaction on the ground  as three of the five states on the main stem of the river are now under BJP rule. Though states do not have to directly implement and operate the projects, there are many issues for which the local administration has to act to make the mission a success in a time-bound manner. Maintaining uninterrupted flow of the river is a prerequisite for naturally cleaning the river in Uttarakhand which had been pushing for new dams and Uttar Pradesh has to act against polluting industries and handle sewage at multiple levels. More than half of the river stretch passes through Uttarakhand and UP together.

YAMUNA Delhi Manoj Tiwari to submit plan to urban development ministry on Yamuna BJP state chief Manoj Tiwari has prepared a proposal to make embankments on both sides of the Yamuna and commercially exploit the land that will therefore be freed up. Tiwari will put the plan up before the urban development ministry soon. He has proposed calling the freed-up land ‘Yamunosa’ on the lines of Singapore’s Sentosa Island. Such a proposal was also floated by Metro Man E Sreedharan in 2009. Environmentalists have called the plan absurd, saying that the Yamuna river system is unlike the Thames and no project can be blindly replicated.



Tamil Nadu After exposé, the reporter complains of harassment, intimidation : Chennai-based senior journalist Sandhya Ravishankar, who published a four-part series on Tamil Nadu’s sand mafia in The Wire, has alleged that she has been constantly harassed by supporters of S. Vaikundarajan (owner of the largest sand mining conglomerate in the country, who is mentioned extensively in the articles). The series, published in Jan 2017, documented the illegal sand mining, political collusion, and method used to suppress competition in the south and is the outcome of four years of investigative journalism.

Sand mining baron gets conditional bail  After 87 days of their arrest, a special court for CBI cases on March 17, 2017 has released sand mining baron Shekhar Reddy and his two associates — Srinivasulu and Premkumar on conditional bail. Granting bails, the special judge Venkatasamy pointed out that despite the lapse so many days, the CBI was unable to arrest even a single bank official in connection with the alleged fraud. The court also said that it would leave the court to believe the defence argument that the seized money had come from legitimate business transactions.

Maharashtra Sand mining a trigger for croc attacks As per, Bhilawadi police records 6 people have lost lives in crocodile attacks in the past last ten years in that belt of Krishna river and most of the crocodile attacks have taken place between January to May every year, which is the mating and breeding period of the reptiles. Experts claim that crocodiles used to live in co-existence with humans since many years. However, over the past one decade, enormous sand mining in the region has caused destruction of the natural habitat of the crocodiles. Villagers say that sand mining has led to destruction of the bushes on the banks of the river where crocodiles lay eggs. The report shows that sand mining destroys the crocodiles habitats and in turn instigates them to attack on human beings.  It is sad to know that the rules of initiating sand mining do not have any provision scrutinising the presence of crocodile habitat in the area. Also see, Krishna river turns into human crocodile conflict zone

1,500 cases of illegal mining registered in Pune district During March 2016 to March 2017, Pune district has registered 1,500 cases of illegal sand mining and illegal sand quarrying, the highest in the division as well as second highest in the district in the last five years. District mining officials said that they were able to register maximum number of cases because of increased checks and use of GPS technology in Daund, Indapur and Shirur talukas in the district. The overall revenue collected as penalty was Rs 8 crore till mid-March. In terms of revenue collection, the district has collected Rs 130 crore as against the target of Rs 175 crore till mid-March.

Madhya Pradesh ‘Submarines’-new arm of sand mafia in Chambal Rampant use of underwater machines – which locals call ‘deshi pandupis’ (submarines) is the worrying trend with the illegal sand mining in Chambal and Sindh region. Officials believe many sand miners are using such ‘submarines’ for digging out sand from the bottom of the rivers. Seeking a CBI inquiry to expose the mining syndicate in Chambal region, a lawyer says that  the State Govt has not set clear guidelines on the use of suction pumps for legal mining too and it is important to ban suction pumps because it can extract sand from the river bed with minimum effort.

Karnataka Police busts sand mining racket A team of police officials in Mangaluru south has busted an illegal sand mining racket at Adyar village. The team raided the village on the banks of the Nethravathi behind Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management and  seized an earth excavator machine that was being used to illegally extract sand from the river bed and load it on the lorries. Police also seized three lorries from the spot. The value of the machine and the vehicles is around Rs 80 lakh and of the sand is Rs 65,000. The accused fled the spot under cover of darkness.



West Bengal East Kolkata Wetlands boundary likely to be redrawn A quarter of a century after it was first declared as a no-tamper zone, East Kolkata Wetlands Ramsar Site is set for a thorough review. Lew Young, Ramsar senior adviser for Asia and Oceania, has recommended that the map of the 12,500-hectare site be redrawn after a study of its ecology and socio-economic conditions. There are clear indications from the report that the area under the wetlands will shrink.  In his report Young has recommended a ‘wise use’ plan that would include, “a review of the map of the site when it was designated in 2002 to estimate the actual area of wetlands at that time and to estimate the land-use changes since.”

EKWs face new threats by govt A proposal by civic authorities to develop another site inside the East Kolkata Wetlands for solid waste disposal and by the state govt to make changes in land use have raised concerns that this remarkable ecosystem, already under threat from real estate development, may be damaged further. There is also a move to legalise existing illegal activities in the wetlands. Environment department officials reiterated the need to modify the existing mandate of no land use in light of galloping urbanisation in the area.


Haryana Groundwater in 71 blocks over exploited As per State Agriculture minister statement in the State Assembly, more areas of the state had come under “dark zone”.  Referring to Central Ground Water Authority surveys, he further revealed that there are 71 over exploited, 15 critical, seven semi-critical and 23 safe blocks in the state.

Maharashtra 30K Jal Surakshaks to monitor groundwater at micro-levels The State govt as appointing 30 000 jal rakshanks to monitor groundwater through some 88000 wells spread over 44000 villages and hopes this will help achieve better planning and use of groundwater. Can monitoring by itself help? is it for lack of information about groundwater levels that sustainable use and planning of groundwater is not happening? Not really.

Gujarat Pirana landfill poison leaching into groundwater: Panel 75 lakh tonnes of waste dumped at Pirana landfill site Ahmedabad polluting ground water and air quality over three decades thus exposing the residents to serious health hazards find the Estimates Committee of the Gujarat assembly.  Apart from demanding closure of the Pirna landfill site, the Estimates Committee has also sought upgrading of the facilities of central effluent treatment plant around Ahmedabad to ensure that untreated toxic effluent does not flow downstream into the Sabarmati. 

Op-Ed India facing its worst water crisis in generations by Asit K Biswas, Cecilia Tortajada, Udisha Saklan In order to develop policies for sustainable groundwater use, it is essential that reliable data on groundwater availability be used and quality be systematically collected. Despite having four separate central bodies regulating groundwater, there is no single database for the country. In 2016, the standing committee on water resources of the Indian parliament finally recommended having a national groundwater database that could be updated every two years. However, when this will actually happen is anybody’s guess.



Tamil Nadu Techie quit job to practice organic farming M Gokul, 34-year- old youth and a software engineer, has taken up organic farming in his native village in Perambalur district. The techie who used to involve in farming during weekends and holidays earlier, is now all set to develop a self-sustainable model for organic farming in his native village. He also aims at sensitising the fellow farmers about the importance of practising organic farming methods to preserve soil fertility. As per Gokul, farmers are unaware of self-sustainable farming models independent of external agents.


Centre Installed solar power capacity crosses 10,000 Mw As per Piyush Goyal, the Power Minister, on March 10, 2017,  the installed solar power capacity in India has crossed 10,000 MW, four times the installed capacity 3 years back, which in next 15 months would cross 20,000 MW. He added that now the sector has reached certain maturity level which will lead the country becoming self-reliant in meeting its Green Energy needs. As per the minister, the drastic reduction in costs of solar power, becoming comparable with thermal power in India is the proof of this fact. The minister also said India id dependent on imported coal because despite abundance our thermal power plants cannot use more than 30% of domestic coal. He further stated that in the evolving scenario, India’s coal reserves may remain unused in the times to come.


Nepal  Army likely to bag Bhimdang Khola hydro project The Department of Electricity Development (DoED) has recommended to award the Bhimdang Khola Hydropower Project to the Nepal Army. The 32 MW scheme will be built on the Bhimdang River in Manang in western Nepal and is estimated to cost Rs37 billion. The DoED received a proposal from the Nepal Army to build the 25 MW Dudh Khola and 32 MW Bhimdang Khola hydropower projects via the Defence Ministry. The department has chosen to award the Bhimdang Khola project to the army as a test project.

Hydrological assessment underway for Seti HEP Scientists from China Three Gorges Corp. (CTGC) arrived in Nepal this week to gather hydrological data from the Seti River. The collected data will be used for recommendations on whether to revise installed capacity projections for the 750-MW Seti hydroelectric project CTGC is developing in western Nepal.

Bangladesh Industrial pollution killing fish in Shitalakkhya River Over past 7 years, fishermen of Bandar area of Narayanganj, has been facing hard time for lack of fish in the Shitalakkhya river as pollution has forced fish to disappear from the river. Many are now thinking of leaving the occupation and many have already lost due to disappearance of fish in the river. Locals say a large number of unplanned factories were set up on the banks of the Shitalakkhya and those are continuously discharging waste into the river making the water extremely polluted and putting aquatic animals at stake.


Thailand Opposition to Mekong dredge plan Conservationists are worried that dredging the Mekong River would destroy ecosystems supporting numerous fish and bird species in the 180km stretch that flows past the northern province of Chiang Rai. As per the report, dredging has already begun along the Laos and Myanmar stretches north of Thailand. Kham Yana, a Thai fisherman in Chiang Saen near the Golden Triangle, said he has already seen the impact. According to Kham, the river flow has been more rapid and there has been less fish as a result because the rocky outcrops are fish-breeding grounds. Locals also said that there has been more erosion of river banks. Inland Waterways India, pay heed.


Myanmar Flood of resistance against govt large dam push  There are a number of major problems with Myanmar’s dam plans. First, the most lucrative hydro spots identified lie in the country’s rugged periphery – home to ethnic minorities. So far these projects have been led by the military with no public consultation or participation, causing forced displacement and bringing no benefits to local people. Second, projects have been identified by foreign and private developers without carrying out proper risk assessments as a result many of large dams are planned in areas of high earthquake risk. Third, these projects offer a terrible deal for Myanmar. Under many of the contracts 90% of the electricity will be exported to neighbouring China, Thailand power that Myanmar so desperately needs. Comprehensive report, throwing ample light over ongoing community agitations against large hydro projects and the issues involved.


America After Oroville crisis, damage found in another California dam More damage to US dam infrastructure: The state Department of Water Resources confirmed on March 14, 2017 that operators discovered damage to the intake structure at the Clifton Court Forebay, a nearly two-mile-wide reservoir that stores over 2 MAF water for the State Water Project pumping plant in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Tracy. Repairs will begin next day. It’s not clear how long they will last. Clifton Court is a crucial piece of the State Water Project’s plumbing, it was commissioned in late 1960s. Water stored in the forebay is piped to the nearby pumping station, where it’s delivered to 19 million residents of Southern California, portions of Silicon Valley and about 750,000 acres of farmland in the Central Valley. A third of Southern California’s drinking water typically flows from the Delta pumps.


Global Save subterranean aquifers before it is too late Subterranean aquifers, which amount to the world’s reserve water tank, are running dry. If this continues, the consequences could be dire, especially for water-stressed and fast-growing Asia. Subterranean aquifers are repositories of water located deep underground, in permeable rock, soil or sand. And they contain about 100 times the amount of water found on Earth’s surface, in streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Today, about 30 percent of the world’s liquid freshwater comes from subterranean aquifers. Subterranean aquifers should be the reservoir of last resort. If we don’t protect them today, future generations will pay a steep or even an existential price.


America Climate change complicating dam debate  The rxn is on expected lines: Many U.S. scientists and conservationists have responded to the new study with one eyebrow raised. As per, Jeffrey Duda a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center, the argument “sounds plausible for the particular cases the study is but most dam removals in the US occur in less arid regions, where “very few cases meet the criteria in the article. According to Scott Bosse, director American Rivers, if climate change is sometimes a reason to preserve existing dams, it can also make the argument for removing other dams more urgent. Last year a federal judge tossed out a proposal for the continuing operation of hydropower dams in the Columbia River Basin, saying the plan failed to take adequate account of climate change’s “potentially catastrophic impact” on populations of salmon and steelhead, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Interesting that this study says dams could have conservation value for some fish.


MoEF Can’t only blame global warming for Himalaya glacier fast retreat India’s environment minister makes a number of strange statements based on rather limited data base of 2004-07 ISRO study.

  1. 87% of glaciers show no change, 1% are growing, only 12% are receding
  2. They have been receding from earlier and there is no evidence that it has increased in recent years.
  3. Even when the rate of recedance has increased, there is no conclusive evidence that it is due to climate change, it could be due to a number of factors including reducing winter snowfall, local pollution, etc. Just short of saying there is no climate change is happening. In any case, seems to suggest CC is nothing to worry about.

Kerala Frogs heading uphill to escape climate change Giving more credence to the rising impact of climate change in the biodiversity hotspot of Wayanad, researchers have found that endangered frog species are moving up the mountains to cope with rising temperatures and drier conditions that have set in their relatively low-altitude mountain habitats. Wayanad is one of the four climate change hotspots in the state and listed as highly-vulnerable to the vagaries of weather. In recent years, Wayanad has seen an influx of various invasive species that are believed to be linked to the changing weather conditions. This is intuitively predictable but good to see evidence for this.

Study Climate change key suspect behind vanishing groundwater In India, warmer air over the Indian Ocean has altered the path of monsoons making monsoon season less predictable. India won’t be able to solve the problem with just water legislation: the country also needs to take a look at climate change as well. New study links India’s water crisis to the impact of climate change, which has weakened recent monsoons.

Pakistan Govt unheralded fight against climate change Pakistan, the vulnerable lower riparian, has actually made some substantive progress with climate change mitigation policies. This is interesting claim but unfortunately the article fails to provide a lot of convincing substantiation to this claim.

Bangladesh Climate change is making rivers too saline for farming Studies conducted by the World Bank, between 2012 and 2016 have quantified the effects of increasing salinity in river waters in coastal Bangladesh, including the areas in and around the Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove forest that straddles the coast of Bangladesh and India. Interesting that this comes from the World Bank’s SAWI it seems to be too general.


CAG Power plants snub green rules Audit report by the Comptroller and the Auditor General of India (CAG) has indicated that existing power plants in the country are not adhering to the norms meant to safeguard ecological interests.  The CAG report, tabled in Parliament last Friday, covered 216 projects that were granted environmental clearances (ECs) environment ministry between January 2011 and July 2015. It also checked the post-EC monitoring of 352 projects which had been granted EC between 2008 and 2012. Of the 24 thermal power plants verified by CAG, eight had various non-compliances related to fly ash storage. Some of these projects belonged to large industry players such as Jindal Power, Adani Power and NTPC. Of the projects examined by CAG, 45% did not use the ash satisfactorily. 

MoEF Violating units given 6 months time to get EC The Union Environment Ministry has provided a six months window, as a one-time opportunity to the units, which have not obtained prior environmental clearance to apply for the same. The Environment Ministry have been receiving proposals under the EIA Notification, 2006 for grant of Terms of Reference (ToR) & EC for projects which have started the work on site, expanded the production beyond the limit of environmental clearance or changed the product mix without obtaining prior EC. In view of the above, the Ministry issued the notification vide S.O 804 (E) dated 14.03.2017 to bring such projects and activities in compliance with the environmental laws at the earliest point of time, rather than leaving them unregulated and unchecked.

You may also like to see, DRP News Bulletin 13 March 2017 and DRP News Bulletin 06 March 2017

One thought on “DRP News Bulletin 20 March 2017 (South India Reeling Under Severe Drought)

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