Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 22 January 2018 (Dams Again Being Used To Achieve Political Objectives) 

As per Counter View report, a well-informed Gujarat government source has told it that a major reason why the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) recently declared there would be “no water” from the multi-purpose irrigation scheme, Sardar Sarovar dam, to Gujarat farmers starting March 15, 2018, is Madhya Pradesh elections, scheduled for this year-end.

The source, refusing to be identified, said, “Already, massive preparations are on in Madhya Pradesh to provide as much Narmada water to the state’s farmers by storing as much water as possible. The idea is to appease the farmers with Narmada waters in the same way as it was done last year before the elections took place in Gujarat.”

This shows how dams in Narmada Valley are being used for achieving political ends, once again. Earlier they were used for Gujarat elections, now they are being used for Madhya Pradesh elections. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-waters-in-gujarat-stopped-to.html (Counter View, 20 January 2018)

In another report, anonymous official admits water shortage apparent in Nov 2017 before Gujarat polls was not announced, another indicator of how Narmada dams are used to achieve political ends. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/narmada-water-for-irrigation-state.html (Counter View, 21 January 2018)

However, this is not happening for the first time. This also happened before the Nov 2017 Gujarat elections and also before 2014 General elections and 2012 Punjab elections, as illustrated below.

Before 2014 general elections too the level of water in Narmada reservoirs was depleted to generate additional power keeping in mind the elections. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/narmada-dams-levels-depleted-to-generate-more-electricity-threatening-water-security-for-gujarat-and-madhya-pradesh/

In case of Bhakra, the way the reservoir level was allowed to deplete in summer of 2012 had consequences in subsequent monsoon.  https://sandrp.in/dams/PR_Why_precarious_water_situation_at_Bhakra_dams_was_avoidable_July_2012.pdf

Also see other related development on Sardar Sarovar Dam

Reservoirs drying fast state to start water cuts One more news report without mentioning source says that against the annual average, of 28 MAF water, Narmada’s catchment areas in state received only 14MAF water last monsoon. Madhya Pradesh has been allotted only 9 MAF water against the prescribed 18MAF, and Gujarat has been allotted 4.5MAF water. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-reservoirs-drying-fast-state-to-start-water-cuts-2576667 (DNA 19 January 2018)

Meanwhile, North Gujarat farmers who faced floods, partly due to the Narmada Main Canal breach, did not get Rabi waters too since the Narmada Main Canal repairs were over only in January 2018 and now Gujarat Govt says no water for summer crop too. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/no-end-to-woes-of-farmers-hit-by-floods-in-north-gujarat/articleshow/62561217.cms (The Times of India, 19 January 2018)

There is one more interesting report that only talks about water shortage for Kutch, Saurashtra and farmers, and not for the rest. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-heading-for-summer-water-crisis/articleshow/62563229.cms (The Times of India, 19 January 2018)

As per superintending engineer, Surat irrigation circle, S P Mahakal, the water supply to canal is stopped every year for a month. However, this time it will be for a longer duration (Dec 18, 2017 to Feb 15, 2018) due to canal lining work and some repairs.  The irrigation department normally supplies 4,000 million cubic metres (MCM) of water to the fields through the 4,537 km long canal network. This time it has been decided to supply 2315 MCM of water for irrigation.

Out of the total quota allotted for the year, 868 MCM of water has already been supplied. The remaining 1450 MCM of water would be supplied in three rotations between February and May. At present, the water level in Ukai dam is 316.16 feet. The decision to this effect was taken at the meeting of irrigation advisory committee held in September 2017. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/water-crisis-poses-serious-threat-to-crops-in-south-guj/articleshow/62530981.cms (The Times of India, 17 January 2018)

DAMS

Op-Ed What’s the dam problem with gigantic developmentalism? By Kapil Subramanian SPECTACULAR FAILURES. Love that term.

– UKAI KAKRAPAR “A few spectacular failures contributed significantly to the poor pan-India picture; a case in point was the Kakrapar project in Gujarat, whose Superintending Engineer himself described it as a “very expensive one which had miserably failed to serve its original objective and utility”. It was the first project which was carried out by the new Central Water and Power Commission (CWPC) rather than the provincial government. A weir was sanctioned by the Bombay government in 1949, but the CWPC soon modified the project to a dam costing five times as much. After some of the work had been carried out, it was decided to revert to a weir, making for great difficulties in reconciling various hydraulic features. The design was changed yet again to the construction of both a dam as well as a weir. Acute staff shortages resulted after the Bombay government took over the project as most engineers opted to return to the CWPC. Irrigation potential was first created in 1958-59, and as late as 1963-64 less than a quarter of the potential was utilised.”

– RED HERRING OF FIELD CHANNELS IS USED EVEN TODAY IN CASE OF SARDAR SAROVAR, FOR EXAMPLE “While the irrigation bureaucracy sought to evade responsibility by reducing the problem to the construction of field channels, a study by the Committee on Plan Projects emphasised that the focus on field channels was a “red herring” which diverted attention from the real problem; the lack of a profitable cropping pattern: “If a cultivator can be given a crop that yields to him a substantial income, he was willing to construct field channels himself.””

– SHEER COMEDY “Cultivators across the country showed great variance in their approach to irrigation. This was reflected most spectacularly in the fact that only 61% of the potential created had been utilised by 1971 in Bihar, which ranked 2nd in potential created, while Punjab, ranking a distant 7th, had utilised 97% of its potential. In Coimbatore, peasants paid not only for the water of the Lower Bhavani project, but also heavy fines to defy water rationing and irrigate paddy. In Raichur, Mysore, which received water from the Tungabhadra Project, however, even farmers through whose property the channels passed sometimes did not irrigate, despite heavy propaganda and the water being offered free of charge. The Hirakud project in Odisha was to enable two crops of paddy, but local belief held that the soil could not take two paddy crops. In one village, an extension officer went on hunger strike to convince farmers to sow a second crop.”

– RESPONSE TO NEHRU’s 1958 CHARGE OF DISEASE OF GIGANTISM: “The editors of the venerable Indian Journal of Power and River Valley Development founded by the acclaimed physicist Meghnad Saha in the 1930s took exception to Nehru’s charge and argued that it was wrong to single out irrigation engineers as victims of the “disease of gigantism” when “all sections of the national elite… were equally affected by the virus”. This “craze for bigness” was not confined to India but afflicted the U.S. and the USSR as well, they claimed; according to them, the only difference was that they could afford it and India couldn’t.” http://www.thehindu.com/thread/science-health-environment/whats-the-dam-problem-with-gigantic-developmentalism/article22442055.ece (The Hindu, 15 January 2018)

Maharashtra Govt inks MoU to interlink major dams in Marathwada The total cost of a project that aims to interlink major dams in Marathwada region, as per a memorandum of understanding signed by the Maharashtra government with Israeli firm Mekorot Development and Enterprise, ahead of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Mumbai on 18 Jan.  http://www.livemint.com/Politics/4iV2cnbJwCxNRPTOo6FetJ/News-in-Numbers-Marathwada-dam-project-to-cost-Rs10000-cro.html (Live Mint, 18 January 2018)

As per Latur-based water sector activist Atul Deulgaonkar the Israel model of water management systems was a wrong choice for India and particularly Maharashtra. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/IsoDoePFzcklYgKF81KhVN/Maharashtra-to-sign-MoU-with-Israeli-firm-to-develop-water-g.html (Live Mint 17 January 2018)

Pancheshwar Dam Issue raised in Rajya Sabha Congress MP from Uttarakhand Mahendra Singh Mahra has said that the party will strongly raise the issue of people who would be displaced by the proposed Pancheshwar dam in Rajya Sabha during the winter session. The Rajya Sabha MP alleged that the Modi government seemed in a hurry to construct the project without taking into account the plight of those to be displaced. Good to see the Cong MP raising issues, but implicitly, he seems to be supporting the project, definitely not opposing it. http://www.ptinews.com/news/9408315_Cong-MP-to-raise-issue-of-people-to-be-displaced-by-dam.html (PTI, 16 January 2018)

Meanwhile Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) has opposed the proposed Pancheshwar dam in Pithoragarh district. UKD central working committee member Kashi Singh Airy, while addressing a press conference here today, said the party was not in favour of big dams and would launch a widespread agitation in protest against the move. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/ukd-opposes-pancheshwar-dam-threatens-to-launch-stir/532138.html (The Tribune, 21 January 2018)

Polavaram dam Odisha CM seeks intervention of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes regarding 5000 tribals to be displaced by Polavaram Dam. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/jan/19/polavaram-dam-odisha-cm-naveen-patnaik-seeks-intervention-of-ncst-to-protect-malkangiri-tribals-1758990.html (The New Indian Express, 19 January 2018)

Jharkhand MoU for completion of North Koel Reservoir Project signed The water ministry has signed the memorandum of understanding with the governments of Bihar and Jharkhand for the completion of balance works of the North Koel reservoir project at an estimated cost of Rs 1622.27 crore. A supplementary MoU has also been signed between the water ministry, National Water Development Agency, NABARD with governments of Bihar and Jharkhand for funding of the state share under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) for North Koel reservoir project. http://www.uniindia.com/water-resources-ministry-signs-mou-with-bihar-j-khand-for-completion-of-north-koel-reservoir-project/india/news/1104272.html (United News of India, 12 January 2018)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Godavari-Cauvery Link Telangana to support interlinking of rivers on condition The proposal to link Godavari (Akinepalli) NSP tail pond-Cauvery (Grand anicut) should not have any adverse impact on downstream projects, he said. The Minister made it clear that TS would require about 1600 TMC of Godavari water, against its earmarked utilization of 1260 TMC. He said the proposed barrage at Akinepalli with a storage capacity of 20 TMC is likely to submerge about 35,000 acres affecting 55,000 population in 45 villages in Warangal and Khammam districts of Telangana. In addition, the canal network would require 12,000 acres of land additionally. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-to-back-interlinking-of-rivers (Telangana Today, 18 January 2018)

Under the new proposed Godavari Cauvery Link proposal:

– The Centre had proposed building of a barrage at Akinepalli. However, this will submerge 45 villages in Warangal and Khammam, and affect 55,000 people.

– While the projected benefit is about 7.5 lakh acres, a large part of the area that would be served is already covered by existing and ongoing projects or falls under the area that would be submerged by the Polavaram project. The land that needs to be acquired for the project passes through forest area. Also, it requires 47,000 acres of land and acquiring this amount of land would take time.

– What does the Telangana government want before the project is approved? Reassessment of hydrology, Alternate options to be explored by the Central government, Choice of option that has the least adverse environmental and social impact

– They further added that while they currently receive 1,260 tmc of water from the Godavari, they needed it to be increased to 1,500 tmc. Beyond this, the state would not have a problem with water being transferred.

– The present and future requirements of the basin states must be met before water is transferred to other basins.

– The government wants hydrology to be used to ascertain the surplus water. The government pointed out that the Central Water Commission usually takes into account 40 years of water availability to assess surplus water, but in this case, 110 years were taken into account, which showed that there was 177 tmc of surplus water at Akinepalli. This, however, is not the case when only 40 years are taken into account. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/here-are-telangana-s-conditions-approve-linking-godavari-and-cauvery-74941 (The News Minute, 18 January 2018)

As per another report, the dependability on Krishna river has reduced drastically. TS has 300 tmcft of assured and 70 tmcft of surplus water in the Krishna but is not getting it now. The Centre agreed to raise the height of Almatti dam by the Karnataka government. This will reduce the flows to TS further by 100 tmcft. TS requires 1,500 tmcft to 1,600 tmcft from both Krishna and Godavari rivers for drinking and irrigation needs. The state’s share of Godavari water is 954 tmcft. It proposed to divert 370 tmcft of Godavari water to the Krishna basin, 100 tmcft for drinking needs of the state including Hyderabad and another 50 tmcft for industrial needs.”

– “The diversion of Godavari water to the Kaveri via Krishna river was proposed at Akinepalli where TS planned the Dummugudem project. The water availability at Akinepalli was less. “While giving hydrological clearance to Kaleshwaram, the Centre took a 40-year average. But, at Akinepalli, the Centre took the average water availability of last 100 years. As per our knowledge, the water availability at Akinepalli is not 177 tmcft as estimated by the Centre,” Harish Rao said. On the other hand, if the Centre links Mahanadi with Godavari first, then adequate water will be available to meet the needs of TS. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2018/jan/18/state-favours-godavari-mahanadi-link-but-with-riders-telangana-irrigation-minister-t-harish-rao-1757168.html (The New Indian Express, 18 January 2018)

This new proposal to transfer Godavari water to Cauvery (meeting to happened on Jan 17 in Delhi by Gadkari in view of the Karnataka assembly elections) is not likely to be convincing to Telangana or Andhra Pradesh.

– “In Phase-1 unutilised waters from the Indravati (a tributary of the Goda-vari) will be transfer-red to the Cauvery basin through three links — the Indravati-Godavari (Aknepalli site in Kottag-udem-Bhadrachalam district of Telangana State); Krishna (Nagarjuna Sagar) link; Krishna (NS Dam); Pennar (Somasila Dam) link; and Pennar (Somasila)-Cauvery (Grand Anicut).”

– “Surplus waters will be lifted from the Akinepalli barrage downstream of Inchampalli on the river Godavari and transferred to the existing Nagarjuna sagar Dam in the Krishna basin and from there the water will be further transferred to Somasila Dam in Pennar basin and to the Grand Anicut in the Cauvery basin.”

– “About 700 TMC ft of water can be thus transferred. After arriving at a consensus, a detailed project report of Phase-1 will be drawn up. In Phase-2, the water from Polavaram Dam will be transferred to Pennar Basin (as proposed by AP) and further to the Cauvery basin.” https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/170118/telangana-andhra-pradesh-may-not-oppose-godavari-cauvery-link-scheme.html (Deccan Chronicle 17 January 2018) 

Ken Betwa Link Water Ministry to again approach Cabinet  Some notable points:- As a result of the decision to club Phase-I and Phase-II of the project on MP’s demand, the MoWR also has to re-work the funding pattern and go before the Public Investment Board. The revised combined cost of the project is approximately Rs 28,000 crore and the Centre is pushing for a change in the funding pattern from 60:40 Centre-State ratio to a 90:10 ratio. Top officials from the ministry claimed that after combining Phase-I and Phase-II, a total area of 9 lakh hectares will be irrigated across both states. MP proposes that state agencies do the work, Gadkari disagrees. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-water-ministry-to-again-approach-cabinet-on-ken-betwa-river-linking-project-2576320 (DNA, 18 January 2018)

Meanwhile, media continues to report ILR issues in most uncritical way, even when they know that ground realities are so different. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govt-may-declare-inter-state-river-linking-projects-as-national-projects/articleshow/62544432.cms (The Times of India, 18 January 2018) 

Mahadayi Row Goa files argument challenging water diversion The State Govt has filed a brief summary of arguments of their senior counsel, Atmaram N.S. Nadkarni, before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal, challenging the proposed 12 projects by Karnataka in the Western Ghats, besides the trans-basin diversion of Mahadayi waters into Malaprabha reservoir. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahadayi-goa-files-argument-challenging-water-diversion/article22445490.ece (The Hindu, 16 January 2018)

Centre River water disputes can be settled out of court: Gadkari As per Union Water Minister Nitin Gadkari: “Even the Indravati river that originates in Chhattisgarh and merges with the Mahanadi can be extended to the tail end of Tamil Nadu and can service parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. There is no need for states to fight with each other,”. HE DOES NOT SEEM TO KNOW THAT INDRAVATI IS TRIBUTARY OF GODAVARI, NOT MAHANADI? http://indianexpress.com/article/india/river-water-disputes-can-be-settled-out-of-court-says-nitin-gadkari-5029454/ (The Indian Express, 18 January 2018)

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Goa Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP talking (in Marathi) about how the nationalisation/ channellisation of Zuari river here, as also other major rivers of this tiny river dependent state of Goa is being pushed without any involvement of the people of Goa in general and those dependent on the river in particular. https://www.facebook.com/parineeta.dandekar/videos/10155253672268061/

IRRIGATION

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam Some details of progress in the case Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Jan 17 has informed the High Court about complaint registered against Bajoria Construction Company of Yavatmal, controlled by ex-MLC Sandip Bajoria considered as a close aide of former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, and other 7 engineers for misappropriation in Jigaon Irrigation Project at Khamgaon Police Station. The ACB has filed a case against them on November 3, 2017. The unholy nexus of contractors and officials allegedly milked thousands of crore meant for irrigation projects. http://thehitavada.com/Encyc/2018/1/18/Offence-registered-against-Bajoria-s-firm-in-Irrigation-scam–ACB-to-High-Court.aspx (The Hitavada, 18 January 2018)

RIVERS

Maharashtra Rising pollutants turn Pune’s Mutha into a ‘dead’ river Pollution in river Mutha has been consistently rising and has reached alarming levels turning the river into a dead river body at many stretches. Data released by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) environment department has recorded a consistent rise in levels of chemical oxygen demand (COD), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and dissolved oxygen (DO) of Mutha river since 2012. http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/rising-pollutants-turn-pune-s-mutha-into-a-dead-river/story-exFrBC7hIg7Ab6bD3uWptO.html (The Hindustan Times, 18 January 2018)

Op-Ed Toxic wastes, dams killing our rivers by Sudhansu R Das The Indian river system boosts agriculture and allied activities, fishery, forestry, industries, pilgrim tourism, adventure sports and transportation, etc. Over the years, the Indian river system has deteriorated due to over-damming, deforestation, encroachment, sand mining, industrial effluents, urban drainage, garbage deposit, lack of authentic data and lack of political will to implement environmental laws, etc. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/653974/toxic-wastes-dams-killing-our.html (Deccan Herald, 16 January 2018)

West Bengal Govt report finds rivers unfit even for bathing  State of Environment Report finds pollution in all 17 major rivers including Mahananda, Kaljani, Karola, Damodar, Barakar, Kansai) in West Bengal going up. Ganga streams Bhagirathi & Hooghly now officially unfit for bathing. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bengals-rivers-in-a-bad-shape/article22458683.ece (The Hindu, 18 January 2018)

Brahmaputra River Atlas to be database to tackle floods, erosion, deforestation WELCOME INITIATIVE: – CM Sarbananda Sonowal, who had mooted the idea of preparing this comprehensive database of all major and minor rivers of the state, meanwhile has also asked NESAC to bring quality and quantity of sand and sand-layers in the river-beds within the ambit of the study. It will include details of 5000 km of embankments.

– A River Atlas that the North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) is currently preparing for the government of Assam, would serve not just as a database of the Brahmaputra and its 100-odd tributaries, but also record deforestation in the region in order to help tackle recurring floods and erosion in the state.

– Located at Umiam near Shillong, about 80 km from here, NESAC is a joint initiative of Department of Space (DOS) and the North Eastern Council (NEC) established in 2000. http://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/assam-river-atlas-to-be-database-to-tackle-floods-erosion-deforestation-5022053/ (The Indian Express, 12 January 2018)

GANGA Interview Revive tributaries to revive Ganga  In this interview Victor Mallet author of River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future says that Indians genuinely want a clean Ganga but inability of govts & officials, often corrupt & inefficient to deliver, stands in the way. Its true that media stories mainly focus on Ganga and Yamuna whereas the tributaries require greater attention and equal revival efforts. So far he has not said anything on how dams and unsustainable water extraction both directly from Ganga and groundwater along the river have been affecting a river in a major way. http://www.thehindu.com/lit-for-life/possibly-the-worlds-most-worshipped-river-and-the-most-polluted-river-victor-mallet/article22444034.ece (The Hindu, 15 January 2018)

जुल्म देखकर रूह कांप जाती है, फिर भी अपने दम पर जिंदा है गंगा पत्रकारिता के इतिहास में पहली बार दैनिक भास्कर टीम ने गंगा के बीच में जाकर गंगा की स्थिति जानी। स्थिति चौंकाने वाली निकली। कदम-कदम पर गंगा बिलखती हुई नजर आई। कहीं आस्था का कचरा तो कहीं अवैध खनन, फरक्का बराज ने तो जैसे सांसें ही रोक दीं। बालू-माफिया गंगा के हर घाट पर रोज जख्मों को कुरेदते नजर आते हैं। चौसा से नदी मार्ग से देखें तो 554 किलोमीटर (झारखंड और बंगाल सीमा समेत) की गंगा का अब तक हवाई सर्वे ही हुआ है। कहावत है-नदी की गहराई देखनी है तो उसमें उतरकर देखिए। भास्कर ने ऐसा ही किया। भीषण ठंड-कोहरे के बीच पहली बार 17 दिन तक हमारी टीम नाव में गंगा के बीच में रही। http://epaper.bhaskar.com/patna-city/384/19012018/bihar/1/ (Dainik Bhaskar, 19 January 2018)

SAND MINING

Rajasthan SC blows away govt’s defence like castle in sand In a huge blow to Rajasthan government, the Supreme Court has refused to lift ban on sand mining. Instead of lifting ban, the division bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta rather pulled up the state government making some harsh comments. “You (state government) is creating mining mafia and they are killing people,” the bench said. It also asked state government’s lawyer P S Narisamhan to explain how sand is necessary for construction works. The ban was imposed by SC on sand mining in the month of November. http://www.dnaindia.com/jaipur/report-sand-mining-ban-sc-blows-away-govt-s-defence-like-castle-in-sand-2574014 (DNA, 9 January 2018)

Tamil Nadu HC confirms order to close down all sand quarries GREAT DECISION on illegal sand mining ravaged Tamil Nadu Rivers: Refusing to revoke ban Madras HC observes that State Govt squarely responsible for having failed in its duty to protect riverbeds from indiscriminate sand mining. Justices K. Kalyanasundaram and T. Krishnavalli said: “If ecology is not protected, there is no doubt that it will endanger the very existence of human life and we might not even have a future generation. Therefore, as a custodian of fundamental as well as constitutional rights, it is the duty of this court to ensure that the environment is protected.” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-confirms-order-to-close-down-all-sand-quarries/article22475828.ece (The Hindu 20 January 2018)

SANDQUARRY1

Also see, Madras High Court upholds order directing government to halt sand mining https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/200118/madras-high-court-upholds-order-directing-govt-to-halt-sand-mining.html (Deccan Chronicle, 20 January 2018)

Bullock cart owners plead for relaxation on sand mining ban The report shows how ban due to mechanized, illegal, unsustainable mining in Cauvery river affecting villagers in Musiri area, Trichy who are earning livelihoods by mining sand manually & transporting it through bullock carts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/bullock-cart-owners-plead-for-relaxation-on-sand-mining-ban/articleshow/62546637.cms (The Times of India, 18 January 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Caught for illegal sand mining, Bajrang Dal men threaten to shut-down Pinhat Agra unit of Bajrang Dal threatened to close down Pinhat block, after their men arrested for illegal sand mining from Utangan River in Chambal sanctuary. CO Pinhat Mohammad Khan said, “The gang has been engaged in illegal sand mining for many yrs with the help of few local cops & right-wing group. After a strong input, our team waylaid vehicles convoy & arrested sand-mafias. During operation, they even tried to attack police team. According to police, the hatchback in which Raghvendar Singh alias Wale was escorting the sand-laden truck to Agra city, was black-listed in 2012 by Delhi police after a road accident. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/bajrang-dal-men-caught-for-illegal-sand-mining-right-wing-group-threatens-to-shut-down-pinhat/articleshow/62572257.cms

Punjab Fall out of irrigation cum sand mine scam Under fire ever since it emerged that a firm which bagged sand mine contracts in Nawanshahr had his former employee as a working partner, Punjab Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh stepped down from his post Jan 16. He submitted his resignation to CM Capt Amarinder Singh. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-minister-rana-gurjit-singh-at-centre-of-sand-mine-row-quits-5026253/ (The Indian Express, 16 January 2018)

WETLANDS

SANDRP Blog Punjab Wetlands 2017: Ramsar Sites Under Severe Threats There are three Ramsar sites (wetlands of International importance) in the state- Harike, Kanjli and Ropar. These wetlands are important habitats for waterfowl, fish and diversity of other flora and fauna including endangered and vulnerable species. Two other wetlands- Ranjit Sagar and Nangal are National wetlands. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/punjab-wetlands-2017-ramsar-sites-under-severe-threats/

Also see, Uttarakhand Wetlands 2017: Nainital Lake Needs Urgent Attention Uttarakhand is a land of picturesque landscape encompassing mountains, forests, rivers. The state also has many beautiful lakes which includes Bheem Tal, Devaria Tal, Dodi Tal, Roopkund, Hemkund, Kashni Tal, Kagbhushandi Lake, Kedar Tal, Naukuchia Tal, Naini Lake, The Nachiketa Tal, Satopanth Lake, Shyamla Tal, Sahastra Tal, Masar Tal, Sat Tal, Vasuki Tal etc.  https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/uttarakhand-wetlands-2017-nainital-lake-needs-urgent-attention/ (15 January 2018)

Maharashtra Mumbai couple guards an 80-hectare wetland, protects it from destruction WOW. SALUTES. – For the last three years, Sunil Agarwal, 55, and his wife Shruti, 50, residents of NRI Complex in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, have been guarding an 80-hectare wetland near their home.

– In October 2016, the state urban development department issued a notification changing the land-use of the patch from a no-development zone to regional park based on a proposal by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to develop a golf course and a residential colony on 67 of the 80-hectare land.

– The couple met Vinod Punshi, president, Navi Mumbai Environmental Preservation Society, who has been actively involved in mangrove protection for a decade. “He (Punshi) was already aware of the development and had made it an additional prayer as a part of his PIL in the HC for mangrove protection. Based on his suggestion, we staged several protests in October and November last year, and ensured no construction began,” said Sunil.

– Since 2015, the couple has been cleaning the mangroves four times a year to ensure that garbage do not choke mangrove roots. “They (Agarwals) are a rare tribe and we need many more such role models to conserve what is remaining of our wetlands. I hope people take a cue from efforts made by this couple and replicate it,” said Stalin D, member of the wetland grievance committee constituted by the Bombay HC. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-couple-guards-an-80-hectare-wetland-protects-it-from-destruction/story-ILxwMcURwBuubioc17gffL.html (Hindustan Times, 15 January 2018)

Gujarat Wetlands authority exists only on paper Despite repeated instructions from the government of India to from a state wetlands authority, to preserve ecologically important wetlands in the state, the government has ignored them. It had formed a state wetlands authority in May 2017, but that remains on paper only, as the body has not started working. Not a single meeting of the high-powered committee of the authority, which is chaired by the state forests and environment minister, Ganpat Vasava, has been held. The authority is mandated with implementing The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016 and 2010, but nothing has progressed since the body was formed last May. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-wetlands-authority-exists-only-on-paper/articleshow/62515336.cms

Op-Ed Destruction of Wetlands by Jayanti Ghosh Supreme Court agrees to construction of hotel in the middle of Udaipur lake, that is sure to destroy the 16th century lake.

– It is worth noting that the Supreme Court was able to go ahead with this even though Udaisagar is a wetland as it held that “in this instant case wetland rules do not have any force on the land in question because there is no relevant notification issued by the competent authority under the rules”.

– Adverse consequences: We can only speculate on the reasons for state procrastination in notifying wetlands and obeying its own rules, but the role of “lobbying” in various forms must explain part of the disproportionate favours (through sins of omission and commission) that have enabled such transgressions. At present, there is a citizens’ movement protesting against this project, but if it gets completed, there will be severe long-term consequences for the ecology of one of Rajasthan’s most important cities and for the surrounding region. The tragedy is that the State government, the Central government and, most disturbingly of all, the Supreme Court of India seem content to allow these adverse consequences to happen. http://www.frontline.in/columns/Jayati_Ghosh/destruction-of-wetlands/article10006443.ece (Front Line, 19 January 2018)

Telangana Icrisat develops constructed wetlands, a new technique to treat sewage Constructed wetlands is not a new idea, but it would have been good if the reporter had written about actual constructed wetlands and results, including costs and benefits. It is indeed good if it is already happening in Hyderabad. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2018/jan/20/icrisat-develops-constructed-wetlands-a-new-technique-to-treat-sewage-in-telangana-1759162.html (New Indian Express, 20 January 2018)

Karnataka Bellandur Lake on fire again Bellandur Lake, the largest of the 262 lakes and tanks in Bengaluru, receives about 40 per cent of the city’s sewage. The Environment Ministry had said in 2016 that everyday about 1,280 million litres of sewage is generated in Bengaluru, while the city’s infrastructure has the capacity to handle only 721 million litres of sewage. Since 137 out of 500 sewage treatment plants are defunct, only 600 million litres sewage is treated and the rest goes to the lakes. The central government had in April 2016 said that it would invest Rs. 800 crore to rejuvenate the lakes in Bengaluru, especially the Bellandur Lake. https://www.ndtv.com/bangalore-news/at-bengalurus-bellandur-lake-massive-fire-rages-for-7-hours-1802343 (NDTV, 19 January 2018)

“Methane build-up in the lake through decades of sludge accumulation could be an aggravating the blaze,” said K. Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist and a retired forest officer. “For the past half a century, sewage has been accumulating, and has resulted in more than 20 feet of sludge. Buildup of methane is bound to happen, and this can help spread the fire,” he said. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/over-5000-army-personnel-pressed-into-action/article22478118.ece (The Hindu, 20 January 2018)

As per another report, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) which is installing sewage treatment plants (STPs) to stop waste from entering the lake, will be able to complete these projects only by 2020. “Desilting or cleaning work at the lake can be taken up only after 2020, when sewage flow stops. Otherwise, it would be a waste of money as the revival would cost us around Rs 500 crore. The same has been informed to the Tribunal,” said a senior BDA official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/could-be-arson-says-inspection-team/articleshow/62576864.cms (The Times of India, 20 January 2018)

Survey Shrinking wetlands keep migratory birds away Grasslands, pastures & wetlands are shrinking at an alarming rate keeping the migratory birds away from NCR finds Wetlands Internationals survey.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/smog-and-shrinking-wetlands-keep-migratory-birds-away-from-noida/articleshow/62541023.cms (The Times of India, 18 January 2018) Also see video, Did you get a glimpse of these migratory birds in Delh-NCR this season? https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/city/delhi/did-you-get-a-glimpse-of-these-migratory-birds-in-delh-ncr-this-season/videoshow/62541744.cms

Haryana Ponds filled with sewage, could ‘contaminate groundwater’ SHOCKING Once source of potable water 9 ponds in Gurugram now filled with sewage & solid waste rendering them unfit for human use & contaminating groundwater. This clearly shows how much importance the authorities attach to these natural water bodies. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/nine-city-ponds-filled-with-sewage-could-contaminate-groundwater/articleshow/62515115.cms (The Times of India, 16 January 2018)

gururam ponds or cesspool

FISHERIES

Karnataka Dakshina Kannada learning to fish in check dam water On a pilot basis, fish seed stocking has been introduced at five places in district

– After 365 mini check dams were built across Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat, the CEO of the ZP, wanted to do more with these ecological way of conserving water. Water has been stored away for almost four months now, so MR Ravi wanted to use these as the destination for fish culture.

– The project is backed by a study conducted by the Fisheries Department and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra- the knowledge partners. Recently, fingerlings were released into the check dams at Charmadi gram panchayat. http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/news/state/Karnataka-Dakshina-Kannada-learning-to-fish-in-check-dam-water/articleshow/62529874.cms (Bangalore Mirror, 17 January 2018)

Maharashtra More on Sindhudurg rivers and bio-diversity – Around 8am every day, nine women aged 27 to 55 clamber onto two boats and head to the Mandvi creek in Vengurla, Sindhudurg. The area is home to 45 otters, spread across two dens. The two groups take tourists along a 300-metre stretch on one-hour boat rides, talking to them not just about the marine life but also about the mangroves they depend on. As the tour proceeds, the women use pointed sticks to clear garbage from the mangrove roots.

– These women are part of the Swamini Mahila Bachat Gat, constituted as one of 60 projects in the district that aim to tackle the garbage issue threatening the biodiversity of Sindhudurg’s creeks.

– The 60 programmes are livelihood schemes framed by the state mangrove cell in association with the UNDP-GEF (United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility) Project between 2012 and 2016, based on a study of the coastal ecosystem and the threats it faces.

– Sindhudurg accounts for 3% of Maharashtra’s total mangrove cover but houses more of its coastal biodiversity that any other district in the state.

– As part of the National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-2031 released in October, the union environment ministry has come up with a list of guidelines to protect the inland aquatic, coastal and marine ecosystems. “This had never been done before,” says Vasudevan, adding that the onus is now on state governments to implement it. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/a-undp-effort-aims-to-marry-conservation-livelihood-in-sindhudurg/story-WaFSDvycZGKf2KsRiGbz6K.html (Hindustan Times, 13 January 2018)

Many coastal communities in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district have turned protectors of mangroves because they are earning supplementary incomes by farming crabs in estuaries with help from the state government and development agencies.  https://www.villagesquare.in/2018/01/15/fishers-successfully-farm-crabs-estuaries-protect-mangroves/ (Village Square, 15 January 2018)

GROUND WATER

National YET AGAIN, India is surplus in SUGAR production The manufacturers are lobbying for ban on imports, incentives for export, pushing exports to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and lobbying for creating buffer. They are also afraid of cheap imports from Pakistan. And most of the highly water intensive sugar production happens in water deficit areas like Maharashtra, Karnataka or in Ganga Basin. http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/isma-raises-sugar-output-estimate-by-4-to-26-mn-tonnes-due-to-good-monsoon-118011801069_1.html (Business Standard, 15 January 2018)

Punjab PPCB proposes to put off paddy-sowing by 10 days Welcome suggestion from Punjab Pollution Control Board (strange that this should come from PPCB and not Punjab Groundwater Board or Punjab Agriculture Department or Punjab Water Resources Dept or Punjab Agri University or Union Agri Ministry or ICAR or CGWB or CGWA) to postpone the Paddy transplantation date to June 25 under the Punjab Prevention of Sub Soil Water Act 2009, where the date is June 1 currently. In 2014 the govt suggested to farmers to make it June 15. Good to see that Bharat Kisan Union and Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal agrees. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/put-off-paddy-sowing-by-10-days-ppcb/530773.html (The Tribune, 19 January 2018)

Center Public Notice for all existing ground water users including industrial, infrastructure and mining projects Indeed, how a centralised agency is going to work on a decentralised resource like groundwater. http://www.cgwb.gov.in/public-notices.html MoWR

http://www.cgwb.gov.in/public%20notices/date%20extension.pdf

WATER

Maharashtra Govt hikes bulk water tariff for all While this is a welcome, move, at the same time, such industries should be allowed only in water surplus areas, NOT, even at escalated costs, in water deficit areas or seasons.

– The state government has hiked bulk water tariff for all industries that draw water as raw material, like bottled water companies, breweries, soft drink and liquor manufacturers, by 25 times as compared to other industries.

So, while most industries will get it at Rs 4.80 per 1,000 litres (earlier Rs 3.20), for the water-intensive units the rate will be Rs 120 (Rs 16). The hike, which comes into force from February 1, is expected to marginally affect the price of liquor and bottled water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-hikes-bulk-water-tariff-for-all/articleshow/62576887.cms (The Times of India 20 January 2018)

DELHI WATER

National Drought in parts of MP and Rajasthan, shift to gram keep wheat sowing low Wheat, Mustard and Gram areas in current Rabi season are affected following rainfall deficits in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/drought-in-parts-of-mp-and-rajasthan-shift-to-gram-keep-wheat-sowing-low-118011300021_1.html (Business Standard, 13 January 2018)

AGRICULTURE

Karnataka Milk turns sour for farmers on back of record powder stocks with dairies Karnataka’s scheme of paying subsidy to dairy farmers and selling milk at subsidised rates to consumers, along with depressed global Skimmed milk power prices are creating losses for dairy farmers all over India. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/white-truth-milk-turns-sour-for-farmers-on-back-of-record-powder-stocks-with-dairies-5029273/ (The Indian Express, 18 January 2018)

Andhra Pradesh Farmers taste success with Zero Budget Natural Farming GREAT TO SEE THIS SUCCESS OF ZERO BUDGET NATURAL FARMING. – ZBNF was initially launched in September 2015 under the Centre’s Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. Initially, 50 villages across 13 districts of the state were selected for the pilot project. It has been so successful that the government wants to scale it up, according to T Vijay Kumar, who is in charge of the project. Last year during the Kharif season, work started in 704 villages to bring farmers under this practice. There is a plan to cover an estimated 6 million farmers by 2025-26. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/andhra-farmers-taste-success-with-zero-budget-natural-farming-59445 ( 08 January 2018)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Maharashtra Govt ambitious target of achieving 25000 MW Solar installed capacity by 2030 This will be part of that larger strategy. nAccording to the state energy department, they are working on a policy that will enable them to install top solar panels over canals, dams and reservoirs. “We want the optimum use of open and unused shallow water spaces of reservoirs. Recently, one private firm had shown its interest in installing the solar panels at Ujani dam at Solapur. As per this proposal, if we install the solar panel there, we will able to generate minimum 1000 MW of power,” said Arvind Singh, principal secretary of energy department. http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-state-s-solar-policy-for-dams-canals-2576637 (DNA, 19 January 2018)

Gujarat Surat emerges as leading ‘solar smart city’ in country Smart city guidelines say that such cities will achieve 10% of its electricity requirements from solar power (not clear by which date). Surat has emerged as a leading solar smart city as per MNRE, but it has long way to go.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/surat-emerges-as-leading-solar-smart-city-in-country/articleshow/62561559.cms (The Times of India, 19 January 2018)

Study Solar pumps will be attractive for small farmers at 30% capital subsidy Despite using 28 million electric and diesel pumps, access to reliable irrigation is a key hurdle for the Indian farmer and 53% of the country’s net sown area remains unirrigated, said a study on the potential of solar powered irrigation released. The study done by Council on Energy, Environment and Water also finds that 60% of marginal farmers in Uttar Pradesh purchase water for irrigation. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/yYi59vNfIHgO4wcXF2GEnI/60-of-marginal-farmers-in-Uttar-Pradesh-purchase-water-for.html (Live Mint, 19 January 2018)

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan Activists demand protection for PFF chairman A group of civil society representatives appealed to the Sindh government on Monday to take notice of alleged high handedness of a provincial minister’s brother who is accused of harassing Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Chairman Syed Mohammad Ali Shah. https://www.dawn.com/news/1383138 (The Dawn, 16 January 2018)

Nepal Lower Arun hydro kept in govt basket In 2012, the government had awarded the generation licence for the project to Lower Arun Hydroelectric Company, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Brasspower. At that time, the Brazilian company had planned to develop the project with an installed capacity of 400 MW and export more than 50 percent of the energy generated to India.

– It had even signed a memorandum of understanding with Power Trade India (PTI) to export the energy. With electricity prices going down in India, the power purchase agreement did not happen and the Brazilian company lost interest in implementing the project.

– In June 2017, Vidhyut Utpadan had applied for survey permits for the 617 MW Bheri-1, 679 MW Lower Arun, 307 MW Jagadulla Khola and 450 MW Kimathanka Arun hydropower projects.

– The department forwarded the applications for Bheri-1, Jagadulla Khola and Kimathanka Arun to the Energy Ministry with the recommendation that Vidhyut Utpadan be granted licences for the three schemes. It kept back the application for Lower Arun and decided to keep the project in the government basket.

– Director general of the DoED Nabin Raj Singh said the department withheld the application as it had already appointed a consultant to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Lower Arun project located in Sankhuwasabha district.

– “We have appointed a joint venture of German-based company Fischer GmbH & Co KG and its Nepali partner SILT Consultant to prepare the DPR and the EIA,” said Singh. “Therefore, we have decided to keep the project in the government basket until we get the reports from the consultant.” http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-01-20/lower-arun-hydro-kept-in-govt-basket.html (Kathmandu Post, 20 January 2018)

Bagmati River gets polluted yet again; fish start dying The fish in the Bagmati River that lived in the clean water above Guheshwori have started dying as pollution prevails in the river yet again. The campaigners of Bagmati Clean-up Campaign said so after witnessing such incident on the occasion of the 205th week of the Campaign. Citizens are coming together in Kathmandu (Nepal) to clean up their rivers. Its been going on for years! https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bagmati-clean-up-campaign-river-gets-polluted-yet-again/

THE REST OF WORLD

Oroville Dam Suit against Dept of Water Resources – A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the state water agency in charge of the Oroville Dam not only alleges mismanagement and disregard for the public’s safety, but also a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual harassment and theft.

– Top officials at the Department of Water Resources are at times referred to as the “water mafia” in a suit filed by the city of Oroville, which is demanding millions of dollars for infrastructure damage and costs associated with dam spillover and the evacuation of 188,000 in February 2017. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oroville-dam-lawsuit-Racism-sexual-harassment-12505447.php (SF Gate, 17 January 2018)

Satellite images of the Montecito debris flows in California Landslides earlier this month in California (USA) led to death of 20 and at least four more are reported missing. Here is a blog that provides details of the same. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/01/16/montecito-debris-flows-1/ (The Landslide Blog, 16 January 2018)

GERD A major geopolitical crisis is set to erupt over who controls the world’s longest river  6000MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Nile river, will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant. As a downstream nation, Egypt fears it will disrupt flow affecting 100 million people, crippling its agricultural & industries. https://qz.com/1181318/ethiopia-egypt-sudan-and-eritrea-tensions-over-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam-on-nile-river/ (Quartz, 17 January 2018)

As per this report, Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan have been trying to negotiate an agreement on the construction & filling of the GERD since 2015. Construction work has continued apace, though no agreement has been reached http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/288307/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-sees-no-time-for-procrastination-in-talks-wi.aspx (Ahram Online, 17 January 2018)

Previous tripartite meetings on GERD were fruitless, as Ethiopia & Sudan expect massive benefits from the dam construction while Egypt sees it as a threat to its annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters. Last December, Egypt recommended the WorldBank as a technical mediator in the issue of Ethiopia’s dam building, a proposal that has not been accepted by Ethiopia and Sudan. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/17/c_136903169.htm (Xinhua Net, 17 January 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Sundarban People facing sea level rise & cyclones Excellent piece by Joydeep Gupta: The Sundarbans straddle the Bangladesh-India border. The Indian part has around five million people living in it. Nilanjan Ghosh, an ecological economist who is a consultant for Observer Research Foundation and WWF India, has led a study that shows 1.5 million of these people will have to be permanently relocated outside the Sundarbans, because sea level rise will make it impossible for them to live there or earn a livelihood.

– At one edge of the Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove forest – Mousuni used to have an embankment along Baliara to hold back the rising sea. That collapsed during the 2009 Cyclone Aila. Since then, there have been three attempts to build sea walls, all of which have collapsed against the power of the sea. Scientists say seas around the world are rising due to climate change, but the Bay of Bengal is rising twice as fast as the global average.

– At the confluence of the Muriganga – a distributary of the Ganga – with the Bay of Bengal, Mousuni is a bustling island of about 5,000 households. But over 2,000 of them are in Baliara, and they are under a sentence of displacement or death.

– Where will they go? Salma is not clear, while Jasimuddin says he knows nothing except paddy and freshwater fish farming, so what will he do elsewhere for a living? Over 150 families in Baliara have already left permanently. They could not sell their land, because nobody was interested in wasteland. They just left.

– In contrast, the plight of people in the Sundarbans is not even mentioned in international climate talks, not even by the government of India.

– The problem is far more fundamental than the solutions attempted so far. Apart from sea level rise due to climate change, the entire Sundarbans is sinking because dams and barrages in the Ganga and its tributaries upstream hold back the silt that forms the soil that forms the delta. No policymaker in New Delhi shows any interest in even starting to address that problem.

– Is there a solution at all? Go around 2,000 kilometres from the Sundarbans, down India’s east coast to Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu, and you will see one with potential. Mangroves have been cut down all along the coastlines of South Asia, but there was still a large strand standing at Pichavaram when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit the entire region from Indonesia to East Africa. Coastal villages to the north and south of Pichavaram were devastated, killing many. But the 16 villages shielded by the Pichavaram mangroves from the tsunami wave escaped with very little damage. The mangroves tempered the wave.

– There have been some sporadic attempts to plant mangroves in the Bay of Bengal facing islands of the Sundarbans, but neither the authorities nor the residents seem to be aware it may be the only effective wall against a rising sea. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2018/01/15/rising-sea-swamps-island-along-bengal-coast/ (The Third Pole, 15 January 2018)

Maharashtra Govt approved a Rs 4K cr project for climate-resilient agriculture As per Govt resolution the project, named Nanaji Deshmukh Krishi Sanjivani Yojna, will be implemented in 5,142 villages across 15 districts. It will be partially funded by World Bank.

– It will roll out in 2018-19 and continue till 2023-24.

– The total cost of the project is Rs 4,000 crore, 70 per cent of which will be borne by the World Bank while the state will contribute 30 per cent.

– The scheme would cover small- and medium- scale farmers, who are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

– Objectives of the project are to improve soil quality, develop foodgrain varieties which can sustain climate variations and effect necessary changes in the crop pattern as per the availability of water in a particular region. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/maha-gives-nod-to-rs-4-000-cr-climate-resilient-agri-project-118011800932_1.html (Business Standard, 18 January 2018)

Op-Ed A new weapon in carbon fight by Sujatha Byravan  The idea is good and needs push, but this article is a bit disappointing. Interesting fact: Soil Organic Cabron globally s 2.344 billion tonnes. Indian cultivated soils have lost 30-60% of its SOC. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-new-weapon-in-the-carbon-fight/article22444689.ece (The Hindu, 16 January 2018)

Global Water crises fuelling to war, migration This is eye opening, Nigeria (Chad, Niger), Syria, Somalia, Sahel and now Iran each ch country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war.

– In short, a water crisis — whether caused by nature, human mismanagement, or both — can be an early warning signal of trouble ahead. A panel of retired United States military officials warned in December that water stress, which they defined as a shortage of fresh water, would emerge as “a growing factor in the world’s hot spots and conflict areas.”

– But as David Michel, an analyst at the Stimson Center put it, the lack of water — whether it’s dry taps in the city, or dry wells in the countryside, or dust storms rising from a shrinking Lake Urmia — is one of the most common, most visible markers of the government’s failure to deliver basic services.

– Managing water, he said, is the government’s “most important policy challenge.”

– Iran after the 1979 revolution set out to be self-sufficient in food. It wasn’t a bad goal, in and of itself. But as the Iranian water expert Kaveh Madani points out, it meant that the government encouraged farmers to plant thirsty crops like wheat throughout the country. The government went further by offering farmers cheap electricity and favorable prices for their wheat — effectively a generous two-part subsidy that served as an incentive to plant more and more wheat and extract more and more groundwater.

– The result: “25 percent of the total water that is withdrawn from aquifers, rivers and lakes exceeds the amount that can be replenished” by nature, according to Claudia Sadoff, a water specialist who prepared a report for the World Bank on Iran’s water crisis.

– Iran’s groundwater depletion rate is today among the fastest in the world, so much so that by Mr. Michel’s calculations, 12 of the country’s 31 provinces “will entirely exhaust their aquifers within the next 50 years.” In parts of the country, the groundwater loss is causing the land to sink.

– Iran’s leaders dammed rivers across the country to divert water to key areas. As a result, many of Iran’s lakes have shrunk. That includes Lake Urmia, once the region’s largest saltwater lake, which has diminished in size by nearly 90 percent since the early 1970s.

– Iran expects a 25 percent decline in surface water runoff — rainfall and snow melt — by 2030. In the region as a whole, summers are predicted to get hotter, by two to three degrees Celsius at current rates of warming. Rains are projected to decline by 10 percent.

– Water, said Julia McQuaid, the deputy director of CNA, doesn’t lead straight to conflict. “It can be catalyst,” she said. “It can be a thing that breaks the system.”

How far away is Indian Punjab or Haryana or Rajasthan or other states from that path?? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/climate/water-iran.html (The New York Times, 18 January 2018)

Another report confirms that water, environmental and climate change impacts are at the heart of Iranian unrest, this report says.

– In the province, which covers an area slightly larger than the state of Connecticut, there were once 3,800 natural springs, but about 1,100 have dried up, Babadi said, citing official statistics. The Iran Meteorological Organization forecast recently that for the Iranian year ending March 20, rainfall in the province would be more than 80% below the long-term average.

– Many in the predominantly agricultural region complain about a controversial series of canals the government has built to bring hundreds of millions of cubic feet of water from the Karun River, which runs through Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, to growing populations in central provinces.

– Some of the water has gone to state-run steel mills in Esfahan, which Babadi described as “bankrupt industries.” Meanwhile, with the exception of Shahr-e Kord, the provincial capital of about 150,000 people, towns in the area rely on tanker water that is riddled with chemicals, he said.

– “The drought and water transfer projects are so dangerous and detrimental that environmental protests will resume soon,” he said. http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iran-protests-climate-change-2018-story.html (Los Angeles Times, 17 January 2018)

World Economic Forum The world’s biggest worries are environmental disasters, not economic collapse WEF, which runs the annual conference in Davos for global elites, found that three of the five most likely global risks for 2018 were environmental—extreme weather, natural disasters, and failure to mitigate climate change. (The report is based on a survey of almost 1,000 experts in business, government, and civil society, mostly polled in September and October last year.) In fact Fourth one is also Environmental: WATER CRISIS.

– Before 2010, environmental risks didn’t register in the top five concerns at all.

– In 2017, the economic losses from natural and man-made disasters reached $306 billion. https://qz.com/1181603/wef-global-risks-report-environmental-disasters-outrank-economic-collapse/ (Quartz, 17 January 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

Op-Ed Why Delhi’s natural spaces are under threat by Neha Sinha Delhi’s own amity does not lie only in its buildings. Delhi’s geological and ecological history has shaped the names of its places, the quality of local life, and resilience — an ancient story of Nature’s survival in a harsh, polarised environment and environs. It would be imperative for India’s national capital to not forget where it came from. https://www.dailyo.in/variety/delhi-aravallis-najafgarh-jheel-birds-basai-wildlife/story/1/21862.html (Daily O, 20 January 2018)

Op-Ed Forest ministry’s ‘new initiatives’ This is an excellent article by Ritwick Dutta The least the govt can do is not to call this a document a ‘New Initiative’ for a cleaner and greener India. It is a report card of the concerted efforts being made to ensure that environmental issues are subordinated to larger business interests. If there is anything new in the document, it is the sketches of African elephants and giraffes representing the biodiversity of India. This is not just a mistake; it symbolic of the callous approach to environmental protection and conservation by those in power. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/654223/forest-ministrys-initiatives.html (Deccan Herald, 17 January 2018)

Report Panel on farm income: Need law to facilitate land pooling This sounds useful on the face of it, to ensure it does not become some means of land grabbing from the poor, there will have to be very credible and confidence inspiring checks and balances in the proposed measures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/panel-on-farm-income-need-law-to-facilitate-land-pooling/articleshow/62576732.cms (The Times of India 20 January 2018)

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 15 January 2018  &  DRP News Bulletin 08 January 2018

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