Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 15 October 2018: Reuters Corroborates that Dams Played Major Role in Kerala Floods

International news agency, after independent research, have corroborated what SANDRP has been saying: Mismanagement of dams played big role in worsening Kerala floods.

-“The release could have started earlier so that by Aug. 9 there would have been left-over capacities in the reservoirs to store the water,” said Biswajit Mukhopadhyay, director of water resources at U.S-based engineering firm IEA, who analysed some of the publicly available data at the request of Reuters.

– Still, dozens of flood victims interviewed by Reuters, who live in villages dotting the banks of Kerala’s biggest river, the ‎244 km Periyar, say they faced no floods despite torrential rain in late July and early August. All of them said waters only rose overnight on Aug. 15. That was when more intense rainfall forced KSEB to rapidly ramp-up releases of water from Idukki and Idamalayar reservoirs, which feed into the Periyar.

– Kerala’s revenue secretary and head of disaster management, P.H. Kurien, told Reuters he has twice written to KSEB requesting EAPs and has yet to receive them. KSEB’s Pillai said EAPs and dam operation manuals were still being prepared. CWC said it was working with Kerala’s government to speed this up. The Kerala Chief Minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment. https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/did-dams-make-indias-once-in-century-floods-worse  (11 Oct. 2018)

And this fantastic infographic: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/INDIA-FLOOD/010080MF18N/index.html  (11 Oct. 2018)

The same report is published here and here.

The Kerala flood of 2018 was 30 percent less intense than that of 1924 deluge, the biggest in Kerala’s history. Yet it caused a huge loss of lives, property and infrastructure. Swollen rivers ruptured their banks and floodwaters gushed through houses built on the floodplains. One reason for the unprecedented flood of such magnitude is unplanned construction and encroachment on riverbeds that have reduced the capacity of rivers to carry flood waters.

The lack of regulation and enforcement of land use in the floodplains added to the severity of the damage. “Yet the recent report by the CWC on Kerala floods does not say a word about rampant riverbed and floodplain encroachments,” says Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP.  http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/why-floodplains-need-be-protected  (12 Oct. 2018)

KAU for post-flood soil management The Kerala Agricultural University has emphasised the need for soil health management in the post-flood scenario. The tests have concluded that the soils of the State, inherently low in organic content, have suffered further depletion in organic matter. It is found that the content of magnesium, calcium, sulphur, copper and zinc in soil of Kuttanad region has increased while phosphorous and potassium contents have come down. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kau-for-post-flood-soil-management/article25150873.ece  (7 Oct. 2018)

An expert panel that looked into the safety of dams and barrages in the state has recommended for hydrology studies to fix the maximum water level in the dams. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/oct/13/dams-in-state-are-safe-says-expert-panel-1884800.html  (13 Oct. 2018)

Following the controversy over the delayed forecast in the August deluge, the IMD had last week issued red alerts in Idukki, Palakkad and Thrissur districts from October 6-8, triggering sudden large-scale cancellation of hotel bookings in Munnar.

This had made huge dent in the fortunes of the hotels in the hill destination, which was slowly clawing back for the busy tourist season with Neelakurinji in full bloom. As far as the fishers are concerned, about 135 fishing boats returned home “empty handed” following the cyclone forecast, which did not strike contrary to the warnings by the IMD. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/oct/10/inaccurate-imd-forecast-leaves-tourism-fishing-sectors-fuming-in-kerala-1883395.html  (10 Oct. 2018)

DROUGHT 2018

SANDRP Blog Bundelkhand: Overview of 2018 Monsoon Bundelkhand is known as a drought prone region. It is comprised of 7 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 6 districts of Madhya Pradesh. Monsoon rains are crucial. However for past several years, the region has faced deficit rains leading to water scarcity particularly for agriculture related activities. Let us the situation of of Monsoon rain in Bundelkhand this year.

Bundelkhand Monsoon 2018 Rainfall Table

Bundelkhand is part of Lower Yamuna Basin, for which IMD provides rainfall figures in its river basin wise rainfall maps. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/12/bundelkhand-overview-of-2018-monsoon/  (12 Oct. 2018)

Uttar Pradesh Govt to tests Watershed Management Program in parched Bundelkhand Districts CM Yogi Adityanath has instructed officials to study and implement Maharashtra’s (he meant Gujarat’s?) ‘Sujalam Sufalam’ campaign in Mahoba and Hamirpur districts of parched Bundelkhand. The scheme envisages identifying dams, ponds, minor irrigation tanks, percolation ponds and farm ponds followed by digging works to deepen them. Also, under the scheme, the silt from dams and water bodies will be cleaned and drains will get widened and deepened. After observing the results of the campaign in both the districts, it will be implemented everywhere in Bundelkhand. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/up-tests-sujalam-sufalam-campaign-in-parched-bundelkhand-districts-1928199  (7 Oct. 2018)

Kerala Where has all the water gone? The report explores some possible reasons of Kerala from being marooned in water to turning bone-dry in just a month.

According to Thomas Oommen, Associate Professor, Michigan Technological University, the topography of Kerala varies from the coastal plains to the high hills and mountains of the Western Ghats. The floods impact the topography and particularly, they contribute to the possibility of riverbed scouring, explains Oommen.

The latter occurs when the shear stress induced by the flowing water is more than the shear resistance of the channel bed material. The August floods in Kerala resulted in high flows in all the rivers. Such high flows led to excessive riverbed scouring.

The typical riverbed material has low permeability and can hold the water. However, the high flows remove these low permeability materials. In addition, the opening of a number of dams caused high flow in the downstream channels that are also vulnerable to scouring. According to Oommen, the scouring and deepening of riverbeds will lead to lowering of the groundwater table along a river, which can cause a drop in the level of water in wells and dry out vegetation on floodplains.https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/where-has-all-the-water-gone/article25159724.ece  (8 Oct. 2018)

Here is more interesting discussion around depleted groundwater levels in Kerala following floods in Aug. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/when-nature-hits-back/article25160319.ece  (8 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra State facing drought shadow With Monsoon almost on its way out in Maharashtra, the water levels in dams across the state have recorded a drop of 10.17 per cent, indicating that parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions may face droughts later in the year.

Sources in the govt said CM Devendra Fadnavis, while seeking financial assistance from the Centre, has directed the state departments of revenue, water resources and agriculture to put in place a contingency plan to tackle the situation ahead.

According to data provided by the state department of water resources, the total water stock as of now in 3,266 dams is 40,828 million cubic metres. “In terms of percentage, the figure is 64.45 per cent. Last year, it was 74.62 per cent during this corresponding period,” said the official.

Revenue department officials indicated that 170 of the 355 talukas are a cause of concern in Maharashtra. “Apart from the poor to moderate rainfall, the longer dry spells during monsoon  up to 4 weeks has compounded the problem,” said an official. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/10-per-cent-water-deficit-in-dams-of-maharashtra-5392870/  (9 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra is staring at a drought again, after two years, with 20,000 villages reportedly running out of water. Around 200 talukas are facing water scarcity and the government will submit a report on whether to declare a drought or not by Oct. 31, CM Devendra Fadnavis said on Oct. 10.

The 200 talukas have received less than 75 per cent rainfall, Devendra Fadnavis said. He said that the state government, under the leadership of senior ministers Chandrakant Patil and Diwakar Raote, will assess the situation in these talukas. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/with-20-000-villages-running-out-of-water-maharashtra-staring-at-drought-1930046  (10 Oct. 2018)

However officials say that water scarcity has still not reached an alarming level to require the Centre to pitch in to announce a compensation for the state.

Though the state has received deficient rainfall this monsoon, water levels in various dams are not alarmingly low and crops have not been damaged on a large scale, they said.

The central govt will consider a farmer eligible for compensation if at least 33 per cent of his total sown crops have suffered damage, an official in the state agriculture department said.

Though there is just about 27 per cent water in dams in the Aurangabad division, where many areas received deficient rainfall, the other water bodies like farm ponds and small reservoirs have some stock, he said.  https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/maharashtra-water-scarcity-not-so-alarming-for-centre-to-step-in-officials-3034661.html   (11 Oct. 2018)

Gujarat Water supply cut by 10 minutes Ukai dam, with water level of 317 ft, is filled upto 47% capacity, so Surat city with 5 million population using water at the rate of 145 LPCD, gets 1200 MLD water from Ukai dam, including losses and non potable uses. This year, the water storage may not be sufficient and water cuts have started. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/water-supply-cut-by-10-minutes/articleshow/66155268.cms  (11 Oct. 2018)

Similarly, Navsari town in South Gujarat with 3 lakh population is facing water crisis for the first time in 50 years. The lakes of the town gets filled by Kakrapar canal from Ukai dam once in 30 days, but this year, with low water level in Ukai dam, it may happen only once in 50 days. The groundwater too is saline, so needs to be treated before use.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/first-time-in-50-years-navsari-staring-at-acute-water-crisis/articleshow/66155113.cms  (11 Oct. 2018) 

PLEASE READ ABOUT GUJARAT’S TRACK RECORD UNDER BJP, INCLUDING MODI:

– It is only after the hollering from the NGT on September 20 that Gujarat has finally agreed to formulate a river rejuvenation policy. Gujarat had all along chosen to be deaf to the Union water Resources ministry request for a list of lakes, water bodies and their current status. This despite the fact that in 2005,the state government had notified 44,138 lakes.

– Thus it is that the Prime Minister’s own home state and one that he projects as a model for the country, does not present a flattering view of his own rule !

– Thirteen plus years of Modi’s helmsmanship and four years of his successors later, Gujarat accounts for three of the country’s most polluted rivers and Pirana in Ahmedabad as one of the most toxic garbage dumps.

– Two days before he kicked off , the India-wide celebrations, the Prime Minister spent a busy day in Gujarat on September 30 with a slew of back to back engagements. One of them was the inauguration of the World class museum at the Alfred High School in Rajkot where the Mahatma had studied. Just two kms from it is the Rashtriya Shaala , a 97 year old school founded by Gandhiji which closed down for want of funds two months ago. There were over a thousand students at one time but the government during the present Prime Minister’s tenure in the state did not find the primary school and the classical music school grant-worthy… And the thrust of the Prime Minister’s speech was that past regimes had ignored Gandhi ! https://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/2018/10/gujarat-from-mahatmas-milepost-to-modis.html  (12 Oct. 2018)

MONSOON 2018

Cyclone Titli Twin cyclones, a rare weather phenomenon, occurring after 40 years The rare phenomenon of twin cyclones — Luban and Titli — occurring at the same time, over the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal respectively, is happening after nearly 40 years.

In this image released by IMD, cyclone ‘Titli’ intensifies into a severe cyclonic storm and is moving towards the Odisha-AP coast, on Wednesday.
In this image released by IMD, cyclone ‘Titli’ intensifies into a severe cyclonic storm and is moving towards the Odisha-AP coast, on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: IMD/PTI

The north Indian Ocean has witnessed similar weather phenomena on 23 occasions since 1891, according to a study. While it is generally feared that twin cyclones adversely influence rainfall during the northeast monsoon, the State has recorded good rainfall during most of the years when two weather disturbances developed simultaneously, notes a study by weather blogging site Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikalam, based on the IMD’s data.

Twin cyclones, a rare weather phenomenon, occurring after 40 years

The study compiled cyclone data between 1891 and 2017. The combination of cyclone and depression in Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal as seen now, was recorded in November 2015. However, it was in November 1977 that two cyclones had formed similar to the present trend, the study said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/twin-cyclones-may-benefit-the-state/article25185064.ece  (11 Oct. 2018)

Cyclone Titli was upgraded to very severe cyclonic storm. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/cyclone-titli-upgraded-to-very-severe-cyclonic-storm-odisha-chief-secy/videoshow/66153374.cms  (10 Oct. 2018)

For the first time in the last 3 years, Telangana experienced power shortfall of 3000 MW due to cyclone Titli tat wreaked havoc in north coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha impacting power supply from central power generation stations.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/titli-effect-telangana-stares-at-power-crisis-first-time-in-3-years/articleshow/66202944.cms  (14 Oct. 2018)

The very severe cyclonic storm Titli turned into depression and crossed the Odisha State, the rain triggered by it has caused extensive damages to standing crops in several acres of land in Sadar and Kolnara blocks of Rayagada district.

Thousands of farmers in Kumuti Penta, Maligan and Pentagan villages under Rayagada sub-division are in distress following the crop loss. https://odishatv.in/odisha/cyclone-titli-aftermath-standing-crops-in-several-acres-damaged-327125  (14 Oct. 2018)

After Srikakulam suffered a massive damage of crops and loss of as many as eight lives due to the massive Cyclone Titli, officials issued a third-level flood warning to the Gotta barrage on Vamshadara river and several streams that are in full spate.

According to Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management authorities, Gotta Barrage on Vamsadara river was receiving an inflow of 1,71,371 cusecs. To maintain the levels, the officials were simultaneously releasing an equal amount of water. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/cyclone-titli-flood-warning-gotta-barrage-vamsadhara-river-rescue-op-underway-89865  (12 Oct. 2018)

Hundreds of migratory birds have died at the Telineelapuram bird sanctuary of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh due to the heavy rain and winds caused by the Cyclone Titli on Oct. 11.

Cyclone Titli Birds

In neighbouring Odisha, too mass deaths of migratory birds have been reported. https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/thousands-of-migratory-birds-killed-nests-destroyed-in-andhra-odisha-in-cyclone-titli-354709.html  (13 Oct. 2018)

https://twitter.com/SanctuaryAsia/status/1051712389211664385

Power, water and food supply is the major concern in all flood affected villages in Srikakulam. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-10-14/-Power-water-food-major-concern-in-cyclone-affected-villages/424991  (14 Oct. 2018)

The Ganjam district of Odisha suffered a lot of damage during Cyclone Titli and the aftermath of it can be seen on the mouth of river Rushikulya. Garbage has collected at the rivermouth as a result of the cyclone and floods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wazyFvJZbU  (14 Oct. 2018)

Cyclone Titli in the Bay of Bengal gained strength and caused heavy rain on Oct. 11 in Gangetic West Bengal. The storm also affected Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh. https://www.firstpost.com/india/cyclone-titli-gains-strength-over-bay-of-bengal-heavy-rain-likely-in-west-bengal-from-thursday-5347831.html  (9 Oct. 2018)

The Odisha govt announced the closure of all schools and colleges from Oct. 10 in 4 districts as a precautionary measure. Due to a deep depression over Bay of Bengal, the storm headed towards the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast and caused heavy rainfall in the state. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cyclone-titli-schools-colleges-shut-in-odisha-as-cyclonic-storm-titli-approaches-coast-1929539  (10 Oct. 2018)

The cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ that turned into “a very severe cyclonic storm” before its landfall early on Oct 11 morning triggered intense rain and gales in parts of Srikakulam and Vizainagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh. In Odisha’s Ganjam district, 6 persons are missing after a house was washed away in flash floods.

Seven deaths were reported in Srikakulam as huts and houses collapsed and trees came crashing down. Coconut, banana and cashew cultivations in over 30,000 acres were badly damaged. Trees and electric poles were uprooted, affecting traffic on the Visakhapatnam-Kolkata national highway. Thousands of people were evacuated to relief camps. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/7-killed-as-titli-batters-srikakulam/article25197151.ece  (12 Oct. 2018)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Rockslope failure at Shongtong David Petley blog on Landslide and rockfall at 450 MW Shongtong Karcham HEP. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/10/09/shongtong-1/  (9 Oct. 2018)

Jammu & Kashmir Mega fish farm to come up in Kishtwar Rs 4 Cr fish farm to come up at Kishtwar as part of Pakal Dul HEP by NHPC. Interestingly, Principle Secretary, Animal Husbandry department “raised the issue of compensation to the Sheep and Animal Husbandry department for the disturbances caused to the Livestock due to the power generating projects.” http://www.businessworld.in/article/Mega-fish-farm-to-come-up-in-Kishtwar/12-10-2018-162101/  (11 Oct. 2018)

Manipur Native fishes in troubled waters Ithai barrage, constructed for NHPC’s Loktak HEP, has led to decline in fish diversity and yields, says this report. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/10/12/manipurs-native-fishes-in-troubled-waters/  (12 Oct. 2018)

Industry Report shows size of climate bonds market, how hydro fits This presents state of Hydro bonds, including from NHPC. Among other things, the report also says that there is question mark about big hydro from a number of aspects, including “weak social/environmental impact assessment (if publicly available)”, which plagues ALL of India’s hydropower projects. https://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2018/10/report-shows-size-of-climate-bonds-market-how-hydro-fits.html  (8 Oct. 2018)

Hydro power may see renewed interest from private sector This again shows that hydropower projects are NOT viable. The proposed policy mentioned here is not likely to help. https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/energy/hydro-power-may-see-renewed-interest-from-private-sector/story/285000.html  (12 Oct. 2018)  

DAMS

Uttarakhand Tehri dam poses threat to nearby villages TEHRI dam is still adversely affecting the people: The Tehri dam, has once again become a cause of worry, as its lake is posing a threat to a number of villages situated alongside its periphery. The houses in the vicinity have developed cracks. Residents of 17 villages have claimed, that cracks in their houses have developed after the water level in the lake witnessed a rise. The pleas of the people and even govt report falls on deaf years of the THDC managers. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/uttarakhand-tehri-dam-poses-threat-to-nearby-villages/66117576  (8 Oct. 2018)

Uttar Pradesh 50 K trees to be cut in Tiger Reserves for road project The document indicates the over 500-km-long Indo-Nepal Border Road project has been undertaken by the PWD. The road cuts through two tiger reserves and three wildlife sanctuaries spread across six districts along the Nepal border. The official document states that of the 55,000 trees marked to be axed, many are over 200 years old.

The project area, in the Terai region, is home to several endangered species of animals, including the tiger and other species of reptiles and birds. The road project demands a land of 287 hectares in the protected forest areas. It passes through key areas of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Suhelva Wildlife Sanctuary and Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary — all home to tigers.

The region has mixed species of trees, with a maximum cover of Sal, Jamun and Teak forest system. Is this related to Pancheshwar Dam?  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/50-000-trees-to-be-cut-in-ups-tiger-reserves-for-road-project-officials-1930107  (11 Oct. 2018)

CSMRS officials have also visited Mahakali river at Dharchula.

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Link Ken to Betwa, the link that destroys The government is determined to dig a canal to take the waters of the Ken River to the Betwa River through a protected forest despite the lack of water and local opposition. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/10/15/ken-to-betwa-the-link-that-destroys/  (15 Oct. 2018)    

NWDA officials visited Gangau Dam

Purpose of the visit and number of officials visiting the dam is not known. The Ken Betwa link project has not received Forest Clearance so far. 

IRRIGATION

Tamil Nadu Consturct new check dams across Vaigai: Plea A PIL was filed before the Madurai bench of the Madras high court seeking directions to the authorities to construct new check dams across Vaigai river and strengthen the existing ones for the benefit of farmers. The petitioner, P S Surresh of Vadipatti, an agriculturalist stated that every year, about 120 tmc of water is discharged into the seas without any utilization since there is no proper mechanism for saving and harvesting monsoon and flood water. Stating that check dams have been constructed at various places across Vaigai river, the petitioner contended that some of them are in a dilapidated condition due to non-maintenance. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/construct-new-check-dams-across-vaigai-plea/articleshow/66077746.cms  (5 Oct. 2018)

URBAN RIVERS

Thirumanimuthar River, Tamil Nadu Locals suffer immensely due to toxic froth from Thirumanimuthar River In shocking visuals received from Namakkal district, giant swatches of toxic froth were seen spewing across the roads. The polluted waters of the Thirumanimuthar River sparked fear among locals as commuting became hazardous, risking lives of many. This incident is similar to the one in Bengaluru where the Bellandur Lake also froths due to release of toxic chemicals. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/crime/article/bengaluru-to-scare-class-2-girl-into-studying-aunt-crushes-her-fingers-with-pliers/296459  (9 Oct. 2018)

Vaigai, Tamil Nadu Juliflora removed from Vaigai river by district admin Following a news report published in the TOI on Sept. 25 highlighting the thick growth of juiflora in river Vaigai in the stretch between Teppakulam and Viraganoor, Madurai district adminstratin has started a clean up work of the river bed.

Vaigai river

Activists have welcomed the move tand have urged that it should be cleared till the Viraganoor bridge. Officials said that they have started the work a week back and already removed hundreds of trees near the PTR Bridge. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/juliflora-removed-from-vaigai-river-by-dist-admin/articleshow/66126587.cms  (8 Oct. 2018)

Cooum river 5 Oct. 2018

Cooum River, Chennai The pics shows the status of Cooum river in Chennai

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Tribute to Late Swami Sanand who died for the cause of Ganga river Its deeply saddening that just before 4 pm today (Oct 11, 2018), Prof G D Agarwal, now known as Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand, laid down his life for the cause of a rejuvenated Ganga. He was on FAST UNTO DEATH, as he declared through his letter to the Prime Minister on Feb 24, 2018, four months before he was to launch his fast. This is quick blog that gives scanned copy of Swami Sanand’s letters to Prime Minister on Feb 24, June 13 and June 23, 2018.

MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE. MAY THIS SACRIFICE OF TRUE SOLDIER OF GANGA RIVER NOT GO WASTE. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/11/tribute-to-late-swami-sandand-who-died-for-the-cause-of-ganga-river/  (11 Oct. 2018)

TRIBUTE to Prof GD Agarwal by SANDRP, on THE WIRE https://thewire.in/environment/professor-g-d-agarwals-contributions-to-the-ganga-cause-were-unparalleled  (12 Oct. 2018)   

Vishwanath Srikantaiah pays tribute to G D Agarwal

It was off Tulsi ghat in Benaras in 2010 , on the banks of the holy Ganga . A small green coloured sign board on a room above the steps of the ghats, spoke about an environmental monitoring project of the river. I had just stepped into and seen the beautiful Lolark well , had seen milk men go off to sell milk in their large canisters tied to a cycle after finishing wrestling practice in an akhara nearby and now was curious to see what was happening in this place.

Two gentlemen were quietly conversing with each other . One was the Mahant of the Sankat Mochan trust and temple, Shri Veerbhadra Mishra – a Prof. of Hydraulic Engineering and later head of Civil Engineering Department in the IIT-BHU and the other was Prof. G.D. Agarwal – Head of the Civil Engineering Department IIT-Kanpur ,later on Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand.

Obviously I had interrupted a serious discussion and so after hurried greetings I left the room to walk the Ganga again.

Here were two remarkable characters , Civil Engineers, Environmental Engineers people who knew the science of water and rivers well, who were exacting taskmasters , who prepared a legion of quality engineers. Two people who loved the river Ganga immensely and personally. Two people who were part of religious orders which simply could not stand the desecration of the river and sought salvation for a river that provides salvation. The strength of the fight must have come from faith itself.

It is the same discipline of Civil Engineering ironically and the Civil Engineers trained by these very Professors perhaps , who built the dams and barrages, the canals and anicuts , the hydro-power plants and the dysfunctional sewage treatment plants , that stopped the flow of waters in the ganga and polluted it . Bhasmasura unleashed.

Prof. G.D. Agarwal studied in what is now IIT-Roorkee , India’s and indeed Asia’s oldest technical institute, the first Engineering college of the British empire. Ironically the institute itself was set up to further the cause of canal building in India and to train the engineers for that purpose. The upper Ganga canal and the upper Yamuna canal , fertilizing the doab between the

Ganga and the Yamuna, were the first canal projects of scale in India eventually leaving India as the country with the largest canal network in the world. The diversion of the waters of the Ganga and the Yamuna had begun in the 1840’s itself. Prosperity followed for some farmers and sugarcane was established as a crop. The death knell of the Ganga had sounded .

As I walked , I saw the Mahant escorted to the banks of the river by two young followers as he had difficulty walking . He then went in to the river and had a dip , a daily practice I was told. G.D. was not with him . Close by a large sewage pipe directly discharged black waters into the river.

These martyrs of a lost cause , fighting battles with science and religious sentiment together , against an obdurate and entrenched bureaucracy, politicians with double speak , a people resigned and full of indifference and apathy, dreaming of a clean and free flowing river, was the stuff of legend. Inspiring students , ordinary people and monks alike they have left an indelible mark on the body politic and discourse of saving a river which is the soul of India. Alas the river demands sacrifices of an extraordinary nature , of life itself and yet is believed to provide redemption to the souls who pass away near it or in its waters.

In the Kuznets curve of economic and environmental development and degradation , the salvation of the river will definitely come , in decades if not years.That is the capitalist hope. The generation then will hopefully remember these giants who gave their very lives for the river.

Old man river,

that old man river,

he must know something

he just say nothing

he just keep rolling along

Paul Robeson

VIstaar hi apar

praja dono paar

kare hahakaar

nishabda sada

o ganga behti ho kyun

oh ganga ki dhar, nirbal jan ko,

sabalsangrami, samagrogrami, banati nahi ho kyun?

Bhupen Hazarika

Mahant Veerbhadra Mishra passed away in March 2013

Professor G D Agrawal (87), also called Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand died of cardiac arrest at AIIMS Rishikesh on Oct. 11 afternoon. He began the fast-unto-death on June 22 this year, demanding the passage of Ganga Protection Act, scrapping of all proposed and under-construction hydropower projects on the Ganga, a total ban on sand mining in the river-bed of the Ganga in Haridwar and formation of a council to look into issues related to the river. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/activist-gd-agarwal-who-was-on-indefinite-fast-to-save-ganga-dies-of-heat-attack-5397603/  (12 Aug. 2018)

GD Agarwal contributions to India’s environmental planning and design remains unparalled till date in the country, he was CPCB’s first member secretary and a passionate engineer who inspired scores of students while at IIT-Kanpur. Many of those who were mentored by him went on to do path-breaking work in the field of environmental planning and engineering. Some of them also include Prof. Mukesh Sharma, Dunu Roy and Ravi Chopra. https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2012/03/16/dying-for-the-ganges-a-scientist-turned-swami-risks-all/

The 86 year old Ganga saint gave up drinking water from October 9, 2018 the 110th day of his fast-unto-death as all discussions in the last few weeks by his well-wishers with govt officials, cabinet ministers and senior leaders of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party did not appear to be bearing fruit. https://latikaroy.org/jo/2018/10/07/saving-ganga-scientists-last-stand/  (7 Oct. 2018)

The central govt on Oct. 10 notified the minimum environmental flows for river Ganga that has to be maintained at various locations on the river. The govt also announced that the draft Ganga Act will soon be sent to the cabinet for approval. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-issues-norms-for-minimum-ganga-flow/story-yYmJO7v5BkKZkJfFMQEquJ.html  (10 Oct. 2018) Here is the Ganga E-Flow notification:  https://nmcg.nic.in/writereaddata/fileupload/28_190717.pdf 

Realising that without increasing the flow, the Ganga can never be revived, the Centre has mandated the minimum quantity of water — or ecological flow — that various stretches of the river must have all through the year. The new norms would require hydropower projects located along the river to modify their operations to ensure they are in compliance. https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-where-does-namami-gange-stand-today-2674447  (12 Oct. 2018)

The govt also said that almost all the demands made by Ganga activist G D Agarwal had been accepted. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ganga-activist-gd-agarwal-death-govt-demands-accepted-gadkari-5398037/  (11 Oct. 2018)

Scientists and water experts have called the recent Ganga environmental flow (e-flow) notification “half-hearted” and inadequate in ensuring the river has life in all its stretches.

However, scientists associated with studies on e-flow say Agarwal wouldn’t have accepted the notification. While some experts say that the flow stipulated in the notification is inadequate, they believe that it would not be able to achieve the main purpose to ensure aquatic life thriving and the rivers free movement.

One of the methods that Tare committee had suggested was to identify the keystone species in the river such as Mahseer or Snow Trout depending on the stretch should determine the minimum depth of flow. Another important factor that the committee suggested was to factor in longitudinal connectivity in all seasons and lateral connectivity with the floodplains during monsoon. “We are shocked to see that the current notification is not based on these requirements. Have they arrived at arbitrary figures?,” asked Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP.

Manoj Mishra, Yamuna activist who has been studying Center’s policies on Ganga said, “I think the purpose of this notification is to clear more dams. The flows given are too less and not going to help Ganga in anyway. Why was there no consultation before notifying this?” The flows recommended by Tare committee where site specific and so cannot be compared with the current draft. Abhijit Mukherjee of IIT-Kharagpur’s Geology and Geophysics department said “it may be a good beginning but there is no background or reference material in the draft to understand what the notification means for the river.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-s-ganga-minimum-flow-order-inadequate-say-experts/story-uz5ic8a1s6sXBB5obEeuLP.html  (13 Oct. 2018)

By all accounts, this response did not satisfy the activist, as per Indian Express editorial. It further reads that his fast-unto-death should be sobering for a govt that lays much store on its project to clean the river. It bares Namami Gange’s failure to meaningfully engage civil society representatives despite claims that it would eschew the top-down approach of its predecessors. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/g-d-agarwal-namami-gange-nitin-gadkari-modi-5399936/  (13 Oct. 2018)  

The AIIMS in Rishikesh where environmentalist G D Agarwal died after a 110-day fast to save the Ganga has threatened to file a defamation case against the ashram with which he was associated for accusing it of being a part of a “conspiracy” to kill the activist. But the Matri Sadan ashram reiterated its charge saying it would lodge an FIR over the “conspiracy”. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/row-after-ganga-crusader-g-d-agarwal-death-hospital-to-sue-ashram-5400902/  (13 Oct. 2018)

Two days after Ganga activist GD Agarwal died at AIIMS, another person fasting for conservation of the river was rushed to the premier institute early on Oct. 13. Thirty-six years old Sant Gopal Das had been fasting for 110 days.

GD Agarwal,Ganga activist,Ganga cleanliness

He stopped drinking water 3 days ago. Gopal Das was shifted within hours of announcing that he will sit on agitation at Matri Sadan, where Agarwal was fasting before he passed away. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/another-ganga-activist-on-fast-sant-gopal-das-taken-to-hospital/story-CP8Z3x8bstCNcZiUo8LiYO.html  (13 Oct. 2018)

YAMUNA, Uttar Pradesh NGT refuses to set aside order restraining construction on floodplains On Oct. 8 NGT has refused to vacate a 2015 interim order restraining the construction and transfer of possession of flats built on the Yamuna floodplains in Agra.

A bench headed by Justice RS Rathore said even if builders have transferred flats to buyers, it does not entitle them to file an application seeking to set aside the interim order as the case is still pending. The green court passed the directive after hearing petitions filed by Agra builders Kalyani Buildwell Private Ltd and Ganpati Infrastructure Development Company Ltd.

The bench said there was no “just reason to grant any of the reliefs” sought by the applicants as the site inspection reports have criticised them. https://scroll.in/latest/897484/agra-ngt-refuses-to-set-aside-order-restraining-construction-on-yamuna-floodplains  (8 Oct. 2018)

Delhi Yamuna Floodplain Encroachment Case NGT has directed a committee, formed to monitor cleaning of the Yamuna, to look into illegal constructions on the river’s floodplains. The green court’s direction came while perusing a letter of city resident Braham Singh. Mr Singh had alleged that illegal constructions on the riverbed of the Yamuna, parallel to the DND, have come up in connivance with the SDMC and police officials. This is affecting the ecology as the area is a few yards away from the main stream of the Yamuna river, the letter read. https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/check-illegal-construction-near-yamuna-green-court-tells-committee-1928275  (7 Oct. 2018)

Parineeta Dandekar of SANDRP’s work featured as like that of Durga. https://www.loksatta.com/mumbai-news/parineeta-dandekar-loksatta-durga-2018-1770933/  (14 Oct. 2018)

Narmada India’s Relentless Movement to Save the Narmada River … And a People’s Livelihood Amit Sengupta’s second article on the Narmada Bachao Andolan, published in The Diplomat, Washington. The third will arrive soon. Thanks to Stories Asia, the Free-lancers collective. https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/indias-relentless-movement-to-save-the-narmada-river-and-a-peoples-livelihood/  (11 Oct. 2018)

Cauvery River Thanks, Save River Cauvery, Steve Lockett: And for those who don’t understand what happens when humans interfere with a river without due regard to the interlocking issues of habitat, land use and climate. But, the people of Coorg (Kodagu) are among the most resilient in India, they are fighting people, and, luckily, many of them want to fight for their sacred river, Kaveri.  https://www.facebook.com/SaveRiverCauvery/videos/253661828684953/

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

West Bengal DMF welcomes landmark judgement to save east Kolkata wetlands In a landmark order, the east zone bench of NGT gave Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) and Vaidic Dharma Sansthan 30 days to remove encroachments in the East Kolkata Wetlands or face a penalty of Rs 50 lakh each with further fine of Rs 50,000 per day for any delay in implementing the order.

The court also warned that it was reserving the right to pass appropriate orders on officials responsible for noncompliance as per provisions of the law. NGT had a year ago passed an order for removal of a road that was built around MunshirBheri in Salt Lake Sector V by NDITA as well as the three-storied, 60-ft tall building named Temple of Knowledge by Vaidic Dharma Sansthan, an organisation affiliated to spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Environmental action group PUBLIC had filed a petition in 2016 on the blatant violations in East Kolkata Wetlands, an internationally recognised Ramsar site that enjoys protection under a 1992 Calcutta high court order as well as multiple legislations. PUBLIC had pointed out that neither the private organisation, nor the government body, had sought permission from East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA) for construction. According to PUBLIC, both of them had violated the East Kolkata Wetlands Act, which prevents change in existing land use. https://dc.icsf.net/en/component/dcnews/articledetail/12399-West-Bengal–DM.html   (12 Oct. 2018)

SAND MINING

Jharkhand ‘SAIL workers at risk for lack of sand mining leases’ The Ministry of Steel has requested the Ministry of Coal to arrange sand mining leases for Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in Jharkhand as sand’s absence is affecting the “coal productions as well as safety of workmen” in company’s underground mines, which are situated in Chasnalla and Jitpur.

According to a steel sector executive, sand is required to fill up the empty area in an underground mine so that the surface does not cave in. “Sand is mixed with water and then this mixture is flown down to the empty area of the underground mine. The water then comes up and the sand remains at the bottom. This way the mine is filled up and this process is called “backfilling” or “stowing”. This process is done to avoid the surface to cave in,” he added. Chasnalla and Jitpur mining areas come under Dhanbad district. https://indianexpress.com/article/business/sail-workers-at-risk-for-lack-of-sand-mining-leases-in-jharkhand-5394515/  (10 Oct. 2018)

Tamil Nadu HC asks cops to probe illegal sand mining in Theni  The Madurai bench of the Madras HC has issued notice to the Theni district administration and directed the superintendent of police to look into the allegations of illegal sand quarrying at Rasingapuram village in Bodi taluk. Petitioner RB Rathinam stated that there were about ten thousands people lining in Rasingapuram and surrounding villages relying on agriculture as their livelihood. He said there was a naturally formed sand dune which separated Western Ghats from their village. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/hc-asks-cops-to-probe-illegal-sand-mining-in-theni/articleshow/66126614.cms  (9 Oct. 2018)

Fishermen asks for actions gainst illegal mining The inland fishermen of the villages along the banks of River Cauvery near Kumarapalayam have urged police to initiate action against people indulging in illegal sand mining in the river as it affected their livelihood. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/initiate-action-against-illegal-sand-mining/article25107445.ece  (3 Oct. 2018)

Govt. serious about illegal mining The State govt on Oct. 3 informed the Madras HC of having issued a Govt Order instructing all public officials as well as policemen that they would also be detained under the Goondas Act if they were found to be involved in illegal mining of river sand or abetting the offence of sand smuggling. Justices S.M. Subramaniam and S. Ramathilagam closed a case, in which they had directed the govt to issue such instructions, after recording the contents of the G.O. produced by State Public Prosecutor C. Emalias. The direction had been issued to the Home Secretary on May 8 along with a rider to report compliance. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/govt-gets-serious-in-fight-against-illegal-sand-mining/article25116741.ece  (4 Oct. 2018)

Campaign against illegal sand mining Revenue Divisional Tiruchi carried out an awareness campaign explaining the damage that could be caused to nature due to illegal sand mining and smuggling. Police officers of Tiruverumbur sub division besides officials from the Public Works, Revenue and Mines and Minerals departments were part of the drive. They explained that lifting sand from the Cauvery and Coleroon without permission was a crime and habitual offenders would be detained under the Goondas Act. They emphasised the need to protect water resources and river sand as they were key in improving ground water table. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/campaign-against-illegal-sand-mining/article25185992.ece  (11 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra 9 trucks impounded for supplying illegally mined sand, stolen in Pune 9 trucks, impounded by revenue officials as part of a drive against illegal sand mining, were stolen from the Hadapsar revenue office. Police suspect that the thefts occurred sometime in the intervening night of Oct. 1-2. During a special drive, revenue officials impounded trucks carrying illegally mined sands to Pune city. The sand is supplied to the different under-construction sites in the city, police said.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/nine-trucks-seized-in-drive-against-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/66046008.cms  (3 Oct. 2018)

Goa Sand miners stop trucks from Maharashtra at border Angry sand miners from Keri and Paliem stopped 15 Maharashtra registered sand laden trucks entering Goa at Kiranpani border on Oct. 12. They were upset that sand mining has been stopped by the state govt, but sand extracted in Maharashtra is allowed to freely enter the state. They demanded that the govt stop entry of sand from Maharashtra and instead immediately restart legal sand mining in the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/sand-miners-stop-trucks-from-mrashtra-at-border/articleshow/66188635.cms  (12 Oct. 2018)  

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Greens win battle as sluice gates open to save wetlands Uran Wetland case: Bombay HC appointed wetlands committee, decided to allow inter-tidal seawater to enter the mangroves at Panje following which CIDCO opened all 76 sluice gates.  In the last decade, several marshy areas and wetlands in Uran had been destroyed due to mud-filling to reclaim them. Thus, barely 15% of the wetlands are surviving in the Panje-Funde coastal belt, where flamingos and other birds can still be seen. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/greens-win-battle-as-sluice-gates-open-to-save-wetlands/articleshow/66172002.cms  (12 Oct. 2018)

panje wetlands,navi mumbai,maharashtra
The destruction of Panje wetlands in Uran, Navi Mumbai, in less than six months.(Aishwarya Sridhar)

Earlier, taking note of how the blocking of gates at Panje wetlands at Uran in Navi Mumbai is causing “a loss to the ecosystem that is home to 1.4 lakh birds during winter”, environmentalist Stalin D, a member of the Bombay HC appointed wetland grievance committee, planned to soon file a contempt petition to stop the destruction. On September 28, Navi Mumbai residents and environmentalists filed a complaint with the state, alleging CIDCO was shutting the high tide water ingress by blocking 76 gates at Panje.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/clear-the-gateway-to-green-activist-to-move-court-over-panje-wetlands-in-navi-mumbai/story-YEl5S7mJBL7B90xELRtmLO.html  (9 Oct. 2018)

On Oct. 6 CIDCO allowed tidal water ingress to the Panje wetlands in Uran, Navi Mumbai, by opening 10 of the 76 outlets that had been blocked. However, environmentalists said it was not enough to guarantee adequate water flow to the wetland site. The move came after citizen groups and environmentalists filed several complaints with the state highlighting CIDCO’s actions that are drying up the wetlands — home to 1.4 lakh migratory birds in winters. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/cidco-opens-10-gates-to-allow-tidal-flow-to-panje-wetlands-in-navi-mumbai/story-mtFeCNwG6Aje5IauwH256H.html  (7 Oct. 2018)

Before this, environmentalists have raised concerns over the construction of a concrete gate at the Panje wetlands in Uran district, the last surviving patch of mangroves in the district. It was only last week discovered that amid the dense patches of mangroves, sluice gates have been installed which may prevent tidal water to reach the mangroves and pave the way for further reclamation. http://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/041018/gates-at-panje-wetland-worries-eco-activists.html  (4 Oct. 2018)

The local villagers at Panje are alleging that sluice gate has been put up by those interested in illegally grabbing the wetland. Demanding strong action against all involved activists said that in the last 10 years 85 % of the wetland has been wiped out by land filling.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/greens-upset-over-new-sluice-gate-at-urans-last-surviving-mangrove-patch/articleshow/66046056.cms  (3 Oct. 2018)

As per another report, there has been a 70% rise in mangrove destruction cases in the first 9 months in 2018 which is the highest in 3 years according to data recorded by the state mangrove cell.

Between January and Sept this year, there have been 237 cases of debris dumping, hacking of mangroves, and blocking of tidal water to mangroves in 2018. Of this, 234 cases were on govt land (reserved mangrove forests) and three cases in private areas. As compared to this, in 2016, Mumbai recorded 141 cases with 125 on govt land and 16 in private areas. A marginal drop to 138 cases was recorded in 2017 with 123 cases on govt land and 15 in private areas. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-sees-70-rise-in-mangrove-destruction-cases-in-2018-highest-in-3-years/story-getFGtGVZCjYMt5AZ2L2CJ.html  (7 Oct. 2018)

WATER OPTIONS

Andhra Pradesh Anantpur district leads rain water harvesting initiative Over one lakh farm ponds dug in just Anantpur as a result groundwater table has risen-up. http://www.uniindia.com/ap-district-leads-rain-water-harvesting-initiative/states/news/1375080.html  (10 Oct. 2018)

GROUNDWATER

West Bengal Govt set to bring in law on groundwater use The Bengal govt is likely to come up soon with a Groundwater Act to put a leash on wastage of underground water as a result of over-extraction, particularly within the city. The Water Resource Investigation & Development department has been asked to prepare an assessment report of the groundwater condition in all 341 blocks of the state, which will be submitted by the end of the year. While groundwater is mainly used for drinking, in agriculture and for industries, the unchecked boring of tubewells in the city has dropped water levels alarmingly. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/worried-west-bengal-government-set-to-bring-in-law-on-groundwater-use/articleshow/66112950.cms  (8 Oct. 2018)

Study Ground water near landfills toxic Waste dumped in landfill sites is contaminating surrounding groundwater in the Tricity, according to a PGI study published recently in an international journal. Scientists fear non-segregation and unregulated dumping of the garbage has deteriorated the quality with the passage of time an alarming sign. Experts say that once the groundwater becomes polluted, contamination persists and becomes difficult to treat due to physical inaccessibility. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/groundwater-near-landfills-toxic-study/articleshow/66113244.cms  (8 Oct. 2018)

Tamil Nadu HC calls for monitoring of groundwater extraction The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Oct. 12 called for periodical inspection and effective monitoring of groundwater extraction while pronouncing orders on 2 separate PIL concerning water bottling units in Virudhunagar.

The court also directed the closure of Seven Star Mineral Water bottling unit, Virudhunagar, after it failed to renew the ‘no-objection’ certificate granted by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). The unit was asked not to extract groundwater for bottling purpose till necessary permission was obtained from the TNPCB and Water Resources department.

The court directed the TNPCB to conduct an inspection once a month and draw samples to ascertain the extent of groundwater extraction and water contamination. The Board was directed to draw water for samples not only from the premises of Sugapriya unit, but also from village bore wells regularly. PWD officials should also inspect the unit and find out if water was being extracted in excess of the licence conditions. If the authorities found any violation during the inspections, they could cancel the licence as per law, the court said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/hc-calls-for-monitoring-of-groundwater-extraction-virudhunagar-madurai/article25220758.ece  (14 Oct. 2018)

URBAN WATER

Tamil Nadu Chennai Metrowater identifies 13 new lakes, 5 quarries for drawing water Chennai Metrowater identifies 13 new lakes, 5 quarries for drawing water to augment city’s water supply. The city water supplier has taken up a two phased study. In the first phase, it will identify potential lakes that can be linked through various works to the city water supply in the immediate future. The organization will then take up identification of other possible sources and estimation of works for the long run. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-metrowater-identifies-13-new-lakes-five-quarries-for-drawing-water/articleshow/66123912.cms  (8 Oct. 2018)

Private water suppliers warn of a severe supply crunch Private tanker operators and packaged drinking water suppliers fear that they may not be able to meet the demand of the growing metropolis once the restrictions on groundwater extraction are implemented. Their concern comes in the wake of a recent directive of the Madras HC that upheld the validity of the govt order issued in 2014 categorising blocks for extraction of groundwater. The court directed State govt officials to lodge police complaints making indiscriminate extraction of groundwater an offence in such blocks. Nearly 25-30% of the city’s water needs are met by private suppliers. On an average, nearly 40 crore litres of packaged water is sold everyday in the State. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/private-water-suppliers-warn-of-a-severe-supply-crunch/article25162192.ece  (9 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra Water shortage hits several parts of Mumbai A day after Mumbai Mirror reported that JJ Hospital in Byculla has been facing an acute water crisis for three days, it has come to light that several other parts of the city are also facing water shortage over the last few days. While areas like Byculla, Bhendi Bazaar, Fort and Colaba are facing water cuts, residents in areas like Andheri West have complained of low pressure and erratic water supply. The BMC on its part has claimed that it hasn’t imposed any water cuts and blamed localised problems for erratic supply.  https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/civic/water-shortage-hits-several-parts-of-city/articleshow/66141957.cms  (10 Oct. 2018)

Haryana Water Shortage In Gurgaon Due To Groundwater Extraction Gurgaon is staring at a severe water crisis due to rampant groundwater extraction and erratic supply from treatment plants. Several areas, especially residential ones, are facing a water shortage. To add to this, water supply is affected due to maintenance work being carried out by the civic authority. https://www.ndtv.com/gurgaon-news/severe-water-shortage-in-gurgaon-due-to-groundwater-extraction-maintenance-work-1927865  (6 Oct. 2018)

Hyderabad Drinking water going waste in Malkajgiri Contractors have broken the water pipeline at Gautamnagar, Malkajgiri, while constructing box drainage system. The broken pipeline has not been fixed, and drinking water is going waste for more than a month, according to residents. The work was taken up by the Metro Water Board. After the incident, residents did not get drinking water for a few days. Following complaints, Water Board officials turned up in the area and promised residents that they would supply water on alternate days with good pressure. https://deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/151018/hyderabad-drinking-water-going-waste-in-malkajgiri.html   (15 Oct. 2018)

WATER

National Water policy will be more inclusive if it incorporates a seascape perspective Op-Ed by John Kurien: India’s water policy makers do not adequately appreciate the coastal community’s awareness regarding the link between coastal ecosystems and their livelihoods and the quality of the stock and flow of water from land. For them, water policy starts from mountain ecosystems but stops at the coast. But this is a landscape perspective. The integral connection between water from land and water in the sea seems lost on them. India’s current water policy is grossly incomplete without a seascape perspective.

Keeping in mind three concepts enunciated in the National Water Framework Law – aviral dhara or continuous flow, nirmal dhara or unpolluted flow and swachh kinara or clean banks – we may consider three of the numerous terrestrial activities undertaken between the mountains and the sea that affect water flows and sediment stocks, resulting in grave damage to coastal zone ecology and people. These activities are: dams, river sand mining and pollution of rivers. https://scroll.in/article/895010/indias-water-policy-will-be-more-inclusive-if-it-incorporates-a-seascape-perspective  (5 Oct. 2018)

Maharashtra National Water Mission: State forms 2 panels The state now forms steering committee (headed by Chief Secretary) and monitoring committee (headed by principle secretary of Dept of WR) to formulate State Specific Action Plan (WATER) under National Water Mission of NAPCC. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/national-water-mission-state-forms-2-panels/articleshow/66020370.cms  (30 Sept. 2018)

Op-Ed Regulations delayed are regulations denied Shripad Dharmadhikary explains how the basic water use norms for thermal power projects are not being adhered to, chiefly because of dilly dallying by the MoEF. http://www.indiatogether.org/regulations-delayed-are-regulations-denied-environment  (1 Oct. 2018)   

SOUTH ASIA

India Bangladesh Story of 3 dying rivers About 1. Atreyee River at Balurghat administrative block of Dakshin Dinajpur district in West Bengal; “the environmental degradation caused by rampant pollution coupled with sand mining has virtually sounded the death knell for the river that once served as the lifeline of the district.”

  1. Mahananda (now called mahagandha), another transboundary river flowing between India and Bangladesh, is perhaps worse. The river that originates from the Himalayas in Kurseong area of Darjeeling district and descends to the plains near Siliguri can be best described as the dumping ground of waste for city dwellers.
  2. Teesta, the largest river in North Bengal, is also facing the dual whammy of garbage and hydropower projects that has virtually tamed it. Over 20 hydropower projects have changed the morphology of the Teesta basin. They have turned the river into a series of artificial lakes. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/10/10/a-tale-of-three-dying-rivers-a-multimedia-report/ (10 Oct. 2018)

India-Bhutan Manas river management plan India and Bhutan have teamed up to work for an integrated river basin management plan for the Manas river which flows between southern Bhutan and Assam over an area of 41,350 sq. km. The concept for the Manas integrated river management project was cleared by Global Environment Facility of United States. The project was initiated by WWF under international waters focal area and a number of department of both the countries have been selected to work for the project.

– In Assam the water resources department, Bodoland Territorial Council, central water commission, Assam State Disaster Management Authority have been involved in the project and in India, the focal point would be the Union ministry of environment and climate change. The project, estimated to be around $8.9 million aims to eradicate the risks of floods in both the countries and compensate the loss to livelihood, food security, life, property, and infrastructure in the regions of the Eastern Himalayas, specially Assam. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/assam/india-bhutan-team-up-for-manas-river-management-plan.html  (8 Oct. 2018)

Can Bhutan preserve its pristine environment while its economy grows? BHUTAN absorbs three times more CO2 than it emits, thanks mainly to the lush forests covering 72 per cent of its land. INTERESTING REPORT FROM SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. It says:

– In May, Bhutan opted out of an India-backed regional road connectivity project mainly over concerns that trucks coming in from other countries will pollute its air.

– But concerns have been growing over the impact of dams on biodiversity especially as Bhutan shifts from low-impact “run-of-the-river” dams, which do not require large reservoirs, to larger-scale barriers that do. https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/2167787/bhutan-worlds-only-carbon-negative-country-can-it-preserve-its  (10 Oct. 2018)

River Network System in Bhutan 

Also see Bhutan River Basin Maps:  https://www.researchgate.net/figure/River-Network-System-in-Bhutan_fig1_279278083

Bangladesh 22-day hilsa ban gets underway A 22-day govt ban on netting, selling, and transporting hilsa started on Oct. 6 midnight. The govt has been imposing such bans every year since 2003-04 to protect mother hilsa. Fishermen and traders say the production of the mouth-watering fish increases every time the ban is properly implemented.

Meanwhile, district fisheries office said hilsa production in Patuakhali has increased in the last five years. Patuakhali District Fisheries Officer Md Iqbal said they had set up a production target of 40,000 tonnes of hilsa for the fiscal 2017-18.

In 2016-17, at least 36,000 tonnes of hilsa was produced in the district, he said. The amount was 32,750 tonnes in 2015-16, 28,277 tonnes in 2014-15 and 25,000 tonnes in 2013-14, sources at the office said. https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/22-day-hilsa-ban-gets-underway-1643599  (7 Oct. 2018)  

Oil spill threatens Meghna; unheeded for 5 days A tanker capsized in Meghna last Friday, spilling unrefined petroleum in the river but no steps were taken so far to prevent the oil from spreading any further.

The oil tanker of a privately-owned Bengal Electronics Limited capsized in the river during a storm five days back, reports our Munshiganj correspondent. The oil refinery of the company is yet to take any steps in this regard, although it is located beside Raghuchar village on the banks of Meghna, where the oil was spotted as well.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of Bengal Electronics Ltd Md Salamat Ullah acknowledged the incident and claimed “there was very little oil in the tanker”. However, locals say the tanker was fully laden when the spill occurred. https://www.thedailystar.net/country/meghna-river-tanker-capsize-oil-spill-threatening-unheeded-5-days-1644670  (9 Oct. 2018)

Pakistan LHC seeks report from Fisheries & Labour Dept over protection of fisher folk  REMARKABLE case in Lahore High Court arguing for the rights of riverine fisher people in Punjab: The lawyer for the petitioners, Syed Ghazanfer Shah, argued that there were around 600,000 bonded fisher folk in Punjab, who would suffer irrevocable losses if the auction lease system was re-instated. He argued that the fishers had enjoyed their ‘first month of freedom after decades of debt bondage’ fishing for themselves after the LHC granted a stay against the auction of fishing leases on August 18.

He argued that this was one of first cases in the world of bonded labour on a public resource. He said that this perverted the fundamental character of public waters as a public trust held by the state for the benefit and welfare of its citizens.

He argued that the existing license system was only for recreational fishing, such as angling, but it did not apply to traditional fisher folk who had been fishing for centuries and for whom fishing is a livelihood, requiring the use of larger nets and boats, a point which the government counsel accepted. https://dailytimes.com.pk/308922/lhc-seeks-report-from-fisheries-labour-dept-over-protection-of-fisher-folk/  (11 Oct. 2018)

Sights and sounds of the Indus in trailer for documentary on forgotten musicians An upcoming documentary sheds light on the dying folk arts of Pakistan. The trailer for Jawad Sharif’s Indus Blues – The Forgotten Music of Pakistan was released on Oct. 1 at an event in Karachi, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported. According to the official synopsis, Sharif’s film is a “journey spanning the 2000-mile length of the Indus” and showcases “rich musical traditions across the diverse, and colourful cultures of Pakistan.” https://scroll.in/reel/897123/watch-sights-and-sounds-of-the-indus-in-trailer-for-documentary-on-forgotten-musicians-of-pakistan  (5 Oct. 2018)

Pak-Afghan Cooperation for sustainable usage of River Kabul stressed Conference on water sharing of Kabul River, a tributary of Indus river flowing from Afghanistan to Pakistan: The Afghan consul general said: “The dispute between Afghanistan and Russia over River Amu before the Russian invasion was resolved during the rule of King Zahir Shah,” he recalled.

He said Afghanistan and Iran had concluded a treaty on sharing the waters of River Helmand. “Now the Iranian government has raised the issue again, but it would hopefully be resolved soon,” he maintained.

With Pakistan, he said, bilateral talks were held on issues pertaining to the flowing waters. “Also, the UN laws are there. If there is any problem of waters between the two countries, they should sit together and resolve them in line with those talks and international laws,” he suggested. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/379383-pak-afghan-cooperation-for-sustainable-usage-of-river-kabul-stressed  (11 Oct. 2018)

Nepal Bangladesh Energy meeting slated for Nov. 15 Nepal has proposed to Bangladesh to hold an energy secretary-level bilateral meeting between the two countries in Kathmandu on November 15 and 16. The Ministry of Energy Water Resources and Irrigation (MEWRI) forwarded the proposal last week to Bangladeshi authorities via the Foreign Ministry to conduct the first meeting of Joint Steering Committee (JSC), co-led by the energy secretary of both countries and Joint Working Group (JWG), co-led by the joint secretary of the Energy Ministry of both the countries. According to officials at the Energy Ministry, they are yet to receive confirmation from their Bangladeshi counterpart. Two major agendas are likely to be discussed: energy trading between the two countries and Bangladeshi investment in the Nepali hydropower sector. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-10-12/nepal-bangladesh-energy-meeting-slated-for-nov-15.html (12 Oct. 2018)

ASIA

Laos Dam Disaster The Promise and Pitfalls of Hydropower Development Along the Mekong River The collapse of a dam this summer in southeastern Laos has brought a renewed focus on hydroelectric dams in mainland Southeast Asia. Proponents of hydroelectric dams argue they will bring benefits in the form of national revenue and power generation for local communities, but they also threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in the riparian countries that make up the Lower Mekong region: Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. In an email interview, Diana Suhardiman, a senior researcher at the International Water Management Institute’s office in Vientiane, Laos, discusses the tradeoffs associated with large-scale dam projects. https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/26278/the-promise-and-pitfalls-of-hydropower-development-along-the-mekong-river  (5 Oct. 2018)

Also see, Mekong Delta sinking as groundwater gets depleted The Mekong Delta is subsiding faster than the rise in sea level, causing urban flooding, and humans are to blame. https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/mekong-delta-sinking-as-groundwater-gets-depleted-3822417.html  (11 Oct. 2018)

Indonesia Palu: Worst landslide disaster in 5 years? by Dave Petley It is becoming increasingly clear that the lass of life from the three Palu landslides, triggered by the earthquake in Sulawesi, is very high.  In particular, the two landslides that struck main parts of the town, at Balaroa and Petobo, are thought to have exacted a terrible toll.  A spokesman from Indonesia’s disaster agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, was quoted thus on Oct. 7. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/10/08/palu-landslides-3/  (8 Oct. 2018)

Sigi Biromaru: terrifying footage of lateral spreading during the Sulawesi earthquake: https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2018/10/15/sigi-biromaru-1/  (15 Oct. 2018)

Report What Mountain Forests Do For Human Well-Being Working paper on understanding the direct and indirect benefits of forest ecosystems to human well-being: Mountain forest ecosystems provide a wide range of benefits, not only to local residents, but to those living downstream: from reducing floods to stabilizing slopes and supporting rich biodiversity. Understanding these contributions is key to sustainably managing mountain forest services — but large-scale assessments are still rare, especially in data-poor regions. https://naturalcapitalcoalition.org/what-mountain-forests-do-for-human-well-being/  (7 Feb. 2018)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Lessons From the World’s Largest Dam-removal Project Two dams removed from Washington’s Elwha River were branded as salmon-restoration projects, but their watershed and scientific impacts are just as significant. https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/  (1 Oct. 2018)  

Also see GOING OUT WITH A BLAST: THE BREACHING OF BLOEDE DAM https://www.americanrivers.org/2018/09/going-out-with-a-blast-bloede/  (18 Sept. 2018)

Study Chemicals From Plastics, Cosmetics Found in Wild Dolphins New research shows the dolphins can’t escape manmade chemicals, which are accumulating in their bodies and potentially impacting their health. A study published this week in the journal American Geophysical Union found that phthalates, a common class of chemical additives found in many of the goods inside our homes—such as plastics, cosmetics, and paints—are also present in bottlenose dolphins. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/09/news-dolphins-plastic-chemical-traces-found/  (7 Sept. 2018)

Australia Damage to West Coast beaches from mining can be kept to “acceptable” levels, say consultants Consultant employed by Australian company Mineral Sands Resources have acknowledged that the massive expansion of mining for mineral sands on ten West Coast beaches north of the Olifants River estuary will cause unavoidable environmental damage, but claim that the damage can be reduced to “acceptable” levels. This is one of the key findings of a draft EIA, part of a new application by controversial Australian mining company Mineral Sand Resources, published on 18 September for public comment. https://www.groundup.org.za/article/damage-west-coast-beaches-mining-can-be-kept-acceptable-levels-say-consultants/  (25 Sept. 2018)

Turkey Turkish hydroelectric dam will leave hundreds homeless The Ilisu dam on Tigris River, which Turkey planned to fill this year, has been criticized for water shortages it will create downstream in Iraq and for the tens of thousands of people it will displace in Turkey. For hundreds of residents of the 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf and its neighboring village of Kesmekopru, both of which will be submerged, housing laws may also block them from finding new homes on the nearby mountainside.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-dam/turkish-hydroelectric-dam-will-leave-hundreds-homeless-idUSKCN1MJ1SR  (9 Oct. 2018)

Study When yesterday’s agriculture feeds today’s water pollution A study led by researchers at Université de Montréal quantifies for the first time the maximum amount of nutrients—specifically, phosphorus—that can accumulate in a watershed before additional pollution is discharged into downriver ecosystems. That average threshold amount is 2.1 tonnes per square kilometre of land, the researchers estimate in their study published today in Nature Geoscience. This amount is shockingly low, the researchers say; given current nutrient application rates in most agricultural watersheds around the world, tipping points in some cases could be reached in less than a decade. https://phys.org/news/2018-10-yesterday-agriculture-today-pollution.html  (8 Oct. 2018)

Meanwhile, a $261 million Queensland Govt water quality program is failing to protect the Great Barrier Reef from fertiliser run-off, with sugar cane farmers still using excessive chemicals on their properties, RTI documents obtained by the ABC reveal. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-11/laws-not-stopping-fertilser-runoff-to-reef/10348718  (11 Oct. 2018)

CLIMATE CHANGE

SANDRP Blog IPCC report says deafening fire alarm is on, 1.5° C goal is improbable. But we are busy lighting new fires The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a special report[i] titled “GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5° C”. In the official Press Release on Monday, Oct 8, 2018[ii] from Incheon, South Korea, IPCC said: “Limiting global warming to 1.5° C would require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment.” In reality, the world is experiencing much bigger impacts of 1°C rise than what IPCC projected and that would also be true for 1.5° C. https://sandrp.in/2018/10/08/ipcc-report-says-deafening-fire-alarm-is-on-1-5-c-goal-is-improbable-but-we-are-busy-lighting-new-fires/  (8 Oct. 2018)

Do We Really Have the Time and the Tools to Fix Climate Change? STARTLING findings from intelligent reading of IPCC 1.5 C report released on Oct 8, 2018:

– In sum, we do not have any remaining “carbon budget,” and we should be doing everything humanly possible to halt emissions altogether and immediately. That may sound “wishful,” but should in fact be our level of ambition.

– For all but a few, there is little point in standing around watching and measuring the unfolding disaster. We need to take action.

– Enabling overshoot is especially problematic because there is currently no technology available for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The IPCC points to potential use of “BECCS,” which refers to bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration. BECCS is currently nonexistent, technically unlikely to ever become viable, and in any case, would require such a massive supply of biomass as to result in conversion of lands currently in agriculture or natural ecosystems to grow crops and/or trees for biomass.

– WOW: Similarly, the Global Forest Coalition (https://globalforestcoalition.org/campaigns/supporting-community-conservation/) recognizes that Indigenous peoples’ and local community conserved territories and areas comprise between 12 and 22 percent of Earth territory, and that full legal recognition of the rights and effectiveness of their long-term stewardship of lands and biodiversity is key. A Community Conservation and Resilience Initiative (https://globalforestcoalition.org/ccri-global-report/) report released in 2018 highlights key examples of community conservation and assesses how those can best be supported to ensure that biocultural diversity is preserved. The report finds that local, bottom-up, participatory efforts to protect lands are most effective.

– But ultimately, when it comes to advising the world about “what to do” about climate change, the IPCC simply does not have the democratic structures in place to provide technology assessments… The somewhat garbled manner in which IPCC addresses ecosystem-based approaches reflects a lack of engagement of ecologists.

– In May 2017, a letter to the IPCC chair from 108 civil society organizations expressed deep concern over the selection of authors who are or were senior employees from major oil companies (ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco), the second- and third-largest corporate emitters of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The letter pointed out that Exxon holds the most patents and financial interests relating to carbon capture and sequestration (or “clean coal” technology) of any company worldwide, and has, to put it mildly, blatant conflict of interest. https://truthout.org/articles/do-we-really-have-the-time-and-the-tools-to-fix-climate-change/  (11 Oct. 2018)

Very interesting: “In 2009, I was selected as a lead author on a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about how communities can manage the risks associated with extreme weather. That gave me the opportunity to work with social scientists, and I realized that making climate science useful also takes social, cultural, economic and even political knowledge. More than that, I needed a dialogue with those who might use or benefit from my research, and to work with them as equals.”

– “This experience has changed me as a scientist and as a person. Before, I was a climate researcher strongly motivated to contribute to society, but with hazy notions of how to do so. Now I am part of a process that truly benefits real people as they go about their daily lives.” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06856-6  (1 Oct. 2018)

Why half a degree of global warming is a big deal The Earth has already warmed 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century. Now, a major new United Nations report has looked at the consequences of jumping to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. Half a degree may not sound like much. But as the report details, even that much warming could expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-report-half-degree.html  (7 Oct. 2018)

MoEF More forest fires may burn as climate change triggers extreme weather patterns Forest fires in India might increase in the coming days because of extreme weather patterns triggered by climate change, warns a report by the Union environment ministry and the World Bank. It shows 20 districts in central India accounted for 48% of the total area burnt by forest fires between 2003 and 2016.

Around 44% of the forest fires, which mostly include smaller fires linked to jhum cultivation, or slash and burn agriculture, occurred in another 20 districts in that time period, primarily in the north-eastern states that represent 3% of India’s land area, says the report titled ‘Strengthening Forest Fire Management in India’. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/more-forest-fires-may-burn-as-climate-change-triggers-extreme-weather-patterns-warns-govt/story-O4BwxpUW6e7gtYPIQ9uDTI.html  (10 Oct. 2018)

According to the October 2018 IPCC report, those involved in agriculture are at a disproportionately higher risk of facing the adverse consequences of global warming. The report warns that this will mean that a large number of people in Asia and Africa could slide into poverty.

On Himalayan Glaciers: What sets the Himalayan glaciers apart from the ones found at the poles is that they are not clear sheets of ice but have dust and debris in them. In some areas in the region, the glaciers are hidden below a layer of rock and dust.

Himalayan glaciers are a key component of the 75% of all freshwater on earth that exists in a frozen state. Called the cryosphere, this is the second largest influencer of the global climate system, but is also one of the least studied. Outside of the North and South poles, the glaciers in the Himalayas form the most important concentration of snow.

Nine of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest, the highest, are here. Ten of Asia’s largest rivers originate here, three of which–the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra–flow through India. Nearly 70% of the water in rivers such as the Indus and the Ganga comes from the melting of Himalayan glaciers in the summer. The rest is from the monsoon rains. http://www.indiaspend.com/in-the-himalayas-living-the-crisis-that-the-ipcc-report-warns-of/  (12 Oct. 2018)

Delhi NGT summons govt official on action plan on climate change The NGT has summoned an official of the Environment Department in Delhi to explain the proposed amendments made by the AAP govt in the State Action Plan on Climate Change. It has has directed the Deputy Secretary or concerned senior scientist of the department to appear before it on October 25. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/ngt-summons-delhi-govt-official-on-action-plan-on-climate-change-3040261.html  (12 Oct. 2018)

ENVIRONMENT

Green cess for the Himalayan region The Indian Himalayan Region every year records about 100 million tourists and the number is expected to increase to 240 million by 2025, putting huge pressure on resources.

The high number of tourist inflow can have negative impacts like inadequate solid waste management, air pollution, degradation of water sources, loss of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

To address such issues and ensure comprehensive development of the IHR, NITI Aayog recently released a set of five reports emphasising on a series of measures to sustainably develop the region. The reports include detailed measures including the introduction of a green cess. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/10/10/niti-aayog-proposes-green-cess-for-the-himalayan-region/  (10 Oct. 2018)

Gujarat, Odisha Sea turtles may lose their nesting grounds to industrial projects Expert panels of the MoEF have recommended green clearances for two projects that involve nesting grounds for olive ridley turtles. One of these projects is the development of a Special Economic Zone and a Free Trade Warehousing Zone in Kutch, Gujarat, estimated to cost Rs 39,243 crore. The project is expected to be spread over 3147.7 acres of land and include a thermal power plant, a gas-based power plant, among other units.

The environment ministry’s FAC, meanwhile, has suggested granting clearance for the diversion of 157.70 hectares of forest land to expand the mining lease area of the Orissa Sands Complex in Odisha’s Ganjam. This forest land harbours an olive ridley nesting site. https://scroll.in/article/897163/in-gujarat-and-odisha-sea-turtles-may-lose-their-nesting-grounds-to-industrial-projects  (7 Oct. 2018)

Eastern Ghats Loss of forest cover, endemic plants The Eastern Ghats spread across Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, has lost almost 16% of its forest area over a span of 100 years, a recently published study shows.

Researchers from the University of Hyderabad studied historical maps and satellite images from 1920 to 2015 to understand the changes in land use and land cover. The forest cover, which was 43.4% of the total geographical area in 1920, has reduced drastically to 27.5% in 2015. Over the years, about 8% of forest area was converted into agricultural fields, while about 4% converted into scrub or grassland.

Previous studies have shown that the Eastern Ghats is home to more than 2,600 plant species.
Previous studies have shown that the Eastern Ghats is home to more than 2,600 plant species.  Image Source: The Hindu 

They also found that the number of patches of land had increased indicating fragmentation. In 1920 there were about 1,379 patches which kept steadily increasing over the years reaching a whopping number of 9,457 in 2015. Previous studies have shown that the Eastern Ghats is home to more than 2,600 plant species and this habitat fragmentation and destruction can pose a serious threat to the endemic plants.

While agriculture was the main reason for deforestation during the early years, post 1975, mining and other developmental activities such as the construction of dams, roads were the culprits. In 1920, the mining area was only 622 sq.km, and in 2015 it had increased to 962 sq.km. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/eastern-ghats-face-loss-of-forest-cover-endemic-plants/article25144684.ece  (6 Oct. 2018)

Urbanization Urban growth of Delhi New Delhi has been experiencing one of the fastest urban expansions in the world. Vast areas of croplands and grasslands are being turned into streets, buildings, and parking lots, attracting an unprecedented amount of new residents. By 2050, the United Nations projects India will add 400 million urban dwellers, which would be the largest urban migration in the world for the thirty-two year period.

These images show the growth in the city of New Delhi and its adjacent areas—a territory collectively known as Delhi—from December 5, 1989, (left) to June 5, 2018 (right). These false-color images use a combination of visible and short-wave infrared light to make it easier to distinguish urban areas. The 1989 image was acquired by the Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 (bands 7,5,3) and the 2018 image was acquired by Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 (bands 7,6,4). https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92813/urban-growth-of-new-delhi  (26 Sept. 2018)

Stop all construction activities at Pragati Maidan, NBCC told In its bid to control dust pollution in the city the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has issued stern warning to National Building Construction Corporation’ (NBCC) asking it to immediately stop all construction and demolition activities at Pragati Maidan or “face the music”. SDMC has asked NBCC to immediately stop such activities or be ready for the action under DMC Act 1957. The civic body also directed NBCC to produce “sanction plan” obtained by it from the competent agency for working on the aforesaid project. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2018/state-editions/stop-all-construction-activities-at-pragati-maidan–nbcc-told.html  (15 Oct. 2018)

National CAF rules deserve to be withdrawn Jairam Ramesh to Harsh Vardhan Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has demanded withdrawal of rules that allow transfer of over Rs 50,000 crore to states to boost afforestation, saying they violate various constitutional provisions and the rights of tribals and local communities. In a letter to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Congress leader said the final Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) rules “go completely against the letter and spirit of the assurance” given by his predecessor, Anil Madhav Dave, in Parliament on July 28, 2016. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/caf-rules-deserve-to-be-withdrawn-jairam-ramesh-to-harsh-vardhan-118100900776_1.html  (9 Oct. 2018)

Ladakh Community protest forces motor rally to change course A recent stir launched by wildlife enthusiasts and activists in the Ladakh Himalayas over a major motorsport rally intruding upon ecologically sensitive areas of the cold desert, including high-altitude wetlands, has forced organisers to change disputed routes of the event, conservationists said.

A section of wildlife conservation groups had protested against the Raid de Himalaya, the world’s highest cross-country rally raid, for its decision to enter new routes in wildlife sensitive regions in the state during the course of the motorsport event from October 8 to October 14. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/10/09/community-protest-in-the-fragile-ladakh-himalayas-forces-motor-rally-to-change-course/  (9 Oct. 2018)

Gujarat Human rights lawyer Girish Patel passes away at 86 Salutes to this remarkable lawyer and amazing person with whom I (Himanshu Thakkar) had the good fortune to interact for many years when I was in Narmada Bachao Andolan and also subsequently. https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/human-rights-lawyer-girish-patel-passes-away-at-86/1339867/  (6 Oct. 2018)  

Aarey tree felling public hearing: Thanks, Mohammad Aslam N Saiyad; Please watch this to know what happened on 10th October.

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 8 Oct. 2018 & DRP News Bulletin 1 Oct. 2018

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

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