Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018 (J&K Shows The Way To The Nation: To Assess The Viability Of Big Hydro Pojects)

In a remarkable development, Jammu & Kashmir Govt is reviewing its Hydro policy to assess whether the Hydro Electric Power Projects (HEPs) are still viable. As per sources, this is for the first time that the Govt is discussing the viability of generating hydro power.

An empowered committee led by the Chief Secretary has started this discussion by calling for an “approach paper” that will give an overall picture of the hydropower industry in India. Top sources in the State Power Development Corporation (SPDC), a government-owned company, told Kashmir Reader that the empowered committee wants to lay a roadmap for power generation in the state. “It will reflect the vision of the government. It will give the picture of hydropower generation in India, its rates, market, demand and supply. It will also lay down a roadmap for large power projects,”

The approach paper will be part of a new hydropower policy which will be submitted before the same committee, and then before the cabinet for approval. The SPDC had submitted a hydro policy draft in April last year, which was returned to it in December. Sources said the approach paper has to be submitted in two months’ time.

At present, India has a surplus generation of hydropower, which has plummeted its rate. This has led to losses for SPDC as it invested in projects whose generation costs were high. The blunt example is that of the 450-MW Baglihar II. SPDC has failed to lure any buyer for more than a year as its selling cost of per unit of energy, Rs 4.4, is nearly Rs 2 higher than the market rate. The SPDC has finally managed to sell the power at about Rs 4 per unit to the Uttar Pradesh government but for one year only. The SPDC may have to struggle again next year if the state of UP does not continue the contract.

Another example is that of Nimuno Bezgo, and Chutak hydropower projects, which sell energy at Rs 13 per unit. The SPDC also buys power from Dulhasti project at Rs 7, when the available rates for power in the market is around Rs 2 and Rs 4. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/02/02/cs-led-panel-to-lay-roadmap-for-power-generation-in-jk/ (Kashmir Reader. 2 Feb. 2018)

As per another report, facing a growing demand for electricity and unable to tap its vast potential for generating hydroelectric power, the state government is looking to boost solar power generation. Given the long gestation period of hydel projects, it is unlikely the generation of hydroelectric power will expand significantly in the near future, said. Hence,  the focus on solar power. Indeed, when solar power potential exists, with lower installation and operation costs and impacts, why States continue after destructive, expensive hydro projects? https://scroll.in/article/866058/kashmir-can-generate-a-lot-more-hydel-electricity-than-it-requires-why-is-it-eyeing-solar-power (Scroll.In, 30 Jan. 2018)

There is one more interesting hydro power development in which the state cabinet of Bihar has approved closing 3 and cancelling the development of 2 others in addition to handing over of 8 hydropower projects to neighboring Jharkhand.

All of the plants were previously owned by the Bihar State Hydroelectric Power Corp. Ltd.

The company has announced it was closing its 2-MW Kattanya, 7-MW Nirmali and 8-MW Bathnaha projects due to a lack of economic production, and cancelling development of the 7-MW Ararghat and 50-MW Begaha plants due to land disputes.

According to document filed with the cabinet secretariat, the projects being transferred to the Jharkhand government include the:

40-kW Netarhat;

200-kW Jalimghagh,

200-kW Nindighagh;

400-kW Lower Ghaghari;

1-MW Sadani;

1-MW Tenu-Bokaro;

8-MW Chandil; and

24-MW North Koel. http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2018/02/jharkhand-taking-control-of-eight-bihar-hydropower-plants.html (Hydro World, 2 Jan. 2018)

HYDRO POWER

Uttarakhand NGT issues notice to Centre on plea against diversion of Ganga NGT has issued notices for the Chilla HEP in Uttarakhand diverting Ganga waters at Pashulok Barrage, just upstream of Rishikesh. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ngt-issues-notice-to-centre-on-plea-against-diversion-of-ganga/article22597972.ece (The Hindu, 30 Jan. 2018)

BUDGET 2018

SANDRP Blog Union Budget 2018: Looking for farmers, rivers or environment The Budget has nothing to offer for environment (even its promise of scheme for incentivizing use of machines in Punjab, Haryana, UP and NCR in para 35 “A special Scheme will be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in situ management of crop residue” is without substance), sustainable development, democratic governance, equity or participatory or transparent decision making. On the whole, the Budget ends up being lack luster, neither populous, nor helping Ease of Doing anything particular. Not ever Ease of LEAVING? You decide that. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/union-budget-2018-looking-for-farmers-rivers-or-environment/ (SNDRP, 1 Feb. 2018)

Also see, a report quoting  SANDRP in the context of need for sustainable use of groundwater, regulation and augmentation. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/budget-2018-has-incentivised-unsustainable-groundwater-use-sandrp/articleshow/62740382.cms (The Economic Times, 1 Feb. 2018)

One more report also quotes SANDRP. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/02/01/environment-climate-change-get-short-shrift-indias-budget/ (India Climate Dialogue, 1 Feb. 2018)

MoWR A hike of 2000 cr to water resources ministry Nitin Gadakari has welcomed nearly Rs 2,000 crore hike in budgetary allocation to the water resources ministry. He said that the government will focus on expanding irrigation infrastructure and cleaning up the Ganga in 2018-19. For 2018-19, the government has given Rs 8,860 crore to the ministry, up from Rs 6,887 crore in 2017-18.

-A total of 187 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange programme for infrastructure development, river surface cleaning, rural sanitation and other interventions at a cost of Rs 16,713 crore. 47 projects have been completed and the remaining are at various stages of execution, he said. http://www.financialexpress.com/budget/budget-2018-nitin-gadkari-welcomes-nearly-rs-2000-crore-hike-in-water-ministry-allocation/1045029/ (The Financial Express, 1 Feb. 2018)

Low budgetary allocation has, however, been a problem for the National River Conservation Plan. Though a parliamentary standing committee had twice recommended (254th report in 2015 and 283rd report in 2016) for increase in its budget, the allocation for 2018-19 remained unchanged at Rs 173.50 crore as compared to the year 2017-18. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/centre-clears-rs-62cr-for-cleaning-sal-river/articleshow/62773340.cms (The Times of India, 4 Feb. 2018)

Irrigation Budget announces Rs 140000 cr scheme to solarise agri pumps The Budget has announced Rs 1,40,000 crore scheme to solarise agricultural pumps and encourage use of barren land for setting up solar power plants, power and renewable energy minister R K Singh said.

As per the minister, the government will spend Rs 48,000crore over 10 years for the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (Kusum) scheme. The scheme will be sent to Cabinet for approval.

The scheme will have four components including setting up 10,000-mw solar plants on barren lands and incentivising discoms to buy produced electricity, distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps, solarising exisiting pumps of 7250-mw and government tube wells of 8250-mw capacity. The farmers will be given 60% subsidy on the solar pumps, while 30% will be provided through bank loans. Farmers will have to bear 10% upfront cost. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/budget-announces-rs-140000-crore-scheme-to-solarise-agri-pumps-generate-10000-mw-on-barren-land/articleshow/62756614.cms (Economic Times, 2 Feb. 2018)

Here is some details of Water Sector allocations in Union Budget 2018. http://indianexpress.com/article/business/budget/union-budget-2018-arun-jaitley-agriculture-another-rs-1000-crore-push-for-irrigation-5048442/ (The Indian Express, 2 Feb. 2018)

Report 6000 cr plan to save ground water The Union government has finalised a Rs 6,000-crore scheme to tackle the country’s depleting groundwater level. The Atal Bhujal Yojana, which is now awaiting the Union Cabinet’s clearance, will be launched in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, covering 78 districts, 193 blocks and more than 8,300 gram panchayats. Half of the Rs 6,000 crore will come from the government’s budgetary support and the World Bank will give another Rs 3,000 crore.

This shows why groundwater is lifeline of India and why it has to be conserved, managed & recharged on urgent basis: In the past 5 decades, 80% of the rural & urban domestic water supplies in the country have been dependent on groundwater. India abstracts about 245 BCM annually representing about 25% of the total global groundwater abstraction. Nearly two-thirds of India has underlying hard rock formations, which allow water to recharge only very slowly. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/why-it-is-critical-to-involve-people-in-solving-water-woes/story-i1EjHFhCMfXhddWNLeizIJ.html

Organic farming Uttarakhand to set up 10,000 clusters, plans 2 laws The Centre has agreed in principle to allocate a budget of Rs 1500 crore to develop 10,000 organic clusters in the state. It is one of several steps initiated by the Centre to realise PM Modi’s vision to develop Uttarakhand as an organic state so that local farmers’ income could be doubled by 2022,” Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Subodh Uniyal said.

– “In that connection, we will soon introduce two dedicated laws,” he said adding the Organic Agriculture Bill and the Nursery Management Bill would be enacted in the assembly’s budget session that would commence by March end.

– The Organic Agriculture Bill, once enacted, would provide legal backing to the government’s initiatives aimed at developing the hill region as a full-fledged organic state. “It would be mandatory for private parties, who would be roped in to provide plants and seeds to farmers, to register themselves under the proposed law,” said Uniyal adding, the rule would ban the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides in areas selected for organic farming. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/organic-farming-u-khand-to-set-up-10-000-clusters-plans-2-laws/story-bBppTb3oIpn8yiFfx8m64N.html (Hindustan Times, 25 Jan. 2018)

Report Will there be budget allocation for critically polluted areas, researchers ask Very informative report, its true that….”one needs to understand that the crisis is not just limited to the cities. India has 43 clusters classified as critically polluted where, not just air but water and soil too are marred with toxic heavy metals and pollutants. The current policy interest or the budget allocations sadly do not reflect the need to tackle pollution in these areas”

– Centre’s move to earmark Rs 1000 crores to tackle stubble burning in NCR states was welcomed by air quality experts, but they also say critically polluted areas like Singrauli, Ghaziabad or Vapi need urgent attention because air pollution is a regional issue.

– The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has only one monitoring station on the MP side of Singrauli but none on the Uttar Pradesh side or in Sonbhadra district which is also critically polluted.

-Following protests by Pradushan Mukti Vahini— a coalition of gram panchayats affected by air and water pollution, independent researchers along with Urban Sciences, a company specializing in air quality monitoring and IIT Kanpur set up a network of 12 air quality monitors in Sonbhadra and Singrauli.

– Singrauli was the fourth most polluted industrial cluster in India in 2013, as per CPCB’s Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) score. The Singrauli region produces close to 22,000 MW of coal-fired electricity. Alarming levels of heavy metals in the air and water resources only add to the problem.

– In 2016, the environment ministry revised the process for calculating CEPI and dropped two important parameters in making CEPI assessment. The two parameters that were dropped off from the process are impact of pollution on health and environmental degradation. In 2016, it started surveying critically polluted areas again to rate them as per the new guidelines but those results are not out yet. Experts are wondering when will action plans to tackle pollution here will be implemented.

– The cost of one online monitoring station as estimated by CPCB officials is roughly more than a crore and without having adequate budgets, it may be difficult to connect air quality data from pollution hotspots to the national air quality monitoring network.

– “While there have been budgets set aside this year for crop burning and monitoring across cities, one needs to understand that the crisis is not just limited to the cities. India has 43 clusters classified as critically polluted where, not just air but water and soil too are marred with toxic heavy metals and pollutants. The current policy interest or the budget allocations sadly do not reflect the need to tackle pollution in these areas,” added Sudhir. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/will-there-be-budget-allocation-for-critically-polluted-areas-researchers-ask/articleshow/62727111.cms (The Times of India, 31 Jan. 2018)

Report Will Budget 2018 signal India’s commitment to fight climate change? Over the past few years, the government has been very successful in imposing new taxes to protect the environment, but it has been lackadaisical in utilizing proceeds from such taxes for fighting climate change.

– The actual spending of the renewable energy and environment ministries and that of the power ministry on energy conservation has been lower than budgeted over the past few years

– only 34% of coal cess collections were transferred to the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund (NCEEF) between 2011-12 and 2017-18.

– While there remains lack of clarity over the previously unspent funds, the government has already declared that future coal cess collections for the next five years will be channelled towards GST compensation for states and not towards NCEEF. This puts a question mark over the finances of the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), as the ministry received 98% of its funds through the NCEEF over the past two years. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/7LV7913S9Lypc9aByVXOvN/Will-Budget-2018-signal-commitment-to-fight-climate-change.html (Live Mint, 1 Feb. 2018)

WORLD WETLANDS DAY 2018

India Wetlands Review 2017

STATE OF INDIA’s WETLANDS ON WORLD WETLANDS DAY: A review series on status of wetlands in India in 2017 by SANDRP.

The world celebrates Wetlands day on Feb 2. Wetlands are key natural resources that are important for water, biodiversity and livelihood security for millions of people and in the context of changing climate, its even more important to understand, protect and rejuvenate our wetlands.

But India’s wetlands are in dire state, as eight parts of the ongoing wetlands review by SANDRP shows, see below. This year also saw the government of India trying to push the implementation of the flawed Wetland (Conservation and Management) rules of 2017, though fortunately, Supreme Court of India has stayed that and asked the government to implement the unimplemented 2010 Rules. There is little progress on ground, though.

Unfortunately, Ramsar Convention of Wetlands have also been of little help as we can see in these updates that even Ramsar wetlands are in dire state in most of these states and regions. In case of East Kolkata Wetlands, the Ramsar official who visited the site seemed to be advocating dilution by way of redrawing the map of the East Kolkata Wetlands, which is exactly what the forces wanting to destroy the wetlands are asking for.

Please click the see links below to go to the individual state or region updates. Feedback will be useful. Please help us spread the word. Plese follow the blog to get further updates.

North India Wetlands Review 2017 

J&K Wetland Review 2017:  Siltation, Encroachment & Pollution Choke Wetlands

Uttarakhand Wetlands 2017: Nainital Lake Needs Urgent Attention

Punjab Wetlands 2017: Ramsar Sites Under Severe Threats

Chandigarh Wetlands Review 2017: Sukhna Lake Facing Multiple Problems

Haryana Wetlands Review 2017: Urbanization Taking Over Basai Wetland

North India Wetlands Review 2017: Callous Governments

North East India Wetlands Review 2017

North East Wetlands Review 2017: “Remove Ithai Barrage on Loktak Lake”

East India Wetlands Review 2017

East India Wetlands Review 2017: West Bengal Bent On Destroying World’s Largest Natural Sewage Treatment Plant

West India Wetland Review 2017

Maharashtra Wetlands Review 2017: Destruction Despite Legal Intervention  

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Goa Wetlands Review 2017: No Protection Here

South India Wetlands Review 2017

Karnataka Wetlands Review 2017: Bellandur Lake Remains On Fire

South India Wetlands Review 2017: Wetlands Critical In Changing Climate

India Wetlands Review 2017 

India Wetlands Review 2017: Important Court Decisions

India Wetlands Review 2017: Important Govts Decisions

Wetlands for a sustainable urban future

VN 13

This is from FB post today by VIshwanath Srikantaiah

Much grief , energy and monies can be saved if we imagine our ‘tanks’ as wetlands rather than water bodies in the city of Bengaluru.

World wetlands day is celebrated on the 2nd of February every year. For this year 2018 the theme is “Wetlands for a sustainable urban future”.

A simple definition for a wetland is that it is an area that tends to be saturated with water either permanently or seasonally and harbours a distinct type set of plants. Wetlands behave differently from a water body like a lake and need to be managed, if at all, completely differently.

Wetlands harbour bio-diversity much more than only water, have the ability to absorb pollutants and nutrients better, can manage floods, recharge groundwater, moderate temperature and area huge asset for a city.

In the city of Bengaluru itself the Karnataka State Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has sent a proposal to the central government that 176 tanks within the city be declared as wetlands. This would potentially protect these tanks better from encroachment and solid waste dumping as well as the construction of roads within.

The polluted stretches of the Vrishabhavati and the Dakshina Pinakini could also be brought under wetlands protection.

Wetlands, in combination with waste-water treatment plants, are a good way of reviving the tanks in the city. The example of Jakkur and Rachenahalli are possible starting points for an integrated approach to manage water in the city with wetlands playing an important role. Here waste-water treated to secondary standards are then allowed in to the wetlands which remove nitrates and reduce Total Suspended Solids, thus allowing for it to fill the water body. In turn , the lakes allow for fishing and recharge the surrounding aquifers.

Wetlands provide for a range of services including livelihoods for the poorer sections of society. Even now a range of fodder collectors pick up grass and alligator weed ( called Hongonney in Kannada ) for feeding their cattle almost all across the city.

Remedied waste-water from the city can be further treated in the wetlands and used for agricultural purpose. The proposal and project to transfer treated waste-water to the districts of Kolar and Chikballapur can also benefit substantially if wetlands are integrated in to the design at the first receiving tanks. This would also enhance flora and faunal biodiversity in the tanks of these drought prone rural districts at the same time benefiting agriculture there.

Integrating wetlands into the master plan and the urban fabric of cities is the need of the hour and that would be water wisdom.

World Wetlands Day 2018 activities focusing on preservation of WETLANDS

Maharashtra Positive news on World Wetlands Day…Navi Mumbai residents organized largest awareness drive on the importance of the pristine Seawoods wetlands, which is being eyed by several realtors. A petition to save the wetland is being heard in the Bombay high court.

– Around 67.85 hectare of the wetland has been denotified from the ‘No Development Zone’ (NDZ) to the ‘Regional Park, including golf course and predominately residential zone’. Locals have pointed out how the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation has boasted about the wetland in their official calendars but it is not doing enough to save it from destruction.

– The BNHS report states that the Seawoods wetland is an extraordinary wetland that is used by a large number of migratory and resident water birds. It also recommended the site to be declared as protected area. http://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/020218/locals-unite-to-save-seawoods-wetlands.html (The Asian Age, 2 Feb. 2018)

Govt develops mobile app to monitor wetlands In a first, the Maharashtra government launched a mobile application on World Wetland Day 2018 to monitor the destruction of wetlands across the state. Hope it helps the wetlands cause. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/government-develops-mobile-app-to-monitor-wetlands-across-maharashtra/story-iT7zPmvST1RxEpFuq2xpzO.html (Hindustan Times, 3 Feb. 2018)

652 cases of wetlands destruction filed in 6 years As per Vanshakti report between January 2012 and January 2018, there have been 652 cases of wetland destruction in the state, mostly for infrastructure developmental or residential purposes.

– The data reveals that wetlands between 2 hectares to 800 hectares have been destroyed or degraded by debris dumping or development of bunds that starves the area of tidal water. While maximum cases 60 per cent have been reported from Palghar, Thane and Mumbai, large-scale destruction of wetlands has been reported from all districts along the Konkan coast and interior areas.

– In 2014, the Bombay high court (HC) banned reclamation and construction on wetlands after Vanashakti filed a petition to protect them. Stalin D, director, Vanashakti is a member of the wetland grievance redressal committee (WGRC), constituted by the court in August 2016 under the same petition.

-Members of the WGRC said 22 big cases of wetland destruction were reported from the after since the committee was constituted.  Meanwhile, Jagdish Patil, Konkan commissioner and head of WGRC has directed all district collectors along the Konkan coast to nominate one wetland site from each district and declare it as eco-tourism destinations.

– As per national wetland atlas developed, Maharashtra [3,07,713 sq km] has 10,145 sq km of wetlands, with 2,827 coastal wetlands, 20,219 inland wetlands, and 21,668 wetlands lesser than 2.25 hectare. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/652-cases-of-wetlands-destruction-filed-across-maharashtra-in-6-years/story-mpDC1zw0aC6Z9QkNKhA2sK.html (Hindustan Times, 2 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, fishermen’s associations and environment groups have complained that 800 hectares (8 sq km) of wetlands have been destroyed for different projects at Dronagiri node of Navi Mumbai. In a complaint filed, with the state environment department, Konkan commissioner and WGRC, fishermen from five villages, represented by Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), have alleged that the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO), the development agency for Navi Mumbai, and private companies are reclaiming wetlands by debris dumping and blocking the flow of tidal water in these areas. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-fishermen-claim-800-hectare-of-wetlands-destroyed-in-uran/story-XGaCW9qDkSajTIin7TBPrO.html (Hindustan Times, 2 Feb. 2018)

Protect wetlands to prevent bird hits at Navi Mumbai airport: Study The final report of the baseline survey of birds around the proposed Navi Mumbai airport by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has suggested that surviving wetland areas, where thousands of local and migratory birds can be seen, must be protected to ensure that air disasters like bird hits do not occur when the airport is operational. The executive summary of the study spanning 60 months stated that the remaining wetlands, such as at T S Chanakya and behind NRI Complex (Seawoods Estate) along Palm Beach Road, and Funde-Panje mudflats in Uran, must be strictly protected as important bird habitats to minimize the risk of bird hits at the new international airport. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/protect-wetlands-to-prevent-bird-hits-at-navi-mum-airport-study/articleshow/62761603.cms (The Times of India, 2 Feb. 2018)

Himachal Pradesh CM exhorts people to conserve wetlands Welcome statement from Himachal CM on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2018: Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has exhorted people to participate in conserving and restoring the wide variety of wetlands in Himachal Pradesh which are “not just biodiversity treasures but also a source of livelihood for the local community”.

-There are three main wetland sites in Himachal Pradesh — Ramsar at Pong Dam in Kangra, Renuka in Sirmaur and Chandra Taal in Lahaul and Spiti.

– The Ramsar wetland is visited by a number of migratory birds from Siberia, Central Asia, Russia and trans- Himalayan region of Tibet. The number of winged guests this year dropped to 1.1 lakh from 1.27 lakh in 2017. This, according to experts, was due to global warming and fluctuating climatic conditions which have affected all Indian wetlands. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/thakur-exhorts-people-to-conserve-restore-wetlands/article22640641.ece (The Hindu, 3 Feb. 2018)

Manipur Decommission the Ithai Barrage Statement of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development on the celebration of the World Wetlands Day at Ithai, Manipur, which called for the protection of wetlands with due recognition of indigenous peoples rights and also to decommission the Ithai Barrage of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project and to stop the 66 MW Loktak Downstream project. http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=news_section.Press_Release.Press_Release_2018.World_Wetlands_Day_Decommission_Ithai_Barrage_20180203 (PAO Net, 2 Feb. 2018)

World Wetlands Day : Decommission the Ithai Barrage

Odisha CHILIKA lake restoration Report Card Studies show that every rupee spent on the restoration of the Chilika Lake since 1991 has yielded INR 15 in return, making it a model case for restoration of other wetlands in India. Chilka’s ecosystem health report card in 2016 reported that 14,067 tonnes of produce was landed from the brackish water lagoon, a 15% increase over that of 2014 and close to 10 times increase from average landing of 1,600 tonnes before its restoration was undertaken in 2001.Despite Chilika’s fortunes having turned, the fortunes of poorest of Dalit traditional fishers like Behera in stark contrast are worsening. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/02/02/chilika-scripts-success-story-fishers-face-challenges/ (India Climate Dialogue, 2 Feb. 2018)

Haryana Gurugram lost 386 water bodies in 60 years Gurgaon has lost as many as 389 water bodies in the past 60 years, a study has revealed. The study report, compiled by the district administration, has been submitted in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). While the NGT on Jan 22 directed the Haryana government to protect all existing water bodies under the government ownership, the study came up with some interesting observations.

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– According to the study, there were 640 water bodies as per revenue records of 1956. However, 251 water bodies exist as per the current revenue records. The study also found that 253 out of 291 villages have water bodies in the Gurgaon district. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/gurgaon-lost-389-water-bodies-in-60yrs-study/articleshow/62610956.cms (The Times of India, 26 Jan. 2018)

Check dam key to Surajkund lake’s survival falling to land sharks A 150-year-old check dam in Anangpur of Faridabad, which has been supplying water to Surajkund lake for decades, has now been encroached upon by the land mafia. The dam is spread over 150 metres and its catchment area covers over 7 km. The land mafia has taken over both these areas which fall under Section 4 & 5 of Punjab Preservation Land Act (PLPA). The land use of the plots in the area has also been changed in the revenue records to facilitate transfer to individuals. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/dam-key-to-surajkund-lakes-survival-falling-to-land-sharks/articleshow/62762241.cms (The Times of India, 2 Feb. 2018)

Uttarakhand SC stays construction ban near Naini and other lakes The Uttarakhand High Court in November 2016 had imposed a blanket ban on any construction within 2 km from major lakes in Nainital.  On Jan 22, 2018, the Supreme Court has stayed Uttarakhand HC’s order banning any construction within a radius of 2 km from major lakes in Nainital, including Naini lake.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/sc-stays-construction-ban-near-naini-and-other-lakes/articleshow/62624414.cms (The Times of India, 24 Jan. 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Minister promises to protect Surajpur wetland The Gautam Budh Nagar forest department observed World Wetlands Day at the Surajpur wetland and bird sanctuary. State excise minister Jai Pratap Singh, who is in charge of Gautam Budh Nagar district, took part in the event and said that the government will take necessary steps to protect the wetlands, which play a pivotal role in groundwater recharge. The forest department will set up a drinking water facility for visitors at the bird sanctuary. It will develop facilities for visitors at the Surajpur wetland and bird sanctuary and is also planning to charge a fee from the visitors. The Surajpur wetland is spread on 60 hectares and the forest area around it spans 308 hectares. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/g-noida-minister-promises-to-protect-surajpur-wetland/story-AirXr1t7cbGY2BcCgxJmiK.html (Hindustan Times, 2 Feb. 2018)

Kerala Meet lays stress on public awareness to conserve wetlands This adds on to why Wetlands Rules 2017 are weaker than 2010 one:

– With the new Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017, introduced last year, the Centre has washed its hands off its responsibility for wetlands and their conservation by putting the onus on State wetland authorities, said moderator Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan (senior fellow, ATREE).

– Apart from changing the definition of what a wetland is, the new rules have also changed the way wetlands should be identified, said panelist Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi, an advocate practising at the Kerala High Court.

– Interesting: “Studies show that one hectare of wetland produces at least ₹20 lakh worth ecosystem services. We need more such scientific supporting documents that show the value of wetlands in terms of money, because that is the only language people now understand,” he added.

– Panelist Shylaraj K.S., director of Kochi’s Rice Research Institute, touched on the importance of conserving the completely-organic Pokkali system of rice farming to save wetlands, for, along with the indigenous Pokkali rice variety and fish / prawn farms, the system supports mangroves (which qualify as coastal wetlands) along its edge. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/meet-lays-stress-on-public-awareness-to-conserve-wetlands/article22639180.ece (The Hindu, 3 Feb. 2018)

Call to protect Kottooli wetlands Speaking on the importance of Kottooli wetlands and the need to protect it at the World Wetland Day programme in Kozhikode, Mohammed Jaffer Palot from the Zoological Survey of India said that it was one of the few wetlands in the State notified at the national level as it was home to a very rich biodiversity packed in just around 150 acres in the heart of a city. “This is the only place where two species of hornbill have been sighted. The wetlands form habitat for otters, jackals, bats, dragonflies, flying lizard, turtles, frogs and around 61 types of migratory birds as well,” he said.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/call-to-protect-kottooli-wetlands/article22638601.ece (The Hindu, 2 Feb. 2018)

Tamil Nadu Seminars, rallies mark World Wetlands Day Rallies, seminars, and workshops were organised by various organisations in the city on Friday as part of World Wetlands Day observance. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/seminars-rallies-mark-world-wetlands-day/article22641477.ece (The Hindu, 3 Feb. 2018)

Global Second Warning to Humanity and Wetlands Their first warning was in 1992, signed by 1700 scientists. This one is signed by 15 364 scientists from 184 countries. Unfortunately, Ramsar convention has no teeth and they provide no effective protection to wetlands, as is evident from Indian experience. The scientists needed to have said this clearly. http://sws.org/Blog/The-second-warning-to-humanity-and-wetlands.html ; Here is the pdf copy of the report. http://sws.org/images/wetland_science_and_practice/The-Second-Warning-to-Humanity-and-Wetlands.pdf  (Society of Wetland Scientists News Blog, 13 Dec. 2017)

Australia Useful WET resource Introductory message from the publishers: Sydney Olympic Park Authority is pleased to publish this eBook entitled, Workbook for Managing Urban Wetlands in Australia. This eBook is a distillation and distribution of the contents, partnership, collaboration and research comprising the Wetland Education and Training (WET) program at Sydney Olympic Park. Enjoy reading this eBook and making a difference in the wetland that you care for. Also, encourage your peers to access this eBook and make use of it.  https://www.sopa.nsw.gov.au/Resource-Centre/WET-eBook-Workbook-for-Managing-Urban-Wetlands-in-Australia (Sydney Olympic Park, Feb. 2018)

Here is animated video “Urban Wetlands Make cities Liveable”:

DAMS

Sardar Sarovar Dam Farmers wait for canal to fill while industries have brimming tanks Farmers are already facing being deprived of Narmada waters in Gujarat, but industries seem to have no restrictions as this report says: “We get water only once in four days. There is no official intimation of this supply. We get to know about the supply only when we wake up in the morning and check the canal. Even on days when water is supplied, the flow stops by 3 pm,” says Ramji Thakor who has sown wheat in two bighas at Chandrasan village, and is trying to get his diesel pump repaired in time for the next inflow of water in the canal. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/in-sanand-a-water-divide-farmers-wait-for-canal-to-fill-industries-have-brimming-tanks-5047158/ (The Indian Express, 3 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, Gujarat farmer leaders are persistently asking for account of water used from Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada River. https://www.counterview.net/2018/02/did-gujarats-city-dwellers-drank-away.html (Counter View, 3 Feb. 2018)

There is no Narmada water for tribals, who paid the highest price for the Narmada project: “There is unrest among the tribal youths of Garudeshwar, Nasvadi, Chhota Udepur, Kwant, Bodelli and Pavi Jetpur talukas because the villages of these talukas are not getting Narmada water though the Narmada main canal either passes through some of these talukas or is located very close to these talukas.”

– He added, “The time is not far off when the tribal youths may come out and forcibly stop the supply of Narmada water to other areas. The government must understand it.”

– THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG ARGUMENT OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER. NOTHING STOPS GUJARAT FROM RE ALLOCATING THE WATER THAT IS ITS SHARE. Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who also handles Narmada affairs, said, “The allocation of water to different regions was settled by the Narmada Control Authority in 1978. The tribal areas of Chhota Udepur, Narmada and Vadodara districts were not incorporated in the Narmada command area and hence, they can’t be given Narmada water for irrigation.” http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/vadodara-chhota-udepur-districts-congress-leaders-demand-narmada-water-for-tribal-pockets-deputy-cm-says-no-5047203/ (The Indian Express, 1 Feb. 2018)

As per another report, 70% work of the Statue of Unity is over, downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, bang in the middle of the riverbed, without any environment or social impact assessment. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/statue-of-unity-may-be-open-to-public-by-oct-pm-modi-likely-to-inaugurate/articleshow/62701124.cms (The Times of India, 30 Jan. 2018)

Also see, NBA PR, 30 Jan, 2018: मध्यप्रदेश सरकार ने गुजरात में चुनावी लाभ के लिए प्रदेश के हितों की दी बलि गुजरात सरकार ने भी इस पानी का चुनावी लाभ के लिए दुरुपयोग कर अपने किसानों को किया वंचित

Pancheshwar Dam Local demands independent organization to survey dam affected areas  Opposing the proposed Pancheshwar dam, Mahakali Ki Awaz has written to the cabinet sub-committee, appealing that the survey for preparing a detailed project report (DPR) of the Pancheshwar dam be done by an independent body, instead of the government company WAPCOS.

“It is a matter of conflict of interest. The project-proponent company is an undertaking of the government and is not likely to go against decisions taken by it regarding the project,” says Shankar Khadayat, convener, Mahakali Ki Awaz. “In such a situation, the company would ignore any negative fact that emerges during environmental and social assessment. It is a matter of concern for local communities and the environment,” he added.

The letter from the organization also accuses WAPCOS of “not doing any concrete survey to prepare the DPR and environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the dam,” and says that the company had used wrong facts (including wrong origins of rivers and incorrect populations of the villages that would be affected by the project) in its survey. SANDRP has been saying for years that WAPCOS suffers from conflict of interest. Good to see that others are also saying that.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/want-independent-organization-to-survey-for-proposed-pancheshwar-dam/articleshow/62772146.cms (The Times of India, 4 Feb. 2018)

As per another report, Uttarakahand irrigation minister Satpal Maharaj has directed officials to list all assets yet to be transferred to the hill state by Uttar Pradesh in the Detailed Project Report (DPR) being formulated for the Pancheshwar hydropower project. It will be built on the river Kali that passes through three districts in Kumaon. The disputed assets’ case has been hanging fire since Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. These disputed assets also include land owned by the UP Irrigation department. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/officials-asked-to-list-all-assets-in-pancheswar-report/story-mlB0evUroAbbIlsJrTHeSP.html (Hindustan Times, 3 Feb. 2018)

It is worth to mention that social activists like Medha Patkar and environmentalists like Sundar Lal Bhuguna have already expressed their opposition to the dam. While activists are worried over the uprooting and rehabilitation of villagers from the dam site, environmentalists have expressed concern over its serious upstream and downstream environmental impacts. Some geologists say that the dam site is a seismically active fault. Landslides are also one of the major devastating natural hazards causing major damage to life and property sometimes. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/656814/indo-nepal-dam-faces-uncertain.html (Deccan Herald, 31 Jan. 2018)

Telangana Govt intensifies efforts for clearances to Palamuru-Rangareddy project THIS SEEMS CLEAR CASE OF ADMISSION OF VIOLATIONS, WITH WORK GOING ON BEFORE PUBLIC HEARING, BEFORE EC OR FC.

According to officials, Palamuru-Ranga Reddy would be the major project in the country having major balancing reservoirs with a storage capacity of 67.85 TMC ft put together at Narlapur, Yedula, Vattem, Karivena, Uddandapur and Laximdevipally. The total displacement, in terms of houses, was only 2,450 for the entire project, the officials said.

– In spite of legal hurdles in between, works on Yedula reservoir were completed to the extent of about 90% and Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao has fixed a time for completing the remaining works by March 31. Works in another three packages of Vattem reservoir were also making a swift progress, Mr. Harish Rao said after visiting works at Vattem on Jan 29, 2018.

– On the progress of Karivena reservoir the minister said of the 5,617 acres land required only 400 acres was yet to be acquired. The minister noted that the public hearing as part of the process of environmental clearance would be held soon.

– Officials stated that pumps with 145 MW capacity, higher than the ones being used for Kaleshwaram with a maximum of 139 MW, would be used for Palamuru-Ranga Reddy project. At total of 31 pumps would be installed at four pumping stations to lift two TMC ft of water from the foreshores of Srisailam reservoir every day for 60 flood days in a year to irrigate 12.3 lakh acres including 7 lakh acres in erstwhile Mahabubnagar, 5 lakh acres in Ranga Reddy and 0.30 lakh acres in erstwhile Nalgonda district. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/ts-intensifies-efforts-for-clearances-to-palamuru-rangareddy-project/article22598712.ece (The Hindu, 31 Jan. 2018)

RIVERS

Bandi 1

SANDRP Blog Urban Rivers: Bandi Rajasthan This story of Bandi River from Rajasthan is sixth in the series of online stories of urban rivers from across India. Please share your feedback and provide us with suggestions (read more in appendix). If you have any urban river stories or images that you might want to share, please send them to ht.sandrp@gmail.com & asid@veditum.org. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/urban-rivers-bandi-rajasthan/ (SANDRP, 31 Jan. 2018)

Rajasthan NGT imposes 10 lakh on govt on Jojari river pollution case As per the report, NGT has imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on Rajasthan Govt for not controlling pollution in river Jojari despite its commitments/assurances made to the tribunal. The river Jojari was a seasonal river and carried only the excess rainwater, and ended downstream, now due to continuous release of almost 90 MLD of untreated sewage and untreated industrial effluent and release of treated water from Jodhpur has been flowing and carrying this mix of untreated and treated water downstream, where due to not having free passage, the water has been accumulating in the areas around the village of Araba. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-jojari-river-pollution-tribunal-imposes-rs-10-lakh-cost-on-state-government-2579935 (DNA, 31 Jan. 2018)

Rajasthan Study finds breeding gharials in Parvati river A study has discovered the presence of breeding gharials in the Parvati river, a tributary of the Chambal flowing on Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border. The report states that the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) holds the largest gharial population, estimated at above 80% of the species in the world. Smaller numbers of the species thrive in Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary on the Girwa river, in Chitwan National Park (Nepal) on the Narayani river, on the Gandak river in India, and in Corbett National Park on the Ramganga river.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/study-finds-breeding-gharials-in-parvati-river/story-vZ3bmT2gZqGS4hys2mhn5J.html (Hindustan Times, 28 Jan. 2018)

Goa Centre clears Rs 62cr for cleaning Sal river The central government has approved a project to abate pollution of river Sal at Navelim in Goa at an estimated cost of Rs 61.7 crore. Cost of the project, covering setting up of sewage treatment facilities and sewer network, will be shared equally between the Centre and state government.

The project was approved by the Union environment ministry last week under its National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) which covers 31 rivers (other than Ganga and its tributaries) in 14 states. CPCB had in 2015 identified the river stretch at Navelim as one of the 302 polluted river stretches across the country based BOD levels.

At present, several projects worth Rs 2,691 crore are being implemented under the NRCP in 8 states including pollution abatement of Mula-Mutha river at Pune (estimated cost of over Rs 990 crore) and Sabarmati river conservation phase-II at Ahmedabad (estimated cost of over Rs 444 crore).

Low budgetary allocation has, however, been a problem for the NRCP. Though a parliamentary standing committee had twice recommended (254th report in 2015 and 283rd report in 2016) for increase in its budget, the allocation for 2018-19 remained unchanged at Rs 173.50 crore as compared to the year 2017-18.

Though pollution abatement effort under the NRCP is an old programme, the environment ministry has recently approved a new ‘basin management’ approach to conserve and clean rivers unlike the current strategy where conservation is limited only to tackling pollution load from domestic waste water and regulation of industrial pollution. Under the new approach, the projects will take care of entire catchment area of river through multiple measures including rejuvenation of lakes and wetlands, construction of small-check dams to ensure continuous water flow and afforestation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/centre-clears-rs-62cr-for-cleaning-sal-river/articleshow/62773340.cms (The Times of India, 4 Feb. 2018)

Gujarat Dams, industrial pollution killing State Rivers In MoEF report, Gujarat ranks 4th among top 5 states with highly polluted rivers. Sabarmati is among Gujarat’s 20 most polluted rivers including Narmada Mahi. Over Rs 200 cr spent to curb pollution in Sabarmati & Mindola rivers. This fund is the highest amount ever spent outside the Ganga river conservation project on which Uttar Pradesh has spent Rs 917.24 crore, West Bengal Rs 411.26 crore and Bihar Rs 216.46 crore. In pollution of rivers Maharashtra is worse off with 49 polluted rivers. Next is Assam with 28 polluted rivers and Madhya Pradesh with 21 such rivers.

Master

As per activist, Rohit Prajapati, industrial effluents are being released in big rivers like Sabarmati, Mahi and Narmada without being treated and big dams have been built on big rivers due to which the rivers are drying up and vanishing as a result the condition of rivers in Gujarat is going from bad to worse each passing day. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/polluted-rivers-guj-ranks-4th/articleshow/62685910.cms (The Times of India, 29 Jan. 2017)

Maharashtra Mumbai societies will have to treat sewage before releasing it into Mithi river The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said it will direct housing societies that generate more than 20,000 litres of sewage daily to install sewage treatment plants (STPs). The MPCB has identified 70 drains that discharge untreated sewage into the 17.8-km-long river. A year-long survey revealed that the river carried waste consisting 90% domestic sewage and 10% industrial effluents. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-societies-will-have-to-treat-sewage-before-releasing-it-into-mithi-river/story-aocPfvQFboHNf35iSUJAiJ.html (Hindustan Times, 30 Jan 2018)

Also see, The Slow death of a river The best part of this is the photos that depict the journey of Mutha river till it joints Mula and becomes Mula Mutha. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/slow-death-river-0 (India Water Portal, 30 Jan. 2018)

Karnataka Mangaluru set up committee to study Phalguni river pollution It seems the Gurupur vented dam has escalated the industrial pollution problem and ingress of salt water from the sea downstream of dam in absence of free flow. In addition, there is the issue of untreated effluents discharged from industrial units in Jokatte that joins the river downstream from the Gurupur vented dam and the same get stacked against the dam with the ingress of salt water from the sea upwards towards the dam. As the dam supplied drinking water it is not possible to lift the vents of the dam now for free flow of water to sea. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/phalguni-pollution-panel-formed-to-find-solution/article22614005.ece (The Hindu, 1 Feb. 2018)

As per latest report, Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) commissioner Mohammed Nazeer has warned underground drainage maintenance (UGD) contractors, who allegedly let sewage towards the Gurupur (Phalguni) river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/gurupur-river-pollution-mcc-chief-warns-ugd-contractors/articleshow/62760728.cms (The Times of India, 3 Feb. 2018)

Udupi plans to draw water from Varahi river Councillors seek clarity on Varahi river water situation A ₹270-crore plan drawn up to get water from Varahi river from Bharatkal in Kundapur taluk to the Baje dam, about 22 km from Udupi, so that the CMC would get 42 MLD during the four summer months. CMC requires 36 to 37 MLD of water during the summer but the Swarna river, from where drinking water is supplied, dries up during summer. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/councillors-seek-clarity-on-varahi-river-water-situation/article22583319.ece (The Hindu, 31 Jan. 2018)

As per, Prabhakar Sharma, Assistant Project Coordinator of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation, said that the ₹300.27 crore project — to bring water from the Varahi at Bharatkal in Kundapur taluk to Baje in Udupi taluk to meet the drinking water needs of Udupi city — would be completed in two-and-a-half years.

Mr. Sharma said the project has been divided into three packages. Under the first, water would be brought through pipelines for 38 km from Bharatkal to Baje. Under the second package, a water-treatment plant would be constructed near Baje; and under the third, the purified water from Baje would be distributed through seven overhead tanks and pipes to Udupi city.

A tender for the first package of ₹122.5 crore was floated on January 27, while that for the second and third packages of ₹60 crore and ₹177.77 crore respectively will be floated in a month. The Detailed Project Report of the second package is under preparation, while the technical sanction is awaited for the third package. The execution of the three packages will take place almost simultaneously.

The entire project has been prepared by experts after a detailed study. This project will take care of water needs of Udupi city till 2046. Presently, the population of Udupi is 1.36 lakh and it is projected to be 1.94 lakh in 2046. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/project-to-bring-varahi-water-to-udupi-to-be-completed-in-25-years/article22641102.ece (The Hindu, 3 Feb. 2018)

Bihar Petition filed against Falgu water pollution Drain effluents enter Falgu riverbed at no less than 24 points thereby aggravating subsurface water pollution. In several localities of the town, handpumps and submersible machines draw water with bad odour and higher mud content. For several years now, the proposal to channelize drain effluents and establish water treatment plant to treat drainwater gathers dust. Fed up with the insensitive approach of the Gaya Municipal Corporation and its failure to prevent the entry of drain effluents in the riverbed, former Gaya Municipal Corporation member Lalji Prasad has petitioned Magadh division commissioner for early resolution of the problem. The corporation, for several years, used Falgu river for waste disposal and debris deposit.

After much hue and cry made by citizen groups, waste disposal was stopped and the municipal body started using the Naili dump. But the practice of debris deposit in Falgu bed has not fully stopped. The plan to produce power from the municipal waste too stands shelved. According to municipal corporation sources, a study conducted to ascertain the feasibility of the power project found that there was not enough municipal waste in the town to feed any viable power generation programme. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gaya/petition-filed-against-falgu-water-pollution/articleshow/62781360.cms (The Times of India, 5 Feb. 2018)

GODAVARI Telangana River already in DIRE state Water level in the Godavari plummeted to 5.8 feet Jan. 30, after sand dunes got exposed. Its flowing like a small stream. Godavari water level at Bhadradri plummets to 5.8 ft. The level on the same day last year was 6.8 ft and in 2016 it was 5.7 ft. The water level of Godavari is likely to fall in the days to come. Already sand dunes are appearing in the river, contrary to its appearance.  It is now flowing like a small stream.

Sand dunes surface in the Godavari in  Bhadrachalam on Tuesday
Sand dunes surface in the Godavari in Bhadrachalam (Image Source: The Hans India)

It may be recalled that the first warning was recorded in the Godavari during the rainy season last year. Following scanty rainfall and lack of inflows from the upper stream the water flow was largely reduced. The water position in January this year became critical. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2018-02-01/Godavari-water-level-at-Bhadradri-plummets-to-58-ft/355719 (The Hans India, 2 Feb. 2018)

NARMADA Gujarat POOR STATE OF NARMADA RIVER This is about Malhar Rao Ghat at Chandod village, the confluence of Narmada, Orsang and the mythical Saraswati – considered the holiest place among the Hindus in Gujarat for conducting the final rites for the dead. “Narmada mritpray ho gayi hai (Narmada river is almost dead).” Narmada is no longer able to help the dead, since the river itself is dead here. Boatmen, fisherfolk, priests, temples, ghats, all are suffering, as also are farmers and everyone else dependent on the river. Interestingly, Chandod and adjacent Karnali villages were adopted by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. Jaitley represents Gujarat in Rajya Sabha. Jaitley has sanctioned Rs 50 crore for the development of the ghats. But Ghats without a RIVER? http://indianexpress.com/article/india/at-holy-triveni-sangam-in-gujarat-narmada-is-almost-dead-5049757/ (The Indian, Express, 3 Feb. 2018)

GANGA Center No barrage between Varanasi to Haldia Several Important statements here about Ganga from Union Water Minister Gadkari.

– “We are not constructing any barrage in Ganga between Varansi and Haldia.” (SO HOW MANY BARRAGES ARE TO BE CONSTRUCTED ON GANGA UPSTREAM OF VARANASI?)

– Narendra Modi- government has targeted to make 80% of Ganga clean by 2019 by executing numerous schemes under Namami Gange programme. (80% of WHAT? WHERE? NO FIXED TARGETS?)

– “We have accordingly asked UP government to ensure zero discharge from sugar factories, paper mills and other industrial units, which lead to high discharge of pollutants in river Ganga,” (SO WILL ORDERS OF UP GOVT TO THE EFFLUENTS BE OBEYED BY THE EFFLUENTS NOT TO FLOW INTO GANGA?)

– “The central government has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 22,00crores for different schemes under Namami Gange. The schemes were conceptualised after studying the river pollution mitigation measures in other countries in Europe, US and Japan. The best minds and best technologies have been involved in conceptualising and execution of Namami Gange programme.” (BEST FOREIGN MINDS + BEST TECHNOLOGY + MONEY = CLEAN GANGA? NO PLACE FOR INDIAN PEOPLE OF COURSE!)

– The union minister also approved the second phase of Patna Ganga riverfront development project, which envisages development of 27 ghats between Nauzar Ghat and Nurpur Ghat in Patna City along with a 6.5kms promenade connecting them. The project will be executed with an estimated outlay of Rs218crores. (CONTINUES TO BE DRIVEN BY CONTRACTOR BENEFITTING PROJECTS, NOT IMPROVING THE STATE OF RIVERS?)

– Works on phase- 1 of Ganga riverfront development in Patna is already in the final stages, which entails development of 5.7km-long and 15ft-wide walkway along 20 Ghats in Patna complemented with amenities including decorative street lamps, public lavatories, 500 seating benches, green cover among others. The project it was initially slated to be completed by June, 2016 but it is now targeted to be completed by June, this year. (HAVING SEEN THE DIRTY STATE OF GANGA HERE JUST A MONTH BACK, I WONDER HOW IT IS BENEFITTING THE RIVER?) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/80-of-ganga-to-be-clean-by-2019-nitin-gadkari/articleshow/62700463.cms (The Times of India, 19 Jan. 2018)

Video interview of Union Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadakari before declaration of Budget 2018. https://hindi.firstpost.com/business/budget-and-beyond-in-conversation-with-union-minister-nitin-gadkari-83611.html  (First Post, 23 Jan. 2018)

Ganga water cleaner than it was in 1986? This is contrary to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Rejuvenation of Ganga tabled in Parliament last year revealing that during 2016-17, the total coliform level in Ganga across all the cities of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal that it flowed through, was six to 334 times higher than the prescribed levels.

Of the 1109 grossly polluting industries inspected by CPCB between December 2015 and November 2017, 508 were found non-compliant with respect to prescribed effluent discharge standards and were asked to close. Till November 2017, 93 projects for managing municipal sewage have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 14,167 crore. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ganga-water-cleaner-than-it-was-in-1986/story-xbIx1kMJfOLqZBwlNNxSnO.html (Hindustan Times, 4 Feb. 2018)

Also see, an interesting photo report on Ganga River Pollution https://www.businessinsider.in/See-photos-of-the-devastating-pollution-in-Indias-holy-Ganges-River/articleshow/62684561.cms (Business Insider, 28 Jan. 2018)

YAMUNA Delhi Center working on proposal to run ferry services from Delhi to Allahabad AND THUS THEY CONTINUE TO PLAN TO ROW BOATS IN ECOLOGICALLY DYING YAMUNA WHICH TURNS BONE DRY IN LEAN MONTHS…………….

-The Centre is working on a proposal to launch ferry services on the Yamuna between Delhi and Allahabad on a stretch of the river designated as National Waterway 110 two years ago. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) awarded a contract to a government consultancy earlier this month to check the feasibility and prepare a report on the project.

-IWAI, which reports to the ministry of shipping, plans to introduce cargo services and also ferry passengers between north Delhi’s Jagatpur village and the Sangam in Allahabad. WAPCOS, a state-owned consulting firm under the ministry of water reso-urces, has been asked to submit report within a year.

-The study will take into account several parameters such as volume and depth of the water available in the river throughout the year, the size of the cargo which can be carried, and commercial viability. The options being considered include the so-called Ro-Ro (Roll on, Roll off) one for cars and other vehicles to be ferried on the river, a move that could decongest roads.

This is not true upstream Delhi, Yamuna is seasonal with very little flow The Yamuna, which is polluted in most parts of Delhi, gets cleaner and deeper upstream between Wazirabad in Delhi and Palla on the Delhi-Haryana border but becomes shallow before Agra — a feature that could prove a challenge to the project.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/delhi-to-allahabad-ferry-services-on-yamuna-centre-working-on-proposal/story-tFiHBzjT5V7PVLCL5Uk1rJ.html (Hindustan Times, 1 Feb. 2018)

Earthquake can shift Yamuna: HC INTERESTING case of RISING GROUNDWATER table in Siddharth Extension Delhi. Petitioner alleges leakage in DJB pipes. DJB doubts change in Yamuna course. Failed to resolve this even by extracting 10 lakh litres ground water per day through borewells. https://www.thequint.com/news/hot-news/series-of-earthquake-can-shift-yamuna-others-hc (The Quint, 31 Jan. 2018) 

SAND MINING

Jammu & Kashmir Illegal sand mining in the name of dredging in Jhelum river Residents of Shilwat-Sumbal area Ganderbal district on Feb. 2 have expressed concern over the illegal sand mining in the name of dredging with heavy machines in the river Jhelum by some influential people of the area. Locals accused officials of Irrigation and Flood Control Department of being hand in gloves with sand-miners that allows them to carry out sand extraction at various spots on the stretch. Illegal sand extraction is making Shilwat-Sumbal area vulnerable to floods due to the weakening of the embankments of the Jhelum river. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/02/04/illegal-sand-mining-in-ganderbal-threatens-lives/ (Kashmir Reader 4 Feb. 2018)

Tamil Nadu Govt mute spectator to illegal sand mining, alleges sand lorry assn Alleging that the state government has remained a mute spectator to the illegal sand mining by influential people from the ruling party, Tamil Nadu sand lorry owners association has charged the public works department (PWD) and police officials for conniving with the politicians across the seven government-run sand quarries and rivers in Tamil Nadu. It also insisted the government to take a decision on filing an appeal in the SC against the Madras HC ban on sand mining in the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/state-mute-spectator-to-illegal-sand-mining-alleges-tn-sand-lorry-assn/articleshow/62716264.cms (The Times of India, 31 Jan. 2018)

GROUND WATER

Maharashtra Govt to measure groundwater level in cities MPORTANT INITIATIVE: In a move described by officials as the first of its kind, groundwater reserves in the urban areas of Maharashtra will be measured, as directed by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. A special state-level committee, comprising experts from the fields of water and soil management, agriculture and water resources, will monitor the progress of the assessment, which will be carried out from 2018, using the Groundwater Estimation Methodology 2015 (GEC 2015). The team is expected to submit a comprehensive report to the Union government by September 2018. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/in-a-first-groundwater-in-cities-set-to-be-measured-5043058/ (The Indian Express, 29 Jan. 2018)

EPW Understanding the Triggers of Groundwater Competition Interesting article on Groundwater in Maharashtra. It is critical to know the local geological formations in order to understand groundwater situation. However, most of the development around groundwater is either intuitive, peer-advised or based on traditional water scoping methods. There is a need for an integrated framework for groundwater management and the mainstream programmes and initiatives focusing on water security need to be redesigned and realigned to resolve this crisis. http://www.epw.in/engage/article/understanding-triggers-groundwater-competition-maharashtra (EPW, 13 Jan. 2018)

AGRICULTURE

National VERY SERIOUS CHARGE, made with FULL RESPONSIBILITY The present central government is undoubtedly the most anti-farmer government in the history of independent India. I mean it and I say this with full responsibility”, said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan. And ECONOMIC SURVEY provides the support. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/taking-their-cue-from-economic-survey-activists-attack-govt-for-failing-to-address-farm-concerns/articleshow/62714841.cms (The Times of India, 30 Jan. 2018)

The op-ed in Business Standard (not available online in full without subscription) also makes some clear points:

– As per Economic Survey, Real Agricultural GDP and real agriculture revenues have remained almost static in the past four years. Though ES seeks to hold two consecutive poor monsoons partly responsible for this, the reality is otherwise. Rural distress was NOT as conspicuous during the back to back drought years of 2014 and 2015 as the subsequent couple of years of bumper harvests. Clearly, other factors, including misguided government policies, especially those concerning agricultural pricing, have played a major role. http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/beyond-weather-gods-118013001691_1.html (Business, 31 Jan. 2018)

Tamil Nadu Farmers discuss how to get highest crop yield Manuneedhi Trust and Nallamuthu Farming Research Centre in Tirunelveli jointly organised the meeting where 80 farmers from Madurai, Theni, Pudukottai, Dindigul, Theni, Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar participated. After over three hours of meeting, the farmers decided to conduct frequent gatherings of this sort in neighbouring districts coordinating progressive farmers, and sensitise them about the benefits of organic farming and rediscovering farming methods of past which were remunerative to farmers. GREAT to see this meeting of the farmers to discuss farming and their problems!  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/farmers-discuss-how-to-get-highest-crop-yield/articleshow/62687039.cms (The Times of India, 29 Jan. 2018)

THE REST OF WORLD

Texas Dam regulation in desperate need of repair “Texas boasts 81 percent (% of dams that have emergency action plans), but still lag behind a state such as New York, which touts a near-perfect 97 percent of dams with emergency action plans. Texas has had a mixed, at times unacceptable, history with dam safety and oversight. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gives Texas a D for dams.”

– “In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 677, which exempted lower-risk, smaller dams in mostly rural counties from safety regulation… As a result, roughly 45 percent of Texas dams are now exempt from state safety regulation.”

– “Texas has three hazard classification levels: low, significant and high. Low means that loss of life is unlikely and minimal damage is expected. Significant means one to six deaths possible and appreciable economic losses expected. High means seven or more deaths and excessive economic loss anticipated… Lawmakers opted to exempt some dams at the significant hazard classification level from any oversight, those dams making up about 10 percent of the overall number exempted.”

– “Federal standards set by FEMA state that “one or more” deaths rank as a high hazard classification. The federal significant hazard classification is assigned to dams whose breach would probably not cause loss of life but may cause economic losses. Texas’ standards fall outside of FEMA standards, setting a seemingly arbitrary choice of six people as an acceptable cutoff. In effect, we’re saying six deaths isn’t that bad; seven, however, is extremely bad.”

– Texas should adopt FEMA classifications.

– Texas dams are a ticking time bomb; it’s only a matter of time before state action comes too little, too late. http://dailytexanonline.com/2018/01/30/texas-dam-regulation-is-in-desperate-need-of-repair (The Daily Texan, 30 Jan. 2018)

GERD Dam Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia Presidents agree on unified vision on GERD Future of free flowing Nile the longest river of the world, turns uncertain as Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia agree to form a permanent committee to follow up on all issues of common concern regarding Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam the largest hydropower plant in Africa and 7th largest in the world. https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/41412/Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia-Presidents-agree-on-unified-vision-on-GERD (Egypt Today, 30 Jan. 2018)

The leaders meeting comes amid heightened tensions in the region over border disputes, military alliances and the GERD. In March 2015, the three leaders signed in Khartoum a framework cooperation deal on the GERD. They said the “declaration of principles” would pave the way for further diplomatic cooperation on the GERD which has stirred fears of a regional resource conflict. However, since then the three countries failed to agree on the findings of the technical report related to the impact of the dam prepared by consultant companies, French firms BRL and Artelia.

The multi-billion dollar dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile, about 20 kilometres from the Sudanese border, and has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate electrical power of up to 6,000 megawatts. Egypt fears the dam will negatively affect its traditional share of water from the Nile, its only source of water which has been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty. But Ethiopia insists that this will not occur and asserts that the project is indispensable to its own national development and the economic welfare of its burgeoning population. http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64606 (Sudan Tribune, 29 Jan. 2018)

Oroville Dam State now facing cascade of litigation More than 40 farmers and business owners in the Oroville area sued the state Wednesday over the effects of the Oroville Dam crisis, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The giant lawsuit against the California Department of Water Resources was filed by the same law firms representing the city of Oroville in a suit it filed in early January against DWR. It accuses DWR of harboring a “culture of corruption and harassment” that compromised dam safety and led to last February’s near-catastrophe. http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article197739424.html (The Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2018)

USA Regulators reject hydropower project over tourism concerns VERY INTERESTING DECISION by regulators in New Hampshire in USA against a transmission line project to bring 1100 MW of hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts in USA since the project would affect forests, landscape and tourism, and property values. After eight year long process. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/regulators-reject-hydropower-project-over-tourism-concerns/62753918 (Energy World, 2 Feb. 2018)

South Africa Unprecedented and sad…Cape Town may run out of water by April In Cape Town, South Africa, they’re calling it “Day Zero” — the day when the taps run dry. City officials had recently said that day would come on April 22. They have since moved up the date to April 12. Cape Town is South Africa’s second-largest city and a top international tourist draw. Now, residents play a new and delicate game of water math each day. They’re recycling bath water to help flush toilets. They’re being told to limit showers to 90 seconds. And hand sanitizer, once somewhat of an afterthought, is now a big seller. http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/24/africa/cape-town-water-crisis-trnd/index.html (Edition, 31 Jan. 2018)

Study Dam building binge in Amazon will shred ecosystems, scientists warn A new analysis forecasts severe habitat fragmentation in the western Amazon Basin if some of the 160 planned dams are built in the region, where 142 dams are already. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/dam-building-binge-amazon-will-shred-ecosystems-scientists-warn (Science, 31 Jan. 2018)

Study Ecosystem Engineers in Rivers Interesting, some adorable river engineers for a change, ecological engineers who impact the ecology and geomorphology of a river. Dr. Polvi and Dr. Sarneel point to the study of ecosystem engineers being an expanding field that is gaining importance, in particular with the need to understand the impacts of invasive species and river restoration.  https://www.advancedsciencenews.com/ecosystem-engineers-rivers-organisms-create-positive-biogeomorphic-feedbacks/ (Advanced Sciences News, 18 Jan. 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Report This month set to be driest Jan. in India since 1901 This is DRIEST January since 1901 with just 2.2 mm rainfall so far. Jan 2007 had just 2.8 mm rain. Normal rain is 19.2 mm and Jan in 5 of last eight years had below normal rain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/this-month-set-to-be-driest-january-in-india-since-1901/articleshow/62701345.cms (The Times of India, 30 Jan. 2018)

Uttarakhand In mid-winter, spring flower blooms in hills Found at altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 3,600 metres, the rhododendron flowers have begun blooming in January instead of March-April. Most hold climate change in the middle Himalayan region as cause for the turn in the flower’s cycle. Not only has the winter been warmer this year, it was also been very dry. Scientists said the dry spell and absence of snowfall this season could be the reason for the early blooms. These early flowers don’t have proper colour, nectar, size or quantity, they said, which impacts their medicinal qualities. Early fruiting is being noticed in some other plants as well. Some have noticed rhododendrons blooming as early as December this winter. When SPRING FLOWERS ARE NOT GOOD NEWS. And imagine forest fires in Winter. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/in-mid-winter-spring-flower-blooms-in-hills/articleshow/62716712.cms (The Times of India, 31 Jan. 2018)

Meanwhile, quoting a study done on the Chandra Basin in the Western Himalayas between 1985 and 2009, experts says increasing temperatures due to climate change have resulted in small glaciers losing up to 70 per cent of their volume. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lesser-snow-as-it-gets-hotter-in-the-himalayas-experts-5050608/ (The Indian Express, 4 Feb. 2018)

France Floods peak as Paris sees worst rains in 50 years Rivers swollen by France’s heaviest rains in 50 years have engulfed romantic quays in Paris, swallowed up gardens and roads, halted riverboat cruises — and raised concerns about climate change.” http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/floodwaters-hit-peak-paris-now-threaten-normandy-52676825 (ABC News, 29 Jan. 2018)

As per another report, around 1,500 people have been evacuated from their homes in the greater Paris region while a similar number of homes remain without electricity supply.

The December to January period is now the third wettest on record since data collection began in 1900, according to France’s meteorological service. It appears, Seine witnessed worst flood in 1910. http://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/seine-hits-peak-in-flood-hit-paris-1500-evacuated (Straits Times, 30 Jan. 2018)

MoEF National Cooling Action Plan: Long-Term Strategies for India Interesting to know that MoEF is working on a NATIONAL COOLING ACTION PLAN, involving energy efficient Air Conditioners using climate friendly refrigerants and buildings that require less cooling. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/anjali-jaiswal/national-cooling-action-plan-long-term-strategies-india (NRDC, 31 Jan. 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

India Water Portal Ambikapur a role model in waste management WOW. GREAT report about an EXCELLENT INITIATIVE

A worker carries household waste to the SLRM centres at Ambikapur.

– Ambikapur is a small city in Sarjuga district in Chhattisgarh with a population of 1.45 lakhs. The city generates 45 metric tonnes of solid waste per day. The city waste used to get dumped on the 16 acres of dumping yard 3.5 km away from the city. But after the implementation of SLRM in 2015, the dumping yard has been converted into a sanitation park.

– Every day, 447 SHG women of 48 wards collect household waste door-to-door. “There are no dumping yards in the city, no community dustbins either. The garbage segregation begins from home through the red and green boxes given to each house. The red box is for inorganic waste like paper, cardboard, plastic, electric wires, etc and the green box is for organic waste like vegetables, garden leaves, food, etc. Sanitary pads and diapers are expected to be covered in paper and kept in a red box which would be buried for permanent disposal,” says Radhika Kriplani, a resident of Kedarpur area in Ambikapur. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/waste-away-ambikapur-shows-way?utm_source=IndiaWaterPortal+List&utm_campaign=eb989a9cc8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5c11b2aed0-eb989a9cc8-231053777 (India Water Portal, 18 Jan. 2018)

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 29 January 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 22 January 2018

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