Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 29 January 2018 (Organic Farming Through Cluster Approach Can Help Farmers, Groundwater And Our Future)

There have been many positive developments on agriculture, groundwater and environment round the week. In the first positive development, data from the first impact study of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) shows that small and marginal farmers, who can’t afford costly agricultural inputs, are turning a new leaf by going organic because of lower costs and higher margins. The study conducted by the National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management, has also revealed that Net Returns of organic farmers were higher for all the three crops studied, namely wheat, paddy and soybean, by 15.8%, 36.7% and 50% respectively.

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This was based on study of 690 organic clusters in 25 states, out of some 6211 clusters comprising of 2.25 lakh farmers in a PKVY (each ha getting Rs 50 000 as aid) scheme launched in 2015, comprising of 52.3% small farmers. The average cluster size was 69 acres, in each there were 54.6 farmers on average. Maharashtra had the highest number of clusters at 1043 and MP had the highest area under clusters. The funding however remained irregular. India’s domestic organic food market is expected to show Compound Annual Growth rate of 25%, says the study. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/small-farmers-go-big-with-organic-farming/story-nlyQQVUnoewHgeJyvaAnJI.html (Hindustan Times, 29 January 2018)

Another positive news report, have disclosed that how a simple groundwater recharge technique is transforming farmlands in Gujarat. The simple pit and pipe system simply and expertly captures standing water during rains, thus freeing arable land from water logging while recharging groundwater to use for irrigation during the lean season. This is essentially a simple groundwater recharge scheme but appears to last long. As per report about 3000 such units have already been installed in Gujarat and several other states.  http://www.thehindu.com/society/this-simple-technology-has-transformed-gujarat-farmlands-into-an-oasis/article22529034.ece (The Hindu, 27 January 2018)

The third positive news have come from Central Government which has prepared a Rs 6000 crore plan to recharge ground water. The scheme is yet to be cleared by the Expenditure Finance Committee and the Cabinet.  

As per report, the new 5-yr long scheme will be funded 50: 50 by the World Bank and centre, to be implemented in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan, covering 78 districts, 193 blocks and 8300 gram panchayats.

Gram Panchayats that prepare water security plans and put infrastructure to augment water supply will get incentives. Interestingly, an earlier version of the scheme, called National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme was rejected by AFC in May 2017.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-readies-rs-6-000-crore-plan-to-recharge-groundwater/story-nziZ6rvp88ZJHFo0DM5kNO.html (Hindustan Times, 28 January 2018)  

In the fourth positive development, residents of Gurugram, Haryana under the banner of Gurgaon Water Forum and researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)  have joined hand to conduct a year-long study to assess the quality of groundwater in several areas of the city up to boost groundwater table in Gurugram. The initiative is part of a broad objective to conduct a comprehensive study on water crisis in the city and devise ways to replenish and conserve the depleting groundwater level. https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurgaon/residents-researchers-tie-up-to-boost-gurgaon-s-groundwater-level/story-tcudEai2vl6sDdeCGeucQP.html (Hindustan Times, 23 January 2018)

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Govt has launched the third phase of the Jal Swavalamba Abhiyan. Under the new target, it has planned to carry water conservation works at 4,198 water sources in 215 village panchayat areas at a cost of 62 crore. It will be great if the govet puts the result of first two phases in public domain. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/watershed-for-water-conservation-in-rajasthan/article22494177.ece (The Hindu, 23 January 2018)

It is also good to know that Rotary Cochin Mid-Town in Kerala is launching a campaign for creating “water consciousness” among the public through social media. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/campaign-to-spread-message-of-water-conservation/article22515931.ece (The Hindu, 25 January 2018)

In one more unique initiative, the fifth Charotar crocodile count – the unique citizen science initiative, has found that the wetlands of lush green Anand and Kheda districts – the twins popularly known as Charotar belt of Gujarat are home to at least 131 crocodiles. Interestingly, it was for the first time that volunteers from across the country had also estimated the size of the crocodiles which were sighted during the count. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/charotar-wetlands-home-to-131-crocodiles/articleshow/62610472.cms (The Times of India, 23 January 2018)

Similarly, the Lotus and Lotus stems (a delicacy in Kashmir) that had wiped out following the Sept 2014 floods have come back for the first time this year at DAL LAKE, thanks to efforts by farmers. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/01/24/lotus-stages-comeback-kashmirs-dal-lake/ (India Climate Dialogue, 24 January 2018)

Amid this, showing the significance of wetlands, a joint report–Decoding the Monsoon Floods by the NGO, SEEDS and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)–has revealed that nearly 56 percent of smart cities are prone to floods which are responsible for 77 percent of all disasters in India. Based on the disaster data between 2000 and 2017, the report has observed that India has a mean of 11 flood events per district over the last 18 years. The report further stated that natural sinks like wetlands that act as a sponge against floods, had shrunk due to rapid urbanisation, leading to catastrophic results. http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/56-smart-cities-prone-to-floods-report-118011901111_1.html (Business Standard, 19 January 2018)

If all these schemes, plans and initiatives including recommendations made in the studies are properly implemented elsewhere, they will surely help improve farmers, groundwater, environment, not Ease of Doing Business.

HYDRO POWER

Manipur People opposes construction of 60 Mw Irang HEP A community meet cum tentative programme on protection of land and environment at Taobam (Irang) Village in Tamenglong District has resolved to make Irang river flow free, stop construction of the project and disallow any development project in Irang river without people’s consent. It is said that the Government of Manipur and NEEPCO signed the MoU to construct the multipurpose hydroelectric project in Irang river in 2010.The proposed site of the project is located near Taobam (Irang) village and the project envisages constructing a 104 metre high earthen dam across Irang river. https://cramanipur.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/meet-resolves-to-revoke-construction-of-irang-hydroelectric-project/ (CRA Blog, 26 January 2018)

Center Lower tarrifs would not help make hydropower projects viable As per sources, Central Government is considering lowering tariffs for new hydro-electric power projects to help them compete against cheaper forms of electricity. The power ministry has also reportedly proposed excluding the costs of building infrastructure such as roads and bridges from tariffs to make new hydropower projects viable, the people said asking not to be named as the discussions are not public yet. Those costs might be borne by the central government and the states where the projects are located, the people said, adding that the details haven’t been finalized. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-21/india-is-said-to-consider-ways-to-lower-hydropower-tariffs (Bloomberg, 22 January 2018)

Jammu and Kashmir Panel to ‘fix responsibility’ for Dul Hasti HEP fiasco: Power Minister The state government has said that it will form a committee to fix responsibility in the case of the missing Dul Hasti HEP MoU. It is surprising that Govt unable to find the MOU with NHPC regarding the Dul Hasti HEP, and this circus has been going on for years now, without any conclusion. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/01/23/panel-to-fix-responsibility-for-dul-hasti-fiasco-promises-power-minister/ (Kashmir Reader, 23 January 2018)

Also see, some VERY USEFUL and not so well known facts about NHPC – J&K facts on Dulhasti HEP. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/editorial-page/dul-hasti-power-project/273569.html (Greater Kashmir, 26 January 2018)

DAMS

Sardar Sarovar Dam What stops Gujarat from releasing this water (1500 cusecs) from the dam, for the downstream river?

– MS Dagur, Gujarat’s Additional Chief Secretary (Narmada Development) wrote to the secretary of the Union ministry of environment forests and climate change, “To sustain the river ecosystem downstream of a dam, it is imperative to maintain the minimum flow and MoEF&CC, GOI generally recommends that release of minimum environmental flow must mimic the pre-dam flow pattern of a river to sustain aquatic biodiversity together with downstream user needs and accordingly, water withdrawal for power generation is to be regulated. Minimum environmental flow release should be 20% of the average four-month lean period and 20% to 30% of flows during non-lean and non-monsoon periods.”

– Dagur further wrote, “It is requested to direct the environment sub- group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to come out with a solution by enhancing the quantity of water to be released downstream and to release at least 1,500 cusecs of water during the current water year i.e., till June 30, 2018 or till such a solution is arrived at. This will certainly help in protecting the downstream.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/guj-seeks-its-narmada-dues-from-mp-raj/articleshow/62656818.cms (The Times of India, 26 January 2018)

Before this, Gujarat government on January 22 has assured that there won’t be any shortage of drinking water in the state this summer due to the Narmada crisis as the state is mostly dependent on the river for their water needs.

The four beneficiary states of MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra are allotted 28 million acre feet (MAF) of water from the dam – MP has been allotted 18.25 MAF, Rajasthan 0.5 MAF, Maharashtra 0.25 MAF and Gujarat 9.34 MAF, according to the mechanism for distribution. Of Gujarat’s 9.34 MAF, 1.06 MAF water is for non-irrigation purpose (0.86 MAF for drinking and 0.2 MAF for industry) and 7.94 MAF for agriculture. “Over the years, the need for drinking water has grown to 1.29 MAF.” How much of it is for Ahmedabad and cities south of it? http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/no-shortage-of-drinking-water-from-narmada-says-gujarat-118012201374_1.html (Business Standard, 22 January 2018)

Going to be worst year: Chief Secretary J N Singh:- Contrary to state government “no shortage” claim the rural local bodies have been asked to tap “supplementary sources” of drinking water as summer approaches. “There is less water in the entire Narmada basin. Overall this is one of the worst years… Unfortunately, it will cause discomfort to everyone in Gujarat, which is heavily dependent on Narmada water,” said Chief Secretary J N Singh. For making adequate quota of drinking water available, Singh said the state government will explore the possibility of getting water from Kadana dam in Mahisagar district and French wells. Municipal corporations, he said, have been asked to tap traditional sources of water and underground water.

How Govt is going to distribute 4.71 MAF:- According to Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) officials, Gujarat is expected to get only 4.71 MAF water from Narmada in 2017-18 — almost half of 9.34 MAF it got in 2016-17. SSNNL’s Chairman and Managing Director S S Rathore, who was present at the briefing, said that for industries, the usage has been limited to 0.06 MAF against 0.2 MAF. While 1.29 MAF is being given for drinking purposes, the remaining 3.36 MAF will go to agriculture, he added. SSNNL officials said industries have been informed about the cut.

No impact on farming, Sabarmati diversion minuscule: SSNNL’s Chairman and Managing Director S S Rathore  The state government has already declared that it will not be able to provide Narmada water for irrigation after March 15. The Chief Secretary also warned farmers against “unauthorised lifting of water” from Narmada canals. Rathore, however, said the shortage of Narmada water will have “nil” impact on agriculture and industrial production. “It will have nil effect. We have given enough water for Kharif and Rabi seasons,” he said. Asked if Narmada water was wasted by diverting it to Sabarmati Riverfront project in Ahmedabad and during inauguration ceremonies of multiple Sauni projects in Saurashtra, leading to the current crisis, Singh said “water flowing into Sabarmati is very minuscule”.

The media needs to ask sharper and probing questions instead of accepting what the officials say. The allocation for urban water has clearly gone up hugely.  http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-cuts-narmada-water-to-industries-cities-told-to-explore-supplementary-sources-5035348/ (The Indian Express, 23 January 2018)

Narmada water, Narmada, Gujarat government, Gujarat Khedut Samaj, Gujarat News, Indian Express, Indian Express News
The state government claimed that there will be no cut in drinking water “as of now.”

Here are some tough, good questions being asked by Sagar Rabari of Gujarat Khedut Samaj about use of SSP waters in Gujarat. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/how-much-area-in-gujarat-is-irrigated.html (Counter View, 24 January 2018)

Another news report says that Ahmedabad will face 10% cut in water supply. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-gear-up-for-water-shortage-as-amc-announces-10-cuts-2578067 (DNA, 24 January 2018)

Amid this, Gujarat farmers continue to raise more questions about use of Narmada water in Gujarat during Gujarat polls. As per farmer-activist and general secretary of Khedut Samaj (Gujarat) Sagar Rabari has accused the BJP government of “misusing” the Narmada water to win the recent Assembly elections. Rabari said that the water level in the Narmada dam was 124.02 metres, with a total live storage of 1,946 million cubic metres (MCM) of water, on December 1, 2017. “However, the water level dipped to 118.33 metres and 979 MCM on December 31, 2017. In other words, 967 MCM, or half of the total water of the dam, was used within a month,” he added. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-govt-misused-narmada-water-to-win-poll-5041854/ (Indian Express, 29 January 2018)

Here is more details on how Madhya Pradesh’s Narmada reservoirs were depleted to “appease” farmers. https://www.counterview.net/2018/01/ahead-of-gujarat-elections-how-madhya.html (Counter View, 28 January 2018)

Pancheshwar Dam Taxi unions protest against Pancheshwar dam In fresh protests against the Pancheshwar dam, the India-Nepal joint hydropower project that is expected to submerge around 134 villages in the area, taxi owners and drivers of the affected areas held a protest at Jhulaghat in Pithoragarh. The taxi operators said that they had bought their taxis by taking loans from banks and their “future would be ruined if the dam comes into existence as it will wipe out the geography of the area.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/taxi-unions-protest-against-pancheshwar-dam/articleshow/62676259.cms (The Times of India, 27 January 2018)

Polavaram Dam  Rehabilitate first before displacement: NCST After a meeting with Odisha CM, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) chairperson Nand Kumar Sai has said that proper arrangements for rehabilitation must be made to the project affected tribal families in all the three states. These statements do not really mean too much as NCST has shown neither credible mechanism, nor will to ensure that this happens. https://newsclick.in/ncst-polavaram-rehabilitate-first-displacement-tribes (News Click 22 January 2018)

Pattiseema Project Andhra’s PAC raises questions about Pattiseema LIS State Legislative Houses Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) chairman Mr Buggana Rajendranath Reddy has suspected that the state government had shown favouritism to the contracting firm that had executed the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation project. Talking to reporters after reviewing the CAG reports of 2015-16 on lift irrigation projects and finances of the state for two consecutive days, Mr Reddy observed that the government could have avoided an additional expenditure of Rs 400 crore to Rs 450 crore spent on Pattiseema project at a time when the state was reeling under severe financial crisis and every penny was important. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/250118/money-wasted-on-pattiseema-pac.html (Deccan Chronicle, 25 January 2018)

Centre Web tool to digitize all dam data launched The Centre launched seven dam safety guidelines and a software programme – Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA) – during a two-day International Dam Safety Conference at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, beginning on Jan 23. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/web-tool-to-digitize-all-dam-related-data-in-india-to-be-launched-tomorrow/articleshow/62607387.cms (The Times of India, 22 January 2018)

– Speaking at the conference, the Union Minister for State Arjun Ram Meghwal stressed the need to build larger dams in India for increasing river water storage capacity to meet demands of population growth, economic growth and sustainable development.

– It is worth to state that the Minister does not even mention the water storage options and is just saying what CWC and MWR guys are telling him.

– Central Water Commission Chairman S Masood Husain said the current six-year DRIP programme launched in 2012 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,100 crore was for rehabilitating 223 dams in seven states. “However, the first phase was extended for two years until 2020 to finish all of the programmed rehabilitation works with a revised estimate of Rs 3,466 crore,” he said.

– In this regard, the on-going World bank aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) would have a second phase with a total outlay of Rs 9,000 crore to strengthen about 600 larger dams. Meghwal said 18 states have already given their proposal to be included in the second phase. http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/larger-dams-needed-to-increase-water-storage-capacity-2489623.html (Money Control, 23 January 2018)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa New Promise by Gadkari He says that foundation stone to be laid by PM in Two months (i.e. by March 24) in Budelkhand. All decks are cleared!

– 90% of money to come from centre.

– His figures of irrigating 21 lakh acres is of course wrong as are most other facts here.

– He claims linking through pipes and not canal, calling it MP model of river linking (Narmada Kshipra)

– None of his past deadlines have materialised, there is no chance for this one either.  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/infrastructure/decks-have-been-cleared-for-ken-betwa-project-nitin-gadkari/articleshow/62638495.cms (The Economic Times, 24 January 2018)

The union water minister  also says that in March agreement between UP and MP CMs will be signed in Delhi. Which possibly means that no agreement has yet been reached between the two states, but he hopes it will be reached in March? http://www.uniindia.com/ken-betwa-river-linking-project-to-commence-from-march-gadkari/states/news/1117938.html (UNI, 25 January 2018)

Also see a rare UP minister statement on Ken Betwa seems to indicate that Banda farmers will get less water than they are getting now, and hence will have to go for sprinkler irrigation. http://www.uniindia.com/90-pc-subsidy-for-farmers-in-sprinkler-irrigation-scheme–up-minister/states/news/1116941.html (UNI, 25 January 2018)

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi Water  Row 2 Bandhs In Karnataka In Next 2 Weeks Ager Jan. 25 state wide bandh, pro-Kannada groups along with farmers will hold another bandh on February 4, this time in Bengaluru, to urge the central government to resolve the Mahadayi water dispute at the earliest. Interestingly, it will coincide with PM Modi’s visit to the city for state BJP’s Parivartan Yatra. https://www.ndtv.com/karnataka-news/2-bandhs-in-karnataka-in-next-2-weeks-over-mahadayi-water-sharing-row-10-points-1803154?pfrom=home-topstories (NDTV, 22 January 2018)

Mahanadi Water Dispute SC asks Centre to set up Mahanadi water tribunal In an important development, the Supreme Court on Jan 23, has directed the central government to constitute within a month a tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/supreme-court-asks-centre-to-set-up-mahanadi-water-tribunal/articleshow/62623754.cms (The Economic Times 23 January 2018)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Center Foundation stone laid for Ghazipur Intermodal Terminal on NW-1 River Ganga No Environment or Social Impact Assessment done, no public consultation process, it will clearly have huge negative impacts on Ganga, but we wont even know what they are…. Even major cargo described as “Natural Aggregates, Bagged and General Cargo”, which essentially means nothing specific…. why is this being done and how will it help Ganga Rejuvenation, which is also the responsibility of the same minister! http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=175847 (24 January 2018)

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IRRIGATION

Punjab Farmers oppose move to install meters on tubewells Opposition to tubewell metering by farmers was expected. But farmers have an interesting proposal: Farmer leaders asked the government to withdraw power subsidy to influential landlords who possessed almost half of the 13.5 lakh agriculture tubewell connections in the state. Jamhoori Kisan Sabha’s Rattan Singh Randhawa claimed that Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal were among those who were availing subsidy. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/farmers-oppose-move-to-install-meters-on-tubewells/534303.html (The Tribune, 26 January 2018)

Karnataka Drip irrigation project Ramthal became operational Asia’s largest, (so this report claims) and possibly costliest, Israel Technology based drip irrigation project in Bagalkot dist of Karnataka, using the backwaters of Almatti Dam. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/jan/28/asias-largest-drip-irrigation-project-ramthal-to-become-operational-in-karnataka-today-1764446.html (The New Indian Express, 28 January 2018)

RIVERS

MOEF New plan for rejuvenation of rivers

-Its termed as new, but I do not find anything much new here. While talking about rejuvenation of river and ensuring flow, the word environment flow does not figure here.

– It talks about catchment approach, but mentions only five states, when Ganga catchment includes eleven, besides Nepal, China and Bangaldesh. Talking of sewage treatment, the word governance does not figure here.

– If rivers are to be rejuvenated through catchment approach, the water users would need regulated, including agriculture, Cities, Industries and also villages, and also groundwater.

– There is no mention of any attempt to learn lessons for past failures.

– The meeting only had bureaucrats, and FRI Director, no one else, going by the PR.

– One good thing I see is it talks about identifying the pilots, but it does not mention which pilots have been identified. http://pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1517700 (PIB, 24 January 2018)

Also see link for PTI Release based on SANDRP comment on the MOEF’s claim of new approach to River Conservation. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/jan/28/river-conservation-nothing-new-in-governments-recent-decisions-claims-sandrp-1764654.html (The New Indian Express, 28 January 2018)

Karnataka Pollution of urban rivers in Mangaluru The unabated discharge of untreated domestic and industrial sewage has not only severely polluted the Phalguni (Gurupura) and the Netravathi, which surround Mangaluru, but also affected groundwater quality in the city, allege environmentalists and social activists.

– Low levels of oxygen in Phalguni river had resulted in the death of several fish last summer, and the National Environment Care Foundation, Mangaluru, says a graver situation has arisen even before the summer this time around.

– Very little of domestic sewage is treated and used for industrial purposes as the entire infrastructure created using Asian Development Bank funds under Karnataka Urban Development and Coastal Environment project has crumbled, Shashidhar Shetty, general secretary of the foundation told The Hindu.

– On the other hand, the Thokur stream, flowing through Mangalore Special Economic Zone and Baikampady Industrial Area, is rotting with industrial and domestic waste. Joining the Phalguni downstream the Malavoor vented dam, the stream discharges quite waste into the river

– As a result, the groundwater in the city, particularly closer to the rivers, too is getting polluted

– Unabated sand extraction in the Coastal Regulation Zone of these rivers has deepened the river course. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/discharge-of-untreated-sewage-polluting-water-around-mangaluru/article22486831.ece (The Hindu, 21 January 2018)

Yettinahole Diversion Project Nota or own candidates green activists to decide in a fortnight Good to see this: “Environmentalists in Dakshina Kannada, who are opposing the controversial Yettinahole river diversion project, will by the second week of February decide on either fielding their own candidates in the Assembly elections or taking up an extensive campaign to convince voters to exercise NOTA option to register protest against the project.”

– Environmentalists want to field at least three candidates in Bantwal, Puttur and Mangaluru City South constituencies. If no suitable candidates are found, they would press the people for NOTA. Mr. Holla said that the activists took up NOTA campaign in the last Lok Sabha election, which resulted in 7,500 such votes. When it was scaled up to the last zilla panchayat elections in the district, 28,000 NOTA votes were cast. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/nota-or-own-candidates-green-activists-to-decide-in-a-fortnight/article22500831.ece (The Hindu 23 January 2018)

Uttar Pradesh NGT orders survey of rivers in western part  NGT appointed committee to report back in two months about Kali, Krishna, Hindon and other rivers and groundwater of six western UP districts (Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat and Ghaziabad districts), including on 316 industries. A Bench headed by acting chairperson Justice U.D. Salvi constituted a committee comprising officials from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Board, U.P. Jal Nigam to jointly inspect and carry out survey of the rivers and groundwater in six districts in the western part of the State. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/ngt-orders-survey-of-rivers-in-western-up/article22488018.ece  ( The Hindu, 22 January 2018)

Jammu & Kashmir Post-2014 floods: Govt clueless about plugging loopholes Would love to hear from Kashmir friends about this. This article is forthright that State govt is clueless about plans or actions as to what to do in the after math of Sept 2014 floods, that its lucky that monsoons in next three years were deficit, but the disaster could soon come with better monsoon and indeed that DREDGING WONT HELP. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/post-2014-floods-j-k-clueless-about-plugging-loopholes/532082.html (The Tribune, 22 January 2018)

Madhya Pradesh A road project worth Rs 100 crore to connect villages of Dewas and Indore has endangered the very existence of Jaijawanti river, a tributary of Kshipra – In more than 1 km stretch, the road has been constructed within the boundary of the river, said Dr Vikas Choudhary of Ujjain, who is working for the past many years to revive the water body along with Kshipra. He said, “The road project is posing threat to the existence of Jaijawanti. The project is violating MP Bhoomi Vikas Niyam 2012 which allows no construction within 30 meters on both the sides of rivers. If the road is constructed it would hamper the flow of the water body, which is dry at most places during its run-up to Kshipra”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/Road-project-a-threat-to-Jaijawanti-river/articleshow/62333805.cms (The Times of India, 2 January 2018)

West Bengal Rivers are not fit even for bathing, says report According to the latest State of Environment Report, it has been found that in the 17 major rivers of the state, including the Ganga, the levels of coliform bacteria are much higher than the permissible limit. The report further revealed that several stretches of the Ganga had a total coliform count ranging from one to four lakhs, making the water totally unfit for even bathing. The report has also stated that compared to 2014, all the four main rivers of north Bengal recorded a significant increase in total coliform count. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/bengals-rivers-in-a-bad-shape/article22459562.ece (The Hindu, 18 January 2018)

Gujarat Govt to increase Sabarmati Riverfront stretch to 32.2km Length of the controversial Sabarmati River Front Development Project to be extended from 11.25 km (22.5 km if we include lengths along both east and west bank) to about 16.1 km (32.2 km including both sides), using over 111 acres of land. The Govt has made a provision of Rs 850 crore for the second phase of the riverfront, while announcing a draft budget for the 2018-19 fiscal. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-sabarmati-riverfront-in-gujarat-to-stretch-to-322km-soon-2577314 (DNA, 22 January 2018)

Punjab Caught between two rivers SAD story of a village of 3500 people in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, a stone throw from the border, on an island between two rivers: Ujh and Ravi, facing Govt neglect. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/caught-between-two-rivers-and-govt-apathy/533304.html (The Tribune, 24 January 2018)

Caught between two rivers and govt apathy
The pontoon bridge that connects the island with the mainland. Tribune photo

NARMADA Gujarat Poor, sad state of Narmada River in on Narmada Jayanti

– Narmada Jayanti is observed annually on Shukla Paksha Saptami in Magha month according to Hindu lunar calendar. On this day devotees worship river Narmada.

– A large number of devotees who had come from across the state to offer prayers at Zadeshwar on the occasion of Narmada Jayanti, got stuck in the middle of river due to low water level on Wednesday. Some had to walk through knee-deep muck to reach the shore.

– A boat owner Sukhabhai Solanki said, “Minimum six-foot water is required to operate boats. But the water level was so low that the boats could not move. Before three years, hundreds of boats used to ferry devotees in the river on Narmada Jayanti, whereas this year there were hardly 15 boats.”

– The water level rose only after some water (3,000 cusec) was released as from Karjan Dam in Narmada. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/boats-with-pilgrims-get-stuck-in-narmada-river-due-to-low-water-level/articleshow/62656488.cms (The Times of India, 26 January 2018)  

GANGA Report Climate Change threatens dolphin habitat This article about Dolphins in Ganga in Bihar provides some interesting insights like the deep water habitat, how they move their habitat in monsoon to the flood plains, and how they travel to feed, etc. It says that between 2014-15 and Nov 2017, number of Dolphins has reduced by 25% in the Munger-Farakka 250 km stretch. Bihar govt is to undertake a survey of Dolphins in Ganga in 2018, after a 2012 survey along the 525 km long Ganga in Bihar from Chausa (Buxar) to Manihari (Katihar), and had in 2012 found 1500 dolphins. Strangely the article does not mention how DREDGING of the river for WATERWAYS is also destroying the Dolphins habitat as other experts have pointed out. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/01/22/climate-change-threatens-dolphin-habitats-ganga/ (India Climate Dialogue, 22 Jan 2018)

Uttarakhand  Villagers say Patanjali unit polluting water bodies in Haridwar Villagers in Haridwar district alleged that a unit of yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali firm was polluting Ban Ganga rivulet and a few other rain-fed water bodies. Villagers from the Lakshar area, where Padartha herbal and food park — a unit of Rs 10,000-crore Patanjali — is located, have lodged a complaint about the water pollution. Rajbeer Chauhan, a social activist, said several animals died in the last few years as effluents released from Padartha polluted the rivulet and water bodies.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/villagers-say-patanjali-unit-polluting-water-bodies-in-haridwar/story-3DQcv6z2jzoRyUzIrfXZlJ.html (Hindustan Times, 23 January 2018)

According to another news report, villagers have demanded action against the company run by Baba Ramdev from the Pollution Control Board. They further said that they have sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Two villagers led by a social activist Sanjay Pal from Khanjarpur Roorkee said during the Press conference that such water is being released from the factory for over ten years, leaving the revered Ganga polluted and posing grave health hazards for the villagers living near it.

“It is a height of hypocrisy that on one hand, the Yoga Guru is pontificating on a pollution- free Ganga and, on the other, the company he runs is polluting the holy river through the discharge of the untreated water in her,” said one of the villagers.

Villager Rajbeer Chauhan said that the water released from the factory flows through covered drain stretching around 1.5 km which passes through some villages before it flows into the Ganga.

They said that earlier the water was used by the villagers for irrigating the farmlands. Now, the water emanating a stench, they have stopped using it for farming or any other purpose, the villagers said. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/dehradun/villagers-accuse-patanjali-plant-of-pollution.html (Daily Pioneer, 24 January 2018)

It is worth to mention that in Dec 2017 CAG report has found that Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s ‘Patanjali’ is one of the many industries along the river Ganga are discharging effluents into the river.  https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/namami-gange-ganga-patanjali-pollution-1112342-2017-12-20 (India Today, 20 December 2017)

In a different development regarding rafting and camping along Rishikesh stretch of Ganga, a few camp operators have moved a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the NGT order.

It is noteworthy that the report should have mentioned that NGT has allowed rafting and also mentioned the reasons and violations why camping was disallowed. Hope SC does not reverse it. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rafting-camping-business-run-aground-in-rishikesh/story-tAF2zSZyzNtIw3B8bKVp0O.html (Hindustan Times, 27 January 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Pesticides in silt banks threatening aquatic life According to report, several hectares of silt banks are illegally grabbed by land sharks every year and leased out to landless farmers at Rs 2,000 – Rs 5,000 per bigha. Farmers from villages in Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Meerut are seen utilizing these silt banks for seasonal farming between December to February. Chemical farming on Ganga banks is indeed causing damage to river ecosystem but labelling floodplain farmers as land mafia would not help it. Good to see, district administration planning to promote organic farming among these farmers. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/pesticides-in-silt-banks-of-ganga-threatening-aquatic-life/articleshow/62595668.cms (The Times of India, 21 January 2018)

Ganga at Jaipur Literature Festival How can India worship its rivers, but still treat them cruelly, let them die? Journalist Victor Mallet, author of the book, River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future, spoke at length on all that ails India’s most important river. In the end, Mallet said, it’s still possible to clean it up. Valid question and a lot of valid issues, but the author of GANGA MACHINE’s hope from current government is clearly misplaced. https://www.hindustantimes.com/books/jlf-2018-how-can-india-worship-its-rivers-but-still-treat-them-cruelly-let-them-die/story-a6Xj4p5eRfZjqmb0dNcoAK.html (Hindustan Times, 28 January 2018)

YAMUNA Delhi Spike in ammonia level affects water supply This shows that Central & State Govts failed to this recurring incident affected health of citizens and river Yamuna. Earlier in the month, water supply in most parts of the national capital was disrupted due to increased pollution in the Yamuna. Residents of Delhi faced a similar problem on first two days of the New Year due to a spike in industrial pollutants as well as rising ammonia levels in the Yamuna. https://scroll.in/latest/866085/spike-in-ammonia-level-in-yamuna-will-affect-water-supply-in-delhi (Scroll, 23 January 2018)

As per another report, under Namami Gange Programme, launched in 2015, the government had sanctioned 93 sewage management projects at a cost of Rs. 14,167.94 cr, aiming at creating 2205 MLD sewage treatment capacity apart from rehabilitating 564 MLD capacity STPs and laying 4762 km of sewerage network. http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/gadkari-kejriwal-review-delhi-s-sewage-treatment-plants-on-yamuna-118011900065_1.html (Business Standard 19 January 2018)

Meanwhile, a Delhi Assembly committee last week found that a number of drains at Najafgarh — where three projects are to come up as a part of a plan by the NGT — have “no remaining water flow” to clean up.

The Assembly’s Estimates Committee has been probing alleged irregularities amounting to Rs 776.7 crore in three Delhi Jal Board projects — a charge the DJB has denied.

The committee had earlier cited a CPCB report which had claimed the projects to be unnecessary. The issue came up again during a meeting with Union water minister Nitin Gadkari and CM Arvind Kejriwal. http://indianexpress.com/article/delhi/najafgarh-drains-kejriwal-water-delhi-assembly-ngt-5040718/ (The Indian Express, 27 January 2018)

Meanwhile a news plan of 13-km-long elevated corridor along Yamuna may have adverse impacts on already over stressed Yamuna floodplain.

ToI 10 Jan 2018 (1)

– The government has given the green signal after going through the pre-feasibility study.

– The AAP government has estimated the project to cost Rs 2,200 crore and is looking at implementing it on a public-private partnership model.

– The PWD will soon appoint a consultant to undertake a feasibility study and come up with a detailed project report.

– As per the plan, the elevated corridor would be constructed from Signature Bridge till Salimgarh Bypass (Ring Road bypass) where it will merge. This would be the first phase.

– In the second phase of the project, the elevated road would be extended to the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Flyway and Kalindi Kunj bypass.

– The corridor will come up along the existing Outer Ring Road near Majnu Ka Tila and the Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan.

– In fact, eight existing bridges over the Yamuna, including the Signature bridge, Old Iron bridge, Geeta Colony, Vikas Marg, Nizammudin bridge, Barapullah Phase-III, DND flyway and Kalindi bypass), will be connected to the elevated corridor. http://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/new-delhi-elevated-corridor-outer-ring-road-signature-bridge-north-wazirabad-kalindi-kunj-bypass-south-aam-aadmi-party-public-works-department-yamuna/187280 (Times Now, 10 January 2018)

Some more information about the project is here

The officials said that after the feasibility study, the report will be submitted to Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre and other agencies for approval. Tenders for hiring the consultant will be floated by the end of this month.

PWD proposes to build the road parallel to the Outer Ring Road near Majnu Ka Tila and the Inner Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan. Along the way, it will connect all eight bridges over the Yamuna – Signature bridge, Old Iron bridge, Geeta Colony, Vikas Marg, Nizamuddin bridge, Barapullah Phase-III that is under construction, DND flyway and Kalindi bypass. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/new-elevated-road-to-be-built-along-yamuna-to-decongest-delhi-s-ring-roads/story-e7AzG79RHp1eThFxoCgqAK.html (Hindustan 10 January 2018)

SAND MINING

Punjab Over 30 MLAs involved in sand mining: Govt report This is shocking. Over 30 MLAs of the ruling Congress party are engaged in sand mining directly or indirectly, according to an internal report submitted by the sand mining department to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, The Indian Express has learnt. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/sand-mining-links-over-30-congres-mlas-under-cm-amarinder-singhs-lens/ (The Indian Express, 26 January 2018)

According to one more report, illegal mining remains unchecked even as it was a one of the main poll planks of Captain Amarinder Singh before the assembly elections in 2017. Even after the change of guard in Punjab, scores of trucks and trailers loaded with sand are found on most of the main roads in the district every night. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/illegal-mining-continues-unabated-in-ferozepur/articleshow/62561329.cms (Times of India, 19 January 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Illegally mined sand put back in Yamuna This is very interesting to save ancient Sujawan Dev Temple, illegally mined sand put back in the river Yamuna. Government needs to take same yardstick when its about saving Rivers, Natural Heritage, Aquatic Life & Mining Affected Villagers. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/saving-heritage-with-sand-mining-on-check-bhita-gets-back-glory/story-GHXbOL7cmaiUJcJrZLKHQI.html (Hindustan Times, 23 January 2018)

Earlier, sand mafias have made a temporary dam around Sujawan Dev temple located on a rock island in the middle of Yamuna.
Earlier, sand mafias have made a temporary dam around Sujawan Dev temple located on a rock island in the middle of Yamuna.(HT Photo)

WETLANDS

SANDRP Blog Chandigarh Wetlands Review 2017: Sukhna Lake Facing Multiple Problems The man-made, rain-fed lake Sukhna, located in Sector-1, Chandigarh, was built in 1958 at the cost of Rs 1 crore by damming Sukhna rivulet. Over the years, the lake has become integral part of Chandigarh’s cultural life and recreational activities. At the same time, ever since its creation, it is also in the centre of natural and man-made problems. For years, pursuing Punjab & Haryana High Court (HC), Chandigarh directives, Union Territory Administration Chandigarh (UTAC), has been taking several measures to restore the lake’s falling glory. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/chandigarh-wetlands-review-2017-sukhna-lake-facing-multiple-problems/ (SANDRP Blog, 23 January 2018)

Basai Wetland Map

SANDRP Blog Haryana Wetlands Review 2017: Urbanization Taking Over Basai Wetland All through 2017, Basai Wetland has been in news following Haryana Government plan to build a Construction and Demolition (C&D) plant in its close proximity. Activists, Birders left no stone unturned to oppose the plant. They approached NGT and even wrote to Haryana State Government to identity it as important wetland. All the efforts went futile and in sad turn of events, NGT, in January 2018 cleared the C&D plant thus closing the doors of hope for Basai wetlands and dependent eco-system. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/haryana-wetlands-review-2017-urbanization-taking-over-basai-wetland/ (SANDRP Blog, 27 January 2018)

As per latest report, now HUDA plans to plug the leakages in the sewage lines to dry out the Basai marshland, so that it’s claims to be a wetland is negated. https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurgaon/basai-marshland-a-paradise-for-birds-near-gurgaon-may-dry-out-soon/story-XlhyqBxyyNsfYSdrflCdMK.html (Hindustan Times, 28 January 2018)

Rajasthan Sambhar lake a Ramsar wetland site facing extinction Ramsar site number 464 under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Sambhar Salt Lake, once a large saline lake fed by four rivers set in a shallow wetland, is dangerously close to extinction. The lake has dried up and the flamingoes that used to visit the lake in thousands have reduced to just a few. Salt extraction, earlier done by surface brine, is now done by 1,544 borewells dug all over the lake. Ironically, after being designated as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance, on March 23, 1990 Sambhar has not been anybody’s baby. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/sambhar-a-lake-no-more/articleshow/62552440.cms?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=TOIDesktop (The Times of India, 18 January 2018)

Hyderabad 2999 water bodies disappeared in 10 year – Urban sprawl has caused 2,999 water bodies to disappear in the city between 2005 and 2016. From 5,011 water bodies in 2005, the number plunged to 2,012 in 2016 —that means a whopping 60 per cent of water bodies have disappeared in the last ten years.

– Only 37,908 ha of rainfed cropland is available of 72,817 ha that was there in 2005 at an alarming drop of 52 percent in a single decade. The cropland includes fallow, shrubs, scrubland, and grass. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2018/jan/23/whopping-60-per-cent-of-hyderabads-water-bodies-disappeared-in-last-10-years-says-new-study-1761705.html (The New Indian Express, 23 January 2018)

Maharashtra Pune’s Pashan lake: Threatened by urbanisation, doomed by restoration Pashan lake with 130 acres area, 40 sq km catchment of Ram Nadi, is suffering the twin problems of impacts of urbanisation and wrong restoration efforts. It is one of the oldest man made water storage structure of India?

– A restoration plan was made by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in collaboration with Naik Environment Research Institute (NERIL), Pune in 2008 under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The Rs 16.6-crore restoration work was completed by 2013.

– The restoration plan has not worked and has been criticised from various perspectives. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/threatened-urbanisation-doomed-restoration (India Water Portal, 06 October 2017)

Karnataka NGT asks Govt to submit time-bound action plan on Bellandur lake SIXTH FIRE on Bellandur Lake in Bangaluru leads NGT to ask Karnataka govt to submit a time bound axn plan by Jan 29, Monday. Bangalore Development Authority claimed that it was accidental or incidental, but it was contradicted by the petitioners. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/submit-time-bound-action-plan-on-bellandur-lake-ngt/article22516573.ece (The Hindu, 25 January 2018)

Maharashtra Mumbai Gets a Flamingo Sanctuary as Trade-Off for Trans-Harbour Sea-Link TRADE OFF??? The 22-km-long the Trans-Harbour Sea-Link, worth Rs 17,700 crore, is coming up in Mumbai. The sea link will connect the city to Navi Mumbai as well as to the new international airport coming up there. The bridge is going to occupy five km of mudflats in the Thane creek and would affect 38 hectares of protected mangrove forests and 8.8 hectares of forest land. To protect the remaining part of the Thane creek, however, the Maharashtra Forest Department has agreed to declare a 10-km-long stretch of mangroves and mudflats between the Vashi and Airoli creeks as protected Flamingo sanctuary. https://thewire.in/214365/mumbai-gets-flamingo-sanctuary-trade-off-trans-harbour-sea-link/ (The Wire, 16 January 2018)

Manipur Near-threatened water bird spotted after 16 years The oriental white ibis or black-headed ibis (threskiornis melanocephalus), a near-threatened water bird, which is locally known as Mayang Urok, was sighted after a gap of 16 years at Loktak and its associated wetlands in Manipur. It is listed as a near-threatened bird species under the Birdlife International and IUCN Red list. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/near-threatened-water-bird-spotted-after-16-years-in-manipur/story-VQFPuu8YBDX4mTqZVKPShL.html (Hindustan Times, 22 January 2018)

Goa Rarely seen Kittiwake sighted visiting wetlands Goan birders and a few forest officials tramping around the bigger wetlands in North Goa on their annual water fowl count have seen black-legged Kittiwake bird. This seabird species from the gull is not a regular visitor to India and hardly eight sightings have been reported so far. During the last few days, the little gull has been spotted by some birders at the Morjim sandbank.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/rarely-seen-kittiwake-sighted-visiting-wetlands-in-state/articleshow/62596644.cms (The Times of India, 22 January 2018)

FISH, FISHERIES & FISHERFOLKS 

West Bengal Fishworkers demand inland fisheries policy The draft National Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy is yet to see the light of the day. More than six months have elapsed after the expert committee was formed last year. As you know, the National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland) has already submitted recommendations on the National Policy for Inland Fisheries. It is high time to remind the government of its commitment. This is legitimate demand of river fish workers. https://dc.icsf.net/en/component/dcnews/articledetail/10594.html (ICSF, 23 January 2018)

WATER

Uttarakhand World Bank to fund water schemes for doon and 6 other districts A World Bank loan scheme for Rs 975 Cr (WB loan 780 crores and state govt contribution 195 Cr) water supply to 7 districts (including Dehradun) for the period 2018-2023 covering 35 towns, each to get 100-135 lpcd water seems of doubtful justification, can Uttarakhand not do it on its own? One of the town is TEHRI, another is Haridwar (on the banks of Ganga), can not they do this on their own? http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/world-bank-to-fund-water-schemes-for-doon-6-other-dists/533188.html (The Tribune, 24 January 2018)

DROUGHT

Report Nidhi Jamwal analyses the new Drought Manual in detail The Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to fight the occurrence of drought in the country. However, representatives of farmers’ groups and agriculture sector experts say that strict parameters for drought declaration in the new manual will make things worse for the farmers, especially in drought-prone areas of the country. https://www.villagesquare.in/2018/01/24/new-drought-manual-may-aggravate-farm-distress/ (Village Square, 24 January 2018)

AGRICULTURE

Op-Ed Potato portents by Ajay Vir Jakhar Profits from the previous harvest usually determine the acreage under sowing for the next season. Consequently, in the following year, India had a bumper crop of 48 million tonnes of potato in 2015 and prices crashed to Rs 2.75/kg. The government ignored the plight of farmers who subsequently failed to even recover the cost of sowing. Ajay Vir Jakhar has clear, STARK conclusion: FARMERS NO LONGER MATTER TO MODI GOVT. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/crop-prices-modi-government-indian-farmers-potato-rates-5035179/ (Indian Express, 23 January 2018)

Op-Ed From Plate to Plough: How to help the farmer by Ashok Gulati , Siraj Hussain Telangana model seems better than MP or Haryana one: “In contrast to these programmes is the government of Telangana’s input support scheme. Announced in the second week of  January, the scheme’s objective is to relieve farmers from taking loans from moneylenders by giving them Rs 4,000 per acre for the kharif and rabi seasons. It is envisaged that the farmer will use this money for purchase of inputs ranging from seeds to fertilisers to machinery and hired labour. The area eligible for investment support is 14.21 million acre — the government’s annual bill for the project, thus, comes to around Rs 5,685 crore.

The Telangana model does not require the farmer to register his cultivated area and crops. The farmer is free to grow a crop of his choice and sell it anytime in a mandi of his choice. This model is crop-neutral, more equitable, more transparent, and gives farmers the freedom to choose. Incidentally, China has a similar scheme: It gives aggregate input subsidy support on a per acre basis. The scheme does not distort markets and is worth following. Will the Union Budget make such a bold move to redress farmers’ woes?” http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/how-to-help-the-farmer-telangana-input-support-scheme-5042721/ (The Indian Express 29 January 2018)

RENEWABLE ENERGY

National Rooftop solar is still out in the cold As per the report, achievement for the top solar installation is 8-9% of target. Against a target of 10,000 MW for March 31, 2018, the achievement as of the last day of 2017 was 923 MW. At the same time, large-scale solar installation is respectably 16,070 MW by December-end, 2017 and is set to add another 6,500 MW by March. This explains why roof top solar installed capacity is not growing as per targets and is not likely to, unless steps like Generation based incentives are taken up. http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/rooftop-solar-is-still-out-in-the-cold/article22486534.ece (The Hindu 21 January 2018)

Not a hot idea: Giving incentives for creation of capacity is seen as anachronistic, as it could encourage distribution companies to compromise on quality.  

As per another news report, the Narendra Modi government has quietly downscaled its targets for financial year 2017-18 to only 1,000 MW of capacity. While the target was 5,000 MW till as recently as Dec. 21, 2017, the capacity progress report made available in January shows the scaled-down figure.

– However, India’s cumulative installed capacity of rooftop solar stood at 982 MW as of December 2017. A mere 271 MW has come up this year, data from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) show. “It looks difficult for them to achieve the target of 1,000 (MW),”

– Driven largely by government incentives and subsidies, around 715 MW of capacity was added across the country last fiscal

– “The reason for the reduction is (that) the policy currently is purely for industrial rooftop projects. They don’t have too many benefits for a residential rooftop,” https://qz.com/1180435/india-has-quietly-downscaled-its-rooftop-solar-power-target/ (Quartz 23 January 2018)

Meanwhile, Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources has invited comments on “Economic Rate of Return for various Renewable Energy Technologies”. The comments are to be sent to “Shri Dipesh Pherwani, Scientist-B, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (Email: dipesh.mnre@gov.in) latest by 15 February 2018”.

The study makes many tricky assumptions about small hydro, for example. The Small Hydro, incidentally here is taken as projects upto installed capacity of 100 MW and not 25 MW that has been the norm so far. This is also way higher than international norms. The target is 250 MW per year from 2017 to 2022, assuming 4274 MW capacity in 2016, but this capacity is for projects upto 25 MW capacity. Please share this with all concerned and send comments. http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/UserFiles/Draft-Report-Study-on-ERR-for-RETs.pdf (MNRE, 24 January 2018)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bangladesh shared river in Meghalaya in news due to pollution and mass fish death As per report, the Khasi Students’ Union has demanded an independent inquiry into the mysterious death of thousands of fishes, which they claimed was because of the change of colour of river water at Ranikor in South West Khasi Hills district. The river at Ranikor is near the India-Bangladesh border in South West Khasi Hills district, about 140km from here. The deaths have become quite common since the first incident in 2010. https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/plea-for-fish-deaths-probe-203114 (The Telegraph, 23 January 2018)

Bhutan Hydropower loan quadruples to Nu 123.8B

In the last six years, hydropower debt quadrupled to Nu 123.85B currently from Nu 31.45B in 2010-11. This has happened despite the liquidation of Chukha and Kurichhu loans. The Nu 123.85B outstanding hydropower debt, as of June 2017, forms more than 76 percent of external debt liability and 83.30 percent of GDP, according to the Royal Monetary Authority’s (RMA) annual report.

– OUTSTANDING LOANS: In the fiscal year 2016-17, hydropower debt service stood at Nu 3.07B. As of June last year, outstanding loan for Basochhu is Nu 1.7B. A loan of about Nu 2B remains for Tala while Dagachhu has an outstanding loan of Nu 9.17B.

– A large share of external debt is linked to hydropower loans from GoI, covering both financial and construction risks. India also buys surplus electricity output at price reflecting cost plus a 15 percent net return.

– DAGACHHU was commissioned in 2015. Chukha, Kurichhu (loan liquidated in 2016), Basochhu and Tala are the other existing HEPs in Bhutan.

– PUNATSHANGCHHU I: The completion date for the Punatshangchhu I project has been revised from July 2019 to July 2022, because of the geological surprises at the dam site. The revised completion cost is Nu 93.7B against the DPR cost of around Nu 35B at 2006 price level. According to the progress report 82.9 percent of the works are completed as of June 2017. Fund disbursement of Nu more than Nu 72B has already been made in form of grant and loan towards the project.

– PUNATSHANGCHHU II: A total amount Nu 49.54B (Nu 35.9B loan and Nu 13.5 grant) has been disbursed for Punatshangchhu II, until June 2017. While the DPR cost of the project at 2009 prices is Nu 37.7B, the revised cost at 2015 price level is Nu 72.9B. The completion date for the project has also extended from December 2017 to June 2019. The progress, as of June 2017 is about 72 percent of the total works and it has about Nu 35.9B loan outstanding.

– MANGDECHHU: Mangdechhu project has an outstanding loan of Nu 29.2B, as of June 2017. An amount of Nu 29.2 in loan and Nu 10.9B has already been disbursed for the project, taking the total disbursement to Nu 40.1B. While the DPR completion date was September 2017, it has been revised to June 2018. A year before the revised completion date, the project has already completed 90 percent of the works.

NIKACHHU: For the Nikachhu hydropower project, outstanding debt amounts to Nu 1.1B as it has already raised the loan component. http://www.kuenselonline.com/hydropower-loan-quadruples-to-nu-123-8b/ (Kuensel Online, 25 January 2018)

As per another news source, since FY11, Bhutan debt related to hydro significantly increased. During Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), the country marginally reduced its hydropower-related debt by about US$48.3 million.

– In FY16, hydropower was Bhutan’s largest export, accounting for 32.4% of the country’s total exports and 8% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

– With a 22.42% increase in exporting electricity and reducing its imports for construction material to build hydro facilities, Bhutan’s trade deficit with India – its largest power purchaser – improved $81.6 million from $464.6 million to about $383 million in FY17.

– As of June 2017, Bhutan’s total external debt liability is about $2.51 billion. Hydro investment FY17 numbers constitute more than 76% of this amount at about $1.95 billion and of this, 90% is in Indian rupees. http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2018/01/report-on-bhutan-fy17-indicates-debt-reduction-in-hydropower-sector.html (Hydro World, 25 January 2018)

Nepal World Bank is trying different ways to push big hydro One of them is to take key people to Vietnam to see hydro projects. Presently Nepal has 918 MW installed hydropower capacity. Currently, there are 139 hydropower projects under construction, totaling 3,785.38 MW.https://www.usea.org/sites/default/files/Nepal%20Looks%20to%20Vietnam%20for%20Best%20Practices%20in%20Hydropower%20Development.pdf (United State Energy Association, January 2018)

Meanwhile, GMR is unable to achieve financial closure for the 900 MW Upper Karnali project, so the Project Development agreement for the 600 MW Upper Marshyagdi-2 HEP in Nepal is also not being signed with a GMR subsidiary. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-01-25/upper-marshyangdi-2-in-limbo-as-talks-deferred.html (Kathmandu Post, 25 January 2018)

Meanwhile, India shows reluctance to build India Nepal transmission line: Is this sign of surplus power status of India or coldness in India Nepal relationship? http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-01-28/india-drags-feet-in-building-new-cross-border-power-line.html (Kathmandu Post, 28 January 2018)

Pakistan Fishermen observe hunger strike outside KPC The Sindh Assembly passed a law in 2011, declaring the occupation of freshwater bodies and lakes illegal, and abolished the contract system on all fresh water bodies in the province. But unfortunately, the minister of fisheries, instead of implementing the law, has himself occupied a historic lake in Thatta, snatching the rights of fishermen. This is an interesting protest by Pakistan fishworkers Forum in Sindh (Pakistan) against occupation of 600 water bodies and lakes.  https://tribune.com.pk/story/1615283/1-fishermen-observe-hunger-strike-outside-kpc/ (The Express Tribune, 23 January 2018)

Myanmar Some light on post Myitsone dam cancellation situation The prospects for Myitsone and hydropower here in general remain in suspension under the National League for Democracy-led government, elected in 2016. The NLD’s election platform voiced strong support for sustainable sources of energy and expressed reservations about the impacts of large hydropower. Meanwhile, Myanmar urgently needs to ramp up its electricity generation to meet rising demand, projected to double just between 2016 and 2020, so power projects must be identified and developed. Thus, the stage is set for a new way of planning and delivering energy for Myanmar in a post-Myitsone world.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2018/01/25/following-dam-cancellation-myanmar-can-lead-on-sustainable-energy/#661a7c8d2fbe (Forbes, 25 January 2018)

CHINA

Opinion The madcap scheme to divert the Brahmaputra Fan Xiao, a senior engineer at the Sichuan Bureau of Geological Exploration debunks the Brahmaputra water transfer proposals in Tibet as fiction and fantasy. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2018/01/23/opinion-the-madcap-scheme-to-divert-the-brahmaputra/ (The Third Pole, 23 January 2018)

China’s information blockade triggers Sutlej fears It’s been a year since China shared information on the flow of the Pareechu, a tributary of the Sutlej originating from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, raising concerns in the Central Water Commission which has sought the external affairs ministry’s help to assess the river’s hydrology.

 “We wrote to the ministry 10 days ago. China stopped sharing information about the tributary’s flow last year. They said that the water monitoring site across the border is damaged,” AK Gupta, the commission’s regional director, said. Meanwhile, China India Water Information and disaster sharing is and an issue again. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-s-information-blockade-triggers-sutlej-fears/story-HrsCxjmd8Kfab5polqldYI.html (Hindustan Times, 22 January 2018)

THE REST OF WORLD

Oroville Dam Spillway built on crumbling rock, warned contractor that built it

Issues about Oroville, USA’s tallest dam: “Even as workers built the dam, they were raising alarms about the eroded, crumbling rock on which they were directed to lay concrete for the 3,000-foot-long main flood control spillway.

– Construction reports from the fall of 1966 showed an abundance of loose clay, “shot rock” and “very little solid rock.” The surface was so crumbly, according to a state engineer overseeing the work, that a laborer at one point refused to do any more prep work until he got clearance from his boss. The contractor told the California Department of Water Resources it needed to dig deeper to find stronger rock.

– But DWR limited the additional excavation work proposed by the contractor, a decision that investigators now say might have been motivated by money.”

– the forensic team hired by DWR to investigate the Oroville emergency found that the main spillway was designed by an inexperienced engineer, plagued by a woefully inadequate drainage system and poorly maintained in the years that followed its 1968 completion.

– A study conducted in 1948, when the site was being scouted for dam construction, showed multiple instances of weathering to the amphibolite, greenstone and ophiolite rock. Three follow-up reports conducted between 1962 and 1965 also spoke to the uneven foundation quality.

– Once construction got started, daily reports by the general contractor and DWR officials provided further evidence of flaws in the foundation. In one report Oct. 31, 1966, a DWR engineer noted that one spot consisted of “loose clay … on the surface, with very little good rock.” http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article195680234.html  (Sacramento Bee, 22 January 2018)

Meanwhile, Louisiana officials and the Trump administration have entered into an agreement to speed the permitting process for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion under provisions outlined in a presidential executive order aimed at speeding up construction of infrastructure projects, holding out the possibility that construction could begin by the end of 2020. The Mid-Barataria diversion would route up to 75,000 cubic feet per second of sediment, water and nutrients from the Mississippi River into the upper Barataria Basin near Myrtle Grove during high-river periods, and would flow at 5,000 cubic feet per second during the rest of the year. Very interesting work is happening in Mississippi Delta. The Levees are planned to be cut to allow flow of sediment and freshwater into the branching delta. http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2018/01/louisiana_trump_administration.html (Nola, 26 January 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

MoEF Panel formed to tackle climate change A joint-working group of all scientific ministries has been formed to tackle issues such as air pollution, climate change and solid waste management.

– Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is currently in-charge of all scientific ministries and he chaired a meeting with officials from the concerned departments on Jan. 22. The joint-working group, comprising of top officials of environment ministry, earth sciences ministry and ministry of science and technology, will meet every month and the minister will chair a meeting every quarter.

– The department of scientific and industrial research, department of biotechnology and department of scientific and industrial research under the ministry of science and technology will also be a part of this working group.

It CAN BE a useful initiative, but with current leadership there is little chance of that happening.  http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-govt-panel-to-tackle-climate-change-2577925 (DNA, 24 January 2018)

Study As climate changes, our fish are at sea There is growing, substantial evidence that climate change has affected fish and other marine population over the decades. A national study on the vulnerability of Indian fish stock due to climate change showed that fishes on the east coast were more vulnerable (72%) than those on the west coast (30-33%). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/as-climate-changes-our-fish-are-at-sea/articleshow/62689399.cms (The Times of India, 29 January 2018)

Report  Faster, Bigger Avalanches, Triggered by Climate Change Little known impact of climate change that can bring disasters also for Indian Himalayas.

A satellite image showing the aftermath of two avalanches in western Tibet in 2016, when two glaciers on the Aru range collapsed and spread across five miles. Researchers say this unusual event was due to climate change. CreditPlanet Labs Inc

– There are two kinds of mountain glaciers: flat and steep. When a flat glacier collapses, it can move a lot of snow and ice, but in slow motion. These “surges” can last weeks and even years, but move no more than a few hundred feet a day.

– Steep glaciers appear perilously affixed to mountain walls, and when they do collapse they create avalanches with speeds up to 250 m.p.h. Those avalanches may imperil mountain climbers, but over all they don’t move as much snow and ice.

– In Tibet, however, researchers saw a frightening hybrid of the two. “It was a flat glacier, but it produced speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour,” or 186 m.p.h., said Andreas Kääb, a professor of geosciences at the University of Oslo in Norway and lead author of the study.

– Scientists say the driving factor in Tibet was climate change.

– Warmer air caused by climate change — the region has warmed 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade since the 1960s — holds more moisture, leading to more winter snowfall. While many glaciers around the world are in retreat because warmer temperatures are melting them, the Tibetan glaciers that collapsed are among those that are growing because of more snow.

– In the summer months, there has also been more rain. That water created crevices through the glacier and saturated the ground below, acting as a kind of lubricant. With more weight on top and less friction to hold the glacier in place on the bottom, it collapsed.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/climate/glacier-collapse-avalanche.html (The New York Times, 23 January 2018)

Report We must fix the broken water cycle before it dooms the civilization again

Wow this is very interesting.

– Perhaps the most visible sign of our broken water cycle is when rivers, diverted for agriculture, simply dry up. But here, too, innovative collaborations are getting rivers flowing again. In the Verde Valley of Arizona, conservationists and farmers have partnered to modernize nineteenth-century ditch systems, testing new approaches that enable irrigators to take only the water they need while leaving the rest for the river. In places, the Verde—a lifeline for birds and wildlife in the American Southwest—now has twice the summertime flow it had before.

– In the Colorado River Basin, of which the Verde is a part, economic activity that generates some $25.6 billion a year depends on water staying in rivers rather than taking it out of them.

– After experiencing two 100-year floods within six years, Copenhagen decided that instead of upgrading its drainage pipes and other “gray” infrastructure, it would strategically expand and redesign parks and other public spaces to capture and store more rainwater. Overall, the city’s $1.3 billion investment in such “green infrastructure” is estimated to cost half as much as a more conventional gray-infrastructure approach, while beautifying the city.

– The world’s soils can hold eight times more water than all rivers combined, yet agricultural practices deplete soils, causing that critical water reservoir to shrink. But this can be fixed by rebuilding soil health. By eliminating tillage and planting cover crops, farmers can build the soil’s carbon content and enable it to store more water. Even a one percentage-point increase in soil organic carbon can increase water-holding capacity by some 18,000 gallons per acre. Yet farmers plant cover crops on less than 3% of US farmland and practice conservation agriculture on only about seven percent of cropland worldwide.

– If the 20th century was the age of dams, diversions and depletion, the 21st can be the age of replenishment, the time when we apply our ingenuity to living in balance with nature and building resilience to the climatic changes under way. More and more, water security is going to depend on working with nature, rather than against it. https://qz.com/1184486/we-must-fix-the-water-cycle-it-before-it-dooms-civilization-again/ (Quartz, 23 January 2018)

Houston Floods Problems only getting worse EXCELLENT, long article shows that a lot of corrupt practices which we see in Indian cities could also be found in Houston (Texas); also how climate change is at play with parts experiencing 1 in 10000 year flood, while most also facing 10 floods of 100 year frequency in last 40 years; all flood possibilities have gone up by about 30%; and yet how citizens are being involved to take small steps. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22012018/houston-flood-plain-development-hurricane-harvey-reservoirs-overflow (Inside Climate News, 25 January 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

WEF Green Ranking 2017 177/180; India at the bottom in green ranking  This is really shameful? But Indian govt and ruling party is unlikely to see it that way.

– India ranked 141 in previous survey in 2016.

– Since 2016, the no of categories have gone up to ten from nine and number of indicators to 20 from 24.

– The biennial survey is done by Yale and Columbia universities for WEF.

– India is better than only three countries: Burundi, Bangladesh and Congo. Even Pakistan, Nepal (176) and China (120) are better than India.

– All BRICS countries are better than India: Brazil is way up at 69, South Africa at 142 (down from 81 two years ago), Russia 52 (32 in 2016). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/177/180-india-at-bottom-in-green-ranking/articleshow/62624784.cms (The Times of India, 24 January 2018)

Maharashtra Industrialist moves HC to curb Chanda pollution  Peeved over pollution touching alarming levels in Chandrapur, an industrialist has moved Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, praying for action against respondents, including MAHAGENCO, for violating emission norms and environmental standards. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/industrialist-moves-hc-to-curb-chanda-pollution/articleshow/62546660.cms (The Times of India, 18 January 2018)

Op-Ed Legal ambiguities stymie redress of environmental harm  The op-ed by Kanchi Kohli, Manju Menon raises some pertinent questions about the liability of private companies on issues related to land, environment and human rights: “… without making both regulatory processes and corporate investments legally answerable and liable for environmental, labour and human rights harms, the present kind of unaccountable development will implode under its own weight.” http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-legal-ambiguities-stymie-redress-of-environmental-harm-2579283 (DNA, 29 January 2018)  

Environmental harm

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com )

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 22 January 2018DRP News Bulletin 15 January 2018

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sandrp.in  ; https://twitter.com/Indian_Rivers 

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