Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 21 May 2018 (World Over New Renewables Are Making Large Hydro Unviable & Unnecessary)

According to an energy expert, 6,000 megawatts’ worth of wind and solar contracts had been signed in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos in the last six months, seriously challenging the financial viability of major hydropower projects on the river. Buoyed by a recent Thai government decision to delay a power purchase deal with a major mainstream Mekong dam, clean-energy proponents and economists told the third Mekong River Commission summit that the regional energy market was on the cusp of a technological revolution.

A six-year Mekong River Commission Council study on development plans for the Mekong, which was the focus of the summit, suggested catastrophic impacts upon the health of the river system if all planned hydropower dams — 11 mainstream projects and more than 100 on tributaries — were built.

– Wang Wenling, an assistant professor at Yunnan University’s Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security (SO INTERESTING THAT CHINA HAS SUCH AN INSTITUTE), said she had just seen firsthand how far the price of solar technology had plummeted on a recent trip to North Carolina in the United States. Floating solar projects are being developed around the world, including in China, where an enormous 150-megawatt installation on a lake that used to be a deserted coal mine is expected to go online in May. https://www.voanews.com/a/solar-surge-threatens-hydro-future-mekong/4341660.html (Voa News, 11 April 2018)

Renewable Revolution Can Fundamentally Alter Energy-River Equation The new energy math: falling costs of generation and storage technologies = fewer hydropower trade-offs. The trends suggest that it’s time to rethink our assumptions about inevitable, intractable conflicts between energy development and healthy rivers. The Irrawaddy had all the hallmarks of one of those conflicts: 2/3 of Myanmar’s citizens lack access to reliable electricity, and status quo projections assumed that the country’s large pool of untapped hydropower potential was the logical option to expand generation. On the other hand, the Irrawaddy remained one of the only large free-flowing rivers in Asia, supporting impressive fish populations that contribute to the largest source of protein in the national diet. Not to mention its immense cultural values, including the cooperative fishing with dolphins.

– Building the 30-plus dams in the planning pipeline would address the energy needs, but would not be compatible with maintaining the river’s fish productivity and many of its cultural values. The stalemate over the suspended Myistsone dam served as the opening salvo of a looming broader conflict. A different path is emerging, highlighted in the recently released Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of hydropower in Myanmar, produced by Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy with support from the International Finance Corporation and the Australian government. The SEA report recommended keeping the mainstem of the Irrawaddy River (and that of the parallel Salween River) as free-flowing, and focusing hydropower development on a set of tributary dams that would have lower impacts.

– But the whole equation for energy development is rapidly changing — and solving that equation no longer requires accepting immense trade-offs because that’s what the math dictated. With new variables, the math for the truly high impact dams may no longer balance. The renewable revolution can bring low-cost, reliable electricity into balance with Mekong giant catfish, Irrawaddy dolphins, and the countless other species and people that depend on those healthy rivers. (Jeff Opperman, author of Book “Floodplains”.) https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2018/03/30/renewable-revolution-can-fundamentally-alter-energy-river-equation/2/&refURL=https://www.facebook.com/&referrer=https://www.facebook.com/#2c3e4c7ccd6a (Forbes, 30 March 2018)

Europe is demolishing its dams to restore ecosystems Across much of Europe, rivers unfettered by artificial barriers are exceedingly rare. However, over the past 20–25 years, at least 5,000 small dams, weirs and culverts have been removed from rivers in France, Sweden, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to Dam Removal Europe. (There are few reliable records from other countries in Europe.)

In the United States, about 1,200 barriers have been dismantled in recent decades, with generally positive effects on local ecosystems, says Laura Wildman, a fisheries engineer with eco-consultants Princeton Hydro in South Glastonbury, Connecticut.

A number of small dams in the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain are scheduled for removal later this year. And starting in 2019, French scientists plan to systematically monitor the impacts of a removal project even larger than Yecla de Yeltes: the demolition of two hydropower dams in the Sélune Valley in Normandy, one 35 metres tall and the other 15 metres.

But while old barriers are being removed, new dams are built elsewhere. Some 2,800 hydropower plants are currently being planned across the Balkans — a threat, says van de Bund, to many of the continent’s last untouched rivers. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05182-1 (Nature, 16 May 2018)

India, the third largest dam-building nation in the world after China and the US, has more than 5,000 large dams. Should it not follow the West and demolish dams to turn the concept of Aviral Dhara (unfettered flow) from a pipe dream into a reality?

Conflicts over water have spiralled in India in the last few decades with states squabbling over reduced share of water due to damming of rivers. Odisha-Chhattisgarh water conflict is one of the long-raging disputes. Large Hirakud Dam is at the centre of the dispute. Similarly, rivers of West Bengal are heavily damned, upsetting hydrological balance. We need fewer obstacles and more free flowing rivers, without which, the world will never be able to stem biodiversity loss. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/by-demolishing-dams-europe-us-letting-rivers-reclaim-their-space-60572 (DTE, 16 May 2018) 

HYDRO POWER

Tamil Nadu CM laid the foundation for Rs 1850 Cr Kundah Pumped Storage HEP Tamil Nadu Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday laid the foundation for the Kundah Pumped Storage Hydro-Electric Project (4x125MW), to come up at Kattukuppai in Nanajanad village in the Nilgiris. Under the project, Tangedco’s Porthimund and Avalanche-Emerald reservoirs in the district would be utilised as the upper and lower reservoirs respectively, according to Gunanan, executive engineer, Tangedco. He said, “An underground power house is proposed to house four units of 125MW each, which can be reached by means of an underground tunnel. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/cm-lays-stone-for-rs-1850-crore-kundah-hydel-project/64230160 (The Economic Times, 19 May 2018)

DAMS

Punjab BBMB imposes 15 pc cut on water supply to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan The Bhakra and Beas Management Board (BBMB) on May 18, 2018, following a meeting of Technical Committee, imposed a 15 per cent cut on the water being supplied to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan from the Bhakra and Pong dams. The decision was taken because of low-level of water in the dams. Besides, the states have also been asked to be prepared for further curtailment of water supply, if the situation does not improve. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/bbmb-imposes-15-pc-cut-on-water-supply-to-punjab-haryana-rajasthan-118051801211_1.html (Business Standard, 18 May 2018)

Madhya Pradesh Villagers affected by the Pawai Irrigation Project speak out against their forced displacement How Pawai Multipurpose Irrigation project also known as Tendu Ghat Dam on Ken River is displacing the tribal villagers forcefully in open violation of human rights. KHABAR LAHARIYA report on PAWAI irrigation project on Ken River in Panna district in Madhya Pradesh, following Ken Yatra initiated by SANDRP. https://www.firstpost.com/india/they-warn-us-that-its-best-if-we-just-up-and-leave-villagers-affected-by-the-pawai-irrigation-project-speak-out-against-their-forced-displacement-4469977.html (First Post, 15 May 2018)

Polavaram Row Andhra govt, Centre pushing for Polavaram project, setting aside Dalit, Adivasi rights in scheduled areas: NGO panel  A fact-finding committee, which visited the Polavaram Multipurpose Project-affected villages in Andhra Pradesh recently, has in its preliminary report said that land acquisition for the project is being carried out “without settlement of forest rights of thousands of adivasis as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, and the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation (LARR) Act, 2013”.

Also noting “problems in the allotment of land for the displaced Dalits and Adivasis, lack of grievance redressal systems, poor rehabilitation facilities and weak monitoring”, the committee has said, it can confirm the “numerous complaints of legal and procedural violations, corruption and irregularities in the land acquisition and rehabilitation process. https://www.counterview.net/2018/05/andhra-govt-centre-pushing-for.html (Counter View, 18 May 2018)

Probe sought into AP govt’s land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement package A fact-finding committee (FFC) formed by various civil rights groups, who toured the project- affected villages of the Polavaram multi-purpose project, confirmed the numerous complaints of legal and procedural violations, corruption and irregularities in the land acquisition and rehabilitation process taken up by the State government. They demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting or a retired judge into the entire process of land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement of the project.

According to the report released on May 19, 2018 by the committee formed by members of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Adivasi Sankshema Parishad (ASP), Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruttridarula Union (APVVU), Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) and Human Rights Forum (HRF), highlighted the issues pertaining to mismanagement of funds, resettlement and rehabilitation of Adivasis as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006, problems in the allotment of land for the displaced Dalits and and lack of grievance redressal systems. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/may/20/polavaram-probe-sought-into-andhra-pradesh-governments-land-acquisition-rehabilitation-and-resett-1817024.html (The New Indian Express, 20 May 2018)

Maharashtra Desilting work on Pavana dam to continue till June; 75,000 cubic meter silt removed in 2 years A total of 75,000 cubic meter silt has been removed from Pavana dam in the past two years and desilting work has begun for the current year. The dam was built in 1970 on Pavana river, which is around 40 km from PCMC limits. Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation lifts 490 million litres per day (MLD) to supply drinking water to around 20 lakh population. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) lifts another 100 MLD from this dam for industrial areas in Pimpri Chinchwad, Hinjewadi IT park and other areas. Major towns of Talegaon and Dehu Road along with many downstream villages depend on the dam to meet their drinking water needs. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/desilting-work-on-pavana-dam-to-continue-till-june-75000-cubic-meter-silt-removed-in-2-years/articleshow/64197005.cms (The Times of India, 17 May 2018)

As per Govt., almost 1.4 lakh cubic metres of silt have been removed from 1,963 dams across Maharashtra in a year and the silt, rich in nutrients, has been distributed free of cost benefitting 50,000 farmers: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/desilting-of-1963-dams-has-helped-50000-farmers-maharashtra-govt-5183758/ (The Indian Express, 20 May 2018)

A rural-urban water conflict intensifies along Surya river Nearly half of Dhamni dam’s irrigation water promise not met, tribals want project to divert water for Mumbai’s two satellite towns cancelled. The report explains why Palghar tribals are opposing diversion Dhamni dam water on Surya river to Mumbai: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/palghar-bypoll-a-rural-urban-water-conflict-intensifies-along-surya-river-5167386/ (The Indian Express, 8 May 2018)

Gujarat Environmental activist objects to de-silding of Singoda dam Objection to de-silting of Singoda dam without permission from forest department as the dam is located inside Gir Sanctuary and the accumulated silt could be prov iding nesting habitat and basking site to aquatic animals including crocodiles.

Environmental activist Biren Padhya has sent a legal notice to the forest department and officials in the CMO asking them to immediately stop the de-silting process of Singoda dam in the Sasan Gir sanctuary area. He pointed out that no permission has been taken for the project under the Wildlife Act.

Padhya, through his advocate, stated that the government and the sarpanches from Jamwala and surrounding villages have decided to de-silt the Singhoda dam under the Jal Sanchay Yojna.

He further said the scheme was good for the rest of the state, but when it comes to areas inside the sanctuary, it should not be taken up as there are innumerable crocodiles staying in the area and there are a number of eggs laid in and around the dam area. The dam is also home to 10 lions and four cubs.

The notice states that the Singhoda dam being in the national sanctuary, provisions of Section 35 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 would be attracted, even if an attempt is made to de-silt the dam and it cannot be done without permission of the chief wildlife warden. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-environmental-activist-objects-to-de-silding-of-singoda-dam/articleshow/64211417.cms (The Times of India, 17 May 2018)

INTER STATE WATER DISPUTES

Odisha Chhattisgarh Detailed report on Mahanadi dispute At the heart of the dispute over Mahanadi water lies the huge Hirakud dam and reservoir. Odisha’s allegation of reduced flow to the Hirakud reservoir from Chhattisgarh triggered the dispute. The Hirakud dam project has multiple and conflicting objectives. Its main role is to moderate floods in the Mahanadi and hence, it has to remain empty for most of the monsoon season to be ready to accommodate excess water in times of need. The reservoir has many competing users.  It has a large direct irrigation command in the western parts of Odisha and a big indirect irrigation command in the deltaic areas in eastern parts of the state. It is one of the important generators of hydro-power in Odisha, a large supplier of water to industrial and urban demands, and also has the objective to ensure flow in the Mahanadi to meet drinking water, ecological and other needs. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/-maha-dispute-over-the-mahanadi-60542 (DTE, 15 May 2018)

Odisha plans Chhattisgarh type barrages on Mahanadi river The Odisha Government on May 12, 2018 announced that it is working on a roadmap and preparing a master plan for utilisation of the excess river water. The master plan includes construction of seven barrages in the downstream of Mahanadi. Besides, 22 barrages will be constructed on Mahanadi’s tributaries and distributaries, including barrages and anicuts at Boudh, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Munduli.

– Odisha had dropped a proposal to construct a barrage at Sindhol in Sonepur district in 2011 apprehending objection by locals. The Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with National Hydro Corporation for the project which was dropped later because of strong opposition from several BJD leaders. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/may/13/odisha-plans-chhattisgarh-type-barrages-on-mahanadi-river-1813975.html (The New Indian Express, 13 May 2018)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

IWAI study finds 20 proposed National Waterways technically not feasible The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has found that 20 proposed national waterways are technically not feasible. These include five in Tamil Nadu, four in West Bengal, two each in Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra and one each in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Goa besides one jointly in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/coal/iwai-study-finds-20-proposed-national-waterways-technically-not-feasible/64183733 (The Economic Times, 16 May 2018)

Waterways plan will serve no purpose: Sreedharan Former State Planning Board Member E. Sreedharan has called for a critical review of the development of the 633-km West Coast Canal (WCC).

The review should consider the usefulness of the project, its financial viability, feasibility and social cost involved. “With a fairly good road public transport system and high private vehicle ownership, the question is who will prefer water transport system where the average speed is 1/5th of the road speed,” says Dr. Sreedharan on the ₹2,300-crore ambitious project slated for completion by 2022.

Waterways plan will serve no purpose: Sreedharan

The same applies to cargo movement as well. About 80% of the cargo movement is inter-State and every one wants cargo to move fast. “With water transport involving two transshipments and prevalence of Nokkukooli and head-load mafia, who will send their cargo along the coastal route?” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/waterways-plan-will-serve-no-purpose-sreedharan/article23651066.ece (The Hindu, 23 April 2018)

RIVERS

Urban Rivers Highly polluted in downstream, Sabarmati riverfront cannot be considered a model: Pune urban rivers dialogue told A recent dialogue on urban rivers, held in Pune, has reached the conclusion that the much-hyped Gujarat’s Sabarmati Riverfront Project in Ahmedabad cannot be considered a model for other cities to follow, as a similar project, planned for Vadodara, the state’s cultural capital, has been “dropped” following public outcry.

Organized jointly by SANDRP and INTACH, during the dialogue on urban rivers Gujarat’s top expert Bimal Patel, who originally conceptualized the Sabarmati project, admitted that Sabarmati is “not an example of river rejuvenation project.”

Suggesting that in the original plan for the Sabarmati riverfront project did not visualize taking water from Narmada, Patel reportedly told the dialogue that it did not even involve “cleaning the river, but only transferring the sewage downstream and channelizing the river with concrete embankments”, adding, no ecological alternative was considered either. https://www.counterview.net/2018/05/highly-polluted-in-downstream-sabarmati.html (Counter View, 18 May 2018)

OP-ED What is the land that belongs to the river? by Manoj Misra “The River Ganga Authorities Order (October 7, 2016) issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, defines both a river bed and its floodplains as areas that come under water due to floods, corresponding to once in 100 years. This sound definition needs to be mainstreamed for all the rivers so that defining a river’s edge no longer remains a discretionary option for the State.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/there-must-be-a-law-to-define-a-river-s-edge/story-n3IE7EzHmWhkhjvBE2JY1J.html (Hindustan Times , 15 May 2018)

Punjab Large number of fish found dead in Beas river due to release of sugar mill fluid 10000 kilo liters molasses leak from Chadha Sugar Mill located in Kiri Afgana village of Gurdaspur district Punjab affects 80 km river stretch killing large number of aquatic animals in Beas which also habitats endangered Dolphin and Gharial. Villagers protest over severe pollution and mass fish death. Owner terms it accidental. Report shows it to be repeated offender of environmental norms. Pollution Board sealed the mill and fined it 25 lakh. Other sugar mills under scanner. Environment minister set up committee seeking report in 3 days. Irrigation dept planning to release Pong, Ranjit Sagar dam water to dilute the pollution. Experts feel it to be too late as by the time dam waters reach the site, pollution would be traveling downstream to Harike causing more damage. https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/punjab-large-number-of-fish-found-dead-in-beas/story-0XDIbfquUB0h2evGF9qskN.html (Hindustan Times, 17 May 2018)

Maharashtra List steps taken to control river pollution HC tells state govt The Bombay high court asked the govt to apprise it of the steps it proposes to take to curb pollution of rivers in the state. A bench of Justices AS Oka and RI Chagla sought a detailed list of the government’s proposed steps on an affidavit, observing that it was the state’s constitutional obligation to protect its rivers and improve the quality of river waters. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/list-steps-to-control-river-pollution-hc-tells-maharashtra-govt/articleshow/63899721.cms (The Times of India, 24 April 2018)

Maharashtra pollution board fails to upload water quality data for 7 months The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has not uploaded their monthly water quality bulletin for coastal and inland water bodies of Maharashtra, on their website since November last year. In 2016, the Central Pollution Control Board made it mandatory for all state pollution control boards to monitor and upload monthly water quality data on their respective websites so that information is available in the public domain, one of the mandates under the Centre’s National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP). https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-pollution-board-fails-to-upload-water-quality-data-for-7-months/story-qrFasvFaU3lDISTZlxJxkO.html (Hindustan Times, 18 May 2018)

Check dam on Dahisar river gets BMC permission So now a Dam will be built on Dahisar River in Mumbai, pushed by RIVER MARCH and supported by Art of Living Foundation to help rejuvenate the river?? http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-check-dam-on-dahisar-river-gets-bmc-permission-2616037 (DNA, 17 May 2018)

Rajasthan Bandi river’s water unfit for agricultural and domestic purpose A monitoring committee, appointed by the principal bench of National Green Tribunal, in its report of Apr 23, 2018 said that industrial pollutants from textile units in Pali being discharged into Bandi river have magnified the level of pollution & made the water unfit for agricultural & domestic use.

– The four-member committee — constituted by an NGT order of May 26, 2017 — visited Pali, located 70 km south-east of Jodhpur, and inspected the Common Effluent Treatment Plants and the pollution level in Bandi river. The committee comprising Dr Brij Gopal, an aquatic ecologist and former professor of environmental science at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Dr Rakesh Kumar Sharma from IIT Jodhpur’s department of chemistry; P Jagan from Central Pollution Control Board; and the member secretary of Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board. The report states that before the river enters Pali, the water quality is “very good without any trace of pollution from any visible source. It is only after the river enters Pali and crosses Mandia Road Industrial Area that it starts receiving pollutants from the industries.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/bandi-river-s-water-unfit-for-agricultural-and-domestic-purpose-says-ngt-monitoring-committee/story-s1mTKw62x8S2YqLArEhMKM.html (Hindustan Times, 14 May 2018)

CAUVERY Study Groundwater in Cauvery delta region under threat  Researchers from Anna University and Central Ground Water Board have found that the groundwater in Cauvery delta region is facing a major threat due to the contamination and a possible intrusion of seawater. Based on numerical modelling, they also estimated that Cauvery river has to flow for a period of 90 days to improve the groundwater quality in the region. The study area included 260 sq km in the Cauvery Delta. “If the flow is less than 90 days, the farmers in the river basin need to use the groundwater wisely by going for modern methods such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI),” Professor L. Elango, head, Department of Geology, Anna University and one of the authors of the paper said. “We need at least 30 days flow in the river to refill the groundwater and reduce the salinity.”

– The farmers have said the non-perennial river has not flowed continuously for more than two weeks in the last six years. “The last time when the river flowed continuously for more than a month was in 2011-12,” said P.R. Pandian, president of the Coordination Committee of All Tamil Nadu Farmers Associations. “The river needs 2.5 tmcft water a day to flow. If it has to flow for at least 90 days we need 225 tmcft water,” he added. “Of 25 lakh acres, around 8 lakh acres the farmers are using the System of Rice Intensification to bring down the water usage. Through this method, we can save 25% to 40% water,” K.Ramasamy, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/140518/groundwater-in-cauvery-delta-region-under-threat-study.html (Deccan Chronicle, 14 May 2018)

Why is Karnataka growing water-intensive crops in arid regions? The area under sugarcane in 1970-71 was 91,245 Ha. Of this just 296 acres was unirrigated land. According to the Economic Survey of Karnataka 2014-15, farmers planted sugarcane on 6.26 lakh Ha (5% of Karnataka area under cultivation) that year. This is an increase of 586% in 40 years. For the same period, paddy increased by 20%. Paddy currently constitutes about 10% of the total area under cultivation.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/water-isnt-infinite-karnataka-should-take-hard-look-how-it-uses-its-lifeline-49559 (The News Minute, 8 Sept 2016)

Ground Zero: Cauvery, a river in distress The Hindu follows the course of the river from its source to the sea and finds a riverine ecosystem in terminal decline.

– The Sangam-era Tamil poetic work, Pattinappaalai , describes the Cauvery as an eternal river. “Vaan poithinam thaan poiyya malai kalaya kadarkaaveri ponal parandhu pon kolikkum” goes a line. Loosely translated, it means that even in the hot summer months, when the rain gods do not shower their mercy, the Cauvery, emerging from the hills of Coorg (Kodagu), continues to flow, helping to harvest gold from the land.

Ground Zero: Cauvery, a river in distress

– For the thousands of tourists and pilgrims climbing the 300 steps to the hilltop at Talacauvery, the Cauvery’s source in Kodagu, Karnataka, no mystical spout awaits. It is here that the river is believed to emerge as a perennial fount, and is worshipped as Kaveriamma by the Kodavas. But on top of the Brahmagiri Hills in Kodagu, only mud and stones greet the eye. In the temple at the bottom of the hill, the priest says that it is only during October, after the monsoon is over, that you get to see a water spout under the rocks.

– Kaveripoompattinam was once a busy port city, the capital of the Chola kings, where maritime trade prospered. But today, like the river after which it takes its name, the town is a shadow of its storied past. The Silappadikaram Art Gallery overlooking the Cauvery’s confluence with the sea looks dilapidated. Musical instruments from the past lie silent on dusty shelves. Above the statues of Kannagi and Kovalan, the protagonists of the Tamil epic Silappadikaram, cobwebs dangle from the ceiling. Where a river is on its death bed, the civilisation it birthed also struggles to survive. WOW piece. Pls Read and share. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-river-in-distress/article23856924.ece (The Hindu, 12 May 2018)

Cauvery water issue: At last, a scheme The Hindu EDIT on Cauvery scheme proposed by the Centre to the SC However, there is an ambiguous clause: if the authority finds that any one of the States is not cooperative, it can seek the Centre’s help, and the Centre’s decision will be final and binding. This can be seen either as an enabling clause to resolve the situation when there is a stand-off, or as one that gives scope to the Centre to intervene on behalf of one State. To allay apprehensions of the Centre acting in a partisan manner, it would be better if it is not given the final say, but mandated to help in the implementation of the Tribunal’s award at all times. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/at-last-a-scheme/article23896171.ece (The Hindu, 16 May 2018)

SC accepts Centre’s proposal on water-sharing scheme between states The Supreme Court on May 18 accepted Centre’s amended draft scheme outlining the water sharing scheme between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry in the decades-old Cauvery water dispute. The Centre has suggested maintaining a monthly record of water released every day from the reservoirs, as directed by the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). http://zeenews.india.com/india/cauvery-dispute-sc-accepts-centres-proposal-on-water-sharing-scheme-between-states-karnataka-tamil-nadu-kerala-puducherry-2109332.html (Zee News, 18 May 2018)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh Thousands of dead fish found floating in Ganga, experts blame toxic effluents Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the Ganga over the last 24 hours, officials said on May 14, 2018. This is the fourth time such an incident has occurred in as many years. Reports suggested that dead fish were first seen floating in the river’s Kannauj stretch, after which the phenomenon was witnessed in Unnao and Bilhaur. Effluents from industrial units in Shahjahanpur were prima facie suspected of discharging toxic material downstream, poisoning the river water. UPPCB officials suspect the presence of a poisonous substance in the Garra river, which originates from Shahjahanpur and merges with the Ganga in Kannauj. The fish were found dead in a radius of five kilometres in Kannauj and four kilometres in Unnao, officials said. A number of pesticide units operating on the banks of the Garra and Ganga rivers allegedly release toxic effluents into the water.

A child picks up a dead fish that washed up on the banks of the Ganga on Monday.

Gadkari Sir, will this be part of 70-80% or remaining 20-30%? Did these industries were part of your count of polluting industries? https://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/thousands-of-dead-fish-found-floating-in-ganga-experts-blame-toxic-effluents/story-ujQ4HnvtMVXULPYRa2XENP.html (Hindustan Times, 15 May 2018)

After Kannauj, thousands of dead fish were found floating in Ganga at Bilhaur’s Nanamau ghat, Chaubeypur’s Andimata and Pathakpur ghats in Kanpur on May 15. District and Pollution Control Board officials rushed to the site and collected water samples for examination.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/dead-fish-found-floating-as-oxygen-levels-dip-in-ganga/articleshow/64184214.cms (The Times of India, 16 May 2018)

Govt asks closing down of tanneries for clean Ganga during Kumbh So the Kumbh will be held between December 15, 2018 and March 15, 2019 in Allahabad. This is lean season. Due to snowfall in upper catchment and less discharge from glaciers, water level in Ganga falls. At the same time, there is water demand in entire basin for wheat irrigation. So it would be interesting to see, how the govt manages to make Ganga Aviral and Nirmal during Kumbh. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/kumbh-close-tanneries-for-clean-ganga-water-says-up-cm-118051700619_1.html (Business Standard, 17 May 2018)

NGT raps Ganga Mission for non-compliance The National Green Tribunal on May 15, 2018 rapped the National Mission for Clean Ganga for not filing a compliance report pertaining to the steps taken by the authorities for cleaning the river. The Bench, headed by NGT acting chairperson Jawad Rahim, said, “We had asked you to file an additional document on April 3 about steps taken by various authorities, including setting up of treatment plants. What did you do in this time? Why have you not complied with our order?” The Bench had earlier asked the NMCG to file a report on the steps taken by the State governments of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the Centre to clean the river in the stretch between Gomukh and Unnao. The NGT directed the NMCG to file the compliance report by May 23.

– The Bench has also summoned records from the Eastern Bench of the NGT to deal with a similar matter pertaining to the rejuvenation of the river between Bihar and West Bengal. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ngt-raps-ganga-mission-for-non-compliance/article23897382.ece (The Hindu, 16 May 2018)

Ganga eroding away Samera Villager Shocking, sad state of affairs at Semra village in Gazhipur district in UP where Ganga has eroded 40% of the village, the problem is hanging since 20 years and nothing is done. The least that is expected is for the UP WRD to assess the situation and do the needful, including, if necessary, to rehabilitate the village. https://makingindiaonline.in/online-news-in-hindi/2018/04/08/flood-affected-semra-sherpur-village/ (Making India, 8 April 2018)

YAMUNA Delhi Will the new Yamuna River Project clean up the river? Seems seriously doubtful. Ambassador of Spain in India, said that it was impossible to figure out exact costs, but, “to restore the river, re-imagine the city and develop Delhi as a smart, sustainable city a rough estimate would be about USD 150 billion and it would take about 40 years to achieve this. As of now there are 27 different municipal agencies and government bodies, often working at cross purposes, who are supposed to be working to save the river. We need one unified authority, a political agreement to start work. Spain has the expertise to turn the city around as we have done with multiple cities in Spain and clean up the river.”

Even DJB has no clue about it: But on contacting them, it was found that none of them had even heard of the MoU between DJB and Virginia University and were not aware of any study called the Yamuna River Project. One DJB official said, on condition of anonymity, “Nothing is happening on it. Just a report has been prepared.” More significantly, both Manoj Misra and Prof C R Babu were critical of the project. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/will-the-new-yamuna-river-project-clean-up-the-river–60578 (DTE, 18 May 2018)

On Yamuna banks, drive to beautify has many worried In a repeat of Sabarmati River Front Development Project Gujarat, Hundreds of floodplain farmers in Delhi facing displacement threat from 1st phase of DDA’s Yamuna River Front Development project:

On Yamuna banks, drive to beautify has many worriedA DDA official said the first phase of the project should have been completed this month. “Work has been completed on 300 acres of the first phase. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/on-yamuna-banks-drive-to-beautify-has-many-worried/ (The Indian Express, 20 May 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Illegal sand mining issue on IAF land on Yamuna floodplain in Greater Noida: The Delhi High Court on May 17 asked the Central govt if the Indian Air Force (IAF) was protecting its land on the banks of Yamuna, where the Tilpat station of Western Air Command is located, from illegal sand mining.

The court was hearing a plea filed by a man, claiming to be a whistle-blower, alleging that illegal sand mining was going on at defence land located at the Tilpat Ranges 1 and 2 on the banks of Yamuna in Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida, which falls in the Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

The petitioner has said he had made representations to various authorities including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had forwarded it to the Ministry of Defence and the IAF. He has claimed that the illegal activities have caused a loss of over ₹29 crore to the exchequer. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/is-air-force-protecting-its-land-on-yamuna-bank-from-sand-mining/article23907271.ece (The Hindu, 17 May 2018)

SAND MINING

Goa Camurlim objects to sand extraction activities Villagers of Camurlim have objected to the sand extraction during the gram sabha held on May 13, 2018, demanding the cancellation of sand extraction zones and to declare the mangroves along the river side as reserved forest. Locals fear that constant sand extraction at this zone would lead to soil erosion. Locals further informed that the Kodo Katar Bhand had become weak and could collapse at any moment, resulting in the salty water entering the fields of Vagalim, Muddawado and Khairat, further affecting the livelihood of farmers, as they are totally dependent on the farming activity. ishermen who have their houses located along the marked zone expressed concern saying due to sand extraction their houses too were at risk as they may collapse. They also pointed out that the sand extraction activity was affecting the breeding area of fish. http://www.goacom.com/camurlim-objects-to-sand-extraction-activities/ (Goa Com, 14 May 2018)

Rajasthan Pollution Board to study if sand could be manufactured from mine waste Following SC ban, Rajasthan exploring alternatives to sand mined from rivers illegally and unsustainably: The Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) has formed a committee comprising officials from the pollution board and mines and geology department to study the ways to manufacture sand from minerals and mineral wastes to replace river sand used in construction purposes. It will also suggest ways to overcome environmental problems. The committee will submit its report on May 24.

Member secretary of the board Ajay Kumar Gupta said sand equivalent to one mined from rivers can be manufactured from granite, sandstone, basalt, quartzite, pegamities, charnokite, and khondalites. He, however, said there were some technical problems in manufacturing sand. The artificial sand needs to be fine and coarse aggregate for concrete, particles should have higher crushing strength and the surface texture of the particles should be smooth. The major constraint will be quality control and societal acceptance of manufactured sand for which Bureau of Indian Standards will have to set up laboratories in the state. https://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/rajasthan-studies-if-sand-could-be-manufactured-from-mine-waste/story-KsWRUPIUlbYaYl8Y2H0dQM.html (Hindustan Times, 14 May 2018)

Punjab Govt to ‘rework’ Sidhu’s mining report Punjab govt has decided to rework the sand and gravel mining report submitted by Sidhu, rather than the Cabinet sub committee. The govt has said that it cannot take over the entire mining business, and instead may start with five quarries. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/govt-to-rework-sidhu-s-mining-report/589381.html (The Tribune, 15 May 2018)

Gujarat Bee-eater habitat being devastated by sand miners Sand miners destroying large habitat and nesting site of the blue-cheeked bee-eaters (Merops persicus), along the Sabarmati River banks behind Indroda Fort in Gandhinagar, Gujurat. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/bee-eater-habitat-being-devastated-by-sand-miners/articleshow/64101442.cms (The Times of India, 10 May 2018)

Karnataka In communally volatile coastal Karnataka, sand mining and politics feed off each other  Detailed report on illegal sand mining issue: Sand mining is a highly lucrative business and political parties have crafted a clientele model to run it, the officials said. Politicians give mining permits to their loyalists, who in turn pour money into local politics. It is effectively a kind of a benami system, only it also threatens to destroy the sensitive ecosystem of the 21 rivers flowing through the region. https://scroll.in/article/878230/in-communally-volatile-coastal-karnataka-sand-mining-and-politics-feed-off-each-other (Scroll.In, 10 May 2018)

WATER OPTIONS

Gujarat Dholavira’s water conservation secret is an engineering marvel A team of geo-technical engineers from IIT-Gandhinagar and an archaeologist from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been scanning an area of around 12,276 square metres in Dholavira for over a year using Ground Penetrating Radar. The team may have discovered a Harappan water-harvesting system. The structures is buried 2.5 metres beneath the ground and located along Manhar river in Khadirbet in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district. This Indus Valley Harappan city flourished from about 3000 BCE to 1700 BCE. The invisible radar signals bouncing off underground structures have revealed an intricate system of interconnected water reservoirs, bunds, channels, drains, and checkdams. The system, the experts surmise, was used for diverting waters from the Manhar river to the eastern reservoir at Dholavira’s Harappan site. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/dholaviras-water-conservation-secret-is-an-engineering-marvel/articleshow/64228386.cms (The Times of India, 19 May 2018)

GROUND WATER

Chandigarh Groundwater level depleting in Chandigarh, decreased 4 metre in year: CGWB Report A new report, submitted to the Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation on May 14, 2018, by the Central Ground Water Board, North western region, has found that in some locations in the city, the groundwater level decreased by as much as four metres in one year. There are 225 tubewells in the city which provide over 28 million gallons daily water to the city.  http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/findings-by-central-ground-water-board-groundwater-level-depleting-decreased-4-metre-in-year-says-report-5178363/ (The Indian Express, 16 May 2018)

Gujarat 1209 Challans issued over aquifer recharge Ahmadabad stressing the surface and groundwater resources seems reluctant to Rain Water Harvesting: It gets 1250 MLD water from dams on Narmada and Mahi rivers (900 MLD from Narmada and 350 MLD from Mahi).

Over the past week, zonal offices of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) have slapped 1,209 notices on multi-storey buildings, asking them to show their groundwater percolating wells. These wells were made mandatory in 2001 for rainwater harvesting, according to the general development control regulations (GDCR), before building use permissions were issued by the AMC. In the posh West and New West zones alone, the AMC has issued some 730 notices.

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According to GDCR norms, all building units larger than 1,000 square metres, must have a rainwater tank with adequate capacity. For buildings with ground coverage more than 80sqm but below 500sqm, a percolation pit or bore recharge is mandatory, while one percolating well must be provided for every 4000sqm of land area.

For plots bigger than 4,000sqm where alternatives to multiple percolating wells are required, the AMC has provided an option of constructing a single water retention pond with a minimum capacity of 3 lakh litres with a percolating well.

A Central Ground Water Board (CWGB) report from 2016-17 revealed that Ahmedabad sucks out 77% of the groundwater that is recharged in the monsoon. The CWGB has already pressed the alarm, saying that groundwater levels in Ahmedabad have plummeted by between 85m and 125m in the last four decades, pushing Ahmedabad into the semi-critical zone. A 2015 CWGB report said that Ahmedabad district has 20,717 deep groundwater drawing sources for private irrigation and to augment domestic water needs. These include 6,686 tubewells and 13,414 dug wells. This wanton exploitation of groundwater has put enormous pressure on the water table.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/1209-notices-issued-over-aquifer-recharge/articleshow/64212751.cms (The Times of India, 18 May 2018)

WATER

NITI Aayog  Mission Kakatiya best water management practice A report prepared by NITI Aayog with the support of TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi, has recognised the restoration and revival of minor irrigation tanks taken up by the Telangana government as one of the best practices in irrigation water management. The report of Aug 2017 now put up in public domain by NITI ayog observed “public participation will lead to ownership and help in long-term sustainability of the interventions” and suggested “restoration and maintenance of water resources should be a continual process and locals should be trained to manage their resources”. The project objective is utilising 265 tmc ft water allocated for minor irrigation in the Godavari and Krishna river basins.

– However, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found shortcomings in the implementation including unrealistic targets, skewed prioritisation and meeting the intended targets such as silt removal, for the year ending March 2017.

– Irrigation officials said the first phase of the programme was completed in all respects and pending work of second and third phases were in progress. Grounding and execution of work sanctioned in the fourth phase was also in progress.

Mission Kakatiya best water management practice: NITI Aayog

– The report said de-siltation of tanks, restoration of feeder channels, re-sectioning of irrigation channels, repairs to tank bunds, weirs and sluices and raising of full tank level (FTL) are being carried out wherever required.

– “The intervention has bridged 63% ayacut gap and also helped stabilisation of ayacut. Steps such as mixing of silt on farm land reduced use of chemical fertilizers and improved water retention capacity of the soil. An appreciable change was also observed in the nutritive values of the soil, development of fisheries and livestock and rise in the groundwater table in those area”, the report said. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/mission-kakatiya-best-water-management-practice-niti-aayog/article23886215.ece (The Hindu, 15 May 2018)

Gujarat CM is on propaganda hyper war, but this is the key fact: The month-long water conservation drive has crossed first half on May 15, 2018 and the government officials presented the statistics in the cabinet meeting to CM on May 16 showing the hard fact that only 2% of work was completed. 258 lakh cubic feet work was completed against 11,000 lakh cubic feet. Gujarat CM claimed: This is the greatest ever water conservation drive in India. http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-gujarat-cm-vijay-rupani-claims-74-achievements-in-jal-sanchay-works-against-reports-of-2-2616665 (DNA, 19 May 2018)

DELHI WATER

DPCC report: Water at eight of 22 sewage plants fails test Dinesh Mohaniya, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairperson, said he was not aware of the problem. A senior DJB official, however, said that several STPs have not been working as desired for a long time now, and DPCC reports have flagged this issue several times. As per CM statement Delhi is producing 450 MGD of treated water but only 89 MGD is being used. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/dpcc-report-water-at-eight-of-22-sewage-plants-fails-test-5137879/ (The Indian Express, 15 April 2018)

Groundwater situation in Delhi semi-critical: Supreme Court A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, which perused a report of the Central Ground Water Board on the status of groundwater level in Delhi from May 2000 to May 2017, said it “indicates an extremely sad state of affairs”. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/groundwater-situation-in-delhi-semi-critical-supreme-court-5168967/ (The Indian Express, 9 May 2018)

MONSOON 2018

Initiative UCAR, SKYMET TEAM UP TO IMPROVE FORECASTS IN INDIA A new partnership between the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Skymet Weather Services will provide people across India with more detailed and accurate forecasts. The $1 million agreement will enable Skymet to use a customized version of the DICast® system, cutting-edge automated weather prediction technology developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/132694/ucar-skymet-team-improve-forecasts-in-india (14 May 2018)

South East Monsoon IMD forecast on May 18, 2018 for onset of Southwest monsoon 2018 in Kerala The southwest monsoon is expected to set in over Kerala on 29th May 2018 with a model error of ± 4 days. IMD says its forecast has been within the error range for all years from 2005 to 2017, except in 2015, when against the forecast of arrival on 30th May, actual date was June 5, 2015. http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/press_release_view.php?ff=20180518_pr_251 (IMD, 18 May 2018)

DROUGHT 2018

Madhya Pradesh Acute Water Shortage Out of 164 dams in Madhya Pradesh 65 dams have almost dried up; 39 tanks have 10 % or less water stock of their capacity says a top official the Water Resources Department. https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/2018/05/13/madhya-pradesh-stares-at-acute-water-shortage#gs.mORmJxM (Bloomberg, 13 May 2018)

With soaring temperature, reports of water scarcity and ground water table depletion pouring in from major towns and cities

Chandigarh http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/findings-by-central-ground-water-board-groundwater-level-depleting-decreased-4-metre-in-year-says-report-5178363/

Delhi http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/dipping-groundwater-levels-in-city-worry-sc/article23817693.ece

Mumbai: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/tankers-are-fast-depleting-mumbais-groundwater/articleshow/64087345.cms

Madurai  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/a-tale-of-depleting-water-table/article23900150.ece

Rameshwaram Tamil Nadu, Mayurbhaj Odisha, Tikamgarh Madhya Pradesh and Raipur Chhattisgarh. https://www.ndtv.com/tamil-nadu-news/tamil-nadu-rameshwaram-locals-forced-to-buy-water-as-groundwater-level-dips-1849605

AGRICULTURE

Op-Ed How to improve agricultural productivity Interesting that this is authored by Bjorn Lomborg, a climate change sceptic and he is pushing the work of Dinesh Kumar, who is known supporter of Big Dams like Narmada Dam. https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/rPnwRLHibYF9P5dIo4f81H/How-to-improve-agricultural-productivity.html (Live Mint, 14 May 2018)

Maharashtra When a bunch of drought affected women took over farmlands Godavari, a farmer, went around her village teaching women farmers to change the nature of farming—to  move from cash crops to food crops. With an innovative model of one-acre and 25 crops, she changed the farming game. https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/when-a-bunch-of-women-took-over-farmlands-in-drought-prone-maharashtra-1745223.html (News18, 11 May 2018)

 

ENERGY OPTIONS

Center Government announces national wind-solar hybrid policy The government on May 14, 2018 announced a national wind-solar hybrid policy, which seeks to promote new projects as well as hybridisation of the existing ones.

– The policy provides for a comprehensive framework to promote large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid system for optional and efficient utilisation of transmission infrastructure and land, thereby reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability, the ministry of new and renewable energy said.

– It permits use of battery storage in hybrid projects for optimising output and further reduce variability. The policy also mandates the regulatory authorities to formulate necessary standards and regulations for wind-solar hybrid systems. Under the policy which is first, the government will extend all fiscal and financial incentives available to wind and solar power projects to hybrid projects. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/government-announces-national-wind-solar-hybrid-policy/articleshow/64163756.cms (The Economic Times, 14 May 2018)

Maharashtra Tatas, 5 others win bid for Ujjani dam floating solar project The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company has awarded the 1,000 mw of floating solar capacity on the Ujjani Dam to six bidders, including Tatas, Azure Power and Acme Solar. These players, selected from 25 bidders, won the contract for different capacities at tariffs of Rs 2.71 and Rs 2.72 per unit. State utility Mahavitaran had kept the reserve tariff at Rs 2.95 per unit. State utility Mahavitaran had in April floated tenders for the project whose PPA will remain valid for 25 years. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/tatas-5-others-win-bid-for-ujjani-dam-floating-solar-project-118051401185_1.html (Business Standard, 14 May 2018)

SOUTH ASIA

Bhutan Documentary Power of the River About the Drang mechhu River, Bhutan An adventure documentary from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. This little Buddhist nation, home to the world’s most ambitious commitment to protect nature, faces urgent pressure to dam every river. A man named “Good Karma” guides an expedition into the unknown to keep his country’s mightiest river wild and free. https://www.poweroftherivermovie.com/

Nepal, India issue joint statement during Modi’s visit Nepal and India issued a joint statement on May 12, 2018 during the state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal. Some key clauses of the statement:

  1. The two Prime Ministers recalled their meeting in New Delhi during the State visit of Prime Minister Oli in April 2018 and agreed to maintain the momentum generated by the visit by taking effective measures for the implementation of all the agreements and understandings reached in the past. They also agreed that effective implementation of the bilateral initiatives in agriculture, railway linkages and inland waterways development, as agreed upon by the two sides during the recent visit of Prime Minister Oli to India, would have transformational impact in these areas.
  2. The two Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of advancing cooperation in water resources for mutual benefit in areas such as river training works, inundation and flood management, irrigation, and to enhance pace of implementation of ongoing bilateral projects. They also expressed satisfaction over constitution of the joint team, which will visit areas affected by inundation and floods and consider appropriate measures for sustainable solution.
  3. The two Prime Ministers jointly laid the foundation stone of 900 MW Arun-III hydro-electric project in Nepal. They expressed hope that operationalization of the project would help enhance cooperation in the generation and trade of power between the two countries. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the outcome of the recently concluded meeting of the Joint Steering Committee on cooperation in the power sector held on 17 April 2018. They agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in power sector in line with the bilateral Power Trade Agreement. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-05-12/nepal-india-issue-joint-statement-during-modis-visit.html (Kathmandu Post 12 May 2018)

No visible progress in Pancheshwar in four years The second meeting of team of experts, which is entrusted with the task of resolving issues and differences in draft DPR document by the governing body co-chaired by Nepal’s Secretary of Water and Energy Commission Secretariat Madhusudan Adhikari and his Indian counterpart, held in New Delhi ended without signing minutes of meeting in September 2018. The team of experts has not met ever since and there is no plan of holding its meeting anytime soon.

– Both Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Modi have held bilateral visits to each others’ country over the past one month. But the mega project surprisingly did not feature in joint statements issued after both visits. PM Oil said in the joint press conference held in Kathmandu that Nepal wants to complete the DPR and start the project at the earliest. In response, PM Modi talked about the project but it didn’t feature in the joint statement.

– The project of this magnitude, which is estimated to generate 10,671 GWh of power annually, demands serious efforts from both the countries. But it is not happening. Recent bilateral visits of both the prime ministers show that India is not serious about implementing the project, according to former government officials. “India does not seem to be in mood of addressing Nepal’s genuine demand of paying value for the use of value-added water,” Surya Nath Upadhyaya, former energy secretary and a member from Nepal in Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India ties. Similarly, Khadga Bahadur Bisht, former president of Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal, said he fear the issue of water-sharing won’t be addressed anytime soon.

– Spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, however, acknowledged that issues related to water sharing and Nepal’s demand for additional benefits of value-added water have yet to be addressed. “Nepal has made it clear that it only needs energy, and has demanded price of value-added water which India can use for irrigation and other purposes,” he added.

– In 2014, the governing body hired WAPCOS Ltd, to synthesize separate detailed project reports prepared by Nepal (1995) and India (2003). WAPCOS submitted the synthesized draft DPR to the governing body in 2016. The government body then decided to take comments on the combined draft DPR from both sides. It has handed over comments to the team of experts for settling. http://www.myrepublica.com/news/41653/?categoryId=81 (My Republica, 14 May 2018)

India to drop discriminatory rule in power trade India has agreed to revise discriminatory regulations on power trading between Nepal and India and allow free flow of electricity in the spirit of the Power Trade Agreement signed between the two countries in 2014. The provision in the Guidelines on Cross Border Trade of Electricity issued by India in December 2016 had the discriminatory provision that permitted the participation of only Indian investors having a 51 percent stake. The bilateral talks during the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to the amendment. The joint statement issued at the end of the visit on May 12 reads, “They (Nepal and India) have agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in power sector in line with bilateral Power Trade Agreement.” http://www.myrepublica.com/news/41778/?categoryId=81 (My Republica, 16 May 2018)

Nepal-China Energy Cooperation begins The Industry and Investment Promotion Board, IIPB, Department of Industries, Government of Nepal, has approved to a Chinese company to bring in an investment of 14 billion rupees in the hydro-power sector which is supposed to be built in the Parbati Kunda rural municipality in nearby Rasuwa district, a district that is close to the Chinese border. The Chinese Company is bringing in the said investment in collaboration with a Nepali promoter-Salasungi. The Salasungi is to construct the 78 MW Project. The powerhouse of the project will be constructed about 500 meters above the Sanjen Hydro Power Project site. The Sanjen Hydro Power Limited is talked to be a subsidiary of the Nepal Electricity Authority which has received the government approval for this project three years ago. The Nepali side is to invest 8% of the total amount and the rest, 92% shall be invested by the Chinese side. Total cost for the energy project has been estimated at 15.23 billion rupees. Out of the total expected production of 78 MW, the construction of 48.8 MW is already in progress. http://telegraphnepal.com/nepal-china-energy-cooperation-begins/ (Telegraph, 16 May 2018)

CHINA

International Collaboration to Support Designation of the Qingzhu National Protected River Even China is working on national protected river system: The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and the Wildland Research Institute of the University of Leeds are both collaborators in China’s efforts to inventory and protect wild rivers and wilderness. The US Forest Service’s Office of International Programs has supported international exchange of expertise and information with Yunnan University, Southwest Forestry University, and Tsinghua University in China. The following contribution by Dr. Peng Li describes considerable international collaboration to develop a proposal for designating the first Wild River in China. https://ijw.org/international-collaboration-to-support-designation-of-the-qingzhu-national-protected-river/ (IJW, April 2018)

ASIA

MEKONG Leaked report warns Cambodia’s biggest dam could ‘literally kill’ Mekong river Hidden Govt report reveals, that Sambor hydropower dam Cambodia’s biggest project on Mekong river would destroy the river ecosystem. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/leaked-report-warns-cambodias-biggest-dam-could-literally-kill-mekong-river (The Guardian, 16 May 2018)

The link for the paper is HERE

Dam Flood Cambodia 10 of thousands ordered to evacuate after floods at dam Collapse of Engine room at Hidroituango Colombia’s largest hydroelectric dam project on river Cauca, creates emergency situation, thousands of river bank people ordered to evacuate their homes.

600 people already left homeless after heavy floods at hydroelectric dam project, with another wave of flooding feared. Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in western Colombia after heavy floods at Colombia’s largest hydroelectric dam project. The Hidroituango dam on the river Cauca was in the final stages of construction when a blocked tunnel was cleared on May 12, 2018 night, causing flooding downstream that swept through a riverside hamlet. On May 16, authorities issued evacuation orders for eight municipalities (total population 120 000) downstream from the dam amid fears of another wave of flooding as heavy rains continue to batter the mega-project. Videos circulating on local media show the harrowing scenes at the dam. One clip shows workers running from massive waves, while another shows flood water engulfing digging machinery. The latest emergency was triggered after an engine room at the dam reportedly collapsed.

– “There’s no humanitarian assistance here, it’s total abandonment – there’s no shelters, no food, no anything.” Isabel Cristina Zuleta, an activist with Ríos Vivos, a local environmental organisation long opposed to the project said. Three community leaders from the area were shot dead by unknown assailants this month in two separate incidents. Two of the victims were members of the Ríos Vivos movement and had been campaigning for compensation for communities affected by the project.

– The precise cause of the disaster is contentious. EPM’s manager, Jorge Londoño, told local media that “unpredictable geological conditions” had caused the tunnel to fill and then collapse over the weekend, while activists argue that it was caused by an accumulation of plant material left uncollected by the company.

– The crisis had been brewing since late April, when a blockage in the diversion tunnel was breached, causing water levels to rise both up- and downstream. Several landslides, caused in part by heavy rain, led to further blockages throughout early May. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/16/colombia-tens-of-thousands-of-ordered-to-evacuate-after-floods-at-dam (The Guardian, 16 May 2018)

Istanbul Erdogan’s ‘crazy’ canal alarms villagers and environmentalists  Same dirty tricks are used in Istanbul to keep out genuine affected people and environmentalists from participating in public consultation process: When residents of Sazlibosna, a village near Istanbul, tried to attend a public meeting about the Turkish government’s USD 16 Billion plan to dig a 400 metre-wide 45 km long canal through their farmlands, they were stopped by police. Critics, including the national architects association, have questioned the need for the canal and warned it will destroy an 8,500-year-old archaeological site near Istanbul and cause widespread environmental damage. The project that the President has publicly referred to as CRAZY project will displace thousands. The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) criticised the canal as an environmental and urban “disaster” which should be abandoned. vhttps://in.reuters.com/article/turkey-canal/erdogans-crazy-canal-alarms-villagers-and-environmentalists-idINKCN1IE0GF (Reuters, 13 May 2018)

THE REST OF WORLD

US The Potts Law Firm Defeats the San Jacinto River Authority in District Court Hearing On January 22, 2018, The Potts Law Firm defeated the San Jacinto River Authority in a district court hearing in which the SJRA moved to dismiss the lawsuit involving over 100 Kingwood residents. “It’s a great first step in achieving recovery for those adversely affected by the SJRA’ s decision to flood the thousands of residents downstream from Lake Conroe,” said firm attorney Andrew Woellner.

– According to the Petition, the San Jacinto River Authority flooded hundreds of Kingwood homes and businesses by releasing water from the Lake Conroe Dam during Hurricane Harvey. This swelled the West Fork San Jacinto River, which caused thousands of homes to flood that otherwise would not have flooded from the rain alone. The Potts Law Firm believes that the SJRA’s action in releasing the water from the dam grants property owners the right to just compensation through the laws of inverse condemnation and the Texas Constitution.

– The San Jacinto River Authority has since appealed the district court’s ruling and The Potts Law Firm looks forward to the confirmation of the district court ruling. Despite its loss against The Potts Law Firm, the SJRA has filed to dismiss nearly every single case brought against it, even though they have been denied in every attempt to dismiss it has made. To date, the SJRA continues to refuse to recognize they are the cause of any damage to the residents along the West Fork San Jacinto River, even though multiple state representatives agree that the San Jacinto River Authority was the cause of much of the flooding along the river. Instead, the SJRA is putting its efforts and resources toward fighting and prolonging the lawsuits, rather than paying for the damage they’ve caused. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-potts-law-firm-defeats-the-san-jacinto-river-authority-in-district-court-hearing-300648965.html (Cision PR News Wire, 15 May 2018)

Flooding Swamps Homes, Forces Evacuations in Washington, Montana, British Columbia Authorities told residents in the town of Leavenworth in Central Washington state to prepare for evacuations as a dam is threatened by rising waters. The dam, built in the 1920s, is located in the Cascade Range’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The dam, which was built out of rock, mortar and earth, has already sustained damage to its earthen portion. About 50 homes downstream of the dam would be in immediate danger if the dam were to give way. https://weather.com/safety/floods/news/2018-05-14-snowmelt-flooding-washington-oregon-british-columbia (The Weather Channel, 15 May 2018)

Kenya ‘Move or drown,’ Gov’t warns as Masinga dam overflowsThe government has warned people living downstream from the Seven Forks power dams which lie on the lower valleys of Tana River to evacuate immediately or risk the wrath of flood waters. The dams – Masinga, Kamburu, Kindaruma, Gitaru and Kiambere – constructed to generate electric power and mitigate flooding downstream are now on the precipice and the government is trying to avert human disaster. “At the current inflow rates, it is expected that the Masinga Dam may attain full supply level by May 18. Overflow at Kiambere will thereafter be inevitable.” Masinga feeds Kamburu, Kindaruma, Gitaru and Kiambere. Once Kiambere dam overflows, it would take only four days for the water to get to Garissa town and soon after the lower Tana delta. https://citizentv.co.ke/news/move-or-drown-govt-warns-as-masinga-dam-overflows-200454/  (Citizen Digital, 13 May 2018)

Masinga Dam now overflowing – KenGen  As per latest report, the level of water at Kenya’s largest hydropower dam has risen to 1,057.03 meters against a maximum level of 1,056.50 meters. Masinga Dam is in the Seven Forks cascade. KenGen announced this in a statement on May 19, 2018, adding the dam is overflowing at a volume of 136.8 cubic meters per second. It is estimated that the water will reach low lying areas in three of four days. Masinga Dam, one of the largest in the country, feeds four downstream dams that are already full. https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/05/19/masinga-dam-now-overflowing-kengen_c1760728 (The Star, 19 May 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

SANDRP Blog NASA’s GRACE Mission: India on perilous Path of making millions of climate refugees A paper published in NATURE today, on May 17, 2018 by NASA scientists based on the 14 years of GRACE Mission data is a fresh wake up call for we in India and South Asia, as t warns, we are on perilous path of making millions of South Asians as Climate Refugees. https://sandrp.in/2018/05/17/nasas-grace-mission-india-on-perilous-path-of-making-millions-of-climate-refugees/ (SANDRP, 17 May 2018)

NASA Study Humans are causing massive changes in the location of water around the world A 14-year NASA mission has confirmed that a massive redistribution of freshwater is occurring across Earth, with middle-latitude belts drying and the tropics and higher latitudes gaining water supplies. The results, which are probably a combination of the effects of climate change, vast human withdrawals of groundwater and simple natural changes, could have profound consequences if they continue.

– The results emerge from the 2002-2016 GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission, supplemented with additional data sources. The GRACE mission, which recently ended but will soon be replaced by a “GRACE Follow-On” endeavor (Scheduled to be launched from California on May 22, 2018), consisted of twin satellites in orbit that detected the tug of Earth’s gravity below them — and monitored mass changes based on slight differences in measurements by the two satellites.

– The new research, led by NASA’s Matthew Rodell, pulls together these and other findings to identify 34 global regions (they do not all have the same cause — not even close) that gained or lost more than 32 billion tons of water between 2002 and 2016. The resulting map of the findings shows an overall pattern, in which ice sheets and glaciers lose by far the most mass at the poles, but at the same time, middle latitudes show multiple areas of growing dryness even as higher latitudes and the tropical belt tend to see increases in water. The the idea of mid-latitude drying and higher- and lower-latitude wetting is a common feature of climate change models and GRACE conclusions.

– And there are other human-induced changes, relating not to climate change but, rather, to direct withdrawals of water from the landscape. In northern India, the northern China plain and the Caspian and Aral seas in Central Asia, among other regions, human withdrawals for agriculture have subtracted enormous amounts of water from Earth. There are also major cases of humans increasing water storage in the landscape, particularly in China, where massive dam construction has created enormous reservoirs.

– What’s striking about the map is the way that a combination of human-driven water withdrawals and droughts seem to be punishing the central latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, but also the Southern Hemisphere to a significant extent. However, the data remains coarse and the causes behind the trends in many cases remain a matter of interpretation. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/05/16/humans-are-causing-massive-changes-in-the-location-of-water-all-over-the-earth-nasa-says/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4563b31a5139 (Washington Post, 16 May 2018)

They ascribed changes in 12 regions to natural variability, including a progression from a dry period to a wet period in the northern Great Plains, a drought in eastern Brazil and wetter periods in the Amazon and tropical West Africa.

– In 14 of the areas — more than 40 percent of the hotspots — the scientists associated the water shifts partially or largely with human activity. That included groundwater depletion combined with drought in Southern California and the southern High Plains from Kansas to the Texas Panhandle, as well as in the northern Middle East, northern Africa, southern Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Many of the areas where the researchers saw direct human impacts are farming regions that have relied heavily on groundwater pumping, including northern India, the North China Plain and parts of Saudi Arabia. The scientists also identified other human-driven impacts, including water diversions that have led to declines in the Caspian Sea and the construction of Three Gorges Dam and other reservoirs in China.

– And during the 14 years of satellite measurements, nearly all the 34 regions lost or gained at least 32 gigatons. Eleven of the regions lost or gained 10 times that or more. “The numbers are huge. It’s pretty staggering,” Rodell said. “A large portion of them, either direct or indirect human impacts were factors, if not outright the major cause.” In Greenland, where ice is rapidly melting as the planet warms, the researchers estimated water losses at a rate of 279 gigatons per year, flowing into the oceans and contributing to sea-level rise. In Antarctica, they estimated losses of 128 gigatons of ice annually.

– After a wet winter that refilled reservoirs, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought over in 2017. But the scientists said it’s “doubtful that aquifer storage will recover completely without large usage reductions,” in part because when aquifers are depleted the water-storing spaces between rocks, clay and sand can compact, permanently reducing how much water they hold.

– Rodell said, “One of the important things about this map is it provides information for policymakers and decisionmakers to think about longer-term strategies for how we’re going to make sure that the world continues to have enough water to grow food for a growing population.” “When I sit back and look at it, I still am surprised by the human fingerprint — how strong it is, how we have really drastically altered the freshwater landscape,” said Famiglietti, who was recently named director of the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Security.

– “Human security in South Asia is really at risk, in my opinion, due to decreasing water availability, due to disappearing glaciers, groundwater depletion, and changing extremes,” Famiglietti said. “The disappearance of Himalayan glaciers could result in millions of climate refugees in the coming decades.” “While the pattern of wet-getting-wetter, dry-getting-drier is predicted by the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change models for the end of the 21st century, we can’t yet attribute the emergence of a similar pattern in the GRACE data to climate change,” Famiglietti said. “But it’s consistent with what the climate models project.”

– The NASA team said other regions including northern India, the Middle East and the area surrounding the Caspian Sea are “on a perilous path.” Famiglietti said. “But overall, groundwater continues to be undermanaged, if managed at all. And that’s why we see the rapid disappearance.” https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2018/05/16/nasa-study-finds-major-shifts-water-supplies-worldwide/612368002/ (Desert Sun, 16 May 2018)

The paper, to be published in Nature, is the first to use gravitational satellite data to map global trends in fresh water availability across a 14-year period, drawing on data from Nasa’s Grace satellites. The research identifies areas where water resources rose or fell significantly during the period, and identifies 14 regions where changes were primarily due to human activity, compared with eight regions where the changes were mainly caused by climate. “The largest changes we see anywhere are the ice sheet and glacier losses, those are the fastest rates of change. But that is not typically water you would use for drinking or agriculture,” says Matthew Rodell, the lead author on the report and a hydrologist at Nasa. https://www.ft.com/content/c2f6ab6a-5915-11e8-b8b2-d6ceb45fa9d0 (The Financial Times, 16 May 2018)

Canada The decline of wild salmon in Alaska’s Yukon is putting lives and native culture at risk People have relied on the salmon in the Yukon, Alaska’s longest river, to provide food for millennia – but now climate change is threatening their way of life, writes Adam Weymouth.

Replace Salmon with Hilsa and the saga continues. “Now, however, the salmon are vanishing. And it is not only the number of fish in decline, but also their size. I was shown old photographs of kings the same length as the people who caught them, 36kg monsters that were common. Now a good-sized fish is 9kg, and smaller fish lay fewer eggs. Whilst roughly five salmon used to return for every spawning adult, these days it is not far off one to one. Before 1997, the historic average for the king salmon run on the Yukon river was 300,000 fish; in 2013, just 37,000 came back.” https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/alaska-wild-salmon-kings-of-the-yukon-adam-weymouth/ (INews, 15 May 2018)

South Africa Flooding in Kruger threatens catastrophic loss of species, scientists warn Climate change could cause a catastrophic loss of species in the Kruger National Park, scientists working in the park said. Airborne laser surveys that measured the damage to rivers from extreme floods in 2000 and 2012 found they needed more than a decade to recover.

David Milan‚ from the University of Hull in the UK‚ said the 2012 flood removed almost 1.25-million tonnes of sediment from the bed of the Sabie River. “We also found that patches of mature riparian forest that survived larger floods in 2000 were removed by the 2012 floods‚” he said. “There is a suggestion that the frequency of large flood events is increasing due to climate change‚ and our analysis of river channel morphology for a 50km length of the Sabie River shows us that these rivers need time-spans longer than a decade to recover.”  https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/science-and-environment/2018-05-18-flooding-in-kruger-threatens-catastrophic-loss-of-species-scientists-warn/ (Business Live, 18 May 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

Forest Cover Reports say forest cover decreasing, contrary to government claims Multiple research reports find decrease in forest area in India, contrary to the government’s claim. Experts point out that government estimates include plantations which are different from natural forests and should not be included in the forest survey. Scientists reported a 40 percent reduction in overall forest cover during the last 95 years. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/05/15/reports-say-forest-cover-decreasing-contrary-to-government-claims/ (Monga Bay, 15 May 2018)

Anything by green Comment on proposed new forest policy by Ritwick Dutta:  Contrary to general belief, the real motive for a new Forest Policy is not to encourage commercial plantations, undermine the rights of communities (which are protected under the law) or mitigate climate change and encourage the use of timber. The main objective, in plain and simple terms, is to facilitate speedy diversion of forest land for various non-forest purposes such as mining, laying roads and building dams without any detailed scientific and legal scrutiny. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/anything-but-green/article23906285.ece (The Hindu, 17 May 2018)

Interview ‘If govt closes its eyes and follows judgments passed, the Yamuna will be clean’ In this interview, former NGT Chairman Swatanter Kumar speaks on Environmental issues, situation of green governance in country, achievements of NGT, effectiveness of its orders & problems the green court facing.

Again, the government should just follow the judgment because it tells you what one should do normally. The judgment talks about what one should do in normal conditions, followed by what to do when the parameters increase and finally the steps to be taken when the non-permissible limits are reached. If you follow the first stage throughout then the second and final stages will never arise.

It is the will to implement and the collective effort that matters. If everybody comes together, then the government will be forced to implement [the order]. The common man is a powerful weapon and if people come together, the government has to implement [orders] no matter who is in power. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/if-govt-closes-its-eyes-and-follows-judgments-passed-the-yamuna-will-be-clean/article23886705.ece (The Hindu, 15 May 2018)

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 14 May 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 7 May 2018

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