Dams · Rivers

North India Rivers Review 2017: Pollution Poisoning Lifelines

In an effort to assess the situation of Rivers in 2017, SANDRP is presenting the compilation of key rivers related development in the country. The first part of this Rivers Review 2017 includes Northern States including Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The following parts will present separate accounts for Rivers in North East, West, East and South Zones. There will also be separate review reports on Ganga & Yamuna rivers.

JAMMU & KASHMIR

Jhelum River Dry spell in Kashmir, Jhelum waters go alarmingly low According to officials of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) of Kashmir, Jhelum river water level on Jan. 01, 2017 morning touched a low of minus 0.55 foot at Sangam in south Kashmir. It was the lowest measure of the river’s water level since the department began maintaining the record in 1955. The unprecedented drop in the river’s water level has been caused due to decreased precipitation as Kashmir continued with a long dry spell with no downpour recorded in November 2016 and only one rainy day in December 2016.  http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/community/dry-spell-in-kashmir-jhelum-waters-go-alarmingly-low/344682.html (The Tribune, 02 Jan. 2017)

Unprecedented low water levels  As per the report, on October 18, IFCD, which monitors water levels in River Jhelum, posted on its facebook page that gauge reading of -0.65 feet was the lowest gauge ever recorded at the Sangam site, a benchmark recording station for Jhelum’s water levels in south Kashmir near the river’s source at Verinag.

– There has been no rainfall in October so far and just 14mm rainfall in September against a normal 32 mm for both months. Over 50 small and large water supply schemes are currently suffering under the lowest ever flows in the region’s main river, the Jhelum. This is in Sopore, Baramullah and Pompore districts.

– Shakil Romshoo, head Earth Sciences department at Kashmir University says that if, you look at the time series of the observed discharge for the Jhelum since the 1960s, there is significant decline in the discharge of the Jhelum since 1990s and this is attributed to the loss of glacier mass in the Kashmir basin. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2017/10/23/water-levels-in-jhelum-lowest-ever-recorded/ (The Third Pole, 23 Oct. 2017)

Jhelum River Mining Riverbed mining destroys rivers in Jhelum basin Uncontrolled extraction of sand, gravel and boulders from Jhelum and other rivers in the basin is destroying the ecosystem in the rivers. The importance of sediments is such that the Indus Waters Treaty – the water sharing agreement between India and Pakistan over the Indus River signed in 1960s –gives explicit recognition to the right of downstream riparian population to the sediments, just as it does for the water. The trapping and release of sediments is regulated under the treaty, and has been a subject of frequent discussions and arbitrations under the treaty.

Mining in Poonch river using heavy machinery is destroying river habitats [image credit: Hagler Bailly Pakistan, The Third Pole]

As per the report, one such initiative now underway is preparation of a sediment mining plan for the Poonch River in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where local and international experts will join to find solutions within the framework of sustainable development. The effort will be based on a range of scientific studies and consultation with the stakeholders. The expected outcome is a licensing and regulatory system which will be community-based, cognizant of local livelihoods, setting the limits on how much sand, gravel, and boulders can be extracted from which part of the river at what time of the year. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2017/05/04/indiscriminate-riverbed-mining-destroying-rivers-in-jhelum-basin/ (The Third Pole, 04 May 2017)

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

Jhelum River Floods Jhelum flood vulnerability increases Similarly the flood vulnerability situation in river Jhelum basin has increased manifold during the last few decades, and environmental experts mainly attribute this, to the shrinking and loss of wetlands. http://risingkashmir.com/news/jehlums-flood-vulnerability-increases-manifold-due-to-shrinking-of-wetlands (Rising Kashmir, 30 Oct. 2017)

Flood Channel, Invitation To Disaster! A report on Srinagar Floods by Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism. http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/11/16/flood-channel-invitation-to-disaster/ (Counter Currents, 16 Nov. 2017)

Post-2014 floods, Govt clueless about plugging loopholes This article is forthright that State govt is clueless about plans or actions as to what to do in the aftermath of Sept 2014 floods, that its lucky that monsoons in next three years were deficit, but the disaster could soon come with better monsoon and indeed that dredging wound not help. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/post-2014-floods-j-k-clueless-about-plugging-loopholes/532082.html (The Tribune, 22 Jan. 2018)

Jhelum River Pollution Jhelum faces water pollution in Baramulla town The absence of a solid waste plant in Baramulla town is directly impacting the health of the Jhelum here with tons of garbage and waste including human excreta daily finding its way into it. Notably, the drinking water for the town comprising over 80,000 souls is being supplied from the Jhelum.  According to locals, the local administration had been in the process of identifying land for solid waste plant for last more than a decade.

Surprisingly, the garbage dumping site at Jetty is in violation of the rules as the pollution control department Baramulla has served several notices to the municipal council authorities directing them to stop the use of land for dumping of garbage as the area “is close to the banks of river Jhelum”. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/kashmir/jhelum-faces-water-pollution-in-baramulla-town/262193.html  (Greater Kashmir, 5 Oct. 2017)

Pollution continue to kill Jhelum River The Jhelum River which is the prime water source for Kashmiri people, has been neglected for any concrete policy on drainage and sewage treatment. A famous saying about the river “all roads lead to Jhelum” has been altered to “all drains lead to Jhelum”. The pollution to river Jhelum is mainly in the form of sewage from various domestic, commercial and industrial sources. Wastewater treatment is not given the obligatory importance in our state as it deserves and, therefore, sewage is being discharged into Jhelum without any treatment and ultimately elevates the organic matter load in the river. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/valuing-the-environment/266424.html (Greater Kashmir, 18 Nov. 2017)

Ravi River Mining Ravi river dying because of illegal mining The video shows that illegal mining in Ravi river in Kathua district is posing threat to environment and heavy loss to state exchequer. Under the nose of state government, the Punjab based stone crushers are mining the river bed beyond the legal mark causing severe damage to the river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICGOx2sKsiA (You Tube, 14 Nov. 2017)

Dumping of Solid Waste in Rivers Solid waste being dumped in rivers As per the report, the state government has failed to establish solid waste disposal plants in all, in 19 Urban Local Bodies due to non-identification and non-acquisition of land and frequent change of sites. In 11 municipal committees of four districts of Jammu, the government had sanctioned the solid waste management projects, of which none has been started at any level.

Meanwhile, the waste is being dumped in rivers and nullahs within in these limits or is being thrown at various spots outside the town. The Tawi is bearing the major brunt as solid waste is being dumped into the river by three municipal committees, including Jammu, RS Pura, and Ghou Manasa, while the waste from the Akhnoor municipal committee is being thrown into the Chenab. The remaining municipal committees have identified open lands, mountain areas and nearby nullahs for waste disposal. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/19-solid-waste-projects-in-state-hanging-fire/551762.html (The Tribune, 1 March 2018)

Nationalization of Rivers 4 major rivers declared ‘National Waterways’: Government 4 major rivers, Jhelum, Chenab, Indus and Ravi in the state have been declared “national waterways” by the union government, paving the way for inland navigation on them to boost water transport and tourism, the state government has said. The state government was examining the feasibility-cum-detailed project report of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) prepared for inland navigation and construction of horizontal and vertical terminals across these waterways.

As per Sham LalChoudhary, Minister for Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control, to take the project forward, formulation of DPRs of Comprehensive Flood Management Plan of river Jehlum Phase-II worth Rs. 1684.60 crore under PMDP has been entrusted to WAPCOS, an agency of Union Ministry of Water Resources to be completed in three months. To meet future flood challenges in the Jammu region, the Flood Protection to River Chenab project at a cost of Rs. 2,314 crore has been conceptualized and the DPR has been submitted to the Union government.

Further speaking on a discussion on the demand for grants of PHE, I&FC departments in the Legislative Assembly, the minister said that under the Rs. 399.29 crore Comprehensive Flood Management Plan for river Jehlum, Phase-I, an amount of Rs. 177.20 crore has been utilisedagainst the released amount of Rs. 196.12 crore. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/4-major-rivers-in-jammu-and-kashmir-declared-national-waterways-government-1806833 (NDTV, 30 Jan. 2018)

State Govt. Efforts Tender floated for Tawi River Front in Jammu The State Government has floated the tenders of Rs 140 cr  for the development and conservation of Tawi river front. The Jammu Development Authority (JDA) has identified 3,125 acres of land which was under encroachment and managed to demarcate 2,750 acres, out of which 1,750 acres were now in possession of the authority, Vice Chairman, JDA, Rajesh Kumar Shavan, said.

The project of Tawi river front is broadly envisaged to cover 10 km stretch upwards from 4th Tawi bridge (GoleGujral) uptoSainik School Nagrota and to begin with the consolidated detailed project report (DPR) of Rs 407 cr for 3.5 km stretch up to Gujjar Nagar bridge was prepared, the JDA vice chairman said. http://news.statetimes.in/tender-floated-for-tawi-river-front-in-jammu/ (1 March 2018)

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Swan River Channelisation CM seeks PM’s intervention In May 2017 Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed concern over the inordinate delay in central assistance for the Swan river channelisation in Una district.He said the Union Ministry for Water Resources had cleared a project of about Rs 922.48 crore for the channelisation of all tributaries of the Swan.As per the agreement the union ministry was to contribute 70 per cent to the project while the remaining was the share of the state.This issue was raised at the governing body meeting of Swan River Channelisation Authority. http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/himachal-seeks-pm-s-intervention-for-swan-river-channelisation-117052500995_1.html (Business Standard, 25 May 2017)

In Sept. 2017 the CM alleged that work on the Swan river channelisation project had been hit as the Centre was not releasing funds. As per CM the funds were yet to be released by the Centre despite several requests. In the first phase, the State’s contribution was Rs. 99 crore against an estimated cost of Rs. 330 crore. He also said that so far Union Ministry for Water Resources. had given Rs. 189 crore and another small amount since the project was commissioned.http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/centre-not-releasing-funds-for-swan-river-project-virbhadra/article19696005.ece (The Hindu, 16 Sept. 2017)

Swan River Pollution Swan river, its tributaries turn into dumping ground The Swan, along with its 73 tributaries that run through the length and breadth of Una district, is gradually being converted into water channels to drain waste generated by human beings residing in all 234 panchayats and urban areas of the district.While none of the panchayats have a working waste management plan, even the urban bodies are dumping their waste near the open space along the Swan river banks.The Swan finds mention in the Ancient Indian scriptures as Sombhadra river. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/community/swan-river-its-tributaries-turn-into-dumping-ground/322305.html (The Tribune, 13 Nov. 2016)

Swan river, its tributaries turn into dumping ground
The littered Swan river near the Jhalera bridge. (Image Source: The Tribune) 

Solid Waste Dumping Rivulets turn dumping ground in Dharamsala Rivulets are turning into dumping grounds in “Smart City”Dharamsala as people are dumping solid waste of their houses into natural drains, chocking most of the rivulets in the town. In Dharamsala about 14 to 15 metric tonnes of solid waste was generated daily. It increased in the tourist season. To handle such a huge amount solid waste, the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation has just 44 garbage containers and 47 small dustbins. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/community/rivulets-turn-dumping-ground-in-dharamsala/348591.html (The Tribune, 11 Jan. 2017)

Sirsa River Pollution Failing CETP poisoning Sirsa and villagers lives In detailed report, Manshi Asher and Sumit Mahar explains how industrial units in Baddi Barotiwala Nalgarh Industrial hub have reduced Sirsa river a tributary of the Satluj, into a drain carrying toxic industrial effluents of the, over the last ten years. The river has several villages located along its banks that have been impacted as a result of untreated effluents and toxic water being drained into it by more than 2000 industrial units in the region. The worst affected were the Gujjars, a pastoral community dependent on rearing cattle and buffaloes. http://www.himdhara.org/2017/11/12/common-effluent-ill-treatment-in-worlds-third-largest-pharma-hub/ (Himdhara, 12 Nov. 2017)

Google Earth image of Sirsa River 

Govt. Efforts Directive against effluents’ disposal into water sources Taking strict view of a large number of cancer cases emerging from the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) area, Ram Kumar Chawdhary, chairman, Sub-Divisional Grievance Committee, on Jan. 16, directed the officials of the State Pollution Control Board to put an end to the disposal of industrial effluents into the small rivers and ensure their proper treatment. Officials informed that some industries located on the HPSIDC industrial area were yet to be connected to the CETP. This was causing pollution. While the water drawn from the hand pumps was exceptionally hard, it was an indication of the deteriorating quality of the ground water. The small rivers being polluted by industries are part of Sutlej Catchment. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/community/directive-against-effluents-disposal-into-water-bodies/351224.html (The Tribune, 17 Jan. 2017)

Pollution control board to monitor 27 more sites Following CPCB instruction, the SPCB has increased its monitoring locations from the earlier 104 sites across the state to 131. The report also says that with no staff enhancement in the four laboratories of the board which was operating at Parwanoo, Jasur, Sundernagar and Paonta Sahib, the staff will face an added challenge of analysing water samples from 31 new locations. Despite the CPCB having directed the SPCB to upgrade its Parwanoo lab within 90 days in October 2015, it is yet to meet these standards.  http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/pollution-control-board-to-monitor-27-more-sites/384211.html (The Tribune, 30 March 2017)

PUNJAB

Satluj River NGT orders closure of 19 tanneries in Jalandhar NGT has ordered closure of 19 tanneries for discharging pollutants including heavy metals into drains in Jalandhar district which was resulting in serious environmental hazards. A bench headed by former chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar constituted a high powered committee to inspect 61 industries and directed it to prepare a complete and comprehensive report on tanneries. The committee would submit report on source of water of these tanneries, consumption of water, whether any flow metres to the conveyor belts have been fixed and if they have permission from Central Ground Water Authority. http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ngt-orders-closure-of-19-tanneries-in-jalandhar/story-NQgaARzr682I4O1QkuPmnL.html  (Hindustan Times, 29 Dec. 2017)

Representative Image
Representative Image ( Image Source: Hindustan Times) 

Ghaggar River A ‘drain’ of toxic effluents for villages of Punjab and HaryanaOver two dozen villages in the adjoining districts of Mansa in Punjab and Sirsa in Haryana share a common drain of toxic effluents — the ‘nullah’ that was once the mighty Ghaggar river, three decades ago.https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ghaggar-a-drain-of-toxic-effluents-for-villages-of-punjab-and-haryana/story-A0huKYncRQYL4o1dFan2IL.html (Hindustan Times, 8 April 2018)

Here is an informative report on N-choepollution. The Choe is seasonal water stream which joins the river Ghaggar in severely polluted condition. https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/choked-n-choe-raises-a-stink-in-mohali/story-Z8fA3oenjCrn4fDfCiEtqI.html (Hindustan Times, 17 Jan. 2018)

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

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

UTTRAKHAND

Drying Rivers 50 साल में सूख गईं उत्तराखण्ड की 300 नदियां उत्तराखण्ड में पिछले पांच दशक के दौरान 300 से ज्यादा नदियां और पांच हजार चाल-खाल विलुप्त हो चुके हैं। कई नदियां बरसाती नालों में तब्दील हो गई हैं। कुमाऊं मंडल में कोसी, गगास, गोमती, रामगंगा तो गढ़वाल में नैय्यार सौंग, बाल गंगा, छिवानी, चुद्रभागा जैसी कई नदियां सूख चुकी हैं। अध्ययनों के मुताबिक नदियों की लंबाई बुरी तरह सिकुड़ रही है और उनका जलप्रवाह भी तेजी से घट रहा है। यदि सिमटती नदियों को पुनर्जीवन नहीं दिया गया तो भविष्य में इसके बहुत बड़े दुष्परिणाम सामने आएंगे। बरसात में बेशक नदियां खतरे के निशान से भी ऊपर बहतली हों लेकिन सच यही है कि उत्तराखण्ड की जीवनदायनी नदियां अंदर ही अंदर खोखली होती जा रही हैं। सभ्यता की जननी माने जाने वाली ये नदियां आज संकट में हैं। सरकारों की अनदेखी के चलते इनका अस्तित्व ही मिटता जा रहा है। http://www.janjwar.com/post/pachas-saal-men-sookh-gayin-uttarakhand-kee-300-nadiyan-dinesh-pant (Janjwar, 30 Sept. 2017)

Representative Image (Image Source: Janjwar) 

Rivers depleting at alarming rate: Experts Almost 40% of the state’s rivers are changing their nature as a result of which those rivers which were getting their water from glaciers have now turned into seasonal rivers, according to experts participating in a 2-day science conclave. Discussions were held on the first day on the river system, lakes, ponds and natural water sources in the Himalayan state with a focus on the rejuvenation of Rispana river of Dehradun and Kosi river of Almora. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhands-glacial-rivers-converting-into-seasonal-rivers/articleshow/63048992.cms (The Times of India, 23 Feb. 2018)

Another report on the workshop says that drying up rate of non-glacial rivers in Uttarakhand has escalated in the last two decades. Catchment area of Rivers like Kosi, Rispana, Gagas, Saryu and Gaula have been degraded says Dr J S Rawat, Kumaon University. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/water-sources-in-uttarakhand-depleting-at-alarming-rate-experts/story-BJ33KAKqNnygnAjsdObf5O.html (Hindustan Times, 23 Feb. 2018)

Ramganga River Curious case of disappearing Ramganga’s fish Fishermen are confused by the decline in fish numbers in the Ramganga. While the dams and the resultant fragmentation of rivers are the single largest threat to fish species, especially in the mountain areas, the stretches of the Ramganga are still free flowing. Studies being conducted have discovered that the changes in the land use and the resultant non-point source pollution may adversely impact riverine fish.  http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/curious-case-disappearing-fish (India Water Portal, 7 Jan. 2017)

Kosi River Is Kosi river dying a slow death? Like many other dying rivers in the country, the quietly flowing Kosi may soon shrink to a dangerous level if debris thrown into it from construction work along the river front is not prohibited soon. For the past one year, tonnes of untreated solid waste from construction activities for widening the existing NH 109, between Khaina and Almora, are choking the river. In the first phase of the project, work for a four-lane highway is being undertaken between Khairna and Kwarab bridge in Almora. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/is-kosi-river-dying-a-slow-death/articleshow/60904129.cms (The Times of India, 1 Oct. 2017)

Song River Hydro project  on Song river proposed To provide drinking water to a large population from Rajpur to Lal Tappar in Dehradun, CM on Dec 25 has announced construction of a hydro power dam on Song River. He also laid the foundation stone of projects worth Rs 85.97 crores of PWD and irrigation department on the occasion. The other projects unveiled included head extension and rejuvenation work of Jolly Grant canal, rejuvenation of Badowala and Doodhli- Kishanpur grant canals. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/dehradun/dam-on-song-river–will-solve-drinking-water-problem-cm.html (The Pioneer, 26 Dec 2017)

Dehradun sewage via Song river polluting Ganga Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) report has found that untreated sewage from Dehradun entering the Ganga via Song River near Rishikesh. The 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)

However, this 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 (Dainik Jagran, Feb. 2018)

Govt. Efforts Govt to look at Gujarat for ‘inspiration’ on reviving rivers?Days after the Uttarakhand govt announced its ambitious plans of cleaning the Rispana river, the authorities, said that it is turning towards Gujarat for inspiration to rejuvenate its seasonal rivers and lakes as major tourist spots. Towards this end, a team from the Himalayan state would visit Gujarat shortly to study the model they had adopted for Sabarmati. This sounds like a tragedy to strike Uttarakhand. Hope someone from the state can tell the CM and Chief Secretary, that Gujarat has revived NO rivers and the Sabarmati rejuvenation is a FAKE NEWS. This is totally wrong statement. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ukhand-govt-to-look-at-gujarat-for-inspiration-on-reviving-rivers/articleshow/62342278.cms (The Times of India, 2 Jan. 2018)

Govt. talks with private companies for Rispana revival CM Trivendra Singh Rawat’s pet project Rispana river rejuvenation is looking to tie up with multinational companies, topmost soft drink companies for fund for solid waste management.The erstwhile government through its river front development initiated a move to protect Rispana and Bindal. For this, in a few places retaining walls were set up. But, that too couldn’t stop the flow of solid waste in the rivers.The pollution board is keenly following the project and focusing on reducing toxins by blocking drains in association with civic body. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/uttarakhand-in-talks-with-private-companies-for-rispana-revival/story-3PTVNPEzp5SsZwam4qJzNN.html (2 Feb. 2018)

In January, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a “kill waste” machine for rejuvenation of Rispana river that flows through Dehradun.
In January, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a “kill waste” machine for rejuvenation of Rispana river that flows through Dehradun.(HT Photo)

HARYANA

Saraswati River Exploration soon in Sirsa village to track Saraswati Experts have identified a site at Farwai village of Sirsa where they plan to start exploration activities under the Haryana government’s project for restoration and research work on the mythical Saraswati river. A team from the Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS), an agency hired by the ONGC, has visited Farwai village and identified the spot for exploration near the Ghaggar flowing nearby.

Pritpal Singh, District Development and Panchayat Officer in Sirsa, is nodal officer for the district for this work. As per SS Chahal, a retired superintending engineer who is heading the exploration activities for the WAPCOS, that Farwai is one of the 10 sites in Haryana where the Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board (HSHDB) has planned to do digging for restoration and research work of the lost Vedic river. Among the other nine sites — 5 are in Yamunanagar district, 2 in Kurukshetra and one each in Kaithal, Fatehabad and Sirsa. Under the exploration work, the teams of WAPCOS are to dig bore well up to the depth of 500 meters to reach up to the Saraswati which is believed to be flowing underneath. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/exploration-soon-in-sirsa-village-to-track-saraswati/481277.html (The Tribune, 13 Oct. 2017)

In July 2017, the Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Under the MoU, the ONGC will develop 100 wells on the flow path of Saraswati river for its restoration out of 10 will be Hary Apart from this, WAPCOS, a public sector enterprise under the aegis of Union Ministry of Water Resources, will conduct a survey for this purpose.

Haryana Government had constituted HSHDB in 2015 with an objective to initiate, promote and support research in the field of Saraswati heritage. The Board is also entrusted with the task of developing ancient sites related to Saraswati as a religious tourism center at the international level. The HSHDB has already prepared a scheme to develop tourist and pilgrimage spots of 93 villages in three districts namely Yamunagar, Kaithal and Kurukshetra of the state. Apart from this, the 204-km main channel from Adibadri to village Aandhali of district Kaithal at Punjab border, and then 150-km ‘Saraswati Dharas’ would also be developed.

Recently, a Technical Committee under the chairmanship of scientist Dr JR Sharma was also constituted to assist HSHDB. This committee would advise the Board for the technical decision in the field of Geo-Scientific, Geological, Hydrological, Glaciological, Water Technology and other technical issues pertaining to the Saraswati Heritage Project. The government had earlier this year also celebrated the Saraswati Mahotsav in various districts of the state. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/chandigarh/saraswati-restoration-project-haryana-signs-mou-with-ongc.html (The Daily Pioneer, 21 July 2018)

In January 2018, Haryana signed an MOU with ONGC to build a dam on the river Somb. https://www.gangplankmedia.com/shop/products?v=VD34701822

Sahibi River Story of Sahibi river Hindi report on how urbanisation and encroachments killed Sahibi River. https://hindi.news18.com/news/nation/due-to-encroachment-sahibi-river-lost-in-gurgaon-flood-1087369.html (News18, 24 Aug. 2017)

Najafgarh seeks attention This report rightly says that there is an urgent need to restore Najafgarh basin if the recurrent flooding and water shortage in Delhi and Gurugram have to be avoided in the future. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/najafgarh-seeks-attention (India Water Portal 17 Oct. 2017)

UTTAR PRADESH 

Gomati River CM wants Gomti project linked to NamamiGange CM Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to explore ways to link the Rs 1,500-crore Gomti Riverfront Development Project with the Namami Gange programme. Although the state government has already spent about Rs 1,430 crore, there has been a demand of another Rs 1,500 crore for the project, said an official, who did not wish to be identified. Gomti Riverfront Development Project, launched by the previous Govt, is scheduled to be completed by May 2017. The CM expressed unhappiness that despite the lapse of two years and an expenditure of over Rs. 1,427 crore, the work was only 60 per cent complete, an official release said. (The Economic Times, 28 March 2017) 

After few days, the CM also ordered an investigation into the Gomti riverfront project within 45 days. Adityanath was unhappy that although two years had lapsed, and over Rs 1,427 crore had been spent, only 60 per cent of the work was complete, an official release said.While interacting with officials and staff involved in the project, Adityanath said a demand of an additional amount of Rs 1,500 crore was being made for the project, which was initially scheduled to be completed by May 2017. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/yogi-adityanath-investigation-gomti-river-front-uttar-pradesh-bjp-968944-2017-04-01 (India Today, 1 April 2017) 

The CAG report which studied the pollution levels in Lucknow and Varanasi from 2011 to 2015 has revealed that the Gomti river in Lucknow is even more polluted than the Ganga in Varanasi. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-gomti-river-in-lucknow-more-polluted-than-ganga-in-varansicag-2448063 (DNA, 23 May 2017)

Also see, What is Gomati Project scam http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/what-is-gomti-project-scam-heres-why-yogi-adityanath-has-gone-for-cbi-probe-in-akhilesh-yadavs-pet-project/725646/ (Financial Express, 19 June 2017)

In July 2017, the government has finally recommended a CBI probe into ‘irregularities’ in Rs 1503 crore Gomti River Front project. An FIR was lodged in the Gomti River Front case on the basis of recommendation of four-member committee headed by minister for urban development Suresh Khanna to suggest action against those indicted for irregularities by the judicial committee. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/yogi-government-cbi-probe-into-gomti-riverfront-project/story-IJVqWYPNdLwDdY3wLBNOHN.html (Hindustan Times, 21 July 2017)

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had constituted a judicial committee to probe irregularities.
CBI has file an FIR in Gomati River front development project (Image Source: HT)

In Dec. 2017, CBI has taken over the investigation into alleged irregularities in the Rs. 1,500 crore Gomti river front development project in Lucknow by registering an FIR against 8 engineers. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cbi-takes-over-investigation-in-gomti-development-project-1782562 (NDTV, 1 Dec. 2017)

Aami, Rapti Pollution 18 industrial units sealed for Aami river pollution in Gorakhpur Following NGT directions, State Pollution Control Board sealed 18 industrial units for polluting Aami & Rapti river. The show-cause notices have been issued to at least 10 other industries found not taking pollution control measures. Ami, a river of historical and religious importance, gets untreated waste from GIDA (Gorakhpur Industrial Development Authority) through a nullah. GIDA has no funds for a common effluent treatment plant (CETP). CPCB termed the river “extremely polluted” for the first time in 2011 and NGT started questioning the authorities concerned in 2015. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/18-ind-units-sealed-for-river-pollution-in-gorakhpur/articleshow/61028891.cms (The Times of India, 11 Oct. 2017)

In Sept. 2017, government’s environment and forest department planned to rejuvenate and refine the district’s rivers and lakes. The environment directorate will begin by commissioning a study of Ramgarh Taal and rivers Rapti and Ami that flow through Gorakhpur. It will be the first of its kind study in UP by a government department. The directorate has called for expression of interest to choose an agency through open bidding.The study might cost the directorate around Rs 20 lakh.

The directorate had been receiving complaints against increasing industrial pollution by paper mills, distilleries and sugar units on the banks of Rapti and Ami rivers.The study will be qualitative and quantitative to assess deterioration in water quality due to pollution and volume of effluents being discharged in the river at critical points. The study would also suggest remedial measures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/study-to-asses-water-quality-of-gorakhpur-rivers-lakes/articleshow/60709359.cms (The Times of India, 16 Sept. 2017)

Earlier in 2013, the NHRC had asked the Ministry, UP govt and SPCB to respond within six weeks to allegations of violating human rights of the citizens dependent on the Aamiriver.The Commission noted that there are reports that 52 villages along the Aami river were adversely affected by contaminated water.http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/aami-river-pollution-nhrc-issues-notices-to-centre-up-112071200502_1.html (Business Standard 24 Jan. 2013) Its not clear what happened in this NHRC case.

Kali River Story of Kali river pollution As per a study by Neer Foundation, a Meerut-based non-profit working on environmental issues, as the river is polluted, the groundwater of the area which gets replenished by the river too has turned into a receptacle for toxic waste. Unsuspecting people, however, continued to draw water through the handpumps till recent studies rang an alarm bell.The pollution load in the river is unmanageable and it can barely assimilate the pollutants. https://yourstory.com/2017/06/kali-river/ (Your Story, 15 June 2017) 

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

Farmers told not to use polluted Hindon water to grow vegetables Under Nirmal Hindon Abhiyan Meerut administration and NEER foundation,Farmers in western Uttar Pradesh have been asked not to use the water of the Hindon river for growing vegetables, which are also sold in the National Capital Region markets, as it has been found to be polluted and contaminated by various official laboratories. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/farmers-told-not-to-use-polluted-hindon-water-to-grow-vegetables/article22793111.ece (The Hindu, 19 Feb. 2018)

Encroachment of Hindon floodplain add to pollution 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 GautamBudh Nagar district, marred heavily by illegal construction. The major concern raised by activists is the shrinking size of the river zone due to encroachments, and the land mafia dumping construction waste and encroach along the banks to create more land for buildings. This is very sad that the Hindon river 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)

A mountain of garbage by the banks of river Hindon at the Pratap Vihar landfill site in Ghaziabad.
A mountain of garbage by the banks of river Hindon at the Pratap Vihar landfill site in Ghaziabad.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

Haj house sealed for polluting Hindon The Haj House in Ghaziabad was sealed by the district administration on the orders of Green Tribunal as it did not have a STP and the effluents were being dumped into Hindon, polluting the river and underground water. The green court has ordered the UP Haj House Committee to ensure that a STP of 136 KLD installed to treat all domestic waste. The NGT gave liberty to the committee to approach the tribunal for de-sealing after full compliance with the order. http://www.news18.com/news/india/ghaziabad-haj-house-sealed-for-polluting-hindon-river-not-having-sewage-treatment-plant-1666779.html (News18, 20 Feb. 2018)

Ramganga River NGT imposes Rs. 10-lakh fine for Ramganga pollution NGT imposes fine of Rs 10 lakh on UP govt and Rs 50 000 on Moradabad district magistrate for illegal dumping of electronic waste on RAMGANGA river bed. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/ngt-imposes-rs-10-lakh-fine-on-up-govt/article22663775.ece (The Hindu, 6 Feb. 2018)

State Govt. Actions 6 rivers to be resurrected to maintain ground water level Concerned about falling under ground water level, government has decided to resurrect six rivers of the state.The rivers to be resurrected are–Gomti in Pilibhit, Tamsa in Ayodhya, Varuna in Varanasi, Sai in Pratapgarh, Aril in Bareilly and Sot in Badaun. The silt of rivers will be removed and dug where it requires to revive them.http://www.uniindia.com/six-rivers-to-be-resurrected-in-up-to-maintain-ground-water-level/states/news/1148637.html (UNI India, 23 Feb. 2018)

Post Script:- 

Uttar Pradesh Gomati flow goes down by 40% According to Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Gomti’s flow has reduced by 35 to 40 per cent over the years. The river is at its filthiest in Lucknow; it has been declared one of the most polluted river stretches in the country by the CPCB.

Experts have confirmed a number of harmful heavy metals in the river, which is the lifeline of the state capital. For the first time, arsenic has also been found in the 13 km stretch passing through Lucknow, setting alarm bells ringing for the city to make concerted efforts to save the river. http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2017/nov/25/going-down-the-drain-polluted-river-gomti-gasps-for-breath-1711071.html (The New Indian Express, 25 Nov. 2017)

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

You may also like to see Rivers Review 2017 for other Indian States 

Maharashtra Rivers Review 2017: Multi-colored Rivers!

West India Rivers Review 2017: Govts, Industries Destroy Rivers

South India Rivers Review 2017: More Water for Cities from Drying Rivers

Kerala Rivers Review 2017 : Government Efforts Fail To Protect Rivers

Tamil Nadu Rivers Review 2017: Despite Drought; Diversion of Rivers

East India Rivers Review 2017

North East India Rivers Review 2017: Agenda behind Brahmaputra & Barak Fesitvals won’t Help the Rivers

Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers

India Rivers Studies 2017: Rivers Succumbing To Dams, Pollution & Climate Change 

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