In a remarkable development, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 24 has suspended the clearances given to the 1750-megawatt (MW) Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project (HEP) planned on the Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh.
In its detailed order, released on October 27, the NGT ruled that the Environment Minister as Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL), a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could not “just brush aside” the views of the majority of NBWL standing committee members.
Suspending the clearances given by the Centre and the state govt, the NGT order added that “the decision taken by the Standing Committee is not in accordance with established principles of law and hence the Standing Committee shall reconsider the issue and pass appropriate orders within a period of six months from the date of the judgment”.
Environmental clearance for the project was given by the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects back in 2009. An in-principle forest clearance for the Lower project was given in February 2012 and agreed upon in 2013.
However, the in-principle clearance of the project was opposed by a majority of the Standing Committee of the NBWL but subsequently cleared by the then-environment minister of state (independent charge), Jayanthi Natarajan, who was also the chairperson of the Standing Committee.
Natarajan is currently under the CBI’s scanner for alleged anomalies in clearance given for diversion of land in Saranda forest in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel during the previous UPA regime.
The NGT said that it is “of the view that either the Chairperson (Natarajan) should have given a proper reason for rejecting the objection of the majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members. Even though the Standing Committee is a recommendatory body, the same being a statutory committee, is bound by the laudable principles of justice and fair play”.
The NGT gave its judgement in response to a PIL filed in 2015 against the Stage-I and Stage-II forest clearances given by the Centre and the permission given by the state government in 2013 to divert 1415.92 hectares of forest land. The project involves felling of around 43,000 trees. An appeal against the Stage-I FC for the project was disposed of by the NGT, while granting the appellants to make another appeal after the Stage-II FC was given. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/minister-cannot-overrule-wildlife-board-rules-ngt-4914480/
Quoting environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta another report says that in case of this project, eight non-official members of the 12 members NBWL standing committee rejected the proposal. The four official members did not comment on the proposal during the meeting. But finally the clearance was given by the minister, Jayanthi Natarajan. According to Dutta, non-official members of the board are essentially non-governmental while their official counterparts are government. “We argued before the court that the law did not talk of a minister approving the project, but its clearance by the National Board for Wildlife. The tribunal has accepted our contention,” said Dutta.
The order also reads that “We are of the view that either the Chairperson (of the State Board for Wildlife) who happens to be the Hon’ble Minister of State should have given proper reason for rejecting the objection of majority of the non-official members or the decision ought to have been arrived at based on the opinion of the majority of the members of the Standing Committee of National Board. Neither of these acceptable principles are followed in making a decision under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 by the Standing Committee,”. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/ngt-suspends-forest-clearance-for-arunachal-hydroelectric-project-58963
The project is part of a two-stage project- Demwe Lower and Demwe Upper (1080-MW)- and undertaken by M/s Athena Demwe Power Ltd, formed by Athena Energy Ventures Pvt Ltd following the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the state government in July 2007.
The Demwe Lower project in Lohit district envisages the construction of a gravity dam of 163.12 metres above the deepest foundation level (124.8 metres above average river bed level) across the Lohit river near Parshuram Kund, a culturally significant site of Hinduism. http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/3/12129/National-Green-Tribunal-Suspends-Clearances-for-Mega-Hydro-Project-in-Arunachal
It is proposed at the location where the Lohit plummets from the hills to the plains, near a site called Parasuram Kund. Such geographical transitional zones are critical ecological locations. Perhaps this is the reason the location is sacred to the Hindus and various indigenous tribes of the state such as Mishmi, Deori and Khampti. http://www.firstpost.com/india/the-demwe-project-gives-a-damn-about-dolphins-or-conservation-217959.html
In another important development, movement against Hydro Projects in KAMENG district is rising. As per this report, the Immediate Downstream Affected Peoples’ Forum, (IDAPF) has cautioned the state govt, asking it to either scrap the Phanchung HEP (46MW) over Pachi River, East Kameng or face rigorous democratic movement. The Forum, which has been opposing development of two hydroelectric projects within a span of just 1 km, has once again submitted a letter to the East Kameng Deputy Commissioner to stop further hydro-power activities over the Pachi River. The proposed project is just 1 km away from Tallong Londa HEP (226MW) over Kameng River.
– The IDAPF had imposed social boycott on August 2016 in the area to express its strong resentment over the adamant attitude of the govt.
While deciding to intensify its movement against the proposed HEP, the IDAPF criticized the state govt for signing MoUs for development of 24 hydro electric projects in the rivers of East Kemeng district alone.
The huge numbers of HEP in East Kameng, if developed, will extensively damage the river system and living beings, beside posing great danger to the demographic pattern of the district and state as a whole, said IDAPF Chairman, Lota Singhi during the post social boycott public meeting.
He demanded reduction in the numbers of dams in the district for the welfare of the people and the environment. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2017/11/01/scrap-phanchung-hep-or-face-rigorous-movement-idapf-to-govt/
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
Centre Energy minister continues praising and pushing hydro projects In a meeting of Consultative Committee on Oct 31, new energy minister R.K Singh said that Hydro projects have relatively longer useful plant life and help in providing inexpensive power in long term and is ideal for meeting peaking load and as a spinning reserve therefore, development of hydro power projects needs to be encouraged.
Speaking in the meeting Balraj Joshi, CMD, NHPC informed that NHPC has commissioned 22 projects of 6691.2 MW (including Joint Ventures) and is presently engaged in 3 hydro projects aggregating to a total installed capacity of 3130 MW. One hydro project of 1000 MW of JV Company has been accorded CCEA clearance & re-tendering is under finalisation. Six hydro projects of 553 MW are in the pipeline for preparation of feasibility report and another 3 hydro projects of 805 MW are on anvil. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173102
Himachal Pradesh Hydro-electricity generated in state has no customers: Gadakari Union Minister Gadkari makes interesting statement that hydro-electricity is produced in Himachal but has no customers. Indeed, then WHY is his govt pushing more hydropower projects? http://www.india.com/news/agencies/gadkari-woos-hp-electorates-ahead-of-state-polls-2585680/
In a remarkable development on Nov 04, asking the political parties and their candidates to spell out a clear-cut stand on the burning tribal issues, tribals of 3 constituencies — Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour — have come out with a clear cut poll agenda for the BJP, the Congress and the CPM for the Nov 9 state Assembly elections: ban power projects, allot nautor land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and develop the tribal belt as an eco and adventure tourism hub.
The NGO of tribals Jispa Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti has also sent a memorandum to PM Narendra Modi and wrote to the NGT to cancel the 260 MW Jispa Dam project in the snow-bound Jipa-Darcha Valley. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/spell-out-stand-on-burning-issues-tribals-to-parties/492545.html
Also see, The State of Himachal Rivers, a report by HIMDHARA says that Hydro power development, unregulated construction, sand mining and urbanisation are the major threats that rivers in Himachal Pradesh are facing. http://www.thestatesman.com/cities/unplanned-development-threatens-hp-rivers-report-1502510825.html
The report recommends that the blue or wild rivers needs to be protected from the threats and a plan of action needs to be made for the same. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/pollution/himachal-rivers-facing-threat-from-developmental-activities/articleshow/61077802.cms
Himdhara expects the report to generate interest and a debate amongst communities as well as policymakers and researchers about the urgency to protect the Himalayan rivers. https://himachalwatcher.com/2017/10/13/dried-and-dusted-rivers-of-himachal-seek-rescue-report/
The full report can be seen here http://www.himdhara.org/2017/10/12/dried-and-dusted-a-state-of-the-rivers-report-for-himachal/
INTERLINKING OF RIVERS
SANDRP Press Release NGT admits appeal challenging EC to Ken Betwa The Principle Bench of Green Tribunal on Oct 27, 2017 admitted a comprehensive Appeal (No 33 of 2017) challenging the Environment Clearance to Phase I of Ken Betwa River Linking Project.
Among the grounds in the petition includes inadequate Environment Impact Assessment, lack of impact assessment and public consultation in affected districts (Banda, Jhansi, Mahoba) and also those of Madhya Pradesh, Violations in Public hearings, inadequate Appraisal by Environmental Appraisal Committee (for River Valley Projects), contradictions between Forest/ Wildlife Clearance Conditions and those of Environment Clearance, among others.
We welcome the NGT order and hope the respondents will respond in the spirit of public interest, which underlines the application. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/ngt-admits-appeal-challenging-environment-clearance-to-ken-betwa-project/
It is great to see positive outlook report about NGT admitting Ken Betwa EC challenge. https://scroll.in/article/856044/the-daily-fix-green-challenge-to-ken-betwa-plan-should-prompt-government-to-rethink-river-linking
Also see, UNI report on NGT admitting Ken Betwa petition. http://www.uniindia.com/ngt-admits-petition-challenging-clearance-to-ken-betwa-river-project/india/news/1032098.html#.WffnEBhSkkg.gmail
Ken Betwa link alternative लगन, मेहनत और ईमानदारी से किया गया प्रयास कभी निष्फल नही होता। मध्यप्रदेश में बुंदेलखंड क्षेत्र के पन्ना जिले का कुंजवन गांव इसका जीता जागता मिशाल है। अल्प वर्षा और सूखा के बावजूद यहाँ किसानों के खेतों में धान और सब्जियों की फसल लहलहा रही है।खेतों में बने कपिलधारा कूप सूखे को मात दे रहे हैं। इस छोटे से गांव की जागरण में प्रकाशित अरुण सिंह की रिपोर्ट
Tamil Nadu Activist faces sedition case for book against river-linking plans The chief coordinator of the Anti-Methane Project Movement, T Jayaraman, was booked for sedition for writing a book against river-linking. The case was filed against him on Oct 29, at Mayiladuthurai police station under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code for speaking against the sovereignty and national integration. The case against him was filed after he organised a book launch event in Mayiladuthurai on Oct 22. This is shocking? That would be an understatement if this case is taken seriously by the govt, police or judiciary. In fact one hopes Judiciary moves fast to trash this case. https://scroll.in/latest/855981/tamil-nadu-activist-faces-sedition-case-for-his-book-against-the-centres-river-linking-plans
Maharashtra Modification in Damanganga Pinjal link The Maharashtra CM and Union Water Resources Minister Gadakari are saying that the Damanganga Pinjal link is being modified to enable Maharashtra to transfer 50 TMC water to Gadavari/ Marathwada. Pertinently, Gadkari said this at a meeting to inaugurate the Cane crushing season at a sugar Factory, a completely inappropriate crop. Gadkari also claimed that irrigated area in Maharashtra will be increased from current 18% to 40%. Its the same kind of claims that were used by Ajit Pawar to Tatkare to push irrigation projects in Maharashtra. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/area-under-irrigation-in-state-will-be-doubled-gadkari/articleshow/61349059.cms
According to a statement by Union Water Resources Minister, Nitin Gadkari, the State Govts of Maharashtra and Gujarat will sign an agreement on the Damanganga-Pinjal river inter-linking project in the next few days. As Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD, Hiranandani Communities the link could quench the thirst of Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
MUMBAI DOES NOT NEED WATER from Damanganga Pinjal link. There is no doubt about that. But most funny thing about this report is that it quotes the BUILDER saying that this link will go forward as Union Water Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced! Amazingly open collusion. http://businesswireindia.com/news/fulldetails/damanganga-pinjal-river-inter-linking-project-can-quench-thirst-mumbai-mmr-dr-niranjan-hiranandani/55606
Study Pancheshwar dam environmentally unsustainable, economically unsound This 2010 study done by Institutions of Environmental Sciences (IES) highlights the overall impact of the Pancheshwar dam on eco-system and local people.
The study concludes that the negative environmental consequences of the proposed Pancheshwar Dam would be substantial and long-lasting, and would affect people and ecosystems over a wide geographical scale. They would threaten not only high-priority nature conservation areas and the general river ecosystem downstream, but also the livelihoods of many people, both local and across the catchment, by degrading the ecosystem services provided by the catchment ecosystem.
As per the study, there would also be destruction of sacred sites, traditions and lifestyles, particularly amongst rural communities which have been largely omitted from consideration but potentially also affecting the wellbeing of millions of people overall.
It says that the Pancheshwar proposals and process, insofar as information is available, fail all seven WCD “strategic priorities” and can therefore not be assumed to be sustainable, fair or economically sound.
The impacts of earthquakes on dam integrity also seem to have been overlooked, despite the likely implications of the massive weight of the proposed reservoir on a highly active earthquake zone. https://www.the-ies.org/sites/default/files/reports/pancheshwar_dam.pdf
Amid this the MATU and HIMDHARA have complained that the govt is deliberately showing 95 meter high 240Mw Rupali Gad dam as part of Pancheshwar project and seeking environmental and forest clearances for two separate dams in the name of one Pancheshwar dam. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/environment-clearances-being-taken-for-two-dams-in-name-of-pancheshwar-activists/articleshow/61521290.cms See HIMDHARA Press Release on this here https://goo.gl/iM3GBE & MATU Press Release on the same here http://matuganga.blogspot.in/
Meanwhile protests against Pancheshwar Dam continue to spread. http://www.amarujala.com/uttarakhand/pithoragarh/fire-of-protest-against-pancheshwar-dam-extends-to-villages
Resentment against the project continues to grow on ground. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/resentment-mounts-against-pancheshwar-project/487745.html
The concerned people and groups have recently registered their protest in Delhi also http://www.counterview.net/2017/10/opposition-to-modis-pet-dam-proposed-in.html
NAPM PR: Rehabilitation of Wang-Marathwadi Dam Affected Families above the Reservoir Fringe Proposal Approved! The Enduring Peaceful Struggle for the rehabilitation of the Wang-Marathwadi dam oustees has succeeded at last! According to the Directives issued by the Water Resources Department, Maharashtra on October, 31 st , 2017, to the Executive Director, Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, shall Rehabilitate the of Wang Marathwadi Dam Affected Families above the Reservoir Fringe and shall grant them cash compensation acceptable to the PaPs in lieu of the alternative agricultural lands due. Explore the link to know the background of the issue. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/1841643299196668
INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES
Krishna Water Dispute 100 TMC of Krishna waters Missing Shocked at the issue of ‘Missing 100 TMC of Krishna waters’ the union water ministry has directed the Krishna River Water Management Board to conduct a probe immediately. It may be another issue for water wars between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Though records show that it was released from Srisailam reservoir, the records at the water has not reached either Nagarjuna sagar or the Pulichintala and Prakasham barrage. The KRWMB has taken up the issue for review at its next meeting on complaints from both the states about the missing waters. Telangana has complained that AP has drawn more water and shown fake records of less water. http://www.telugumirchi.com/en/other-news/100-tmc-of-krishna-waters-missing.html
Cauvery Water Dispute Two studies in the offing on Cauvery River Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) had in Sept this year, asked CPCP, Karnataka PCB, Tamil Nadu PCB to undertake a study to ascertain pollution sources and levels and submit the final report in January, 2018. The study is not just limited to patches, but from the origin till the end point.
In parallel, KSPCB has also joined hands with Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (Empri) and Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) to study the landscape of Cauvery basin. The studies are titled “Inventorisation of Water Bodies in Bengaluru Metropolitan Area” and “Assessment of Current Status of Cauvery River in Karnataka”. Data of 2003-04 will be compared with that of 2014-15.” http://www.deccanherald.com/content/640585/centre-state-conduct-study-pollution.html
In a related development, the Union Water Ministry on Nov 02, has given a six-month extension (May 2, 2018) to CWDT to submit its report on water sharing among four states, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Constituted on June, 2, 1990, to adjudicate the water dispute among four riparian states, the tribunal has heard concerned states for over 16 years and finally in February 2007 announced its order allocating state wise specified quantum of water. The Centre had notified the tribunal’s award in 2013. However, the states had then challenged the tribunal’s order in the Supreme Court. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/cauvery-tribunal-gets-extension-of-6-months-for-report/articleshow/61500739.cms, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173231
RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS
Goa Coal transportation posing threats to rivers This five part investigative series rightly underlines the adverse impact of coal transportation on Goans and its environment. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/coal-burying-goa-after-road-and-rail-river-at-risk-as-coal-floats-by-mormugao-port-pollution-4914699/
Here are the links of all the parts. First Part http://indianexpress.com/article/india/coal-on-move-25-tonnes-a-minute-is-choking-goa-more-is-on-the-way-4904963/
Maharashtra Irrigation Scam HC gives ACB final chance, no reprieve for Pawar The ACB continues to drag its feet even as High Court keeps pressing them about the massive, Rs 70 000 cr Maharashtra irrigation scam. HC also refused to remove the name of former minister Ajit Pawar. The projects include Jigaon in Buldhana, Lower Pedhi in Amravati, Raigad Barrage near Chandur Railway and Waghadi in Yavatmal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/hc-gives-acb-final-chance-no-reprieve-for-pawar/articleshow/61427326.cms
Centre As per the PIB brief, a total 1,80,908 number of Solar pumps have been sanctioned and 1,35,545 number of solar pumps have been installed till 30th Sept ,2017. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173102
Tamil Nadu 1 lakh fine imposed on Sterling Biotech for polluting Pykara The Nilgiris district administration as well as the local administrative body has imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh on a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, Sterling Biotech, for releasing effluents into the Pykara Dam. It has also issued notices to the company and have directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to monitor pollution levels in the dam. WELCOME step the company appears to be a serial polluter of Pykara dam thus causing catastrophic effects on wildlife and residents in the Sigur plateau living on the fringes of the Singara and Moyar River. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/rs-1-lakh-fine-imposed-on-sterling-biotech-for-polluting-pykara/article19958879.ece
Maharashtra No progress in clean Mula-Mutha project Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has mapped 127 points along the Mula-Mutha river where sewage is released. As per Municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar, to plug the pollution sources, the govt has approved Rs 990.26 crore for the project of which Rs 850 crore will come as grant from the Centre through JICA while PMC will have to make a provision of Rs 150 crore. The project was approved in 2015 and is expected to be completed by January 2022. The Mula-Mutha river is one of the 302 polluted river stretches of the country identified by CPCB a few years ago. The above detail suggests the PMC has so far made no progress in implementing the project on ground. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pmc-maps-127-spots-where-sewage-enters-mula-mutha/articleshow/61473298.cms
Meanwhile Ulhasnagar’s Waldhuni river turned blood-red in colour on Nov 03, indicating a high level of pollution in the water body. Interestingly, the issue of river pollution has been going on, with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) having submitted an affidavit stating that the pollution level is within permissible limits and activists refuting the same with samples of river water, particularly from the polluted areas. Notably, it was only last month that the Supreme Court rapped civic authorities for deplorable condition of the Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers. http://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/041117/waldhuni-river-bleeds-despite-claims-of-pollution-control.html
GANGA Uttarakhand Matri Sadan saint resumes fast Matri Sadan founder Swami Shivanand has written to the President, PM and Chief Justice of India, asking their intervention to ensure that the stone crushers operating near the Ganga riverbed comply with the norms laid down by CPCB. The seer further said that heavy illegal mining is making ditches of 30-40 feet in the agricultural fields situated on the Ganga banks and several islands clad with valuable ‘khair’ and ‘Sheesham’ trees were destroyed, causing thus grave ecological disturbances to this area. According report state govt had restarted mining by an order dated on October 16 despite the order of the High Court dated August 24 for closing all stone crushing plants. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/dehradun/matri-sadan-sought-prez-pm-intervention-in-stone-crushing-near-ganga.html
In a separate development NGT has warned the State Govt and other stakeholders to be ready to face a fine of ₹10 lakh as environmental compensation and penalty for not complying with its orders. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-raps-uttarakhand-over-ganga/article19920955.ece
As per reports, around 40 MLD of untreated effluents are being discharged by industries and other sources into the Ganga in Haridwar every day. A 40 MLD STP planned at a cost of Rs 71.40 crore and approved by NMCG at Jagjitpur in Haridwar is still lying incomplete.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ngt-wants-strict-monitoring-of-funds-for-ganga-cleaning/articleshow/61278373.cms
According to Nitin Gadakari about 3000 MLD sewage from 97 cities on Ganga banks are the biggest source of pollution. Of this, 1750 MLD (63 %) sewage comes from just 10 cities. He said 34 projects worth Rs 3581 crore had been sanctioned for Ganga cleaning between 2008-2014, while 56 projects worth Rs 9630 crore have been approved since 2014 till date. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=171600, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173090
Amid this independent and govt sponsored studies show that Holy Ganga is most polluted at Kanpur, unbathable at Sangam. The report also says that Govt efforts to clean Ganga has failed as 100 % sewage is flowing the river increasing the presence of total coli form, faecal coli forms to dangerous level https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/river-ganga-flooded-with-human-excreta-govt-effort-futile/articleshow/61458992.cms
Another study reveals that mass bathing events https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bareilly/pollution-of-ramganga-highest-during-chaubari-fair-study/articleshow/61310696.cms are making the River and tributaries a reservoir 4 AMR (anti-microbial resistance) genes reveals independent and Govt studies http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/mass-bathing-in-ganga-aggravates-anti-microbial-resistance-woes/article19964606.ece
Meanwhile, with only 12,000 cusec water in Ganga in Bijnor ahead of “Ganga snan”, devotees may not have enough water for a holy dip. Around 2.5 lakh devotees are expected to turn up here to celebrate the festival. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/devotees-say-not-enough-water-for-ganga-snan-in-bijnor/articleshow/61279088.cms
Bihar 16 bridges to come over Ganga According to a separate news Bihar Govt has target of building 16 news bridges on Ganga in next five year. Sources say out of Rs 54,700 crore from PM’s Bihar package Rs 1.25 lakh crore was meant for roads and bridges. The Centre had approved rehabilitation of 5.57km long Gandhi Setu over the Ganga on June 22 at and estimated cost of Rs 1,742.01 crore. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/govt-to-construct-more-bridges-over-ganga-min/articleshow/61469921.cms
YAMUNA Delhi Yamuna a polluted mess after Chhath Puja After Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja, Chhath Puja has caused massive waste lying on Yamuna banks. http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-despite-barricades-on-ghats-yamuna-left-a-polluted-mess-after-chhath-puja-2556098
Jan 2017 Google image shows hundreds of trucks involved in sand mining lined along Ken river in Chhatarpur district of MP
Madhya Pradesh Sand mining mafia unleashes terror SHOCKING, illegal sand mining from MP rivers has become order of the day. Mafias with full patronage from politicians show no fear of law. Against norms heavy machines are ravaging the rivers. Narmada riverbed lined with hundreds of makeshift roads and dotted with thousands of pit created due to illegal mining.
– Armed men allegedly held a raiding party led by Ajaygarh tehsildar J.P.S. Baghel of Panna district hostage on October 16 for impounding their vehicles which were illegally transporting mined sand. Similarly, on July 20, sand mining mafia allegedly thrashed the daylights out of a sub-divisional magistrate in Tikamgarh for confiscating their dumpers and earthmovers.
-Sand mining is carried out on the river beds violating the mining and environment rules and under the nose of local administration. It is said that relatives of some influential people, including MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, are into the illegal sand mining business.
-Altogether, around 1,135 blocks measuring around 8,800 hectares in 33 districts of the state have been leased out for sand mining.
– According to an estimate, the state is robbed of Rs 1000 crore revenue every year due to illegal sand mining. At present, the state receives a revenue of around Rs 170 crore annually. In the past 7 months, as many as 70 sand mining cases have been reported in different districts of the state.
-It is normal to see the Narmada river bed dotted with hundreds of roads, some as long as 15 km, made to move heavy machineries such as earth movers and JCB machines to mine sand. What’s more, in some areas, roads created on the river bed even block the flow of water. Ironically, under the mining policy of the MP govt, use of machineries in sand mining has been prohibited. http://www.asianage.com/india/crime/041117/sand-mining-mafia-unleashes-terror-in-madhya-pradesh.html
Highlighting the gravity of situation Free Press Journal report also reads that making mockery of State govt’s order of banning unauthorised sand mining across the state, sand stealing continues unabated around Dhamnod area not only leading to heavy revenue loss to the government, but it has wiped out fish and aquatic life. Even concerned department officials are well aware about the illegal activities going on around and to cover-up for the big sharks’ officials take action against the small fish.
According to the report rampant illegal sand mining taking place in a tributary of Narmada has raised serious concerns over the destruction of invaluable ecosystem and borrow pits created by perpetrators, which poses danger to the people http://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/bhopal-despite-ban-illegal-sand-mining-continues-unabated-near-dhamnod/1165349
Maharashtra HC wetland panel issues new guidelines According to the new guidelines issued by the Bombay high court-appointed wetlands grievance redressal committee, destruction of wetlands on private land in the state will now attract a penalty. The govt will confiscate the land if the owners fail to pay this penalty.
The guidelines were decided during the committee’s last two meetings. The panel will has also setup a website (konkanwetland.com) to track complaints, which is expected to be functional by the end of the week, said officials.
Members of the committee told that this year they received 17 major cases of wetland destruction. First-information-reports (FIRs) were filed and penalties were levied in 11 of these cases. The remaining six are pending and currently under inquiry. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/cough-up-fines-for-wetland-destruction-or-pay-with-your-land-says-bombay-high-court-panel/story-aiyoDGbg4asE9Pvk0fhfvL.html
Tamil Nadu Flood in polluted river cause groundwater pollution A new study by Anna University has pointed out that flooding in polluted rivers has the potential to make groundwater unsafe for human use. Researchers from the university collected water samples from 17 locations in December 2015 and April 2016 along polluted Adyar river. The results showed that the heavy-metal concentration and microbial load in groundwater samples were high. https://thewire.in/193899/polluted-river-floods-groundwater-becomes-polluted/
Karnataka Concretization hampering ground water recharge As the report, Bengaluru received 166 cm of rain till Nov 4, a good 64 cm departure from its average annual rainfall. Yet, three of the four taluks of Bengaluru Urban district had seen a fall in ground water table. Experts attribute this predicament to increasing concretization and failure to harvest rain water, acute loss of wetlands and vegetation over the years.
A study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in August had pointed out that the concrete spaces in the city have increased up to 78% due to years of unplanned urbanization. If this trend continues, then 94% of Bengaluru will be concrete by 2020, the study added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/record-rainfall-fails-to-push-up-groundwater-table-in-bengaluru/articleshow/61522152.cms
The incessant rainfall over the past two months has made 2017 the wettest year for Bengaluru city. The annual rainfall for the city, 1615.2mm as on Oct 14, is the highest ever, more than 1606.8 mm, the earlier record, in 2005. As per IMD which has rainfall data for 115 years says that there has been record rainfall in Bengaluru city after 1990. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-records-highest-rainfall-in-at-least-115-years/articleshow/61086785.cms
Meanwhile another study finds that landfill sites and dumping of untreated sewage in water bodies causing ground water pollution in Bengaluru. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/051117/karnataka-illegal-dump-sites-pollute-groundwater-says-tv-ramachandra.html
Govt approves 7 DSTPs to treat polluted water Meanwhile Delhi Govt has approved setting up of 7 decentralised sewage treatment plants (DSTP) of a total of 14.5-MLD capacity for 25 colonies in north Delhi’s Burari area. The govt wants more such DSTPs for entire city, planning to use treated water for several purposes like water body recharge, irrigation etc. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/arvind-kejriwal-approves-seven-sewage-treatment-plants-in-north-delhi-4903381/
Meanwhile another report hints that nothing is being done to check illegal boring in Delhi. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/illegal-borewells-hurting-djbs-fight-against-water-theft/articleshow/61522362.cms
URBAN FLOOD Chennai Harvest the floods The torrential rains exceeding the normal by 93% in the period of four days from November 1, left tens of thousands of citizens in a state of despair. Chennai and its sprawl extending to two neighbouring districts should return to the traditional wisdom of creating tanks and lakes for water storage, and rejuvenating old silted ones, in order to harvest the floods and replenish depleted groundwater. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/marooned-once-more/article19988296.ece
All about Chennai flood 2017 Forecasters said 74 per cent of rain was recorded in just the first week since the northeast monsoon arrived. Chennai city alone witnessed a whopping 183 mm of rainfall between 8:30 am yesterday (Nov 02) and 08:30 am today (Nov 03).Along with this, very heavy showers have also been witnessed at the Meenambakkm observatory to the tune of 141 mm. DGP Office (Marina-Mylapore) recorded 300 mm rainfall in last 24 hours on Nov 03.
Chennai had by 8.30am on Friday (Nov 03) — mostly from a mere eight days since the northeast monsoon set in on October 27 — already recorded 554.2mm of rainfall this year, or 74% of the long-term average of 750mm it receives annually in the rainy season, which the IMD calculates between October 1 and December 15.
Chennai had till Friday (Nov 03) recorded 441.3mm of rainfall (58.84% of the seasonal average) from the northeast monsoon, Met office data showed. Nov 02 rain was Chennai’s third-highest in history in a single day for Nov, behind only 452.2mm in 1976 and 246.15mm in 2015.
Normal life in Chennai was affected as heavy rainfall continued in several parts of the metropolis and neighbouring districts on Friday (Nov 03). Heavy downpour was witnessed in parts of Chennai including Mylapore, Foreshore Estate, southern suburbs of Tambaram, Chrompet and Pallavaram. The weather office has warned of intermittent heavy rain in coastal areas for today (Nov 04) as well. Death toll from the flooding rose to 12 and the city’s total rainfall to close to three-fourths of the average for a season that has just got started.
Till Nov 04, more than 10,000 people took shelter in over 105 relief camps set up in Chennai and other coastal parts. Schools in the city and other coastal towns will remain closed for the fifth day. Several govt colleges and institutions including Anna University decided to postpone their semester exams which were scheduled to be held from Friday (Nov 03).
1,000 people displaced by water-logging in Nagapattinam district. Large tracts of samba paddy crop, most of them directly sown, remained submerged across the district. The Sirkazhi block continued to bear the brunt of the rainfall, recording 139.6 mm during the 24-hour period till 8.30 a.m. on Friday (Nov 03).
Samba and thalady paddy crops on an estimated 40,000 hectares have been inundated in the district, as per Agriculture Department sources in Nagapattinam district. In Nagapattinam block, the official machinery devoted its attention on deepening parts of the Harishchandra river and knocking down the sandbars in the estuary for draining rainwater into the sea.
Meanwhile, Madras High Court on Friday (Nov 03) directed Chennai corporation to file a detailed status report on the steps taken to prevent waterlogging in the city. In its order, the court also asked the concerned authorities to start the removal of unauthorised encroachments on water bodies and canals.
It took torrential rain to paralyse normal life in Chennai for officials to wake up to the threat of a repeat of the 2015 deluge. CM K Palaniswami’s govt also faced backlash for ineffective handling of rains. Documents accessed by CNN-News18 and Times Now show that the Public Works Department of Chennai sanctioned funds for “pre-monsoon” work only on Oct 30, the day that most parts of the city started flooding.
As per report, govt sanctioned Rs 853.15 lakh for executing 189 pre-monsoon preparedness work,” reads only on Oct 30. According to the document, the work, which involved desilting and cleaning up of water bodies to prevent flooding in Chennai, was started only on Oct 30.
It shows that no preparedness work was done and no lessons were learnt even after 2015 floods. Still bad infrastructure, poor drainage system, lakes and dams filled with garbage are still a reality.
The document clearly exposes the lies of the state govt, as some of the ministers had recently claimed that nearly 95% of works related to monsoon preparation was already complete.
IMD weekly rainfall statistics for Tamil Nadu rainfall for week ending on Nov 01 http://www.imdchennai.gov.in/week.pdf
Here is IMD monthly rainfall statistics for Tamil Nadu from Oct 01 to Nov 01 http://www.imdchennai.gov.in/season.pdf
The daily and seasonal rainfall statistics by IMD are given here file:///C:/Users/Dell/Desktop/IMD%20Chennai%20Rainfall%201%20oct%20to%204%20nov%202017.pdf
Also see INSAT Satellite Images and Maps of India https://www.skymetweather.com/insat/weather-satellite-images-of-india/06-00
India Bangladesh People affected by the TEESTA DAM coming together Now representatives from multiple villages have come together to form a committee to advocate for themselves. The villagers formed an ad hoc committee in September, with representatives from eight villages and one NGO partner. After finalizing their membership, they plan to meet in October to determine the committee’s direction.
They have already initiated talks with the Chief Engineer of the Teesta Barrage, which has caused widespread erosion and, villagers say, could be operated differently to minimize erosion. The committee is also considering asking the government to prepare a Teesta River Master Plan that would rely on strong participation from river communities. And communities are now sharing anti-erosion techniques like planting vetiver, a deep-rooted plant that can stabilize unstable soil along riverbanks. https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2017/10/the-teesta-a-hungry-river/
Also see, story of people on the banks of EROSION prone Dharla River “Around two decades ago, the people of Karnapur Beparitari village in Mogolhat union, Lalmonirhat used to live prosperously on the bank of Bangladesh’s trans-boundary Dharla River.” http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2017/10/30/river-erosion-prosperity-turns-poverty-decades/
SOUTH EAST ASIA
Indonesia Rivers pollution going worse Research by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry showed that 75 percent of rivers in the country are seriously polluted, 52 of which are categorized as heavily polluted, and 118 watersheds out of 450 are critically polluted. These bitter facts are certainly not good news for the people in the archipelagic country, especially those who live in the countryside like my fellow villagers. For generations, they have harnessed river water for multiple purposes such as bathing, cooking, fishing, and even drinking. https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/making-indonesian-rivers-great-again/
Malaysia Flood 10,000 evacuated as Penang, Kedah floods worsen A total of 5,845 flood evacuees have been placed at 62 relief centres in Penang till Nov 06. In BUTTERWORTH, the number of flood victims evacuated in Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) district stands at 2,119 as nearly 80 percent of Penang was hit by typhoon-like winds and heavy rain. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299757/10000-evacuated-penang-kedah-floods-worsen
As per Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) the Air Itam Dam catchment has recorded a total of 320mm of rainfall at, the highest to date exceeding the previous record of 270mm recorded on Sept 15, 2017. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299836/heavy-rainfall-brings-record-catch-air-itam-dam
Military forces were deployed on Nov 05 to help thousands of displaced people as floodwater rose from more than 24 hours of incessant rain. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/army-deployed-in-malaysias-penang-as-floods-displace-thousands/article19986838.ece
As per Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD) director-general Alui Bahari the low pressure area attracted strong winds and moisture which resulted in heavy rain that led the department to issue a Red Alert warning in the two states on Nov 04. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299593/penang-floods-meteorological-dept-explains-what-triggered-heavy-rainfall
The Penang Hill funicular train service has been suspended following a landslide which covered part of its track, triggered by heavy rain. A 20-second video shows the severity of the landslide. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299653/penang-hill-funicular-train-service-halted-following-landslide
China plans 1,000 km tunnel to divert Brahmputra water Interesting report that quotes a news report in South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoting anonymous source, saying China is testing a technique to build tunnels in high altitudes that CAN BE used to transfer water from Yarlung Tsangpo to Xinjiang, desert area in Northern China.
“The water diversion project in central Yunnan is a demonstration project. It is to show we have the brains, muscle, and tools to build super-long tunnels in hazardous terrains, and the cost does not break the bank,” Zhang Chuanqing, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, told the SCMP. Chuanqing, according to the newspaper, has played a key role in many major Chinese water tunnel projects. https://qz.com/1114843/chinas-grand-plan-for-the-brahmaputra-a-1000km-tunnel-to-divert-water-away-from-tibet/
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Wang Wei, a researcher who helped draft the latest Tibet- Xinjiang water tunnel proposal, which was submitted to the central govt in March, said more than 100 scientists formed different teams for the nationwide research effort. He was part of the team which was led by China’s top tunnelling expert, Wang Mengshu.
The team, according to the report suggested draining the Brahmaputra at Sangri county in southern Tibet, close to Arunachal Pradesh.
“Sangri county featured a large, relatively flat valley that was ideal for the engineering project. An artificial island would be built in the middle of the river to create rapid turbulence, which could filter out sediment, and direct water to a well. The well could control the amount of water flowing into the tunnel,” the report said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/china-mulls-1-000-km-tunnel-to-carry-brahmaputra-water-from-tibet-to-xinjiang-1769019?pfrom=home-lateststories
ADDTIONAL INFORMATION: “An important factor holding up approval for the gigantic project is the environmental risks involved in cutting through fragile mountains,” an engineer attached to Chinese govt said. Another factor could be the high cost involved.
One Chinese expert, Wang Wei, who works for the State Key Laboratory of Hydraulics and Mountain River Engineering at Sichuan University, estimated that the cost would be one billion Yuan (approximately $ 150 million) per km of the tunnel. This would mean an overall cost of around $150 billion.”
“To my knowledge, no environmental evaluation has been carried out. The nature and scale of the impact remain in the dark,” Zhou Shiqiao, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research in Beijing, told The South China Morning Post.
Another researcher, Zhang Chuanqing, said Beijing “would definitely go ahead with the project one day”.
“In five to 10 years, the technology will be ready and the cost affordable, and the temptation of the benefits will be difficult to resist,” said Zhang Chuanqing, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics in Wuhan, who is involved in developing another plan for a 600-km long tunnel in Yunnan.
It is true that several risks would be there: “Observers said storing vast quantities of water prior to dispatch through the tunnels could also increase the risks of flooding downstream.”
This is certainly a bit inaccurate statement: “Once the tunnel is approved, it will most likely affect the water flow in the Brahmaputra, that could cause draughts.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-plans-to-divert-brahmaputra-waters-to-its-xinjiang-region-through-1000-km-long-tunnel/articleshow/61346091.cms
According to the latest news report China govt has denied the reports about diverting Brahmaputra waters: “Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a media briefing said that China would hold talks on issues related to the river with countries downstream, which are India and Bangladesh.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-denies-plan-to-make-tunnel-to-divert-brahmaputra-waters/articleshow/61370231.cms
THE REST OF WORLD
California Positive impact of dam removal on Carmel river system SO EXCITING REPORT: Positive and promising signs of 106 ft-high San Clemente Dam removal on Carmel River bio diversity and steelhead trout populations.
– The decision was made by the dam’s owner, California American Water, in consultation with federal and state agencies, to demolish the decrepit structure, making it the largest dam-removal project in California’s history.
– The demand for water for Monterey County led to the construction of the dam in 1921. The decision to remove the dam came to a head after state officials decided the dam had outlived its usefulness. Engineers determined the structure was seismically unsafe in 1991, and by 2002 it was full of sediment and no longer supplied water to Monterey residents.
– The removal project began in 2013 when engineers rerouted a half-mile section of the river above the dam. Remnants of the dam were removed and a series of cascading pools were installed to enable oceangoing fish to swim upstream to the tributaries where they spawn.
At this point, the river is in the process of redesigning itself and it’s “super-exciting” to observe, Chapman the regional manager for the California Coastal Commission said. In 2017, the river has the building blocks for a healthy ecosystem, sediment flows downstream and steelhead can move upstream. “Honestly, the river can build a far better river than we do. It’s so much more complex,” she said.” https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/10/30/two-years-after-californias-biggest-dam-removal-fish-rebound
Meanwhile in a Los Angeles Times, Op-Ed, titled Four dams in the West are coming down — a victory wrapped in a defeat for smart water policy, Jacques Leslie says that when a top Interior Department official acknowledged recently that the Trump administration wouldn’t try to block removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, he signaled a monumental victory for local Native American tribes, salmon fishermen and the national dam removal movement.
Yet this development is less momentous than it would have been in 2015, when dam removal was just one component of a broad plan for the Klamath Basin, which straddles the California-Oregon border. That plan included salmon habitat restoration, the return of tribal land and water-sharing among farmers, ranchers and tribes. It was the product of a decade of trust-building and honest negotiation among representatives of the basin’s constituencies, whose efforts turned one of the nation’s most contentious water basins into a model of collaboration. It helped that big money didn’t skew the process: Most of the basin’s residents are far from wealthy, and the only corporation involved is PacifiCorp, the utility that owns the dams. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-leslie-klamath-dam-removal-20171102-story.html
As per another news in more than 170 years of water records and a comparison of how much water flows in and out of the lake, consumption of freshwater is likely to blame for the shrinking of Utah’s Great Salt Lake—and of similar lakes around the world. Since 1847, the Great Salt Lake has steadily shrunk, reaching its lowest recorded level in 2016. Today, the lake is 3.6 meters below its 1847 level and just half its original volume. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/utah-s-great-salt-lake-has-lost-half-its-water-thanks-thirsty-humans
Op-Ed EIAs are slipshod That EIAs are dishonest is well known. But see how the ministry, the EAC and even NABET are all hand in glove, by this blow by blow account from Kanchi.
Goa Pollution, over fishing led to fish famine In a 2010 research paper, Ingole, Goa’s leading marine biologist, had warned the govt of a fish famine situation. He had also added that the local favourite Mackerel would be the first to leave the Goan waters of the Arabian Sea.
-The state fisheries department reports a three-fold decline in Mackerel catch between 2013 and 2016. Similarly, the catch of sardines has fallen from 80,849 tonnes in 2014 to less than 7,000 tonnes in 2016. Other species of such as cuttle fish and silver belly have also shown a sharp drop in haul.
-Other coastal states Maharashtra and Karnataka also reportedly facing such fish famine.
-Goa exported fish worth around Rs 600 crore last year, 40 tonnes of fish exported on daily basis.
– The fishing community blames exporters and middlemen for their woes. But for all sections, the real worry is the fast-declining catch of fish.
-The crisis has reached such proportions that Goa’s fisheries minister Vinod Paliencar on Oct 30 promised a ban on fish exports. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/fish-famine-puts-goans-in-a-curry-over-export-ban/story-yAjn3fH9QBJnyp8tQWqrjI.html
Very recently Goa Fisheries Minister decided to divert fishermen subsidies to Fisheries Corporation http://englishnews.thegoan.net/story.php?id=37910
Uttarakhand Kedarnath reconstruction ignored most sane advice “We made many suggestions in our report, in accordance with higher Himalayan geology, which should have been kept in mind,” Dr D.P. Dobhal, a senior glaciologist and the lead scientist at Wadia Institute for Himalayan Geology said. “It looks they have been ignored in the new construction… the result is lack of foresight and planning. The way concrete and heavy construction materials have been used should not have occurred in terrain made of the glacier debris.”
– Dr Naveen Juyal of the Physical Research Lab in Ahmedabad shares the same opinion. “The flood in Kedarnath brought so much debris that it covered the town up to several feet,” he said. “It was not scientific at all to make anything here until this debris settled down. When new buildings are being built here, it is essential that their foundation go down to the very bottom of the debris. I do not know whether this has actually been done.”
– Juyal adds: “If you look at the architecture of traditional societies at these heights, you always see that wood or other light-weight material has been used. In Kedarnath, nature gave us an opportunity by slapping us with this devastation. We should have taken lessons from traditional knowledge. Light buildings with sloping roofs of wood and stones. But it looks like we have missed this opportunity.”
– The PM’s promise (that environmental rules will be respected) seems suspect when rushed reconstruction has already paved the way for yet another irresponsibly planned, concrete town. https://thewire.in/193252/kedarnath-temple-rebuilding-flood-lessons/
Delhi Wildlife board clears hospital near Asola Bhatti sanctuary The National Board for Wildlife in its Sept 2017 meeting has cleared Central Armed Police Forces Institute of Medical Science (CAPFIMS) hospital near the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary located on the southernmost tip of the Capital with a caveat that such huge institutes should not come up in the city because they add to the traffic woes and pollution load.
The hospital will share its boundary wall with the sanctuary that spreads over 19.57 sq km. The Asola Bhatti Sanctuary has the last remnants of the Delhi Ridge hill range and is home to a rich biological diversity with around 300 species of animals.
A committee headed by HS Singh, a member of the wildlife panel, visited the site in August and has proposed some measures that the institute need to take to prevent any impact on the sanctuary.
-The agency concerned has been directed to deposit 2% of total cost of the project for undertaking soil-moisture conservation and improvement of wildlife habitat in the sanctuary, the committee recommended.
-It has also been directed to come up with a thick green belt of native plant species to buffer air, sound and water pollution inside the sanctuary. The green belt would have to be kept out of public use.
-The biomedical waste generated from the hospital should be disposed 5 km away from the boundary of the sanctuary. The boundary wall should be at least 10 feet high and be designed and constructed in such a way that no waste could be thrown over the wall into the sanctuary.
-Exhaust fans, vents of air-conditioners should also not be directed towards the sanctuary, the committee said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/wildlife-board-clears-hospital-near-delhi-s-asola-bhatti-sanctuary-with-a-warning/story-U1PF5ing2yYIKETfTsvzMK.html