Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 19 February 2018 (How Are We Treating Our Urban Rivers?)

In this comprehensive article Mumbai-based author Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar throws the light on the plight of Uraban Rivers. “Rivers and streams have borne the brunt of the recent urban explosion in India, a nation whose population has nearly doubled in the last 40 years to 1.35 billion. Unplanned growth has led to the use of water bodies as dumping grounds for sewage and industrial effluent. According to CPCB, 63 % of the urban sewage flowing into rivers (some 62 billion liters a day) is untreated.

In addition, riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplains have been claimed over time by infrastructure, slums, offices, and housing developments – all of which has narrowed natural river channels and distorted flow, greatly reducing the ability of India’s rivers to buffer flooding. It also has taken a toll on biodiversity. http://e360.yale.edu/features/dying-waters-india-struggles-to-clean-up-its-polluted-urban-rivers (Yale Environment 360, 15 Feb. 2018) 

One more glaring example of how urbanization is destroying rivers is Hindon in Gaziabad. With no solid waste management plan ready for Ghaziabad, river Hindon and its floodplain have become the dumping ground for the city’s refuse, both solid and sewage from industries and homes. Activists have raised concern over the depleted state of the already polluted river Hindon; it’s floodplain in Ghaziabad, and in the adjoining areas of Gautam Budh Nagar district, marred heavily by illegal construction. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/ghaziabad-encroachments-dumping-of-untreated-waste-near-hindon-floodplain-add-to-pollution/story-TVhBTG6uScn12dSvd2FiSL.html (Hindustan Times, 17 Feb. 2018)

Similarly, a study by Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) finds most of Kerala’s existing rivers (Kabini, Periyar, Neyyar, Pamba, Karamana, Meenachil, Kadalundi, Kallayi, Valapattanam, Chalakudy, Bharatappuzha, Anjarakkandy-Thalassery) choked with sewage inflows, industrial effluents & solid waste. The detailed study was completed by the team in nine phases between 2009-2017.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/quiet-die-the-keralas-rivers/articleshow/62878503.cms (The Times of India, 12 Feb. 2018) 

In Tamil Nadu due to encroachment and dumping of garbage, the width of a water channel has shrunk to 40ft from 80ft.” Several representations to the WRD to remove encroachments on the channel and to widen it have gone in vain. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/clear-encroachments-from-water-channel-on-medavakkam-main-road/article22704625.ece (The Hindu, 9 Feb. 2018)

Similarly despite court orders, dyeing units of Tiruppur have poisoned the Noyyal river and thus laid waste vast areas of agricultural land in three districts of Tamil Nadu over a period of three decades writes T.S. SUBRAMANIAN http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/wastelands-of-the-noyyal/article10055526.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication (Front Line, 16 Feb. 2018)

According to a new study groundwater in half of 239 revenue sub-divisions in the Cauvery basin is over exploited, critical, semi-critical and saline. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/groundwater-in-half-of-cauvery-basin-overexploited/articleshow/62965142.cms (The Times of India, 18 Feb. 2018)

In Maharashtra, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has not obtained permission from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to extract groundwater for washing at its car shed site in Aarey colony an eco-sensitive zone.  As per Stalin Dayanand of Van Shakti, the proposed facility is sought to be set up adjacent to the Mithi river and… will worsen the pollution in the Mithi river.” he said. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-metro-did-not-take-permission-for-groundwater-use-claims-ngo-5060191/ (The Indian Express, 12 Feb. 2018)

The plight of national river Ganga is no different. As per this report, 10 major cities including Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna and Kolkata, contribute nearly 65 per cent of the total polluted water flowing in the river. An estimated 3,000 MLD of sewer water goes into the river. At present only 1,580 MLD is treated and the remaining flows directly into the 2,525-km-long Ganga, a water source for 400 million people, or 43 per cent of India’s population. https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/centre-chalks-out-mega-10-city-plan-to-clean-ganga-check-sewage-flow-1167512-2018-02-12 (India Today, 12 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) has found untreated sewage from Dehradun entering the Ganga via Song River near Rishikesh.https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/dehradun-sewage-pollutes-ganga-says-report/story-gv09OilRMUTLR1AWolMzuN.html (Hindustan Times, 10 Feb. 2018)

It is sad to know that in the 7th meeting on Upper Yamuna Upper Review Committee Yamuna basin states have reportedly agreed to convey their concurrence to the draft inter-state agreement for construction of Lakhwar, Renuka and Kishau dams on the river and its tributaries. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/yamuna-basin-states-agree-to-draft-agreement-on-new-dams-118021501648_1.html (Business Standard, 15 Feb. 2018)

Amid this, DJB has moved NGT seeking directions to the Haryana government to take active measures in controlling pollution in the Yamuna. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/haryana-needs-to-monitor-ammonia-levels-in-drinking-water/article22735655.ece (The Hindu, 13 Feb. 2018)

As per this report excess ammonia in the river has disrupted Delhi water supply for past 43 days. http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/16527/2133313843/cph/map/tabs-1/2018-02-13/60/1/image/ (Dainik Bhaskar, 13 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile Dainik Jargran report shows how the pollution starts right from Panipat.  http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/11-fev-2018-edition-Panipat-city-page_18-2119-5558-168.html (Dainik Jagran, 11 Feb. 2018)

This report also shows how Yamuna it getting pollution in Panipat. http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/14-fev-2018-edition-Panipat-city-page_18-2373-8311-168.html (Dainik Jagran, 14 Feb. 2018)

Despite this MoWR minister continuously pushing more dams and river interlinking projects across the country. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/100-bridge-cum-check-dams-to-be-built-by-nhai-in-maha/articleshow/62953788.cms

OTHER RIVER STORIES THIS WEEK

Sohni

SANDRP Blog We Are Rivers: India’s Rivers in Song & Story On Valentine Day, Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP writes about Culture of loving rivers. Fascinating. https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/433/we-are-rivers-india-s-rivers-in-song-story (International Rivers, 13 Feb. 2018)

Also see, another FASCINATING narrative about the Cultural aspects of Rivers by Parineeta Dandekar. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/rivers-are-us/ (SANDRP Word Press, 17 Feb. 2018)

She will present the keynote address at the RMIT Gallery water+wisdom Australia India symposium on 2 March. https://rmitgallery.com/2018/02/01/activist-parineeta-dandekar-to-present-keynote-at-waterwisdom-symposium/ (RMIT Gallery, 1 Feb. 2018)

Center  No reduction in rivers flow: CWC While reports by some experts have expressed concern about reduction in water flow in rivers, the annual average flow data maintained by Central Water Commission (CWC) for last 20 years for major/important rivers in the country does not indicate any significant reduction in water availability.  However, as per CWC, the per capita annual water availability in the country has progressively reduced due to increase in population, urbanization, improved life style of people, etc.

About National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) The NRCP has so far covered polluted stretches of 31 rivers (excluding Ganga and its tributaries) in 75 towns spread over 14 States at a sanctioned cost of Rs. 4517.82 crore. So far, Central share of Rs. 2197.97 crore has been released to the State Governments for implementation of various pollution abatement schemes and sewage treatment plant STP capacity of 2455.43 MLD has been created under the NRCP.  This information was given by Minister of State for MoEF Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha. http://www.pibregional.nic.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1519160 (PIB, 2 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile this Dainik Bhaskar report mentions that about 60%of Himalayan streams, rivulets feeding the Ganga, Brahmaputra have dried up causing drought fears for 12 States. http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/16970/2143159703/cph/map/tabs-1/2018-02-14/194/1/image/ (Dainik Bhaskar, 14 Feb. 2018) 

DB 14 Feb. 2018

Kerala  Govt sets apart Rs 3 crore for cleaning Karamana River in addition to Rs 8 crore allotted previously. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/efforts-to-clean-capitals-lifeline-gains-momentum/articleshow/62891983.cms (The Times of India, 13 Feb. 2018)

Tamil Nadu ‘Clear encroachments from water channel on Medavakkam Main Road’ Residents of Madipakkam have appealed to the Water Resources Department (WRD) to have encroachments on a rainwater channel removed. They also want the channel to be widened. Due to encroachment and dumping of garbage, the width of the channel has shrunk to 40ft from 80ft.” Several representations to the WRD to remove encroachments on the channel and to widen it have gone in vain.

Excess rainwater from the Keezhkattalai lake must flow through a channel, located on Medavakkam Main Road and Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam 200ft Radial Road, Eechangadu, before flowing into the Pallikaranai Marsh. However, as the long channel has been encroached upon and is choked with garbage, the rainwater ends up flooding Madipakkam and nearby areas, instead of flowing into the marsh. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/clear-encroachments-from-water-channel-on-medavakkam-main-road/article22704625.ece (The Hindu, 9 Feb. 2018)

SC order gives succour for farmers affected by Noyyal river pollution A group of farmers, who were victims of pollution of the Noyyal River caused by textile dyeing units, got an interim relief from the Supreme Court after it directed the state government not to recover the compensation given to them temporarily. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/sc-order-gives-succour-for-farmers-affected-by-noyyal-river-pollution/articleshow/62811917.cms (The Times of India, 7 Feb. 2018)

Despite court orders, dyeing units of Tiruppur have poisoned the Noyyal river and thus laid waste vast areas of agricultural land in three districts of Tamil Nadu over a period of three decades writes T.S. SUBRAMANIAN http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/wastelands-of-the-noyyal/article10055526.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication (Front Line, 16 Feb. 2018)

Goa Centre Sanctions New Project to Control Pollution of River Sal MoEF under the National River Conservation Plan has sanctioned a new project to control pollution in River Sal at Navelim town. The project would cost of Rs. 61.74 cr. Both the Centre and State will share the cost on 60:40 basis. Under the project, around 32 kms of sewers will be laid and sewage treatment plant of 3 MLD constructed. The project is scheduled for completion by January, 2021. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176150 (PIB, 4 Feb. 2018)

Maharashtra Corporation to take steps to check pollution of Mula river The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) will construct 3 STPs of 5 MLD and lay 209-km-long drainage pipeline network in a bid to reduce Mula river pollution. The total cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 147.84 crore. The Union government approved the project in October 2017 under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. The share of the central and state governments is 33.33 per cent and 16.67 per cent respectively while for PCMC, it is 50 per cent. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/corporation-to-take-steps-to-check-pollution-of-river/articleshow/62842097.cms  (The Times of India, 8 Feb. 2018)

Mumbai Metro did not take permission for groundwater use As per report, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has not obtained permission from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to extract groundwater for washing at its car shed site in Aarey colony an eco-sensitive zone.  As per Stalin Dayanand of Van Shakti, the proposed facility is sought to be set up adjacent to the Mithi river and… will worsen the pollution in the Mithi river.” he said. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-metro-did-not-take-permission-for-groundwater-use-claims-ngo-5060191/ (The Indian Express, 12 Feb. 2018)

BRAHMAPUTRA Assam World Bank to draft 5-year plan to tackle flood, erosion Statement of World Bank country head Junaid Kamal Ahmed:- World Bank will also actively consider how to improve navigation facility in river Brahmaputra.”Statement of Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal:- “Proper management of the excess water during monsoon and channelising is the call of the hour.” https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/world-bank-to-draft-plan-to-tackle-flood-erosion-in-assam-1811904 (NDTV, 12 Feb. 2018)

GANGA Centre chalks out mega 10-city plan to clean Ganga, check sewage flow 10 major cities including Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna and Kolkata, contribute nearly 65 per cent of the total polluted water flowing in the river.

An estimated 3,000 MLD of sewer water goes into the river. At present only 1,580 MLD is treated and the remaining flows directly into the 2,525-km-long Ganga, a water source for 400 million people, or 43 per cent of India’s population.

97 more cities identified causing pollution in Ganga and STPs sanctioned keeping the sewage generation estimation of 2035 in these cities are at various stages of implementation.

Of the 97 identified towns, interventions made in 58 with about 89 projects being taken up to create 1,525 MLD STP capacities. In the remaining 39 towns, many old projects are already underway.

Govt will spend Rs 11,500 crore will be spent on creating sewer treatment facilities. STPs will be set up under the hybrid-annuity model, under which the government pays 40 per cent of the project cost linked to construction milestones. The remaining 60 per cent is paid over 15 years as annuities to the private concessionaire along with operation and maintenance expense.

Nagpur Municipal Corporation sells treated sewage water to thermal power stations and has been getting Rs 18 crore as revenue. https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/centre-chalks-out-mega-10-city-plan-to-clean-ganga-check-sewage-flow-1167512-2018-02-12 (India Today, 12 Feb. 2018)

Also watch: How does life change along the banks of the 2,600-km-long Ganga? https://scroll.in/video/868299/watch-how-does-life-change-along-the-banks-of-the-2600-km-long-ganga-or-does-it-change-at-all (Scroll.in , 12 Feb.)

Uttarakhand  Dehradun sewage pollutes Ganga, says report  Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) report finds untreated sewage from Dehradun entering the Ganga via Song River near Rishikesh. The Uttarakhand government has demanded that the Centre provide Rs 200 crore to establish STPs in Dehradun. Of the 30 STPs under the NMCG project, 13 have been completed and the rest are under construction. There are no projects for treatment plants in Dehradun. Funds have also been sought to set up STPs in Ramnagar, Haldwani and Kashipur as the untreated waste from these places flows into the Ganga.https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/dehradun-sewage-pollutes-ganga-says-report/story-gv09OilRMUTLR1AWolMzuN.html (Hindustan Times, 10 Feb. 2018)

Contrary to this, the report says that there is improvement in the Ganga river pollution in Uttarakhand http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/12-fev-2018-edition-garwal-page_1-409-11768-105.html

DJ 12 Feb. 2018 Ganga

ROAD WIDENING New issue in widening of road in Uttarkhand Where the #muck generated from tunelling processes for road projects will be dumped. 

Uttar Pradesh Govt seeks more help to clean Ganga  In its budget UP Govt has sought has sought funds to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore from the Centre to clean Ganga. Projects worth Rs 7,482 crore have already been sent to the Centre. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/up-seeks-centres-help-for-ganga/articleshow/62955657.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

West Bengal Renovation of Ghats Along Ganga  As per PIB release, the National Mission for Clean Ganga has sanctioned and completed 24 Ghats and Crematoria projects in West Bengal at a cost of Rs 180.16 Crores. Further 7 more projects of Ghats & Crematoria under Entry Level Activities have been sanctioned which comprises renovation & development of 15 Ghats and 4 Electric Crematoria at a cost of Rs 48.47 crores. Under Namami Gange programme, a total of 187 projects for various activities have been sanctioned. 47 projects out of this have been completed so far. This information was given by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Dr. Satya Pal Singh in a written reply in Lok Sabha. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176391 (PIB, 8 Feb. 2018)

Op-Ed  Ganga would not be cleaned even after 200 years by Aparna Roy Stopping of sewage and industrial waste is important, equally important is free flow of river, sustainable groundwater in the basin and protection of forest in the catchment otherwise, as the Supreme Court has once remarked the government, “it seems Ganga will not be cleaned even after 200 years.” https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/ganga-wont-be-cleaned-even-after-200-years-unless-we-learn-why-generous-flows-of-funds-have-failed-so-far/

7TH MEETING OF UYRC Yamuna basin states agree to draft agreement on new dams In the 7th meeting on Upper Yamuna Upper Review Committee which was chaired by Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari, Yamuna basin states of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have reportedly agreed to convey their concurrence to the draft inter-state agreement for construction of Lakhwar, Renuka and Kishau dams on the river and its tributaries. here, according to an official release.

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The states have agreed to sign the project specific agreement for the construction of these projects so that proposal for approval of cabinet can be taken forward,” the statement said. As per the report investment clearance for the Lakhwar project is already available, the cabinet approval can be processed on immediate basis, the statement issued by Union water resources ministry added. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/yamuna-basin-states-agree-to-draft-agreement-on-new-dams-118021501648_1.html (Business Standard, 15 Feb. 2018)

In the meeting Uttarakhand Government has pressed for the 1994 water and power sharing formula for resolution of differences on the benefits from the Lakhwar and Kishau national power projects with the neighbouring states.

The Rajasthan government had been expressing reservations on the sharing formula for water worked out for the Lakhwar project, but now the states of Uttarakhand and Rajasthan are also reported to be agreed to go by the formula worked out in 1994.

Similarly, on the construction of Kishau Dam the government satisfied the partner Himachal Pradesh government says the report. Likewise, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have also agreed to share the benefits from the 660 multipurpose dam to come at Tons river equally. Further after the agreement in the meeting, the formal approvals from the states would be sent to the Centre after which the proposals of would be sent to the cabinet final approvals. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/agreement-on-sharing-of-benefits-from-dams/544567.html (The Tribune, 16 Feb, 2018)

Another report says that the dispute between Rajasthan and Haryana over the sharing of Yamuna waters has been resolved and Rajasthan will get its full share of 1.119 billion cusecs of water from the Yamuna, with the Upper Yamuna Review Committee deciding that 1,917 cusecs water will be released from the Tajewala headworks to Jhunjhunu, Churu and Sikar districts for drinking and irrigation.

As per report, Rajasthan was allocated 9% share in the Yamuna waters, the desert State was not getting it even when excess water was available in the river between July and October every year.  

Rajasthan Water Resources Minister Ram Pratap, who attended the meeting, said the State’s share in Yamuna waters would be reserved even after the construction of Lakhwar, Kishau and Renuka dams. A detailed project report will be prepared shortly for bringing water from Tajewala to Rajasthan at an estimated expenditure of Rs. 20,000 crore. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/rajasthan-to-get-its-full-share-of-yamuna-water/article22787371.ece (The Hindu, 18 Feb. 2018)

Delhi Yamuna Pollution Hits Delhi Water Supply DJB moves NGT seeking directions to the Haryana government to take active measures in controlling pollution in the Yamuna. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/haryana-needs-to-monitor-ammonia-levels-in-drinking-water/article22735655.ece (The Hindu, 13 Feb. 2018)

As per this report excess ammonia in the river has disrupted Delhi water supply for past 43 days. http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/16527/2133313843/cph/map/tabs-1/2018-02-13/60/1/image/ (Dainik Bhaskar, 13 Feb. 2018)

db 13 feb 2018

Meanwhile Dainik Jargran report shows how the pollution starts right from Panipat.  http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/11-fev-2018-edition-Panipat-city-page_18-2119-5558-168.html (Dainik Jagran, 11 Feb. 2018)

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This report also shows how Yamuna it getting pollution in Panipat. http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/14-fev-2018-edition-Panipat-city-page_18-2373-8311-168.html (Dainik Jagran, 14 Feb. 2018)

DJ 14 Jan 2018

Following concerns over the spike in ammonia levels in raw water supply from the Yamuna, and the consequent health problems it could pose to people, the NGT has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to analyse samples from the river at four points. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/test-yamuna-samples-for-pollution-ngt-5062932/ (The Indian Express, 14 Feb. 2018)

As per latest report, after NGT directions on Feb. 16, chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana governments would meet on Feb. 20 to resolve the matter pertaining to the matter.  During the hearing, the CPCB informed the court that the ammonia content at the Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana was 0.6 mg per litre, and 1.9 mg per litre at the Wazirabad water treatment plant in New Delhi, as on Feb 14. The DJB had alleged that the primary cause of pollution appeared to be the addition of untreated domestic and industrial waste in some areas, including Panipat and Sonipat. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-haryana-told-to-resolve-polluted-water-supply-issue/article22779191.ece (The Hindu, 17 Feb. 2018)

Its heartening to know that a team a group of doctors, scientists and engineers of Delhi on every Saturday afternoon, go to the Yamuna and get down and dirty to clean the litter lying along its banks. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/saving-yamuna-doctors-scientists-who-turn-trash-collectors-every-saturday/story-NSng33uBVu1rrGM3PDmFJJ.html (Hindustan Times, 18 Feb. 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Encroachment of Hindon floodplain add to pollution This is very sad that the Hindon river which holds key to revival of Yamuna and thus Ganga is in such a pathetic state. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/ghaziabad-encroachments-dumping-of-untreated-waste-near-hindon-floodplain-add-to-pollution/story-TVhBTG6uScn12dSvd2FiSL.html (Hindustan Times, 17 Feb. 2018)

Marsh crocodile rescued from UP village, released in Yamuna A mugger crocodile was rescued on Feb. 7 from Latumai village near Firozabad Wildlife SOS officials said. Rescue team members said the reptile, also known as marsh crocodile, was later released in the Yamuna river. Villagers suspected it may have come through a canal that irrigates agricultural fields in Latumai.  As per V, Director Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS, this was the second crocodile to be rescued in two weeks. The mugger crocodile is listed vulnerable on the IUCN, Red List and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/marsh-crocodile-rescued-from-up-village-released-in-yamuna-118020702015_1.html (Business Standard, 7 Feb. 2018)

HYDRO POWER

Jammu Highway Lanslide Google Earth Image SANDRP

SANDRP Blog Why Jammu Srinagar Highway is so landslide prone Finally, after five days gridlock, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway (NH-1A) has been opened to traffic, on Feb 17, 2018, but only for one side. The all weather road was closed since February 12, 2018 following landslides at multiple locations along Bichleri (Bichiari) stream (a tributary of Chenab River) between Banihal and Ramban area. The highway was briefly re-opened for traffic on February 14 only to be closed again on February 15, due to recurring landslides. We have narrated below some details of the landslides along Jammu Srinagar Highway in Feb 2018 as well as earlier since 2011. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/why-jammu-srinagar-highway-is-so-landslide-prone/ (SANDRP, Word Press, 17 Feb. 2018)

Manipur Myanmar dam on border worries Manipur village Tuidimjang dam being constructed by Myanmar across Twigem river flowing into Myanmar from Manipur river close to the boundary with India has stoked fears of submergence and water scarcity among border villagers in Kengjoi subdivison of Manipur’s Chandel district.

Residents of Khangtung village reported to district officials about the dam being built by Myanmar authorities barely 100 metres from the Zero Line separating the two countries. International rules warrant border countries to check activities in No Man’s Land – a 150-metre strip on either side of the boundary line.

Manipur has had issues with internal dams too. In June 2015, a tribal village named Chadong in Ukhrul district was submerged by the Mapithel dam on river Thoubal.

The Khuga dam south of Manipur’s Churachandpur town has hit turbulence too. Taken up in 1980, the project lay dormant until 2002 leading to cost escalation from the initial ₹15 crore to ₹381.29 crore in 2009. The project sanction by the Planning Commission was said to have inherent flaws, as a result of which the power component of 1.5MW incorporated in the initial design was scrapped despite near-completion of a powerhouse.

Controversy has also dogged Tipaimukh, the mega hydroelectric project proposed on river Barak in Manipur 35 years ago. Dhaka is against the project, as Barak flows into Bangladesh from Manipur through southern Assam and feeds the Surma and Kushiara rivers in the country. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/myanmar-dam-on-border-worries-manipur-village/article22791622.ece (The Hindu, 18 Feb. 2018)

In other development 35 indigenous people’s community based organisations from villages along both banks of the Thoubal River in Yairipok, Wangkhem, Phoudel, Kshetrileikai, Haokha, Kiyam, Okram, Thoubal Circle, Ningombam, Sābantaba, Moijing, Khekman, Keibung, Leisangthem, and Thoudam, etc., have come together to jointly form a campaign Committee for Conservation of Thoubal River during a public meeting held in Thoubal Wāngmataba yesterday. The committee wants to see a free flowing Thoubal River that is clean from pollutants and contamination, and free from exploitation by private parties for profit.

Thoubal River, after the construction of the highly controversial Thoubal Multipurpose Project and Mapithel Dam along its course upstream from Tumukhong village (Imphal East District) for the past almost 40 years, has witnessed a rapid reduction of its flow after impounding and diversion by ill-planned and ill-executed projects, and severe toxic deterioration of its water quality with increasing open sand and gravel mining using larger excavators by private profiteers. The river, after its short course from its source in Ukhrul district, flows through Andro, Wangkhem, Thoubal and Lilong assembly constituencies in the Iril (Manipur aka Imphal) Valley before joining the Manipur River at Sekmaijin at the border of Imphal West and Kakching (Thoubal before bifurcation) districts.

Arunachal Pradesh APCC urges PM to hand over alleged hydro scam to CBI The Congress Committee (APCC) urged PM Modi to hand over the alleged Rs 405 crores Hydro Power Scam to the CBI. The party claimed that the vigilance unit of NEEPCO has already filed a charge sheet to the Central Vigilance Commission (CBC) in this regard. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2018/02/15/apcc-urges-pm-to-hand-over-alleged-hydro-scam-to-cbi/ (Arunachal Times, 15 Feb. 2018)

Punjab BHEL commissions 18Mw Mukerian HEP With the commissioning of the second 9 MW hydro generating unit (1st one commissioned in May 2017), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has successfully commissioned the 18 MW Mukerian hydro-electric project (HEP) stage-II in Punjab,” the company said in a regulatory filing. Located on the Mukerian canal in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, the 18 MW Mukerian project is a surface powerhouse of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL). https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/bhel-commissions-18-megawatt-hydro-electric-project-in-punjab/62945150 (Energy World, 16 Feb. 2018)

Industry Actis set to buy Bhoruka’s renewable energy assets Global private equity fund Actis LLP is poised to acquire renewable energy assets of Karnataka-based Bhoruka Group, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The deal will be based on enterprise value of about Rs 2,700 crore, the person told ET. “The deal is close to being sealed. Due diligence is currently being carried out,” the person said.

Founded in 1986, Bhoruka Power started by setting up small hydro plants, but has since branched into wind and solar energy. It has 15 small hydro projects with total capacity of around 121 MW, six wind projects with capacity of around 170 MW, and two solar projects totalling 30 MW. Barring one small wind project in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, and a hydro project in Yamunanagar, Haryana, all its projects are in Karnataka. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/actis-set-to-buy-bhorukas-renewable-energy-assets/articleshow/62941144.cms (The Economic Times, 16 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, NHPC Hydro projects continue to be delayed and face huge cost escalations. http://www.livemint.com/Money/smtg53EoWCnLmCDkuyuekK/NHPCs-results-highlight-alltoofamiliar-delays.html (Live Mint, 16 Feb. 2018)

DAMS

Center Govt continue to push unjustified dams and unviable inter linking projects Addressing the two-day groundwater conclave ‘Bhujal Manthan’ on, Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari said that river-linking projects would be taken up in the state.

Rainwater in Konkan goes into the sea. We will build five to six dams in the region and transport the water to parched Marathwada region. We will also link Narmada river with Tapi,” he further said.

Turning to the national scene, Gadkari said that water of Himalayan rivers was not being used fully. “We will build three dams in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. This will double the water in Yamuna river and provide water to Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan. We will also build Pancheshwar project on Indo-Nepal border. It will bring more water into Yamuna and also generate 6,000 MW electricity,” he added.

India is not using its full share of water of rivers that flow into Pakistan. We will, therefore, build dams in Kashmir on these rivers,” the minister said.

Batting for river-linking, Gadkari said that Godavari water was being transported to Krishna river through the Rs10,000 crore Polavaram dam and canal project. “We will also do river-linking in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Indravati river in Gadchiroli district has lot of water but it is not possible to build a dam on it because of dense forest. We will transport the water to Tamil Nadu. I have sought no objection certificate from governments of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh for this purpose,” Gadkari said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/100-bridge-cum-check-dams-to-be-built-by-nhai-in-maha/articleshow/62953788.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

Dry Narmada Gujarat congress criticizes govt for sorrow state of rivers Good to see this, but when will we have effective political opposition that raises such issues at right time.

– “They (BJP) used to talk about linking rivers. But now, rivers are drying, forget about the linking. During elections, water was wasted. The Sabarmati river was filled to the brim so that you (Modi) can fly on a sea-plane” senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.

– Patel alleged that the river water was released for Kutch not for providing water to people, “but for inaugurating a canal, which eventually developed cracks due to substandard construction”. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/centres-counter-terrorism-policy-confusing-ahmed-patel/articleshow/62875284.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst (The Economic Times, 11 Feb. 2018)

Here are some interesting insights here as the journalist travels along the Main Canal of Narmada Dam till Gandhinagar. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-narmada-river-water-canal-5060274/ (The Indian Express, 12 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, the dam is at a level of 111.37 metres (as on Feb. 13) of live storage. It has a dead storage of one million acre feet (1 MAF). The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) had sanctioned the use of seepage and dead water after it falls below 110.64 metres. The storage in the dam fell by 45%, the lowest in the last 15 years and may last till Feb. end. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/live-storage-of-narmada-dam-reaches-111-37-metres-to-last-till-february-end-5063162/ (The Indian Express, 14 Feb. 2018)

As expected, farmers of Saurashtra (Surendranagar, Bhavnagar, Botad) and Ahmedabad are already being told there is no water irrigation, water flow in Narmada’s Limbdi branch canals will be stopped from Feb 15, and not March 15 as announced earlier. Strangely, Narmada minister says he does not know about it. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/from-today-no-narmada-water-to-four-gujarat-districts-5064427/ (The Indian Express, 15 Feb. 2018)

The Gujarat govt has now stopped water in KUTCH branch canal of Narmada project, threatening the rabi crop in 34000 ha in Bhachau and Rapar talukas. Farmers are angry. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/kutch-farmers-fume-after-govt-stops-narmada-water/articleshow/62921343.cms (The Times of India, 15 Feb. 2018)

As per another report Kutch industries which used to get about 90 MLD water from Narmada have now asked govt to continue at least half of the water supply. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/kutch-industries-urge-govt-to-maintain-50-water-supply/articleshow/62907307.cms (The Times of India, 14 Feb. 2018)

It is a bit odd to see such a statement from CWC. Is it trying to cover up for the wasteful use of SSP waters by Gujarat govt before the assembly elections in Dec 2017, which also involved PM’s frequent visits to Gujarat for various foundation stones and inaugurations, including the ceremony on his birthday to dedicate SSP to the nation? https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/water-commission-rings-alarm-bell-over-looming-crisis/articleshow/62895380.cms (The Economic Times, 13 Feb. 2018)

AGAIN ODD: Chief Secretaries do not go to Dam sites, do they? And then Gujarat Chief Secretary, after visiting SSP, says there is no problem: “I visited the dam site and also held a meeting with the officials there. There is sufficient water stock in the reservoir and people do not need to worry about the shortage of water during the summer season. We have the water stock that could be utilised until the July end and probably beyond that too. Even if the rain is delayed, we will be able to keep the water supply continue till the next monsoon.” http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-no-water-crisis-cs-after-visit-to-narmada-dam-2584462 (DNA, 14 Feb. 2018)

There are some inaccuracies here and possibly it is indicating a conflict between MP and Gujarat, which has at least not come to surface, though there are many reasons for it to be there, not all of them are mentioned here. The statement of Navlawala is also new: “the Tapi river which flows westward into the Arabian Sea is the driest it has ever been in the last 40 years.” Ukai dam on Tapi, in fact had 38% live storage capacity on Feb 1, where as SSP has just 70 MCM, hardly 1.2% of live storage capacity. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/gujarat-needs-water-madhya-pradesh-wont-allow-it-hint-election-1812030 (NDTV, 15 Feb. 2018)

Here are some of the facts here are not entirely correct, but some useful ones.

– On Jan. 28, MP sprang a surprise to Gujarat by “politely” refusing to release 800 million cubic meter (MCM ) at one go to the Sardar Sarowar dam.

– You know one of the major reasons why Gujarat is facing water crisis is diversion of Narmada water in Sabarmati river, said a top official here. “It happened when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visited the river front last year, it was repeated when the Japanese premier Shinzo Abe had organized a road show in Ahmedabad and again when the prime minister Modi took the seaplane in Sabarmati to visit Amba ji,” top government sources said. “Recently the water has been diverted again to Sabarmati to ensure the flow of the river is maintained when the Canadian Prime Minister visits Ahmedabad on February 19,” he added.

-To release 800 MCM, he said, we have to release atleast 1,600 MCM – keeping in consideration the loss of water by evaporation, absorption, lifting of water by farmers with the help of heavy water pumps and also by several local bodies on the way.

– To ensure that the 14 MCM water reaches Gujarat, the turbines of Omkareshwer project are being run for 18 hours daily, Narmada valley Development Authority (NVDA) sources said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mp-turns-down-guj-request-for-800-mcm-narmada-water/articleshow/62953720.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

It’s not funny when NCA official talks about environment and rivers here. His advocacy for bringing water in concurrent list is in fact geared towards centralisation of power and pushing for mega Inter Linking of Rivers and such other projects. The World Bank has also been pushing for the same. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-water-not-just-a-way-of-life-it-s-a-religion-says-nca-member-at-environment-fest-2585501 (DNA, 17 Feb. 2018)

Narmada water dynamics in Gujarat

– Presently, only Bhachau and Rapar are covered under the Narmada canal network in Kutch. According to farmers, standing crop in over 34,000 hectare was at stake in these 34 villages of the two talukas. They said their water supply has been suspended since February 1.

– Farmers wants SSNNL to release 750 cusec water for the first three days and for the rest of days 600 cusec water per day till the end of rabi season. However, sources in SSNNL alleged that farmers neither follow the procedure nor inform the department before sowing or their water requirements and other needs. They alleged that farmers are bullying them.

– Superintendent engineer of SSNNL’s Kutch branch B Shrinivasan said, “We have received the representation from farmers (of Bhachau and Rapar) and have agreed to release the water within two-three days.” When asked for how many days the farmers will get water, Shrinivasa said, “I can’t comment on that as it’s a policy decision. We can supply the water till the date we get supply.”

– Meanwhile, Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Monday sent a proposal to state government to fill the Aji Dam to its fullest level by March 31 under SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) scheme. RMC has also assured citizens that it won’t impose water cut this summer and was planning to give 24 hours water supply in some of the wards as promised by CM during the assembly election last year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/kutch-farmers-fume-after-govt-stops-narmada-water/articleshow/62921343.cms (The Times of India, 15 Feb. 2018)

Tamil Nadu Farmers demand release of water from Bhavanisagar dam Urging Erode district administration to release water from Bhavanisagar reservoir to Lower Bhavani Project (LBP) to carry out agriculture activities on 1.03 lakh acres, members of various farmers associations staged a ‘waiting protest’ in front of the office of the Lower Bhavani Basin Division of Water Resources Organisation at Konavaikal on Feb. 12.

As per report, 2.7 lakh acres were irrigated using water from the reservoir as the ayacuts were divided into two halves, each to cover 1,03,500 acre. While one ayacuts continue to receive water regularly, areas in other ayacuts did not receive water for the last two years. Farmers complained that the water was not equally distributed to the two ayacuts and blamed the Ministers for their interference.

Asking administration to request the electricity board to release water, they also have alleged that the water level in the reservoir was 6 tmc and 11 tmc of water was stored at Kundah Hydro Reservoirs at the Nilgiris. http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/release-water-immediately-farmers/article22733047.ece (The Hindu, 12 Feb. 2018)

Pancheshwar Dam What Lies Behind the Resistance to India’s Highest Dam? Manshi Asher sums up very well: “In the last 365 days, every authority concerned with the project – that was first conceptualised in the 1960s – has gone into overdrive to ensure that the prime minister’s words are kept. The detailed project report was said to be final, the environment and social impact assessment reports were submitted, public consultations in three affected districts were rushed through, the environment ministry’s expert committee visited the area and submitted a report, the forest clearance papers were submitted only to be returned with questions and district officials have been running helter-skelter for no objection certificates from the 134 affected villages. Never mind that rules were bent and procedures overlooked in this process.” Over the last six months, public opinion against the dam has been gathering steam, slowly but steadily. https://thewire.in/224823/uttarakhand-lies-behind-resistance-building-countrys-highest-dam/ (The Wire, 19 Feb. 2018)

Vimalbhai and Amita Bhaduri also write that despite controversies around the Pancheshwar dam proposal and the panic it is creating among the villages around, the project is progressing fast. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/dam-consequences (India Water Portal, 14 Feb. 2018)

Polavaram Dam Time-Line and Funds for Polavaram Project As per the statement of Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Arjun Ram Meghwal in a written reply in Lok Sabha on Feb. 8., the approved cost of the Polavaram Project is Rs. 16010.45 crore at 2010-11 price level.  The irrigation component of the project is Rs.12294.40 crore.  Central Assistance (CA) of Rs. 562.47 crore was provided for the project under AIBP upto 31st March, 2014.

After the project was declared a National Project, Ministry of Finance informed that it will provide 100% of the remaining cost of the irrigation component only, for the period starting from 01st April, 2014, to the extent of the cost of the irrigation component on that date. After this, CA of Rs. 3364.16 crore has been released for this project from 01st April, 2014 to 31st March, 2017.  During 2017-18 CA of Rs. 979.36 crore has been released and another Rs. 1020.64 Cr. has been sanctioned.      http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176392 (PIB, 8 Feb. 2018)

Andhra Pradesh CM to inaugurate Pogonda dam Pogonda reservoir across Baineru rivulet has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 129.48 crore at Chintalagudem to supply irrigation water to about 4000 acres in the Agency mandal of Buttayagudem. Baineru rivulet, which originates in Papikondalu, meanders through Koyyalagudem mandal before flowing into Yerra Kalva at Rajavaram village. The reservoir, constructed across the Baineru at 40 km from the place of its origin, has a capacity to store 0.128 tmc of water.  http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/feb/19/andhra-pradesh-cm-chandrababu-naidu-to-inspect-polavaram-project-today-1775499.html (The New Indian Express, 19 Feb. 2018)

Telangana National status to Kaleswaram receives a jolt Telangana’s hopes of getting national project status for Kaleswaram Irrigation Project received a setback after Union water resources ministry raised fresh queries. Accompanied by Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) officials, the Union water resources secretary UP Singh raised questions over the differences between erstwhile Pranahita – Chevella project and Kaleswaram. The GRMB officials also pointed at absence of detailed project report for Kaleswaram. Telangana has been arguing that it is not a new project and does not need to get a fresh approval from the CWC. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/national-status-to-kaleswaram-receives-a-jolt/articleshow/62956594.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

Karnataka One more vented dam on Netravathi In its 2018-19, Budget govt has earmarked ₹ 174 crore for construction of a vented dam-cum-bridge across the Netravathi between Harekala and Adyarkatte. The project would be built about 5 km downstream the Thumbe Vented Dam and would be taken up under Paschima Vahini scheme that was launched last year to build vented dams across West-flowing rivers.  At present, Ullal and surrounding areas get about 5 million litres per day (MLD) water from the Thumbe. It was proposed by Mangaluru MLA and Minister U.T. Khader to quench the thirst of residents in his constituency. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/one-more-vented-dam-across-netravathi-sops-to-fisheries-sector-in-budget/article22779049.ece (The Hindu, 17 Feb. 2018)

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

cgw

SANDRP Blog Supreme Court Judgment on Cauvery Dispute: Does it change anything? This blog provides key aspects of the Supreme Court Judgment today on Cauvery Water Dispute and some comments, questions. Feedback is welcome. Please share. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/supreme-court-judgment-on-cauvery-dispute-does-it-change-anything/ (SANDRP Word Press, 16 Feb. 2018)

Some key aspects of SC order of Cauvery Dispute are here, http://www.livelaw.in/cauvery-sc-directs-karnataka-release-177-25-tmc-water-tamil-nadu/  (Live Law, 16 Feb. 2018)  

https://www.ndtv.com/south/cauvery-water-dispute-verdict-judgment-on-120-year-old-cauvery-dispute-being-read-out-in-supreme-cou-1813396 (NDTV, 16 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, demanding to declare Cauvery Delta as protected zone from oil drilling, strong protect is ongoing there. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/oil-and-gas/give-up-oil-extraction-declare-cauvery-delta-protected-zone-pmk-leader/62949096 (Energy Economic Times, 16 Feb. 2018)

According to a new study groundwater in half of 239 revenue sub-divisions in the Cauvery basin is over exploited, critical, semi-critical and saline. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/groundwater-in-half-of-cauvery-basin-overexploited/articleshow/62965142.cms (The Times of India, 18 Feb. 2018)

Also see op-ed by Soumya Sarkar explaining the best way to save the river is to raise awareness so that public opinion forces the authorities to act. The river can still be saved but the push must come from the people. If the river is worth fighting over, surely it’s worth cleaning up. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/save-the-cauvery-stop-fighting-start-cleaning/article22693584.ece (The Hindu, 10 Feb. 2018)

IRRIGATION

Center Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme: Funding in the Last Two Years  During 2016-17, 99 ongoing Major and Medium Irrigation Projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme(AIBP)  (Including 26 projects of Maharashtra) having potential of 76.03 lakh ha. (8.51 lakh ha. in Maharashtra), have been identified in consultation with states, for completion in phases by December, 2019 along with their Command Area Development & Water Management (CADWM) works. For completion of these projects in a mission mode, funding mechanism through NABARD has been approved by the Government for both Central and State share. Details of Central Assistance (CA) released/sanctioned and State share provided during 2016-17 & 2017-18 (so far) are as under:

Scheme Maharashtra Country as a whole        (Rs. in cr.)
2016-17 2017-18      (so far) 2016-17 2017-18 (so far)
Central Assistance AIBP 379.88 133.67 3307.95 1424.51
CAD 15.17 17.59 853.97 533.56
State Share through NABARD AIBP 1723.58 1383.39 3324.51 3318.85
CAD 10.47

As reported by concerned State Governments, AIBP works of 18 projects (including 4 projects of Maharashtra) have been completed/almost completed. Further, Central Assistance of Rs. 2514 cr. has been released for Polavaram Project during 2016-17 and Rs. 979.36 cr. during 2017-18. CA of another Rs. 1020.64 cr. has been sanctioned for this project during 2017-18. This information was given by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Arjun Ram Meghwal in a written reply in Lok Sabha.  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176390 (PIB, 8 Feb. 2018)

SAND MINING

Rajasthan Sarpanch escorted by Rajasthan cops beaten to death by sand mafia A 50-year-old sarpanch died after he was attacked by suspects involved in illegal sand mining at Bowli village in Sawai Madhopur district on 14 Feb. night. Raghuveer Singh Meena, a sarpanch of Hathdoli village, had gone to Bowli after he learned that several trucks were being loaded with sand (bajri). The suspects armed with sticks and stones attacked Meena and others. As Meena ran, he fell to the ground and was beaten up. According to district SP Maman Singh Yadav, Meena was accompanied by teams from the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary (RAC) and the mining department which have set up several check-posts to prevent illegal sand mining. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/sarpanch-escorted-by-rajasthan-cops-beaten-to-death-by-sand-mafia/articleshow/62941154.cms (The Times of India, 16 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile the Congress on accused the Vasundhara Raje government of deliberately not checking illegal bajri (sand) mining to benefit certain individuals and protested on the issue inside and outside the assembly.The opposition party said, sand mining was continuing in the state despite a ban by the Supreme Court, as few individuals in the government were ‘busy filling their pockets’. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/cong-govt-deliberately-not-checking-illegal-bajri-mining/articleshow/62938703.cms (The Times of India, 16 Feb. 2018)

Goa Protect ecology while mining for sand: Department With a view to protecting the state’s riverine and in-stream systems, the directorate of mines and geology (DMG) has directed sand extractors not to disturb turbidity, velocity and flow-pattern of rivers or estuaries during extracting. Any violation could result in cancellation of permits, the directorate said. “The permit holder shall not interfere or cause any damage to bunds, river banks, agriculture fields, eco-sensitive zones, fish, migratory birds and breeding grounds,” the directive, aimed at mitigating likely ecological impact caused by sand extraction, stated. The department has also sought permit-holders help in fighting illegal extraction, storage and transportation of sand. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/protect-ecology-while-mining-for-sand-dept/articleshow/62907832.cms (The Times of India, 14 Feb. 2018)

Uttarakhand Cop suspended for being involved in illegal sand mining The police on suspended constable Ashwini Sharma who was allegedly trying to facilitate passage of a truck loaded with illegally mined sand in Vikasnagar area in Dehradun. When a jawan of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) tried to stop him, he reportedly got into a scuffle with him. Following this, the PAC jawan fired at Sharma but the bullet missed the target. The PAC is a reserve force and has been deployed in certain parts of the state to check illegal sand mining. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/cop-suspended-for-being-involved-in-illegal-sand-mining/story-Hhu16tS8LpDzuks0qnk7jK.html (Hindustan Times, 18 Feb. 2018)

WETLANDS

West Bengal EKW crusader Ghosh passes away Very Sad News Ecologist & Wetlands crusader Dhrubajyoti Ghosh is no more. Till the end he was fighting for East Kolkata Wetlands objecting to West Bengal government’s plan to change land use policy of EKW.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/kolkata/dhrubajyoti-ghosh-ecologist-who-introduced-east-kolkata-wetlands-to-the-world-passes-away/story-3hGeLXYD6lZP2M5bQHjnzH.html (Hindustan Times, 16 Feb. 32018)

Maharashtra Vasai locals see red over ‘growth centre’ on 1,560-acre wetland A 1,560-acre land in Vasai, Mumbai which acts as rainwater sink, which prevents monsoon flooding in the Vasai-Virar region is demarcated as “growth centre” in the new MMR draft plan (2016-2036). As per the report global property consultancy firm Knight Frank has prepared a vision document, laying out the potential to exploit the land parcel for a “mega-commerce centre”.

Vasai wetlands

The land was earlier designated as a salt pan. In 1989, the state government leased it to the firm Gogate Salt Chemicals for 25 years for salt production. When the lease expired in 2014, the government took the land back and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) reversed the reservation of the no-development zone. Two decades ago, when Cidco had jurisdiction over this area, its development plan had earmarked this land as a plantation zone.

Uma Adusumilli, who heads the MMRDA’s planning division, said the MMR plan has been sent to the Metropolitan Planning Committee headed by CM Devendra Fadnavis and refused to comment on the proposed Vasai growth centre. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/vasai-locals-see-red-over-growth-centre-on-1560-acre-wetland/articleshow/62877848.cms (The Times of India, 12 Feb. 2018)

Residents of Nerul and adjoining areas have launched an online campaign to save the Talawe wetlands. The residents have taken to the grievance redressal portal of the Maharashtra government and have been posting their complaints online in addition to a Facebook page being run to save the wetlands.

Sunil Agarwal, 55, a resident of NRI Complex, Nerul, has been working to save mangroves for the past three years. He got the idea of registering a complaint on government portals after he saw a similar campaign run by Panvel residents to back Panvel City Municipal Corporation chief Sudhakar Shinde and the tremendous response it received. In October 2016, the state government proposed to change Sector 60 land in Nerul from a no- development zone to residential. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/nerul-residents-go-online-to-save-maharashtra-s-talawe-wetlands/story-nlskelU2wzCIZ6KkbYC9oN.html (Hindustan Times, 16 Feb. 2018)

Also see people oppose destruction of wetlands in Vasai. Will they succeed in saving them? https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/63000-locals-object-to-mmr-plan-to-develop-vasai-wetland/articleshow/62878079.cms (The Times of India, 12 Feb. 2018)

Uttarakhand Naini lake based water supply cut by almost half On the basis of recommendations made in a preliminary survey conducted by experts from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Dehradun, the Uttarakhand irrigation department has decided to curtail supply of water from Naini lake from 14 MLD to 8 MLD in an attempt to save the lake.

Among the other medium and long-term solutions recommendations given by experts of the three institutes was to revive natural water sources near the lake so that the burden on the lake could be reduced. Scientists has also initiated geological mapping of 42 out of 72 canals which are connected with the lake. They also mapped the Sukhatal area of the town which is said to be a recharge zone for the lake and contributes more than 40% recharge for the lake. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/to-safeguard-naini-lake-water-supply-from-lake-to-nainital-town-to-be-cut-by-almost-half/articleshow/62973204.cms (The Times of India, 19 Feb. 2018)

In 2017, the water levels of the lake had dipped to unprecedented 18-feet below zero mark leading to alarm bells ringing.

In Jan. 2018, the lake water level has started falling again due to scanty to almost no rainfall in winter. On Jan. 14, the water level was at around four feet above the zero mark, revealing that it dropped by 7 feet from what it was during the monsoons. The primary concern is that there is little hope of replenishment for the next few months.

The project manager of Lake Development Authority (LDA), CM Sah, said, that the water level was rapidly falling as there was no replenishment in the form of rain. He also pointed out that the water level might go down further as the tubewells dug around the lake draw water from its catchment area. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/after-monsoon-cheers-dip-in-lake-level-swells-nainital-water-worries/story-STgIJ2XovND3gd1HeRguzM.html (Hindustan Times, 14 Jan. 2018)

In early Jan. 2018, rationing of water supply in the town — which was first started in the summer of 2015 — was implemented for the first time in winter to help check declining water levels of the lake. The irrigation department had justified the rationing by saying that “water levels of the lake were dipping at a speed of 1.25 inches per day.”

With the new initiative, the irrigation department hoped to limit the fall to 0.5 inch a day and bring down the consumption to 12.5 MLD. If rationing is not done now, the water level in the lake will touch ‘zero’ mark (normal level) in February itself, said the official. ‘Zero’ mark is usually reached in March-end or the first week of April. The measurement scale installed at the southern end of the water body, known as Tallitaal was 6 ft above the ‘zero’ mark on Jan. 14.

In 2012, a petition was filed in the high court seeking a direction to make Nainital an ‘eco-sensitive zone’ and to conserve Sukhataal area which contributes nearly 40% of the lake recharges. However, the petition has been withdrawn by the petitioner recently. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/-in-a-first-water-rationing-in-nainital-this-winter/articleshow/62356619.cms (The Times of India, 3 Jan. 2018)

Also see, plea to save another lake Dodital, including suggestions how to achieve that. As per Mallika Bhanot of Ganga Ahvahan the lake area falls in ESZ, the incident reported is violation of ESZ norms. If the norms were followed, strict monitoring could check and rectify this. Uttarakhand govt’s obsession of opposing the ESZ notification is causing all this damage to pristine areas.  http://indianexpress.com/article/express-sunday-eye/save-me-a-lake-5067701/ (The Indian Express, 18 Feb. 2018)

Op-Ed Urgent need to save wetlands across India by Neha Sinha The two-week Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) that surveys sites across 25 countries in Asia and Australasia, including India, began last month. While the data is still pouring in from this huge citizen science initiative, the census over the years has pointed to some clear trends. India has the biggest species diversity among the regions sampled by AWC. The survey tallied a mean figure of 1.8 million waterbirds over 300 sites in the country between 2008 and 2015.

Committees are also examining the condition of Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, Deepor Beel in Guwahati, and the lakes in Nainital, all choked by sewage, garbage and encroachment. To make matters worse, the new legislation for wetlands, the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017, unlike the Wetland Rules of 2010, implies that manmade waterbodies (such as tanks) and salt pans are not wetlands. In reality though, salt pans and tanks not only support birds both in coastal and peri-urban areas, they are also an essential part of the local cultural fabric.

Yet, one thing is clear. While wetlands are clearly in legislative, administrative and physical peril, the citizens of India are standing up for them. The AWC, a simultaneous and widespread count over two continents, would not be possible without the active involvement of citizens. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/citizens-for-waterfowl/article22693477.ece (The Hindu, 10 Feb. 2018)

Interview Focus on conservation of wetlands Unplanned urbanization has resulted in urban floods in almost all towns in Kerala. Plugging of various natural flood escape routes following wanton conversion of wetlands and other natural water bodies for construction activities in the name of development has contributed to this, says N.K. Sukumaran Nair, environmentalist who was honoured with the State government’s maiden Paristhithi Mithram Award a few days ago.

–  Wetlands in the flood plains as well as urban areas should be conserved and managed wisely as they act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall.

– The poor condition of Varaalchal, a vast wetland in the flood plain area of Pampa river in Koipram grama panchayat, near Aranmula, bears testimony to the criminal negligence of the authorities towards wetland conservation, Mr. Nair said.

The district panchayat had rejuvenated the heavily weeded Varaalchal at a cost of Rs. 50 lakh a year ago. The rejuvenated Varaalchal had recharged the wells too in the vicinity a year ago.But the Varaalchaal has once again degraded into a vast pool of Cabomba, an invasive species, as the authorities concerned failed to ensure its proper maintenance even after its rejuvenation a year ago.

– Mr. Nair said the lowering of the Pampa riverbed owing to indiscriminate river sand quarrying over the past few decades had left the Varaalchal more or less delinked from the Pampa, except during floods. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/focus-on-conservation-of-wetlands/article22664417.ece  (The Hindu, 6 Feb. 2018)

Karnataka Why Bellandur lake catches fire About 40 percent of the city’s untreated sewage flows into Bellandur Lake every day. Industries discharge effluents directly into the water. City residents find the banks of the lake an easy place to throw their garbage, as do trucks, which regularly dump construction debris. What results is a lake that can catch fire, whether through solid or liquid waste floating on its surface, or flammable methane generated from its oxygen-starved waters. Seen in a larger context, the toxic waters of Bellandur Lake are just one example of India’s struggles to protect its environment. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/bangalore-india-lake-bellandur-catches-fire-pollution/ (National Geographic, 14 Feb. 2018)

WATER OPTIONS

India Water Portal Harvesting Rainwater effectively An innovative project makes rainwater harvesting easier and more effective in certain areas of Mewat village with increased groundwater salinity.  http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/harvesting-rainwater-effectively (IWP, 15 Feb. 2018)

GROUND WATER

Centre Govt pushes Rs 6,000cr plan to tackle water depletion Fast depleting ground water in nearly 30% of the assessed blocks in the country has pushed the Centre to fast-track its Rs 6,000 crore ambitious plan aimed at efficient management of available water resources and strengthening of recharge mechanism through community participation.

Half of the total cost of this central scheme – named Atal Bhujal Yojana – will be supported by the World Bank as loan while the remaining half (Rs 3,000 crore) will be funded by the government through budgetary support to deal with the deepening crisis of water scarcity in many parts of the country. It is expected to be approved before March 31, 2018 to facilitate implementation with effect from April 1.

The last assessment report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) shows that 1,034 of 6584 assessed blocks in the country are over-exploited (usually referred to as ‘dark zones’). It means annual ground water consumption in those blocks is more than the annual ground water recharge.

Besides, 934 blocks fall in different stages of criticality due to depletion without recharge. The over-exploited units are mostly concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, western UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The CGWB report shows that Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi are worst among them. Though Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of ‘dark zones’ (358 out of 1139 assessed units), Punjab is the worst in percentage term with 105 (76%) of its 138 assessed units falling in this category.

Similarly, 164 of the 248 assessed blocks in Rajasthan are over-exploited (66%), followed by Delhi where 15 (56%) out of 27 assessed blocks are in ‘dark zones’. Haryana has 64 (54%) over-exploited blocks out of 119 assessed units in the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/centre-pushes-rs-6000cr-plan-to-tackle-water-depletion/articleshow/62923993.cms (The Times of India, 15 Feb. 2018)

National Bhujal Manthan meet in city from Feb. 16 Central Ground Water Board is organizing two-day 3rd national ‘Bhujal Manthan’, on Feb 16 and 17. Around 2,000 delegates from across the country involved with water management are expected to attend the event to be held at Suresh Bhat auditorium. The theme of this national meet is ‘Participatory groundwater management and low cost artificial recharge measures for groundwater augmentation.’

Success stories of water conservation, groundwater augmentation with community participation would be shared by the practitioners. Tamasawada in Selu of Wardha district a 3.5km long artificial water body has been created successfully tapping rainwater. As per Arjan Meghwal, one of the main reasons for steep decline in per capita water availability from 5157 meter cube in 1951 to 1545 meter cube in 2011 is the lack of water budgeting in planning resulting in demand exceeding supply. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/national-bhujal-manthan-meet-in-city-from-friday/articleshow/62922827.cms (The Times of India, 15 Feb. 2018)

As per one more report, aquifer mapping of about nine lakh sq kms area across the country has been completed and mapping of another nine lakh sq kms will be completed in another three years, said K.C Naik, Chairman of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)

– Government has started an ambitious National Project on Aquifer Management (NAQUIM) under national water policy 2012. In the first phase out of 33 lakh sq kms of the country 23 lakh sq kms area has been identified for mapping. Aquifer mapping is a process wherein a combination of geologic, geophysical, hydrologic and chemical field and laboratory analyses are applied to characterize the quantity, quality and sustainability of ground water in aquifers.

– The three D maps about the resources of individual aquifer and individual planning are available. In last two years, CGWB has identified priority areas which are suffering due to over exploitation of water. Out of the 6,665 blocks in India, 1,034 blocks are suffering because of over exploitation of water. The unit of over exploitation varies from block to block. In initial stage, the blocks are identified in seven states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. http://thehitavada.com/Encyc/2018/2/17/CGWB-aims-to-boost-conservation-of-groundwater-in-country–Naik.aspx (Hitveda, 17 Feb. 2018)

MoWR Consultative Committee to promote participatroy groundwater management  On Feb. 10, the consultative committee of MoWR agreed upon the need to promote and encourage participatory management as a solution to long term, sustainable development of  ground  water resources in the country. According to them, the proposed Atal Bhujal Yojana is also an effort in this direction. The Rs 6000 crore Central scheme aims at sustainable ground water management with emphasis on demand side interventions with community participation in 78 districts covering states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176482 (10 Feb. 2018)

Uttar Pradesh NGT notice on industries extracting groundwater The NGT on Feb. 16 has issued a notice to the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) over a large number of industries running without consent to extract groundwater in Noida and Greater Noida. The tribunal directed the CGWA to submit an action taken report in this regard within 10 days. The case will come up for hearing on February 27.

The tribunal was hearing a case filed by a Delhi-based environmentalist, Shailesh Singh, regarding the depleting condition of groundwater due to its illegal extraction by various industries in the two areas. An RTI reply received on January 2018 has given a list of 88 industries in Greater Noida that are continuously extracting groundwater without consent. Such acts are taking place in overexploited areas like Bisrakh, Dadri, Dankaur and Jewar.

NGT in the past has passed several orders making it compulsory for a person/industry to obtain permission to extract groundwater from the CGWA. In an order in 2015, the NGT had made it mandatory to obtain permission to extract groundwater from the CGWA. It had also directed the UPPCB to ensure that meters are fixed in all these units to record groundwater consumption. However, even after 3 years, industries are not only violating the norms laid by the CGWA and UPPCB, but also acting contrary to orders passed by the NGT.

The applicant said that a public notice was issued by the CGWA to industries in January 2017 following an order by the NGT in Jan. 2016. The petitioner also drew the attention of the NGT to other order issued in April 2017, in which the tribunal had severely reprimanded the CGWA for giving a “go by” to its mandate. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ghaziabad/ngt-notice-on-industries-extracting-groundwater/articleshow/62938848.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

Bihar Groundwater resources to be recharged in 17 districts The state agriculture department has prepared a Rs 2,950 crore integrated watershed project comprising 332 schemes for recharge of groundwater resources in 17 south Bihar districts namely Buxar, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Kaimur, Aurangabad, Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada, Nalanda, Patna, Lakhisarai, Sheikhpura, Jamui, Munger, Banka and Bhagalpur.

The project is expected to be completed in 5 years and will provide irrigation facility in 22 lakh hectare (or 55 lakh acres) of land. The work involves creation of micro watersheds – ‘nullahs’ – along roadsides, brick and cement structures across the ‘nullahs’ for holding flowing water and digging of ponds on both government and private land.

The total estimated expenditure of Rs 2,950 crore, Rs 550 crore is for the ongoing projects already under implementation. The remaining Rs 2,400 crore, with the money provided by the Centre, NABARD and the state government, will be spent on the new projects. As to the ongoing schemes, the Centre and the state government will provide Rs 100 crore each, and the remaining sum of Rs 350 crore will be provided by the NABARD. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/groundwater-resources-to-be-recharged-in-17-districts-minister/articleshow/62841384.cms (The Times of India, 9 Feb. 2018)

Punjab New ground water related DBT scheme – Now, the state government has launched a pilot in three villages under which digital meters will be installed on tubewells belonging to nearly 1,000 farmers in the three villages. Instead of compensating the state discom for free power supply, the state will deposit `48,000 in the accounts of the farmers who will then be billed by the discom on the basis of actual consumption. The state has entered into an agreement with the J-PAL, which, along with experts from the World Bank, Punjab Agricultural University and various state departments, will estimate the actual power use by farmers and how it might change following the direct benefits transfer (DBT). If the actual costs for farmers surpass the DBT amount, it is possible that they might rethink their paddy preference. http://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/water-harvest-punjabs-experiment-with-dbt-for-power-to-the-farm-sector-could-pay-off-for-groundwater-in-the-state/1067957/ (Financial Express, 16 Feb. 2018)

Kerala Discontent brewing in Aluva over illegal tapping of water Discontent is brewing among a section of the population in Aluva municipality after several wells dried up in the area, allegedly owing to the unauthorised tapping of ground water. As the situation worsened, three residents’ associations – Sangeetha Sabha Road Residents’ Association, High Road Residents’ Association and Shanthi Nagar Residents’ Association – joined hands to form Boogarbha Jala Samrakshana Samithi (Groundwater Conservation Committee), Aluva, earlier this month. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/discontent-brewing-in-aluva-over-illegal-tapping-of-water/article22671944.ece (The Hindu, 7 Feb. 2018)

WATER

Center Drinking water projects ‘by & for the people’ soon in 6 states The central government will launch six pilot projects for clean drinking water supply in villages under ‘Swajal Project; one each in Uttarakhand, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The project will involve locals in civil work and maintenance of the system.

Piloted as a “by the people, for the people, of the people” project, the drinking water and sanitation ministry will pay 90% of the cost and the panchayat concerned will bear the remaining 10%. It will be extended to all 115 backward districts identified by Niti Aayog. The first two pilots will start in Uttarakhand (this month) and in Rajasthan next month. Though this seems like a replica of the ‘Swajaldhara’ scheme launched by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, this time local residents will pay a certain water charge for maintenance of the system.

At least one village will be brought under the scheme in all 115 identified districts,” a source said. Minister Uma Bharati will launch the first pilot in Uttarkashi next week.The second district will be Karauli in Rajasthan. Officials said 90% share of central government will be paid to the panchayat on the day work starts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/drinking-water-projects-by-for-the-people-soon-in-6-states/articleshow/62877961.cms (The Times of India, 12 Feb. 2018)

Kerala Check dam to on Muvattupuzha river to shore up water supply to Choondi plant Overcoming all the bureaucratic delays, the Irrigation Department has finally begun work on a permanent check dam at Ramamangalam on the Muvattupuzha river to enable the Choondi Water Treatment Plant to obtain water from the drawing well in all seasons.

A gabion check dam costing over ₹7 crore will be built 50 metres down the Ramamangalam bridge so that the water level in the drawing well will not fall during the summer. The Choondi plant had been facing the problem of water shortage during summers as the course of the river is away from the drawing well. For the past seven years, several lakhs of rupees have been spent on a temporary bund, which had become a necessity for the plant to draw enough water. Without a bund, it was difficult to draw 22 million litres of water that the plant supplied to the city and outskirts every day.

However, this year too, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) will have to shell out ₹8 lakh to build a temporary bund as the check dam will not be completed before the summer is out. The technical and administrative sanctions for the check dam were given more than a year ago, but the work has begun only now. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/check-dam-to-shore-up-water-supply-to-choondi-plant/article22683800.ece (The Hindu, 8 Feb. 2018)

Karnataka Bengaluru must count every drop of water Bengaluru with a one-crore-plus population imports virtually every drop of water it consumes. And the cost of transporting water from the Cauvery – the chief provider – has increased 30 times in the past 40 years from Rs 21 lakh per MLD to nearly Rs 7 crore per MLD

– Bengaluru should be protective about its water resources. Instead, citizens — aided by lax governance — are killing lakes, letting rainwater go down the drain and polluting groundwater.

– Until 1886, Bengaluru’s water needs were adequately met by rain-fed tanks and lakes and man-made wells. In 1896, for the first time, water was drawn from the Arkavathi river and supplied to Bengaluru via the reservoir in Hesaraghatta. The design capacity of the reservoir was 21 MLD. Today, it does not supply even a drop of water.

Master (2)

– In 1933, water from the same tributary of the Cauvery was drawn to the TG Halli reservoir. This reservoir has a capacity of 149 MLD, but it too no longer supplies water. Then, 27 years after Independence, water was for the first time drawn from outside the city. The Cauvery Stage-I project was born. Since then, five more projects to bring water from Cauvery have been commissioned and together, they deliver about 1,430 MLD. Under Stage V of Cauvery, an additional 775 MLD will be brought to the city.

– Several parts of the city came to a standstill more than once in the past two years because of floods. Experts say the city can convert this bane into a boon. Srinivas Reddy, director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre, said, “At least 32% of the total runoff volume of water from heavy rains can be diverted to rainwater harvesting. Also, existing open lakes and tanks can take in 5% of such water. Together, rainwater harvesting and proper lake management can result in almost 37% of flood water being converted into a sustainable water source.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-must-count-every-drop-of-water/articleshow/62908485.cms (The Times of India, 14 Feb. 2018)

Haryana Underground storage soon to end Gurgaon’s water supply woes The mantle of ensuring water supply to the city passed from the HUDA and the MCG to the new authority Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) & it has aimed to construct 10 underground water storage tanks (UGTs) in two phases across the city to streamline water distribution system for villages and areas falling in the old municipal limits.

-GMDA supplies 82 MGD canal water from Basai and Chandu Budhera plants

-22 MGD additional water supply to start by end of February from Chandu Budhera plant

-104 MGD canal water GMDA will supply from next month

-City actual requires 150 MGD, a deficit of 50 MGD still remains

-City would need 250 MGD water by 2021 to feed expected 45 lakh population https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurgaon/underground-storage-soon-to-end-gurgaon-s-water-supply-woes/story-dSrvOLKkoSMJao16xAafBN.html (Hindustan Times, 13 March 2018)

West Bengal Kolkata Diarrhoea Outbreak affects over 1100 people in 10 Municipal Wards http://www.indiawest.com/news/india/diarrhea-outbreak-spreads-in-kolkata-over-affected/article_4ed4ad72-10f4-11e8-8ebd-83b0ba769a2c.html (India West, 12 Feb. 2018)

Following the incidents local hospitals are running out of beds. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/diarrhoea-outbreak-28-hospitalised-in-kolkata/article22727145.ece   (The Hindu, 11 Feb. 2018)

Officials & doctors believe, water contamination as a reason behind the outbreak; http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/diarrhoea-outbreak-spreads-in-kolkata-over-1100-affected/1065001/ (Financial Express, 11 Feb. 2018)

However the Mayor has denied the claim. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/feb/11/contamination-of-drinking-water-650-suffer-from-diarrhoea-in-kolkata-municipal-corporation-takes-m-1771853.html (The New Indian Express, 11 Feb. 2018)

Meanwhile, citizens making beeline 4 packaged water https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/packaged-drinking-water-soars-as-water-contamination-scare-grips-kolkata/articleshow/62890694.cms (The Times of India, 13 Feb. 2018)

DROUGHT

Chhattisgarh Drought during Kharif 2017 – 1104767 farmers from 11297 villages have been affected by drought. In all, 1028657.812 hectares area had remained dry due to short rainfall.

– “Chhattisgarh has received 12.8 per cent less rainfall in the kharif 2017 when compared to average of last 10 years,” state’s minister for revenue Prem Prakash Pandey said.

He added that 96 tehsils in 21 districts were declared drought-hit in September 2017 based on visual assessment of crop. The government has disbursed Rs 5.46 billion to the districts for immediate relief and Rs 3.30 billion had been distributed so far,” Pandey added. http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/over-1-1-mn-farmers-affected-by-drought-in-chhattisgarh-during-kharif-2017-118021501066_1.html (Business Standard, 15 Feb. 2018)

AGRICULTURE

Op-Ed India’s agricultural focus must shift to environmentally sustainable crops by Roshan Kishore Indeed Rice Export means WATER EXPORT. Between 2006-07 and 2016-17, rice alone accounted for around 17% of the total value of India’s agricultural exports. More than half of our rice exports are of the basmati variety. Many farmers and exporters must have gained from the sharp rise in India’s rice exports.

– These exports, however, entail a huge cost for the environment. Rice production uses a lot of water. In a 2016 Mint article, I used data from the Water Footprint Network – a global network on water related issues – to estimate that 10 trillion litres of water went into the production of India’s basmati exports in 2014-15. The story also pointed out that India was among the largest virtual exporters of water via agricultural exports.

– Exporting more and more basmati rice without thinking of its environmental repercussions is not going to help matters. It would only hasten the destruction of agricultural ecosystems. https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/india-s-agricultural-focus-must-shift-to-environmentally-sustainable-crops/story-xmuoDJJjphINcEyrk7B11H.html (Hindustan Times, 15 Feb. 2018)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Madhya Pradesh Ireda and Rumsl signs MoU for Large-Scale Solar Parks Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), World Bank & Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) have been able to work out a proposal to channelize US$ 100 Million for creating common infrastructure for ultra-mega solar parks in India to achieve the 100 GW solar capacity addition target by 2022. Under the World Bank Line of Credit, IREDA has sanctioned its first loan of Rs. 210.62 Cr. to Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL) to finance two mega solar parks in Madhya Pradesh.  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176022 (PIB, 31 Jan. 2018)

SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh Interesting story of how Sangu river is dyingHowever, some locals such as Madhavi Marma, an advocate and member of the Women Resource Network (WRN) Bandarban, believe it is not the settlements or Jum cultivation but commercial plantation that is causing the most damage. “Many businesses clear forests in the name of plantations, and blame it on indigenous Jum farmers,” she said, “If Jum is making plants disappear in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), why are they also disappearing in the plain lands where there is no Jum cultivation?” https://www.thethirdpole.net/2018/02/12/sohara-mehroze-shachi/  (The Third Pole, 18 Feb. 2018)

Nepal Assailants attack two hydel projects As per the news report unidentified groups have detonated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at Upper Karnali Hydropower and Arun-III Hydropower projects in Dailekh and Sankuwasabha districts respectively on Feb. 12 night.

– They exploded an IED at Khajura-based office of GMR, the developer of the under construction hydropower project, in Surkhet the same night.

– Walls and security check posts were damaged in both the incidents. In Sankhuwasabha, an unidentified group of assailants detonated an IED in an under-construction powerhouse of Arun-III Hydropower Project the same night. (PR) http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-02-12/assailants-atttack-two-hydel-projects.html (Kathmandu Post, 12 Feb. 2018)

Amid this, with the release of PPEO 2017, Practical Action has shown the overall state of energy supply in the world. As PPEO 2017 highlighted even Nepal’s state of energy, Paul Smith Lomas, CEO, Practical Action, who chaired the report release ceremony, spoke to New Spotlight on various issues. https://www.spotlightnepal.com/2018/02/04/nepals-energy-journey-amazing-lomas/ (Spot Light Nepal, 4 Feb. 2018)

THE REST OF WORLD

Report Hidden depths: why groundwater is our most important water source by Emma Kathryn White

– Groundwater, the great salvation of parched cities and agricultural development, is the world’s largest freshwater resource. The volume of fresh water in all the world’s lakes, rivers and swamps adds up to less than 1% of that of fresh groundwater – like putting a perfume bottle next to a ten-litre bucket.

What’s more, because it’s underground, it is buffered somewhat from a fickle climate and often used to maintain or supplement supply during times of drought.

– Yet caution is required when developing groundwater. Sinking wells everywhere, Beverley Hillbillies style, is unwise. Instead, robust groundwater management is required – defining clearly what we want to achieve and what are we prepared to lose to get it.

– Despite the common perception of its abundance, groundwater is not inexhaustible. Its management is fraught with minefields greater and more enigmatic than those of surface waters. It is, after all, much easier to spot when a reservoir is about to run dry than a subterranean aquifer.

– Only when aquifer depletion is already quite advanced do we begin to see the tell-tale signs at the surface: metres and metres of subsidence, huge cracks in roads, and dried-up wetlands clogged with dead trees and dried-out bird carcasses.

– For the most part, however, groundwater remains out of sight, hidden beneath many metres of soil and rock. We only remember it is there when something goes wrong, such as a drought, at which point people begin raving about groundwater, location, yield, salinity, stygofauna – wait, what?

– Actually hardly anyone cares about stygofauna; most people have never heard of these tiny subterranean creatures, and you will certainly never see one as a state emblem. Mound springs? What are they? Clearly being underground has left groundwater with an image problem.

– There was much media coverage of water theft from the Murray River, with broadcast journalists reporting breathlessly from tinnies, and dramatic footage of huge pumps sucking swirling brown water from a sluggish river. Film of groundwater pumps sedately slurping water is much harder to get, because bores tend to be on private property, often hidden inside little tin shacks and kind of boring, really.

– Groundwater just doesn’t capture the public imagination. Great reservoirs and rivers are evocative of wilderness and adventure; they almost make you want to build a little raft and float lazily away, Huck Finn style. But the thing is, groundwater feeds many great rivers, supplying base-flow, so when we suck water out of wells, in many instances we may as well be sucking out of rivers.

– Despite this connectivity, in many regions groundwater and surface water are managed separately. This is akin to treating to your left hand as a separate entity to your right. Regulation of groundwater lags behind that of surface water and, in many parts of the world including the United States, China, India and Australia, groundwater is overexploited and pumped prolifically, leading to severe social and environmental impacts.

– Mound springs support unique and endemic ecosystems and bubbling clear cold water, a welcome sight for dusty travellers. And as for the aforementioned stygofauna, well, what could be cooler than a blind cave eel?

– Groundwater will become increasingly important as a water source as we grapple with growing cities and burgeoning populations, not to mention climate change, which is projected to reduce rainfall across eastern Australia.

– It is crucial that we ensure our groundwater management is effective and robust in the face of drought. It is no longer enough just to write management plans; we must put them to the test by running our groundwater models through a range of future climate and management frequency scenarios. We need increased investment in groundwater management planning, and for management to be conducted in conjunction with surface water management.

– With many cities’ water supplies drying up before our eyes, we also need to remember to think about the water we cannot see. https://theconversation.com/hidden-depths-why-groundwater-is-our-most-important-water-source-91484 (The Conversation, 9 Feb. 2018)

Study World’s freshwater bodies choked with phosphorus A new report by Water Resources Research warns that phosphorus levels in our freshwater bodies are escalating and this could pose a serious threat to the ecosystem. The study points out that globally, due to human activities, about 1.5 teragrams of phosphorus (one teragram is equal to one billion kg) were dumped in a year into the freshwater systems.

Calculating the total global anthropogenic (caused by human activity) phosphorus pollution, China contributed the most with 30%, followed by India (8%), the USA (7%) and Spain and Brazil (6% each).

Non-point sources of pollution like erosion, run-off and leaching contributed to the other half of the pollution. The domestic sector was the largest contributor of phosphorus accounting for 54%, followed by agriculture (38%) and industry (8%).

The report points out that the phosphorus load from agricultural fields increased by 27% over the study period (2002 to 2010). They write that the increase is due to the extensive use of mineral fertilizers and manure. Cereal-crop cultivation fields contributed to the highest phosphorus run-off.

Grey-water footprints:- The global grey-water footprint increased by about 15% within the study period.

Polluted river basins :- The researchers assessed the phosphorus-related water pollution levels in 20 river basins across the globe. The Huang He river basin of China ranked first, followed by the Indus river basin. The Ganges basin ranked fourth in the list of polluted river basins. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/worlds-freshwater-bodies-choked-with-phosphorus/article22716024.ece (The Hindu, 10 Feb. 2018)

Kenya Great fight lead by a woman victim against polluters Phyllis Omido is leading a landmark class action demanding a clean-up and compensation from a lead-smelting factory accused of poisoning local residents – including her own son. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/kenyas-erin-brockovich-defies-harassment-to-bring-anti-pollution-case-to-courts (The Guardian, 14 Feb. 2018)

Australia Murray-Darling basin plan near collapse after Senate blocks changes The Murray-Darling basin plan to improve the health of Australia’s largest inland river system is hanging in the balance after the Senate blocked changes to reduce water recovery targets – a move that New South Wales and Victoria said would cause them to withdraw support. The Greens, NXT and Labor used their numbers in the Senate on to disallow the regulation by 32 votes to 30. The plan would have reduced the northern basin environmental water recovery target by 70bn litres or 18%. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/14/murr ay-darling-basin-plan-near-collapse-after-senate-blocks-changes (The Guardian, 14 Feb. 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Center Single extreme event not due to climate change The ‘Global Climate Risk Index-2018’ by Germanwatch, launched at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn last year, ranked India as the sixth most affected country in the world in the year 2016 facing extreme weather events.

“However, the analysis is not all encompassing and acknowledges that single extreme weather event cannot be attributed to climate change exclusively,” Minister of State for Environment Mahesh Sharma has said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

About National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) NAPCC comprises eight missions in specific areas of solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, sustaining Himalayan ecosystem, Green India, sustainable agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change, Sharma said.

“Thirty two states and Union territories have prepared the State Action Plan on climate change consistent with the objectives of NAPCC highlighting state specific issues relating to climate change. In addition, a National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change has been launched by the government to support adaptation measures of states/UTs,” he said. http://businessworld.in/article/Germanwatch-climate-report-on-India-not-all-encompassing-Govt/06-02-2018-139796/

The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is a Central Sector Scheme which was set up in the year 2015-16. Click the link to see details on financial support sanctioned, period of support, implementation and executing agencies, State-wise, project-wise and year-wise since 2015-16. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176178                                                                                                                             

Report For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw Before man-made climate change kicked in — and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May — the global water crisis was upon us. Freshwater resources around the world were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall. Many major rivers — diverted, dammed, over-exploited — no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below. http://www.livemint.com/Science/CzqezEQWyrDnTHvdmshJjJ/For-global-water-crisis-climate-may-be-the-last-straw.html (Live Mint, 15 Feb. 2018)

Study Climate change is increasing flood risks in Europe A new study finds strong agreement that flood risks in central and western Europe are rising due to global warming. Studies like this give lie to people who claim that it is too expensive to take action on climate change. What this study shows is it may be too expensive to do nothing. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/feb/08/climate-change-is-increasing-flood-risks-in-europe (The Guardian, 8 Feb. 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

MoEF 560,000 people will be taught green skills in the next 3 years: Harsh Vardhan Around 560,000 people will be taught “green skills” such as pollution monitoring, wildlife management and mangrove conservation during the next three years, the environment ministry said on Feb. 13

“The total budget allocation for the Environmental Information Systems (ENVIS) in budget 2018-19 is Rs24 crore, which marks a 33% increase compared to 2017-18, out of which the training courses under Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP) will be funded,” environment minister Harsh Vardhan said announcing the move.

GSDP is a recent initiative of the central government for skilling the country’s youth. An estimated 80,000 people will be trained during fiscal year 2018-19 under various skilling courses, while 160,000 will be trained in fiscal year 2020 and 320,000 in fiscal year 2020-21.

“A total of 5 lakh 60 thousand people will be imparted training between 2018-19 and 2020-21,” Vardhan said.  http://www.livemint.com/Politics/UgI6EXrbPn3s6owM4UURbM/560000-people-will-be-taught-green-skills-in-the-next-3-yea.html (Live Mint, 14 Feb. 2018)

Allocations to environment sector increased in Budget 2018-19

– National Bamboo Mission, an outlay of Rs. 1290 crore has been made to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner. 

– Rs. 160 crore has been earmarked for the Green India Mission (National Afforestation Programme), which marks an increase of 48.8% over the previous allocation.

– Rs. 67.50 crore for Eco-Task Force, which is a whopping 125 % increase.  

– The total budget allocation for the Environmental Information Systems (ENVIS) in Budget 2018-19 is Rs. 24 crore, which marks a 33% increase compared to 2017-18.

Rs. 20 crore has been earmarked for the Centres of Excellence, which is an 11% increase over the previous year.

Rs. 175 crore have been earmarked for Development of Wildlife Habitat, i.e a 10% increase

Rs. 66 crore have been set aside for conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems, an increase of 10%.

Rs. 350 crore have been allocated for Project Tiger in Budget 2018-19.  

– Project Elephant has been allocated Rs. 30 crore, which makes for a 9% increase.  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176539 (PIB, 13 Feb. 2018)

Forest Survey Report Video of LSTV’s discussion on Feb 14, 2018 about India State of Forests Report 2017, also including Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP: Plz watch, share and send comments. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyrVte3qYeo&feature=youtu.be

Despite deforestation and human encroachment, the country’s forest cover has remained stable around 20% since Independence. This is because the loss of natural old-growth forests is compensated on paper by expanding monoculture plantations. http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-india-doesnt-lose-forest-cover-5064362/ (The Indian Express, 15 Feb. 2018)

To its dismal record on protecting the environment, Haryana can now add this — it’s the state with the lowest percentage of its geographical area under forest cover in the country.

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The 2017 Forest Survey of India (FSI) assessment is a dampener on the state government’s premature declaration of success of its afforestation policy, after the survey showed a negligible 0.02% increase in its forest cover. Environmentalists have called the results of the survey a matter of shame. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/another-dubious-mark-state-has-lowest-percentage-of-forest-cover/articleshow/62923551.cms (The Times of India, 15 Feb. 2018)

An analysis in The Indian Express (IE) shows that some of what India counts as forests aren’t exactly that, and thus, the numbers may be masking an actual net loss of forest cover. http://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/missing-the-woods-forest-data-masks-the-actual-loss-of-forest-cover/1067962/ (The Financial Express, 15 Feb. 2018)

A flawed definition of “forest cover” allows the government to claim growth in total forest cover despite large-scale deforestation. The government counts as “forest cover” any area more than one hectare in size that has more than 10% green canopy. Apart from traditional or natural forests that meet the criteria, this definition also includes plantations like tea and coffee gardens as well as orchards. https://scroll.in/article/868606/hold-the-celebrations-marginal-increase-in-indias-forest-cover-is-masking-massive-deforestation (Scroll.In 12 Feb. 2018)

Interview Collapse of green governance In an interview with Prerna Bindra, renowned lawyer Ritwick Dutta explained the collapse of green governance in India, how the current government is diluting environmental safeguards and how the NGT is being weakened. http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/we-dont-just-have-an-environmental-crisis-but-a-govt-in-denial-as-well-61292 (India Spend, 18 Feb. 2018)

In Kolkata for the launch of her book: ‘The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis’, conservation journalist Bindra raises concerns on Ken Betwa river interlinking in Panna, a road projects Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary, land use change plan of East Kolkata Wetlands. But, she believes that the world has a lot to learn from conservation in India. According to Bindra, the role of media is to create awareness about nature. Besides news stories, we should have more in-depth analysis too. The media has to hold government accountable for allowing projects that decimate our nature. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/save-wetlands-protect-tiger-habitats-author-naturalist/articleshow/62959960.cms (The Times of India, 17 Feb. 2018)

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 12 February 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018

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

One thought on “DRP News Bulletin 19 February 2018 (How Are We Treating Our Urban Rivers?)

  1. Sorry state of Rivers is everywhere in India. Main question remains – In spite of stark visual pollution in Rivers to any layman how do Govt authorized CPCB or MPCB manage to publish reports which do not show actual state of the dying rivers? Why Corporations of all Urban sectors do not have the issues directly linked to health and hygiene on top priority? eg. – cleaning of rivers, managing solid waste etc -Rather they seem to be busy doing more and more concreting of roads, or spending crores on Metros & hyper loops and what not? When basic need is clean air & clean water for survival? Why all departments do not make it as priority for life security of the citizens? Is it because the high end metros and well lit & landscaped wide roads are eye catching and hygiene is not visible so not important?

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