East India Rivers Review 2017

The seventh report reviewing status of India’s rivers in 2017, focuses on Rivers in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. This review does not include main Ganga river as there is separate Review of state of Ganga River.

West Bengal Rivers

Rivers pollution worse than in 2014 According to the latest State of Environment Report, it has been found that in the 17 major rivers of the state, including the Ganga, the levels of coliform bacteria are much higher than the permissible limit. The report further revealed that several stretches of the Ganga had a total coliform count ranging from one to four lakhs, making the water totally unfit for even bathing. The report has also stated that compared to 2014, all the four main rivers of north Bengal recorded a significant increase in total coliform count. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/bengals-rivers-in-a-bad-shape/article22459562.ece (The Hindu, 18 Jan. 2018)

Damodar River Damodar desiltation project to remove flood threats: Govt State Govt claims that it has brought in an additional 3 lakh acre of farm land under its irrigation program. Interestingly around 1 lakh acre out of this newly-acquired 3 lakh acre land is in the Jangalmahal area. As per the State Irrigation Minister, the World Bank has given its clearance for de-siltation of lower Damodar river and its channels and after completion flood in parts of Howrah, Hooghly, Bankura and Burdwan districts will become a thing of the past. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/west-bengal-government-brings-additional-three-lakh-acre-agricultural-land-under-irrigation-programme/articleshow/57202476.cms (The Economic Times, 17 Feb. 2017)

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

Subernarekha River Subernarekha facing worst algae bloom attack Prolific growth of algae has affected the Subernarekha the lifeline of East Singhbhum with river stretches in Sakchi, Mango and Bhuiyandih stagnated by the green devil. Concerned have attributed the unabated algal bloom to unbridled river pollution by both individuals and industries triggering faster depletion of the dissolved oxygen level, leaving aquatic life at stake.

WHEN GREEN’S NOT GOOD: A blanket of algae stagnates Subernarekha river in Mango, Jamshedpur (Picture by Bhola Prasad, The Telegraph) 

There are 300-350 small- and medium-scale units in Adityapur Industrial area draining industrial effluents into Kharkai river, which meets Subernarekha at Domuhani. Officials at the regional office of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) in Adityapur conceded that algae had stagnated the flow of the river. Suresh Paswan, regional officer of JSPCB says that the only way to get rid of the blanketing bloom which occurs annually is to release water from the Chandil dam or wait for heavy monsoon rain. Mentioning of severe summer prediction R.S. Tigga, chief engineer of state water resources department who looks after Chandil Dam, said releasing water was difficult at this juncture and suggested JSPCB to fix the pollution instead. 

Meanwhile, Adityapur Small Industries Association president Inder Agarwal claimed discharge of waste was no longer a key cause behind Subernarekha’s ill health because a common effluent treatment plant, a part of Adityapur auto cluster project, had become operational last year. https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/jharkhand/annual-algae-attack-on-river-of-gold-211554 (The Telegraph, 27 Feb. 2018)

Rupnarayan River Rupnarayan river eroding Mayachar island The lives and livelihood of nearly 6,000 residents of the Mayachar island in Purba Medinipur district is in jeopardy due to the land erosion caused by the river Rupnarayan. The residents of the 7-km-wide island, located on the southern bank of the river in the Mahishadal block of the district, have said they are living in constant fear of losing their homes as the river takes up more and more of their land. Story of how Rupnarayan river is eroding Mayachar (what a name) island in Purba Medinipur district in W Bengal. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/mayachar-island-residents-at-wits-end-over-land-erosion/article18522005.ece (The Hindu, 22 May 2017)

Withering away:Land erosion by the Rupnarayan river at Mayachar island in Purba Medinipur. (Image Source: The Hindu)  

Odisha Rivers 2017

Rivers water quality falling sharply On Nov 28, State Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray in a written reply to the assembly has stated that of the 129 water quality monitoring stations in 11 rivers, water was found unfit for human use at 93 places. He also said that the 21 quality measuring points where water was fit for human consumption till last year recorded high pollution level making them unfit for human use in tests done during April-October this year.

The report further reveals that most of the rivers in Odisha are designated ‘Class C’ river (rivers are classified A to E), which means its water can be used for drinking after treatment followed by disinfection. However, the assessment found Daya as most polluted. The Daya originates as a branch of Kuakhai at Saradeipur in Khurda district. It flows through Khurda and Puri before merging in the Chilika. It was unfit for human use at one monitoring station in 2000 and two in 2009, which rose to all four this year.The Daya river passes through Bhubaneswar.

Gangua, which carries water from nine of the 10 natural drainage channels of Bhubaneswar, was also found unfit for use at all its four monitoring points this year. Among others Kushabhadra river at Nimapara and Gop, Mahanadi branches Bhargavi, Mangala, Nuna, Badasankha, Sabulia, Ratnachira, Brahmani river’s branches Gurdih, Badajor, Bangurunallah and Bangurusingada jhor, among others, were identified non-conforming to pollution norms this year.An official of Odisha State Pollution Control Board said most of the rivers are losing their quality to untreated waste water from towns discharged to them besides certain industries. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/water-quality-falling-sharply-in-odisha-rivers/articleshow/61845880.cms (The Times of India, 29 Nov. 2017)

Telan River Dry river brings untold miseries ahead of drought River Telen, which was the lifeline of Kolabira block in the district, has dried up completely. The river is a tributary of Mahanadi and merges with river Bheden at Salepali. Mindless drawing of water by industries has dried up Telen completely leaving the villagers in a lurch. Although a sand barrage could have stored some water, lack of foresight of the district administration has led to water crisis in Salepali and other villages, which are located along the river. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2017/may/20/dry-telen-river-brings-untold-miseries-in-odisha-ahead-of-drought-1606945.html (The New Indian Express, 22 May 2017)

Brahmani River Garbage, sewage killing Brahmani at Talcher as Admin remains aloof It has been eight years since the State govt promised a waste water treatment plant in the industrial city of Talcher to treat the discharge which is being dumped into Brahmani River, the second longest river in the State. The project is yet to see the light of the day as lakhs of city denizens continue to live under pollution threat. http://odishatv.in/odisha/body-slider/garbage-sewage-killing-brahmani-in-talcher-as-admin-remains-aloof-263446(Odisha TV, 25 Dec. 2017)

SPCB 5 hotels get closure notice of water pollution The State Pollution Control Board has served closure notices to 5 leading hotels in Bhubaneswar and Puri for violating water pollution norms. As per a directive by the Supreme Court to take action against the firms creating water pollution, Board officials had visited the hotels and inspected their STPs, which were found to be nonfunctional. On the basis of a review report, the pollution watchdog authorities served the closure notices to the hotels, directing them to shut down their units till proper functioning of the effluent treatment plants (ETPs). http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/bhubaneswar/water-pollution-five–hotels-get-closure-notice.html (The Daily Pioneer, 24 Feb. 2018)

Bihar Rivers 2017

Falgu River मुक्ति की आस में मुक्तिदायिनी फल्गु फल्गु का इतिहास भले ही गौरवशाली रहा हो, लेकिन इसका वर्तमान बेहद धुमिल है और अगर हालात यही रहे, तो एक दिन इस नदी की बची-खुची पहचान भी खत्म हो जायेगी। 400 मीटर चौड़ी इस नदी के दोनों किनारों पर दर्जनों अवैध मकान बना दिये गये हैं जिससे कई जगहों पर इसके घाट विलुप्त हो गये हैं। This is a detailed Hindi report describing the present day situation of Falgu river in Gaya, Bihar. http://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/Falgu-river-in-sorry-state-needs-restoration (India Water Portal, 2017)

Image result for falgu river

Falgu-Ganga linking With Gaya MLA Prem Kumar getting ministerial post in Government, the talks of Ganga Falgu link started resurfacing to solve the perennial water crisis in the town. As per report, Gaya town was suffering from severe water scarcity and CM himself had promised to remove the problem. Water table of the town was reportedly dipping fast on account of ever growing demand and indiscriminate vandalisation of the Falgu. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/falgu-ganga-linking-all-eyes-on-prem-now/articleshow/59920234.cms (The Times of India, 5 Aug. 2017)

GIS to study viability of Falgu barrage In Nov. 2017 despite consultancy firm finding the project not useful, politicians continued to push Rs 750 crore barrage construction on Falgu river near Bitho village. As per report, Ganga Falgu link remained non-starter. The feasibility study of supplying water to Gaya from Jamune river also found not many takers.  The barrage was reportedly getting fresh push from CM Nitish Kumar’s somewhat ambitious plan to provide tap water to each household in the state, as part of the ‘Saat Nishchay’, program. As per Pune-based consultancy firm the barrage may not hold Falgu water for long on account of the peculiar nature of the river and its sub-surface flow. Experts are learnt to have opined that the water may seep through to other side of the barrage. The highly porous sub-surface reduces the water retention capacity of the river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/barrage-construction-on-falgu-gsi-to-study-viability/articleshow/61618844.cms (The Times of India, 13 Nov. 2017)

Even in July 2016, experts had ruled out feasibility of the barrage.

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

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

Jharkhand Rivers

North Koel River Centre to revive ambitious North Koel irrigation project  In Aug. 2017, Central Government decided to revive its 45-year-old North Koel river irrigation project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,622 crore and begin the construction of remaining works soon. After being conceived in 1972, its construction works started in 1975. Though 90% of its works, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, was completed by 2007, the work was stopped in the wake of pending clearances from the environment ministry over the issue of submergence of forest areas including a part of the Palamu tiger reserve.

It was learnt that the PMO wanted the commencement of the work on the project in April itself. The project has 3 main components – a (Mandal dam) on North Koel river near Kutku village in Latehar district, a barrage downstream the river and a network of distribution channels originating from its two main canals. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/centre-to-revive-ambitious-north-koel-irrigation-project-in-jharkhand/articleshow/58068671.cms (The Times of India, 7 Aug. 2017) 

North Koel dam approved without concern for tribals The Union Cabinet, in Aug. 2017 gave its approval to complete the remaining work on the North Koel reservoir project. The estimated cost of completing the project is Rs 1,622.27 crore which would be spent in three financial years from the start of the work. The Cabinet also approved the storage of water in the dam restricted at a lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.

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The North Koel reservoir project is situated on North Koel river, a tributary of Sone river that finally merges into the Ganga. The North Koel reservoir is located in the tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand. The construction was originally started in 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Bihar govt. There is no word about how many people will be affected and what will happen to them. http://www.india.com/news/agencies/cabinet-nod-to-complete-north-koel-reservoir-project-2405979/ (India. com, 16 Aug. 2017)  

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

Chhattisgarh Rivers 2017

Kharun River Kharun river threatened by industrial pollution As per Raipur’s ‘Smart City’ proposal document observed, the Kharun river is being threatened by pollution from the industries which are on the outskirts of the city. It further mentioned that protecting the natural features like the river, natural nullah and the ponds from these (industrial effluents) eminent threats will be the city’s top priority. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/kharun-river-threatened-by-industrial-pollution-smart-city-documents.html (The Pioneer, 24 Feb. 2017)

Sheonath River A river in corporate custody Even as some rivers has been granted “human rights”, Sheonath River in Chhattisgarh has been in “captivity” of a corporate house for the last two decades. The erstwhile undivided Madhya Pradesh government in October 1998 inked a deal and sold a 23-km stretch of the Sheonath River to Radius Water Limited (RWL). This was country’s first experiment with privatisation of rivers that was widely criticised for its ecological and social damages. According to the deal, RWL was given a concession to build a barrage across Sheonath for supplying up to 40 million litres (mld) of water per day to the Borai industrial estate in Durg district. The contract has been for a period of 22 years. http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/sheonath-river-a-river-in-corporate-custody-117040600745_1.html (Business Standard, 6 April 2017)

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

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

North India Rivers Review 2017: Pollution Poisoning Lifelines

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

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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