DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 16 April 2018: HOW Citizens can use mobile app to monitor Rivers

MOBILE APP FOR RIVER MONITORING: HUGE POTENTIAL FOR CITIZENS IN INDIA? If you added up the length of all the streams around the world, the total would be at least 89 million kilometers [Downing et al., 2012]. More than half of the global stream channel network is likely intermittent (i.e., the streams do not have flow year-round [Datry et al., 2014]), yet most streamflow monitoring stations are located on perennial streams.

– The CrowdWater project’s goal is to improve hydrologic forecasts with the help of crowdsourced data that include water level, streamflow, soil moisture, and the flow condition of intermittent streams. This project, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, also assesses the accuracy of the data, the effectiveness of quality control measures, and how useful citizen science data are to calibrate or improve hydrologic models.

– CrowdWater data are collected with an app developed by Spotteron, a citizen science app development company based in Vienna, Austria, on behalf of the University of Zurich. The app has been available for Android and iOS since April 2017 and can be used free of charge.

– No physical installations or sensors are needed for the measurements. For stream-level measurements, the user takes a picture and uses the app to add a virtual staff gauge to the picture. When that person or another user returns to the site at another time, the user can determine the new water level by comparing the current water level to the virtual staff gauge on the picture.

– The status of intermittent streams can be recorded using six categories: flowing water, standing water, connected pools, isolated pools, wet streambed, and dry streambed. Measurements for streams that are not on the map help to document the existence of the intermittent stream network. For soil moisture, another qualitative scale (based on the work of Rinderer et al. [2012]) is used.

– Everyone can participate, and all participants in the project can view and request the data. Participants can see a time series of the data collected at each site when they enter new data in the field, and they can use the data to monitor their environment.

– Stream Tracker focuses on documenting flow patterns in intermittent streams. This project started in April 2017 with funding from the Citizen Science for Earth Systems Program of NASA.

– Stream Tracker sites can be established on any stream through the project website on the citizen science platform CitSci.org. https://eos.org/project-updates/testing-the-waters-mobile-apps-for-crowdsourced-streamflow-data

DAMS

Tragedy in the shadow of Big Dams for Mumbai: Does not seem to matter to Mumbaikars Heart Breaking photo feature about state of water crisis in scores of villages not far from Mumbai, and Mumbai-Thane and all the other MMR towns get water from these or such areas around. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/gallery/nation/090418/maharashtra-government-villages-drought-30-years-dams-people-ignored.html

Pawai Dam Project displacing people without Rehabilitation, allege PAFs: Based on Observations of the ongoing Ken Yatra (walking upstream from confluence of Ken with Yamuna to its source), this article talks about the injustice that people of Panna district are suffering due to ongoing construction of the Pawai Medium Irrigation Project on Ken River. https://sandrp.in/2018/04/12/pawai-dam-project-displacing-people-without-rehabilitation-allege-pafs/

Under Construction Dam of the Pawai Project (SANDRP Photo)

WATER OPTIONS

Gujarat villagers come together to solve decades old problem After failing to get the government to build a weir for the last 25 years, people of Methda village in Bhavnagar district have now crowdfunded a project to build the low head dam across the coast to stop salinity ingress.

– “In 1992, the state government had approved the proposal to build a weir across Baghad river to curb sea water from entering inland. They even sanctioned the finances required. However, despite repeated memorandums, successive governments failed to build the weir. So farmers in Methda have now decided to build a 12-km-long weir on their own,”

– Over the last 10 days, several villagers, including women and children, have been toiling throughout the day to build the weir. Many are voluntarily contributing equipment and heavy machinery as well as crowdfunding the project. The Gujarat government is yet to lend a helping hand.

– The other reason being attributed to the delay is the presence of huge quantities of limestone and lignite present in the area. “Big cement companies want to mine these minerals. The people know that if you remove the natural wall of limestone from seacoast, the sea water would come in and make their land barren.” http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/gujarat-villagers-tackle-salinity-ingress-118040800314_1.html

Solar Village Dudhi in Gujarat continues to get good media The Dhundi project is “a energy-water-livelihood solution rather than an energy substitute.” There are 21 million diesel and electric pumps in India that can be replaced by solar pumps. “If these are connected to the grid, it would increase farmer incomes, reduce the subsidy burden on electricity distribution companies,” says Tushar Shah. http://www.thehindu.com/society/two-years-after-it-was-launched-the-worlds-first-solar-cooperative-has-transformed-gujarats-dhundi-village/article23528444.ece

Corruption in Gujarat Water harvesting schemes Corruption in GLDC, Gujarat agency supposed to be working on watershed development, farm ponds and such local water works.

– Cases filed in Panchmahals against GLDC officials: it was found that under a government scheme, Khet Talavadi (farm pond), money had been disbursed for the construction of over 160 ponds, but the ponds were dug only on paper while no work had been done on the ground. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/acb-seizes-rs-56-lakh-cash-at-gldc-office/articleshow/63738280.cms, http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/gujarat-scam-in-farm-ponds-scheme-unearthed-six-officers-booked-5137910/

Gujarat Water Conservation Drive? The water conservation program in Gujarat will be carried out between May 1 & 31. The chief minister said the government would push for the construction of more check dams, ponds and reservoirs in the state. The CM said that this would increase the water-storage capacity in the state manifold through the join efforts of the government, citizens and other organisations.

– Deputy CM: “We will carry out other programs including construction of check dams, desilting of reservoirs and rainwater harvesting in houses during the period.” http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-gujarat-to-start-drive-for-water-conservation-2603849

MGNREGA can help rainwater harvesting This study across 240 households in six districts across three states (UP, TN, Rajasthan) shows that if MGNREGA is used to create farm ponds, dug wells/ borewells, fishponds and other water harvesting structures, they provided maximum benefits. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/how-mgnrega-can-be-re-engineered-for-doubling-of-farmers-incomes-5134075/

HYDRO POWER

Growing protest in Kashmir against Bursar Project Since April 2, people protesting for cancellation of the 800 MW Bursar Project at Pakal Marwah, Kishtwar in Kashmir are on hunger strike, according to FACEBOOK page of Makbook Veeray of Sachnews. The project located in buffer zone of KHANP (KISHTWAR HIGH ALTITUDE NATIONAL PARK) and is likely to require cutting down of lakhs of trees. They allege that the Dam is supposed to be constructed in vicinity of zone 5 earthquake and near the Kishtwar fault. Dam is going to be constructed in vicinity of nun Kun glaciers which would melt rapidly by construction of this dam. The project is likely to affect over 10000 people directly and 30000 indirectly. From last 6 months whole area is protesting.

– On Feb 24, 2018, Early Times reported: “Residents of Marwah Tehsil in Kishtwar district have intensified protest and are up in arms against the government’s proposed decision to construct Bursar-Pakkal dam in the Marwah area. The residents held a strong protest at Nawapachi to register opposition over the government decision. Scores of residents from different areas of Marwah assembled at Tehsil headquarter Marwah to protest against the dam and termed it as against the interests of the inhabitants.”

http://www.earlytimes.in/newsdet.aspx?q=226112, https://vimeo.com/256635396, http://glacierhub.org/2018/01/24/stop-damned-project-outrage-bursar-hydroelectric-project/

People’s protest against Pancheshwar Project Despite large dams being decommissioned the world over, the government has now set its sights on the construction of the Pancheshwar dam on the ecologically sensitive Mahakali river. Wary of being sacrifi ced at the altar of so-called “development,” resistance to the project has transformed into a concerted people’s protest, which continues to gain momentum. http://www.epw.in/system/files/pdf/2018_53/15/CM_LIII_15_140418_Rakesh_Agrawal.pdf

Share of Hydro in additional capacities continues to shrink globally According to the report jointly prepared by UN Environment‘s Economy Division, Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance in April 2018, the share of hydropower in net additions of installed capacity in 2017 continued to shrink globally.

Further analysis by Rivers Without Boundary. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/banking-sunshine-world-added-far-more-solar-fossil-fuel-power

Protest outside MoEF on Oct 24 2017 when EAC met to consider EC for Pancheshwar Project

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

CAUVERY

Cauvery scheme to be submitted to SC by May 3 On April 9, the Supreme Court, pulling up the Centre for not showing the resolve to set up the Cauvery scheme for implementing the Supreme Court and Tribunal award, asked the Centre to submit a draft scheme by May 3 and said the states can thereafter submit their comments. The Court has also given liberty to form the scheme independent of what the Tribunal suggests. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/cauvery-water-dispute-sc-pulls-up-centre-says-hand-in-scheme-may-3-5130700/

Cauvery Board to follow BBMB model? Union Govt to formulate Cauvery scheme on the lines of BBMB? It will take the form of an “authority with a mix of both administrators as well as technocrats”. The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) was constituted under Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966 for the administration, maintenance and operation of works of Bhakra Nangal and Beas Projects.

– Union water resources secretary UP Singh clarified that according to the recommendations of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, water for irrigation can be released only between June and January every year, while for the rest of the year the river needs water to maintain the “environmental flow’’.

– the Supreme Court granted the ministry of water resources the “flexibility” to formulate the scheme in “consonance with the law’’ (section 6A of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956). https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cauvery-board-likely-to-be-on-lines-of-bhakra-beas-model/story-tB8jVq2tEYdPGAJmriOYgN.html

Desalinisation cannot solve Cauvery problem Nityanad Jayaraman writes: Dr. Subramaniam Swamy would be funny if he weren’t so dangerous. His recent attack on Tamil Nadu to stop demanding Cauvery water with an offer to sate the state’s needs with desalination is a threat more than an empty promise. https://thewire.in/environment/subramanian-swamys-delusional-desalination-dreams-for-tamil-nadu

MAHADAYI

Over 1000-day protest for Mahadayi water in Gadag district in Karnataka Farmers and residents at Nargund town town are sitting in protest since July 16, 2015, to get Mahadayi river water in 11 taluks in Gadag, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Belgaum districts in Northern Karnataka, this protest is likely to influence the forthcoming assembly elections in about 30 seats. Veeresh Sobaradamath, one of the leader of the the protest happening under the aegis of Karnataka Raitha Sene is quoted about the Prime Minister: “We now feel he is not the PM of the country but the PM of one political party. There is no sympathy for farmers. There is a lot of talk but no action.”

Indian Express further reports: “So now, the farmers are willing to give the Congress state government the benefit of doubt. “The Goa CM wrote a letter to BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa saying Goa is willing to share water for drinking, but he did not write to the Karnataka government or the tribunal on this issue. Does the BJP think people do not understand the constitutional set-up in the country and how inter-state issues are resolved, or do they not know this?” says S B Jogannavar, another leader of the agitation.” http://indianexpress.com/elections/karnataka-assembly-elections-2018-in-30-seats-all-eyes-on-a-1000-day-old-protest-5137904/

MAHANADI

Odisha accuses Centre for dragging feet on Mahanadi Tribunal to help Chhattisgarh Centre seems to be delaying formation of the Mahanadi water disputes tribunal, it has yet to finalise the TOR and communicate to the party states. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/odisha-accuses-centre-of-dragging-feet-on-mahanadi-tribunal-with-eye-on-chhattisgarh-polls/story-RXceno9Bvh9nsi3ZJkghtM.html

KRISHNA

Andhra Pradesh accepts it submitted inaccurate data to Tribunal The witness for Andhra Pradesh in the ongoing hearing before the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal on the sharing of Krishna water by Telangana and AP, P.V. Satyanarayana, an agriculture scientist, has admitted to discrepancies in his affidavits on gross irrigation requirement, crop duration and other aspects of paddy cultivation in the Krishna Basin areas of AP. Following his intensive probing Mr. Satyanarayana, submitted to the tribunal in New Delhi on April 11, 2018 that he would verify and furnish different documents.

– A senior irrigation engineer of Telangana who was present at the hearing said that the AP’s witness had to admit to the false information provided by him in three affidavits and worksheets submitted on September 7, 2017, January 22, 2018 and February 19, 2018 as his argument and documentary evidence were in contradiction. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/andhra-pradesh-to-submit-new-files-on-krishna-delta-water-needs/article23506155.ece

NARMADA

MP says no to Gujarat asking for more Narmada water Gujarat has again asked MP to release more water into Narmada, but MP has refused.

– “In the earlier years, the total release of water in the downstream during a water year was quite significant because of the river-bed power house operation and the overflow during monsoon,” Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Narmada) M S Dagur has written to NCA. “Therefore, there was no significant adverse impact in the downstream. However, over the past two years, because of the limited running of the RBPH, 600 cusecs being released through Godbole Gates is just not sufficient to meet the downstream environmental requirements.”

– A key source in the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA), Madhya Pradesh, said: “There was commitment of discharging 5,500 MCM water to Gujarat in the water year. By January, the state had already supplied 5,000 MCM but Gujarat wanted 800 MCM more. The state assessed the availability of water in dams and refused considering the drought in MP.”

– NCA, it seems through Environment Sub Group of NCA, have asked the states to respond to Gujarat’s demand for 1500 Cusecs of water, ostensibly for downstream releases, but strangely, none of the media is saying that Gujarat has all the freedom to release the water from its own share. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/gujarat-wants-more-narmada-water-madhya-pradesh-says-no/articleshow/63691019.cms, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/madhya-pradesh-refuses-additional-water-for-parched-gujarat/articleshow/63691367.cms, http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/stakeholder-states-views-sought-on-gujarat-s-narmada-water-demand-118041101245_1.html

IRRIGATION

BJP NOW demands probe into Pattiseema LIS Alleging a corruption of ₹320 crore as a preliminary estimate in the Pattiseema lift scheme on the Godavari, BJP Floor Leader in the Assembly P. Vishnu Kumar Raju demanded an inquiry by the CBI, a sitting judge or engineering experts.

– His charges mainly centred on accepting an extra cost of 22 % instead of a premium of 5 % for the original estimate of ₹1,170 crore, paying ₹21,313 for digging one cubic metre of earth totaling ₹60 crore, taking up an alternative method for pump house spending ₹87.6 crore more and installing only 24 instead of 30 pumps. For shifting one lorry-load of dug-out earth, ₹394 a cubic metre was paid instead of the fixed ₹92.60. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/bjp-demands-probe-into-pattiseema-scheme/article23496549.ece

Small farmers benefit by pulling resources This study finds that small farmers who undertake group micro irrigation through pooling of land and water resources greatly benefit through increase in productivity and profit margins. The paper highlights the efforts made by WOTR through its action research projects implemented in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra to help small farmers enhance agriculture productivity through pooling of their water resources and sharing them through the use of drip and sprinkler irrigation. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/sharing-water-reaping-benefits

INTER LINKING OF RIVERS

GADKARI LOOKING FOR LOW COST LONG TERM FUNDS “The cost of the project (linking 60 rivers) is Rs 8 lakh crore and five of the proposals are ready with me and I am waiting for tender. The cost of these projects is Rs 3 lakh crore and for these projects, I need long-term finance,” said Gadkari, the minister of road transport and highways, shipping and water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation. “Two days ago, I was in South Korea, now I am discussing with Japan and we need low-cost interest because it is an infrastructure and irrigation project. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/lo18zmJEOP9s20B0Iq8ePJ/River-linking-project-needs-lowcost-longterm-funds-Nitin.html

GROUNDWATER

61% wells see water level decline The data, based on monitoring by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), showed that levels fell in 60.7%, rose across 38.8%, and showed no change in 0.5% wells, between 2007 and 2017(pre-monsoon), says data submitted by the Union ministry of water resources in Lok Sabha. The data, based on monitoring by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), looked at water levels in 14,465 wells.

– The Govt is of course sleeping: said Minister Meghwal, adding that the situation was not worrisome and on-ground implementation to tackle the decline was underway. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/water-levels-fell-in-61-of-india-s-wells-in-last-decade-says-report-by-union-ministry/story-A7Y0uiwMv9TvL4KAR8pzAI.html

Implications of Groundwater level decline In an earlier interview with DNA, Himanshu Thakkar of, South Asia Network on Dam, Rivers and People, admitted that while he didn’t want to sound like an alarmist, the situation was grim in India. “We will only know how the crisis pans out in summer. Take one of India’s most prosperous states, Gujarat, for example. A disaster is already developing in the downstream areas of the Narmada basin. We already witnessed what happened in Maharashtra in the past four out of six years. Keeping this in mind, also know that even in the best of times, sections of the poor do not have access to clean drinking water. None of the rivers in plains in India have potable water, as the groundwater levels are depleting and quality is deteriorating,” he said. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-groundwater-extraction-behind-61-decline-in-india-s-water-levels-2602647

Groundwater depletion reduces scope of adaptability to rainfall variation in India This is key conclusion here: “Moreover, if India continues to deplete its groundwater resources, the impacts of increased variability are likely to increase by half.” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-018-2146-x

Book on Groundwater in South Asia We need much more, rigorous, down to earth, practical, no holds barred wok related to ground water in India. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/groundwater-mission-can-address-a-host-of-problems-iit-kharagpur-scientist/articleshow/63694521.cms

AGRICULTURE

Bundelkhand: Mining made water crisis in Damoh Acute shortage of water has triggered mass migration in rural areas of Damoh district. A large number of people have shifted to various places in search of water as the drought-hit district faces one of the worst water crisis. To add to the woes, major rivers in the area have dried up due to excessive mining of stones and absence of gates in check dams.

– The worst affected places are the villages of Imlidhol panchayat in Tendukheda, besides villages in Madiyadoh and Patera blocks. More than 2000 tubewells have dried up as water table has gone down in the villages. Almost 900 tubewells in villages like Harrai, Deori and Khapaa in Tendukheda janpad among others have hardly any water. Even in the city of Damoh, water is being supplied only once in a week.

– Former chairman of Bundelkhand Development Authority Ramkrishna Kusumaria said, “The district has many rain-fed rivers and lakes, but utter mismanagement and excessive mining have led to the water crisis. This is the situation in the first week of April. The situation has worsened as “natural check dams” of stones have been demolished by the mining mafia in Sonar and Vyarma rivers. People are forced to walk 2 to 3 kms to fetch water”.

– District president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh Ramesh Sahu said, “The confluence of Vyarma and Gauraya rivers Nohta is under threat after excessive stone mining. Even the check dam is facing threat because of blasting near the rest house”. He said that the villagers of Imlidhol area have migrated to Jabalpur district where Hiran river has some water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-water-crisis-triggers-mass-migration-in-damoh-villages/articleshow/63647367.cms

No water for summer rice crop in Kashmir Almost no snow and rain in recent months has pushed Kashmir to an unprecedented drought, with authorities advising farmers not to cultivate water-intensive rice

– “All farmers are hereby requested that they do not go for paddy cultivation this year as, due to lack of snowfall and rainfall, there is hardly any water in the Jhelum River and the streams,” reads a notice in Urdu issued by the Baramulla district wing of Kashmir’s Irrigation Department. “So, please don’t go for paddy cultivation this year, considering the fact that we won’t be able to supply any water for irrigation.” Similar notices have been issued in other districts such as Kupwara, Bandipora and Ganderbal.

– Rainfall in the first three months of 2018 has been the lowest in 30 years, according to Mukhtar Ahmad, deputy director at Jammu and Kashmir Meteorological Department. Gulmarg, for instance, recorded a mere 172 mm precipitation (snowfall and rainfall) in the three months to March, compared with an average of 602 mm in the past 30 years for the three-month period, Ahmad said. Similarly, Kupwara received only 198 mm compared with the 30-year average of 424 mm, whereas in Srinagar it was 82 mm against an average of 255 mm.

– According to a policy document of the Jammu and Kashmir government, the region has witnessed a huge shift from rice cultivation to horticulture in recent decades. In 1953-54, the area under fruit cultivation was just 12,400 hectares, which has now expanded to 325,000 ha. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/04/11/kashmirs-rice-farmers-face-crisis-due-to-acute-water-scarcity/

Maharashtra: World Bank loan for Climate resilient farming The World Bank on  April 6, 2018 signed an agreement with the Centre and the Maharashtra government for a 30-year long loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which will be used to improve water harvesting structures and adopt climate resilient agricultural in rain-fed areas in Vidrabha and Marathwada regions. Called Maharashtra Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture, the project is said to cover seven million people, mainly small and marginal farmers, in over 5,100 villages in 15 climate vulnerable districts. Considering the track record of the World Bank, it seems more like an effort to keep rolling the funds like a good banker, since India returns to the Bank more money than Bank lands to India, since several years. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world-bank-opens-2700-cr-tap-for-maharashtra/article23459521.ece

IWMI: Drought strategies of Southern farmers Droughts are a common occurrence in semi-arid areas and their frequency and intensity is expected to increase with climate change. Based on a study of 120 farmers from four districts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this Highlight surveys the range of measures farmers adopt in response to droughts. The authors find that despite significant negative externalities, farmers assign higher priority to drilling new wells rather than investing in water conservation structures or demand management strategies. The authors estimate that adoption of drip irrigation and purchase of tanker water for providing life-saving irrigation yield the highest financial returns. http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/iwmi-tata/PDFs/iwmi-tata_water_policy_research_highlight-issue_04_2017.pdf

RIVERS

New Book: Rivers of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta: A Fluvial Account of Bengal; Author: Rudra, Kalyan From the website: This is a comprehensive book on the rivers of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta. This volume covers all aspects of this highly populated region including land conflicts and environmental impacts such as the Indo-Bangladesh conflict over sharing of trans-boundary water. This book addresses the topic from a highly interdisciplinary perspective covering areas of geography, geology, environment, history, archaeology, sociology and politics of the Bengal region. The book appeals to a wide range of audiences from India, Bangladesh and the international community. The style of presentation makes it easily suitable for students, researchers and interested laymen. Price: EURO 129.99. http://www.springer.com/in/book/9783319765433

Oshiwara river being killed in the name of river restoration? River Restoration seems to be equated with wall construction and concretisation! http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-ngo-vanashakti-writes-to-authorities-over-poor-treatment-of-oshiwara-river-2603002

Oshiwara River; Photo- Gopal Sukumara

Yamuna CPCB okay to landfills in Yamuna floodplain opposed This shows how little concern CPCB has for the rivers, water or flood plain. It has given okay to two sites for land fills, both within 2 km of the river, both within O zone (no development zone), and both with groundwater level very high. Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan rightly opposes this. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/east-corp-secures-nod-for-2-landfills-in-yamuna-zone/articleshow/63720788.cms

WATERWAYS

May be Gadkari will also see this in South Korea? As the Minister travels to South Korea to learn more about Inland Waterways and Rivers, hope he also learns about the protests, non democratic implementation, global outrage and terrible impacts of the Four Major Rivers Project in South Korea, which also converted rivers into canals and whose dredging resulted in increased floods and instability of bridges and weirs. https://www.marinelink.com/news/shipping-minister-gadkari436075

RIVERINE FISH

On DOLPHIN DAY (April 14) India’s National Aquatic Animal remembered Sebastian Sunny remembers Ganga Dolphin in general and Chambal dolphin in particular on this day. “In 2009 October, India had declared Gangetic Dolphins(Platanista gangetica), commonly known as Soon or Susu, its National Aquatic Animal—though only to forget all about it later, it seems.” http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/the-tiger-of-the-ganga-107827.html

(A) An image showing the Gangetic dolphin in its wild habitat (photo credit: Kadambari Deshpande), (B) a dead Gangetic dolphin calf (notice the pinhole like eyes), and (C) the calf is 1 m long, and adults measure to 2.6 m (photo credits for B & C: Sushant Dey).

SAND MINING

IN DEPTH REPORT ON SAND MINERS OF THANE CREEK: TO SAY SAND MINERS LIVE RISKY LIFE IS SUCH AN UNDERSTATEMENT There are nearly 70,000 people engaged in manual sand dredging work on the 12-km stretch of Thane creek about 30 km north of Mumbai. Over the years, this has become the primary source of sand for the booming construction business in Mumbai and its two neighbouring cities of Thane and Navi Mumbai.

-The workers dive down 50 feet to dredge for sand

– In 1952, Mustafa Fakih, then the revenue minister of the erstwhile Mumbai state, opened the 12-km stretch of Thane creek to carry out sand excavation work. “It was supposed to be an alternative source of income for the natives of this region, mostly belonging to the Koli and Agri communities,” says Nandkumar Pawar, founder of the Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), who has been following this issue for years.

– Recognising the environmental hazards of sand dredging, the western bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014 banned sand mining in coastal regions of many states, including Maharashtra. Soon after, the state government filed an appeal against the order, but in a series of petitions, environmental activists ensured the official ban on excavation continued.

– Abdulali feels the situation here is so desperate that you cannot help but look at this with some sympathy. “People are desperate and indulge in this work. One cannot ignore their living conditions. But this work also has a huge impact on the environment and this is a reality too.” https://thewire.in/labour/maharashtra-illegal-sand-mining-thane

Sand mining Machines seized in Orsang River in Gujarat Mines and minerals department of Chhota Udepur raided an illegal mining site in the riverbed of Orsang at Bamroli village in Bodeli taluka on April 7 midnight and seized two sand excavating machines. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/sand-excavating-machines-seized-in-midnight-raid/articleshow/63672663.cms

Punjab Cabinet Sub Committee on Sand Mining to submit report by April 21 has suggested carrying capacity of rivers by IITs including Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/cabinet-panel-suggests-regulation-of-sand-price/572029.html

LAKES, WETLANDS

Study: EKW locks 60% of wastewater carbons The wetlands locks in over 60% of carbon from wastewater, which might otherwise pile up in the atmosphere. But the site is under threat of encroachment.

– Crisscrossed by creeks and canals, a mosaic of nearly 254 sewage-fed fishponds (bheris), agricultural land, garbage-farming areas and settlements make up the 125-square-km (12,500 hectare) wetlands that form an important portion of the mature delta of Ganga River.

– The wetlands save Kolkata, India’s seventh most populous city, a staggering Rs 4,680 million a year in sewage treatment costs. About 1,000 million litres of wastewater each day is funneled into the wetlands that filter it and discharge it in the Bay of Bengal some three or four weeks later. It takes care of more than 80% of the metropolis’s sewage, supports around 50,000 agro-workers and supplies about one-third of Kolkata’s requirement of fish, said Pal.

– “Kolkata has remained an ‘ecologically subsidised city’ since the British Raj as the government doesn’t need to invest in wastewater treatment for the city,” Sudin Pal, of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata said. Over four decades (between 1972 and 2011), about 38.6 square km of wetlands were converted to built-up areas.

– The wetlands transform the untreated, nutrient-rich raw tannery effluent, municipal and industrial wastewater they receive, into 18,000 tons fish yields per year and nearly 150 tons of vegetable produce daily. The yield of fish from the bheris is two to four-fold more than the volume achievable through normal ponds.

– “Section 4 (v) of the Wetland Rule 2017 says discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements is not permitted in the wetland,” he added. :However, East Kolkata Wetland uses Kolkata city’s untreated wastewater for aquaculture in the wetlands and it is famous for such natural wastewater treatment. So the rule needs to be changed to include all types of wetlands and water bodies and also remove / edit Section 4 (v) of the Rule 2017.”

– Wetlands cover approximately four to six percent of the Earth’s surface and contain about 35% of global terrestrial carbon. In India, wetlands cover an estimated three percent of India’s land area. https://scroll.in/article/874651/a-new-study-on-east-kolkata-wetlands-carbon-absorption-abilities-is-a-wake-up-call-for-conservation

How Bellandur Lake Wardens manage the lake Details of how Bellandur Lake is being managed in Bangalore. https://www.deccanherald.com/content/668546/bellandur-lake-wardens-get-more.html

MONSOON 2018

IMD forecast indicates below normal rainfall IMD forecasts 97% (model error +/- 5%) monsoon rainfall. The forecast released on April 16, 2018 said:

– There is 42% probability of rainfall being normal: (96-104% of LPA rainfall of 89 cm(

– 30% probability of below normal (90-96%) rainfall.

–  14% probability of deficient (below 90%) monsoon rainfall.

– 12% probability of above normal (104-110%) rainfall

– 2% probability of Excess (above 110%) rainfall.

This does not sound like good news for the monsoon rainfall in 2018 and is somewhat contrary to what Skymet had forecast earlier this month. http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/press_release_view.php?ff=20180416_pr_231

WATER SECTOR

NABARD to publish India Water Atlas India will soon have a water atlas, from an initiative by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). It is estimated that 50-55% of the irrigation water across India is used up by just two crops: Rice and sugarcane. Cultivation of rice and sugarcane is the biggest contributor to depletion of groundwater in Punjab and Maharashtra.

– The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) has just completed mapping the physical and economic productivity of water used in ten different crops by the end of current month.

– The Nabard chairman also said that there is a need to focus on command area development for distribution of water from the reservoir being completed from the Rs 40,000-crore Long Term Irrigation Fund. http://www.financialexpress.com/economy/depleting-resource-nabards-water-atlas-of-india-to-aid-crop-planning-ready/1132796/

POWER OPTIONS

Maharashtra needs to study impacts of solar panels over water bodies Maharashtra will allow private players to install panels on water bodies, rivers and dams. The new policy will be finalised and placed before the State cabinet for approvals this month. According to the policy, clean energy companies will also be allowed to use wetlands, canals and ponds for a project up to 2,000 mw capacity. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/private-companies-to-install-solar-panels-on-water-bodies-dams-in-maharashtra/article23485338.ece

SOUTH ASIA

NEPAL

SBI to invest in expensive Arun III HEP The State Bank of India (SBI) will be investing a total of Rs 8000 Cr in the 900 MW Arun III hydropower project of SJVN in Nepal. The Indian Government has approved Rs 9200 Cr that is to be invested by SJVN. With this the SJVN will invest Rs 2500 Cr of its own. Nepali Banks will lend Rs 406 Cr as bridge loan

– The Rs 14000 Cr over the project will be expended for the construction of the structures and additional Rs 1100 Cr for the transmission lines

– Nepal will get 21.9 percent of the total electricity produced in a year i.e., 197 MW electricity with 86 crore unit for free in a year. The project is expected to soon get license from Investment Bank of Nepal.

– two packages have been awarded to two Indian companies. The Jay Prakash Associates (JP) has been awarded with the construction of the Dam and diversion with an estimated cost of about Rs 1800 Cr. Constructing the power station is awarded to Patel Engineering Company Ltd. with the contract amounting Rs 1800 Cr which includes the 8 km long tunnel.

– The project is targeted to be completed by 2022 Sept. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/sbi-to-invest-rs-8000-crore-in-900-mw-hydro-power-project-in-nepal/63677356

Bareboned Indo Nepal Joint statement shows no breakthrough Former Foreign Secretary of India Kanwal Sibal does not mince words: It would seem from the rather bareboned joint statement issued on the occasion of Oli’s visit that while in private talks between him and Modi the air may have been cleared and some mutual confidence built, no breakthrough in relations has occurred. https://www.dailyo.in/politics/indo-nepal-ties-china-diplomacy-kp-oli-narendra-modi/story/1/23378.html

Important statements by Nepal Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun:

– The government’s plan is to adopt a mixed energy policy. We have planned that 40-50 percent of the energy sources will be storage type hydro projects, 30-40 percent run-of-the-river type hydro projects and the rest solar and other sources. Currently, the 92 MW Kulekhani project is the only storage-type source.

– On 1200 MW Budhi Gandaki Project: Storage-type projects are a priority for the government. For now, we believe that the private sector should be allowed to build run-of-the-river plants. The private sector currently does not have the capacity to build large reservoir-based hydropower projects. And considering the massive load centres in Pokhara and Kathmandu, Budhi Gandaki becomes all the more important to complete. Therefore, the government will complete the project on its own. The project is not economically viable, so the private sector is not interested in it.

– On WATERWAYS: After creating a reservoir on the Budhi Gandaki, we are planning to build a barrage at Devighat to manage water flow and produce electricity. This plan will allow a regular water channel from the Narayani River to the Ganga in India.

– Another plan focuses on the Sun Koshi 1, 2, 3 storage-based hydropower projects and a dam on the Koshi to create a channel all the way to Kolkata in India.

– ON POWER TRADE POLICY: But India’s policy to purchase power only from projects with an Indian investment has discouraged other investors. Investors do not really have to be discouraged as the domestic demand alone will amount to 10,000 MW in the next decade. We have also assured everyone that we will create (or have already created in the case of Saarc) frameworks to sell our energy to neighbours. We have signed a power trade agreement with India that makes their policy redundant, so we will work to change it. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-04-09/the-new-government-has-a-large-mandate-to-work-effectively.html

Indo Nepal Waterways proposal “Though officials said there are new technologies that enable passage of vessels through barrages on river systems like Koshi and Gandak barrages, they could not explain further. There is a small navigation channel in Gandak project which has not been utilized yet. However, Koshi barrage also had similar navigation component in project design. But such channel has not been built. Similar, component has also been proposed in Saptakoshi High Dam project.”

About Hydro it says: “Rahughat Hydropower Project, which was started in 2010, could not move ahead due to non-performance of its Indian contractor. Process to hire new contractor began only recently. Arun III, which is being built by an Indian government undertaking, has just started, but there is little progress in Upper Karnali, which is being developed by Indian private firm — GMR.” http://www.myrepublica.com/news/39575/?categoryId=81

Nepal alleges India not fulfilling Mahakali treaty obligations Status of Mahakali Irrigation Project in Nepal, Mahakali Provision and statement from Nepal that India is not fulfilling its obligations under the treaty. https://kathmandutribune.com/twenty-two-years-of-mahakali-treaty-head-regulator-and-canal-not-in-sight-yet/

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Hydro Plans Bangladesh is going to jointly invest in Bhutan’s 1,125MW Kuri 1 hydropower project.

– Bangladesh would import 500MW power from Nepal’s 900 MW Upper Karnali GMR project. The talks are in the final stages.

– Bangladesh is planning to import 1200 by 2020, 5000 MW by 2030 and 9,000 MW of electricity from India, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan by 2041. https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/power-energy/2018/04/09/bangladesh-plans-power-import-neighbours/

GMR looks to sign deal with Bangladesh to sell 500 MW of expesive power from Upper Karnali HEP in Nepal “We will probably sign a ‘term sheet’ with the Bangladeshi government to sell 500 MW of electricity via NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) of India,” said the source. “A final agreement will be signed after the rate and conditions mentioned in the ‘term sheet’ are approved by the Bangladesh Power Development Board.”

– A term sheet is a nonbinding agreement setting forth the basic terms and conditions which will serve as a template to develop a detailed legally binding agreement in the future. “During the negotiations, the power purchase rate can be bargained down to 9 cents per unit,” said the source.

– Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s NVVN to import electricity from the Upper Karnali scheme via India during Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in April 2017. As Indian laws don’t allow private developers to export electricity produced in third countries over Indian transmission lines, Bangladesh signed an MoU with the state-owned cross-border electricity trading agency

– Nepal will receive 108 MW out of the remaining 400 MW for free while GMR will sell the rest to the government of the Indian state of Haryana.

– This will also help GMR to arrange funding for the construction of the power plant because the lender will approve credit only if a market for the electricity to be generated by the project is secured. Once the final power purchase agreement is signed with Bangladesh, the Indian developer will immediately initiate negotiations with multilateral lenders to secure loans to build the plant. GMR needs to conclude the financial closure by September 2018 as per the extended deadline. The Indian company was originally required to complete the financial closure by September 2016, extended on request to Sept 2018. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-04-10/gmr-offers-upper-karnali-power-for-10-cents-per-unit.html

Pakistan

Large Avalanche in POK A very large rock and ice avalanche in Karimabad, Hunza, North Pakistan (Pak Occupied Kashmir?) on April 9, 2018, involving Ultar Glacier, a few km downstream of the Attabad landslide that blocked the Hunza river in 2010. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/04/10/karimabad-1/

Unit of Neelum Jhelum HEP commissioned, massive cost escalations Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, located in the Pak occupied Kashmir, will start generating 242 MW electricity on April 13, 2018. It will be fully functional by June-July with installed capacity of 969MW. The project is expected to generate 5,150 Million Units at the levelised tariff of Rs 13.50 (INR Rs 7.56) per unit for 30 years. It has 52 km of tunnels.

– The Executive Committee of National Economic Council approved the project in 2002 at the cost of Rs84.502 billion; Rs277.502 billion in 2012; Rs404.331 billion in 2015 and finally to Rs500.343 billion. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/303688-969mw-neelum-jhelum-hydropower-project-gets-operational-today

CHINA

A REPORT CARD ON CHINA’S MASSIVE SOUTH TO NORTH WATER TRANSFER Five years since 2013, when the first phase of the water transfer started through eastern route and four years since the middle route started, the report card raises a lot of questions. Its the world’s costliest ever infrastructure enterprise, the largest water transfer between river basins in history. Its Western Tibetan arm with potental to transfer 20 BCM has been postponed indefinitely due to the seismic and landslide threats.

– The other two arms now operating were designed to transfer 25 BCM water. But the Easter arm, for example, designed to transfer 9.5 BCM, transferred less than half that amount in 2017.

– The transfer is satisfying not even Beijing’s full shortfall, much less for the rest of the 11 provinces it was supposed to serve. Pollution is badly plaguing the whole project, the displacement and environment costs are still being paid. Cost has been over USD 48 B, more than twice the initial estimate.

– In 2015 a study in Nature magazine by Jon Barnett of the University of Melbourne found that China did not need the project. It could be self sufficient, he argued, if it saved water and cut pollution.

– Under a government reorganisation in March, the environment ministry took over supervision of the diversion scheme. Its new overlords should heed the advice of Mr Zhang, the project’s first director. “The solution to China’s water-supply problem is conservation,” he said in 2013. “Using water diversion to sustain economic development is a dead end.”

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21740011-channelling-water-south-north-does-more-harm-good-china-has-built-worlds-largest

USA

America’s Most Endangered Rivers in 2018 Governance and Trump administration plays a role in most rivers being endangered. The following rivers on this year’s list will be directly impacted by decisions from the Trump administration and Congress:

Big Sunflower River (Mississippi), threatened by revival of the Army Corps of Engineers Yazoo Pumps project that would drain critical wetlands at enormous taxpayer expense.

Rivers of Bristol Bay (Alaska), threatened by the world’s biggest open pit mine that could devastate a $1.5 billion salmon fishery.

Boundary Waters (Minnesota), threatened by mining that would pollute pristine waters and harm a thriving recreation economy.

Lower Rio Grande (Texas), threatened by a border wall that would cut off people and communities from the river, exacerbate flooding, and destroy wildlife habitat.

South Fork Salmon River (Idaho), threatened by mining that could have lasting consequences for clean water and the Wild and Scenic mainstem Salmon River.

Mississippi River Gorge (Minnesota), threatened by obsolete locks and dams preventing revitalization of river health and recreation in downtown Minneapolis.

Colville River (Alaska), threatened by oil and gas development that imperils clean water and habitat for polar bears, wolves and caribou. https://www.americanrivers.org/2018/04/announcing-americas-most-endangered-rivers-of-2018/ 

Mississippi floods worsened due to Human Interventions This also discusses Climate Change Impacts and concludes:

– Whichever turns out to be the main culprit, the Mississippi’s levees, spillways and other human-made structures are not likely to go away anytime soon—particularly because there is still excess capacity to handle high water flows—Colten says. The Morganza Spillway in Pointe Coupee Parish, La., for example, has only been opened twice: once in 1973 and again in 2011. Until that excess capacity is exhausted, Colten says it is unlikely the state or the Corps will fundamentally alter their approach to the river. “Decisions about managing the river are very much a human undertaking,” he says. “We have to know the size, we have to know the hydrology and the physics of rivers, but…those decisions are financial and political and regional, and don’t have a lot to do with the science.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/taming-the-mighty-mississippi-may-have-caused-bigger-floods/

US grappling with “Ugly” LA River US grappling with issues similar to India when it comes to restoring the Los Angeles River… The lower L.A. River — roughly the 19-mile portion between Vernon and Long Beach — stretches along a treeless corridor marked by pollution, poverty… disadvantaged people residing on its banks and “gentrification” of the space. https://www.scpr.org/news/2018/04/06/82128/la-river-plan/

REST OF THE WORLD

Brazil Supreme Court: No projects in protected areas without prior congress approval Brazil’s government has been told that development projects, including hydropower dams, in protected areas can no longer go ahead without the prior approval of lawmakers.

Last week’s ruling by the supreme court followed the use by the government in recent years of the controversial “provisional measure”, a legal instrument that allowed the president to approve projects by reducing the size of protected areas.

Campaigners said the decision should ensure the country’s forests and reserves, including the Amazon rainforest, were better protected.

“This decision puts an end to a spree of provisional measures in the name of environmental de-protection,” said Mauricio Guetta, a lawyer at Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), an advocacy group.

In recent years, the government has used the measure to open up protected areas for controversial projects, including building two of Brazil’s largest hydropower dams – the Jirau and Santo Antonio – in the Amazon. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-supreme-court-deforestation/new-projects-in-brazils-amazon-not-without-congressional-approval-says-court-idUSKBN1HG2D3

Day zero risk for Spain, Morocco, India, Iraq? Its unclear what exactly is new here. Also, the reasons for decline in the water levels in a reservoir are political and not always a direct and linera result of Climate change, like Sardar Sarovar this year.

Nonetheless, an interesting tool. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/11/day-zero-water-crises-spain-morocco-india-and-iraq-at-risk-as-dams-shrink

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 2 April 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 9 April 2018

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