DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 29 April 2019: Sindhudurg shows the way for wetlands documentation and protection

Sindhudurg has become the country’s first district to have successfully documented and mapped wetlands, following a Mumbai HC order in Vanashakti petition. Engaging community participation in the eight-month long process, the district is now training bodies of other districts in the state to replicate its documentation model. This was the state response to Mumbai HC as a pilot in Sindhudurg district. The district administration approached the team of local organization Syamantak, which suggested engaging community participation in the documentation and mapping process.

– “Conducting mapping through community is an effective way to save public money. If this model is implemented across the state, the government can save crores,” said Sachin Desai, who is running Syamantak’s study centre for experiential learning in Dhamapur. The committee completed the task of mapping 57 wetlands in the district in about eight months. Sindhudurg will soon be releasing the first volume of magazine ‘Sindhudurg — Land of Wetland’, the first-of-it-kind in the country. The district planning and development council (DPDC) is giving financial support to the magazine through the forest department.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing, grass, outdoor and nature
Youth Participation in wetlands mapping (Image source: Sindhudurg FB page)

– Key findings of wetland documentation: 485 species of flora reported in 57 wetland sites in Sindhudurg. 154 bird species, 39 butterfly and 21 odonate species reported. Nine threatened bird species reported in Dhamapur lake. 3 nearly threatened, 1 vulnerable and 1 critically endangered bird species reported at Pendur lake. Total 129 violations are reported in the 57 wetland sites of Sindhudurg.   https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/sindhudurg-training-state-bodies-to-document-wetlands/articleshow/69032554.cms   (25 April 2019)

The experts in Pune have also appealed to save the wetlands. As per the report there are 76 inland wetlands in Pune district and environmentalists feel that conservation efforts need a boost. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/wetland-conservation-key-to-thriving-biodiversity-experts/articleshow/69049243.cms   (26 April 2019)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Punjab Keshopur wetland likely to be the fourth Ramsar site Keshopur wetland in Gurdaspur is inching closer be the third Ramsar site (wetlands of International importance) in Punjab. The three-day joint inspection visit of the WWF experts and officials of Punjab forest department to prepare a report on this matter concluded on April 26. Report is soon going to be tabled before the office of chief wildlife warden and then forwarded to union environment ministry for a final seal on the declaration.

There are three Ramsar sites – Harike, Kanjli and Ropar – in the state which are significant habitats for waterfowl, fish and plethora of other endangered and vulnerable species of flora and fauna. The other two wetland in the state, Ranjit Sagar and Nangal, are national wetlands.

The Keshopur wetland is also known as Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve or ‘Chhamb’ in local Punjabi dialect. It is one of the Asia’s biggest wetlands, located in the middle of the Ravi and Beas rivers. There are experts who believe that the area which earlier must have been a flood plain of the two rivers before barrages and dams were erected over it, is now fed by rain and groundwater.

The 850-acre-marsh was declared as country’s first notified community reserve following a Punjab Government Notification on June 25 in year 2007.  This has now resulted into the joint management of the wetland by forest department and the locals of five villages namely Keshopur, Mattam, Miani, Maghar Mudhian, and Dala who shares ownership of the site. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/keshopur-wetland-likely-to-be-the-fourth-ramsar-site-in-punjab/articleshow/69074355.cms  (27 April 2019)

Delhi Activist writes to CM, LG to save Narela lake   Over past few years, Yamuna Ox Bow Lake at Tikri Khurd Narela, being systematically cut off from the floodplain. To save the lake Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has written letter to Delhi CM and LG. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/activist-writes-to-cm-lg-to-save-narela-lake/articleshow/69015893.cms  (24 April 2019)

Delhi State Wetland Authority has had discussion over granting wetland status for Yamuna oxbow lake at Tikri Khurd near Narela.  https://www.newdelhitimes.com/delhi-wetland-authority-to-discuss-on-narela-water-body/  (25 April 2019)

Before this, on April 1 the NGT has has directed the Wetlands Authority of Delhi to hold a meeting and decide within a month whether the Tikri Khurd lake in Narela here is a wetland. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/decide-whether-tikri-khurd-lake-in-narela-is-wetland-ngt/1506982  (1 April 2019)

DAMS

SANDRP Blog Lakhwar & Vyasi Dam: Different reality before the window dressing for EAC Lakhwar Vyasi Field Visit Report, 20-21 April 2019 at Lakhwar Multipurpose Dam Project, Lohari and Vyasi Hydro Electric Project, Juddo. This author, also an applicant in NGT petition, visited the Lakhwar and Vyasi project area before the sub-committee of MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley Projects visited the site on Apr 22, 2019. The proposed site of Multipurpose Lakhwar dam project was seen affected with multiple landslides.

IMG20190420180126.jpg
Elderly couple of Kona villagers complaining of lack of basic facilities like water, power, road in the village on account of proposed Lakhwar dam project. (Image by Author, 20 April 2019)

The EAC visited the site on April 22, 2019, before EAC meeting on Apr 23, 2019. The site was getting window dressed for the EAC visit, as this blog shows. This has been sent to EAC. Let us see if EAC can differentiate between window dressing and reality. Please read and share. https://sandrp.in/2019/04/23/lakhwar-vyasi-dam-different-reality-before-the-window-dressing-for-eac/    (23 April 2019)

Jharkhand FAC gives final clearance to North Koel dam project The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the environment ministry has given Stage II clearance for the construction of the North Koel Dam in the core area of Palamau Tiger Reserve in Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand. With the clearance, the state government has been allowed to start construction and set up the villages which will be submerged by the project before closing the sluice gates of the dam.

The project was given Stage I approval in February with the condition to settle the project-affected people before the construction starts but this condition has now been amended to allow the execution of the project. However, activists fear that if people are not settled till the gates are closed, it may not happen once the dam is constructed.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/forests/fac-gives-final-clearance-to-north-koel-dam-project-in-jharkhand-64082  (19 April 2019)

Sardar Sarovar Dam NGO activists send legal notice to state government for ignoring Narmada Low discharge of water from Godbole Gate of Sardar Sarovar Dam has affected the river ecosystems and also lakhs of people living along the 161km-long downstream stretch of Narmada. He said the ongoing construction of Garudeshwar Weir (GW) near The statue of Unity without any impact assessment, public consultation and clearance from Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has made matters worse.

The concerned authorities assume that release of water from Narmada dam at the rate of 600 cusecs (cubic feet per second) was enough to sustain the river ecosystems in the downstream, the activists of Narmada Pradushan Nivaran Samiti, Bharuch Citizen Council, Prakruti Suraksha Mandal and Brackish Water Research Centre among others said. They have demanded that an expert committee be formed to assess a sustainable flow to support the river ecosystems and until then, the authorities immediately release water at the rate of 4,000 cusecs from the dam. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/ngo-activists-send-legal-notice-to-state-government-for-ignoring-narmada/articleshow/68895876.cms  (16 April 2019)

Yettinahole Project Greens raise voice against Yettinahole Environmentalists have threatened to wave black flags at elected representatives from Dakshina Kannada district, who refused to speak against Yettinahole river diversion project. “The newly elected seven MLAs from the district and District In-charge Minister U T Khader have to answer to the people. The elected members should raise their voice in the Assembly against the unscientific project and keeping the interest of people in mind should urge government to shelve it,” Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya Convenor Dinesh Holla said on April 24, 2019. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/raise-voice-against-yettinahole-greens-730552.html   (24 April 2019)

Polavaram Dam Road leading  to Polavaram Dam develops cracks for third time Huge cracks have appeared again on the road leading to the Polavaram project at Ramaiahpeta village in Polavaram mandal of West Godavari district on April 27. The road crumbled due to cracks near a mechanical shed of a sub-contracting agency, causing panic.

This is the third time in recent months that cracks have developed on the road near the Polavaram dam site. Officials shifted heavy machinery and generators from the spot. Irrigation authorities have clarified that these developments are common during the construction of a project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/polavaram-road-cracks-for-the-3rd-time/articleshow/69076375.cms  (28 April 2019)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Maharashtra Local people opposes Damanganga Vaitarna Godavari riverlinking  – Residents of five villages and several hamlets in Mokhada taluka in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency have put up banners seeking an assurance from all candidates that they will oppose the proposed Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari river-linking project.

– Under the project, dams will be constructed in five villages of Mokhada – Nilmati, Ghatkarpada, Pulachiwadi, Bedukpada and Udhale. Wednesday’s rally saw villagers from these villages participating, as well as those from nearby villages and hamlets.

– The proposed reservoirs will submerge approximately 10 villages and some hamlets. “The project will submerge 3,200 acres of farmland and villages. It will lift 212 million litres a day to Sinnar,” said the Kashtakari Sanghatana’s Brian Lobo, a long-time rights activist in the tribal Palghar-Dahanu belt. Residents are opposing the project through the Mokhada Bhoo-Paani Hakk Sangharsh Samiti. “A Detailed Project Report is currently underway, but no consultation with the villagers has begun. In February, villagers and activists in Mokhada organised a ‘Paani Hakk Parishad’ or convention on water rights, and subsequently submitted to the local administration their written opposition to the project, but we received no response,” Lobo said. https://indianexpress.com/elections/damanganga-vaitarna-godavari-project-their-water-under-threat-from-river-linking-tribals-want-candidates-to-oppose-project-5683260/     (19 April 2019)

Gujarat Narmada tribals in some districts boycott polls Tribals in Narmada, Dang and Tapi districts refused to vote, protesting against the ‘Statue of Unity’ project (in Narmada), demanding basic amenities like proper roads and schools as also in protest against Bharatmala and Par-Tapi-Narmada link projects.

– However, tribals in Narmada and Dang districts boycotted polls as a mark of protest. Noticeably, most of the villages in Narmada district—around 314 tribal gram panchayats around Rajpipla and Kevadiya talukas—that boycotted polls were affected due to the project of the ‘Statue of Unity’ (of Sardar Patel). In the districts of Dang and Tapi (especially in Songadh), the tribals refused to vote while demanding basic amenities like traversable roads and proper schools and also as a mark of protest against the Bharatmala project and the Par-Tapi-Narmada link project.  https://www.newsclick.in/Elections-2019-Gujarat-62.36-turnout-tribals-districts-boycott-polls    (24 April 2019)

IRRIGATION

SANDRP Blog Did PM Modi mislead the Parliament and the nation?

Apparently, it seems that the Prime Minister Modi mislead the Parliament and National during his speech in Parliament on Feb 7, 2019. Please read and share. https://sandrp.in/2019/04/27/did-the-prime-minister-modi-mislead-the-parliament-and-the-nation/  (27 April 2019)

URBAN RIVERS

N Choe; Chandigarh Administration finds faulty STPs The N-Choe is tributary of Ghaggar river:- 

Chandigarh Drains Map.png
Google Earth Image showing various water streams flowing in and around Chandigarh. (Image prepared by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP)

The UT administration has found five new sewage outflow points into the N-choe, a seasonal stream that starts near the Punjab civil secretariat in Sector 2 and passes through sectors 16, 23, 36, 41 and 42 before meandering to Kajheri village and then into Mohali villages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/after-green-tribunal-rap-chandigarh-finds-five-new-sewage-outflow-points/articleshow/69001788.cms   (23 April 2019)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Ichhamati: River of Epiphanies This is SPECIAL Blog Post from SANDRP.  For a number of reasons.  Firstly since it is 1000th Blog Post!

Ichhamati

More importantly, its very different one. Parineeta Dandekar celebrates the Ichhamati River on India-Bangladesh border from the literary genius of W Bengal’s Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay.  Please Read, Share and Celebrate! https://sandrp.in/2019/04/29/bibhutibhushan-bandyopadhyays-ichhamati-river-of-epiphanies/  (29 April 2019)

Assam Rivers gobble homes, farmlands Apart from making people homeless, the erosion of lands has also triggered a livelihood crisis in agrarian. With the Lok Sabha election, the victims of erosion have demanded the political party leaders chalk out a clear roadmap to solve the problem of erosion and rehabilitation of affected people. https://india.mongabay.com/2019/04/agonising-wait-for-assams-climate-victims-as-rivers-gobble-homes-farmlands/     (19 April 2019)

Bundelkhand

GANGA NGT Poor solid waste management at Kumbh brought Allahabad city on the verge of epidemic Showing the Union and UP state govt in poor light, when they claimed that Kumbh was a success.

– Also, the tribunal pointed out that groundwater too has been polluted. “Dirty water from toilets was being collected in kutcha pits. The base of the soak pits had not been lined and the dirty water could percolate underground,” read the order.

– “The committee found that a large number of toilets were constructed in camps on the Arail side, very close to the river. Rajapur STP received excess sewage than the installed capacity. Only 50 per cent of Rajapur drain was being treated through geo tube (it extracts solid waste from the waste going in the drain so that only water enters it) and the remaining 50 per cent was being permitted to enter Ganga without treatment,” read the NGT order.

– Regarding another STP at Salori, the NGT said it too was not working satisfactorily. “It had more sewage than it could treat. The geo tube was not working satisfactorily and 50 per cent of the sewage from the drain was trapped and the rest was going into the Ganga,” the tribunal said in the order.

– “Creation of bypass at places (e.g. Mawaiya Nala and Mansuthia drain) where geotube technology had been adopted has let dirty water enter the river,” the NGT order read.

– Calling it the grossest violation NGT’s earlier orders, the order said, “Thirty six temporary ponds at the bank of the river were constructed with no lining and some of them still contain dirty water.” https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/kumbh-brought-allahabad-to-verge-of-an-epidemic-says-ngt-64139    (24 April 2019)  

Uttar Pradesh Funds down the drain As per the govt, the Sismua drain which discharged sewage into the Ganga river has been tapped at an expense of Rs 60 crores but a report by IIT-Kanpur has found the government claims to be wrong. The sewage from the Sismua drain is diverted to two sewage treatment plants–Bhingawan STP and Jajmua STP.

When IIT-Kanpur analysed the effluent discharged from the Bhingawan STP, it was found that the discharge was below the normal standard. Not just Sismua, several other drains in Kanpur that were supposed to be tapped under the Namami Gange initiative are still discharging directly into the Ganga river.   https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/dirty-ganga-funds-down-the-drain-in-up-63980   (23 April 2019)

Even with the renewed focus on the Ganga, data from CPCB suggests that there has been no improvement in river quality. Three rounds of testing for biological water quality at different locations across the river in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal show no change between 2014 and 2018.

The Ganga’s woes are merely the biggest manifestation of the larger problem of ebbing, polluted rivers and the country’s overall water challenge. As river water becomes unusable, it forces more groundwater extraction, which deepens another water-related crisis. Analysts have stressed that India needs a more holistic approach to water management. They argue that current efforts are stymied by the poor governance created by the myriad institutions that oversee water. https://www.livemint.com/politics/news/a-cleaner-ganga-nda-s-unfulfilled-promise-1556462580465.html  (28 April 2019)

NMCG fails to improve Ganga water quality Flow of water in Ganga is constantly dipping so its dilution capability is also getting weakened. And once dilution capability weakens, then even if you don’t increase the pollutants, you will find pollution index high,” BD Tripathi, Ganga Scientist, BHU added.

– One of the factors for Ganga pollution is dumping of industrial waste from over 750 industrial units in the region. These wastes have created at least four dead zones in the majestic river. These dead zones stretch as far as 2km in some areas. Nothing (whether some form of vegetation or animals) that passes through these dead zones is able to survive. Every year more than 700 tonnes of ash from the burning of around 33,000 dead bodies is discharged into the river along with remains of those dead bodies.  https://www.firstpost.com/india/results-of-ganga-cleaning-programme-not-showing-river-pollution-index-still-high-claims-bhu-scientist-bd-tripathi-6514101.html  (25 April 2019)

Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, 53, is a professor at the department of electronics engineering, Indian Institute of Technology-Banaras Hindu University, and one of the foremost critics of PM Modi’s ‘Namami Gange’ project and the development work undertaken in Varanasi the past five years.

Mishra is also the mahant, or high priest, of Varanasi’s famous Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, established in the 16th century by poet saint Goswami Tulsidas, the author of Ramacharitamanas   https://www.business-standard.com/article/elections/can-t-fathom-what-we-get-by-proclaiming-pm-is-our-mp-varanasi-mahant-119042301307_1.html          (23 April 2019)  

गंगा के लिए अनशन करने वाले संत ने कहा- गंगा जी को बेचने में लगे हैं मोदी This sheds some light on the attitude of Govt towards the fast by saint. आत्‍मबोधानंद कहते हैं, ”आज 182 दिन हो गए हैं मेरी तपस्‍या को, इसे 24 अक्‍टूबर 2018 से शुरू कर दिया था। स्‍वामी सानंद (प्रोफेसर जीडी अग्रवाल) जी गंगा के लिए अनशन पर बैठे थे तो उनको भी लगा था कि यह सरकार उनकी मांग को नहीं सुनेगी, यह डिक्‍टेटरशिप सरकार है। उस समय उनको शंका हुई थी कि उनकी मौत के बाद इस आंदोलन को कौन आगे बढ़ाएगा। इसपर मातृ सदन ने उन्‍हें आश्‍वासन दिया था कि उनके बाद भी इस आंदोलन को आगे बढ़ाया जाएगा और आज हमारे बीच सानंद जी नहीं है। मैं अनशन पर इसलिए बैठा हूं कि पहले मेरे गुरुदेव जी बैठने जा रहे थे अनशन पर, इसपर मैंने अनशन पर बैठने की बात कही और मुझे यह मौका मिला।”

– आत्‍मबोधानंद कहते हैं, ”नितिन गडकरी जी, हरिद्वार के डीएम दीपक रावत, उत्‍तरखंड के सीएम त्रिवेंद्र सिंह रावत जो कि कैसे किसी से बात करते हैं वो भी नहीं जानते हैं। ऐसे व्‍यक्‍ति जब देखते हैं कि बात चल रही है तो सीधा फोन करके उस बात को अडंगा लगा देते हैं कि नहीं इस काम को अभी मत कीजिए बाद में कराइए। इतना डिक्‍टेटरशिप हो गया कि कहीं किसी को रिपोर्ट से मतलब नहीं है। न साइंटिफिक रिपोर्ट से मतलब है, न ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट से मतलब है। ऐसे स्‍थ‍िति में इसके अलावा मुझे कोई रास्‍ता नहीं दिख रहा।” https://www.gaonconnection.com/desh/atmbodhanand-says-narendra-modi-is-using-ganga-for-profit-brahmachari-atmbodhanand-interview-clean-ganga-44292 (23 April 2019)

YAMUNA Haryana Toxic waste continues to pollute Yamuna river For the last 12 years, the Dhanaura Escape, a drain which was constructed to divert the extra water of Western Yamuna Canal and rainwater, has been used as a carrier of toxic water to the fields as well as to the Yamuna. The situation is prevalent even after the State PCB claimed that industries polluting the river had been sealed.

21 DD Karnal 10 4 19
Villagers standing along Dhanaura escape ( Image source: Manoj Thakur Team, 10 April 2019) 

Besides polluting Yamuna, it has made the lives of residents miserable. More than 25 villages in the vicinity of drain are affected by it. The toxic water discharged from the industries of Yamunanagar and Karnal districts has allegedly reduced the quality of the groundwater by mixing metal and chemical contents in it. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/toxic-waste-continues-to-pollute-yamuna-river/762403.html  (23 April 2019)

Uttar Pradesh Yamuna Water level close to minimum The water level in Yamuna on April 26 was recorded 481 feet at the Jeevani Mandi water works station. This was only one foot above the minimum level. As a result, water supply in over a dozen localities remained affected. If the water level in the river goes down any further, household supply in half of the city may get affected. Agra Jal Sansthan has asked the irrigation department to increase water discharge from Gokul barrage.

According to a senior official of Jal Sansthan, in order to maintain uninterrupted water supply to the city, Gokul barrage needs to release at least 2,000 cusecs but only 1,200 cusecs are being discharged for the past several days.

Meanwhile, Jal Sansthan has not been able to put tab on leakages in the supply pipeline. Over two dozen major leakages are causing wastage of thousands of litres of water in different parts of the city daily. According to an estimate, at least 50 MLD of water is wasted every day in the city due to these leakages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/water-level-in-yamuna-close-to-minimum-supply-in-city-areas-hit/articleshow/69064028.cms  (27 April 2019)

Delhi NGT panel to look into the Signature bridge debris issue NGT monitoring committee to look into the Signature bridge debris issue.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/whats-going-on-ngt-lens-on-debris-under-signature-bridge/articleshow/68960784.cms   (20 April 2019)

The panel has asked PWD and DTDC to inform it about the veracity of reports that construction debris from Signature Bridge has been dumped on the river floodplain and it continues to stay there. In a letter dated April 23, the panel has given the authorities a week’s time to reply. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-notice-to-authorities-over-signature-bridge-debris-dumped-in-yamuna/articleshow/69033157.cms   (24 April 2019)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

SANDRP Blog Yamuna Fish, Fisherfolks at Palla Bhim Singh Rawat of SANDRP visits Yamuna at  Palla, upstream of Wazirabad, where Yamuna enters Delhi, to know about fish and fisher-folks there. Feedback is welcome. Please read and share. https://sandrp.in/2019/04/28/yamuna-fish-fisher-folks-at-palla/  (28 April 2019)

IMG20190418104106
Fishermen at Palla.

Tamil Nadu Plan for inland fishing policy The ayirai fish (commonly known as spiny loach), a Tamil specialty, once found in abundance in rivers and ponds in southern Tamil Nadu has become a rare delicacy now. Overexploitation and commercial interest in ornamental and non-native fish species have led to these crowding freshwater sources, edging out familiar varieties; adding to the problem is encroachment and pollution. ules in the inland fisheries department are the need of the hour, says A P Palanichamy, associate professor at Periyar EVR College.

“At the outset, the state does not know the actual number of freshwater bodies. Second, there is no study on the fish wealth. Over fishing is rampant. We have seen fishermen disregard the fishing ban season. In villages, a lot of irregularities take place, and big contractors take advantage of the lack of a policy.” Officials in the fisheries department, however, say they act on complaints. There are more than 40,000 lakes under various departments such as HR&CE, rural development, PWD and local bodies. “We need to integrate and bring in legislations to ensure that fish is conserved. The process has begun,” says a senior fisheries department official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/plan-for-inland-fishing-policy-could-revive-tns-fish-wealth/articleshow/68929245.cms      (25 April 2019)

Karnataka Villagers protest against mass fish death in Tunga river A day after the fish kill in the Tunga river in Matturu and Hosahalli was widely reported in the media, the Hosahalli gram panchayat has lodged a complaint with the police suspecting mixing of copper sulphate into the river as the reason for the death of fish. The exact cause for the fish kill, however, is yet to be ascertained.

The GP’s panchayat development officer filed the complaint with the Tunga Nagar police expressing doubt that the fish kill could have occurred owing to chemical contamination of the river water. Deputy Commissioner K A Dayanand said that in order to flush out the stagnant water and increase the dissolved oxygen level, water has been released into the river from the Tunga dam in Gajanur. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2019/apr/27/fish-kill-gp-suspects-water-contamination-1969609.html  (27 April 2019)  

Gujarat Coal-Ravaged Indian Fishers Take to the SC Story of how Adani and other power plants have destroyed the livelihoods, water security and lives of large number of people with aid from Gujarat and Indian govt, IFC, ADB and others. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2019-3-may-june/feature/coal-ravaged-indian-fishers-take-international-finance-corporation-tata-mundra-to-supreme-court    (26 April 2019)

In Gulf of Khambhat, fisherfolk rue political neglect Fishermen in Bhadbhut are unhappy at the government plans to build a barrage. “For Hilsa to breed, it is necessary for the sea water to mix with the river water. A barrage will completely stop Hilsa breeding here,” said Nanubhai. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/in-gulf-of-khambhat-fisherfolk-rue-political-neglect-730282.html     (23 April 2019)  

Maharashtra In Ratnagiri’s Jaitapur, Fishermen Vehemently Oppose Nuclear Plant Fishermen in Ratnagiri Lok Sabha constituency have been protesting against the Jaitapur nuclear power project for over a decade. They say that the project will adversely affect their ecology and threaten their livelihoods.  https://thewire.in/video/watch-in-ratnagiris-jaitapur-fishermen-vehemently-oppose-nuclear-plant   (22 April 2019)

SAND MINING

Punjab Illegal mining happening despite HC orders A mining officer, who requested anonymity, claimed that 27 crushers are feeding on illegal mining in the Majri block alone. “These crushers are making a mockery of the entire system. They are getting the gravel illegally from unscrupulous elements, who dig up gravel from the seasonal rivulets and process it at these crushers,” the officer said.

– It was on Dec 20, 2018, that the Punjab and Haryana HC stayed proceedings under the Punjab State Sand and Gravel Mining Policy-2018. While staying the e-notice for auction of sand mines in the state, the division bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli made it clear that any proceedings in furtherance of the auction notice, dated October 31, and the policy, dated October 26, would remain stayed. The court is yet to lift the stay. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/illegal-miners-devour-fields-on-the-periphery-despite-high-court-order-5687757/    (22 April 2019)

Andhra Pradesh Govt not NGT responsible for sand dearth Media should not look at the issue this way. Its failure of govt which fails to control illegal sand mining. Nexus between govt officials, politicians and sand mafia isn’t a new thing. Judicial interventions become imperative when situation become out of control. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/green-tribunal-order-hits-sand-availability-in-the-state/article26926524.ece  (24 April 2019)

Maharashtra Illegal sand-mining near Kharghar rail bridge Brazen, illegal sand mining with the use of high-powered suction pumps has been going on for the past few days inside the wetland, near the Kharghar-Mansarovar rail bridge in Kharghar node. Local city activists have now reported about this to the senior district officials who have assured speedy action against the offenders.

– The entire mangrove stretch between Kharghar and Mansarovar is in constant danger from land sharks and those who indulge in illegal sand mining. Often, a large match of mangroves are deliberately destroyed so that suction pumps can be set up to take out the sand from this coastal region. The government must be proactive and immediately take action against the offenders. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/illegal-sand-mining-near-kharghar-rail-bridge/articleshow/68927938.cms  (18 April 2019)

Haryana This is one of worst yrs for Yamuna river in terms of illegal sand mining which is almost undoing benefits of increased flow due to good snow fall this yr. The Haryana Govt has totally failed to check it. Legal intervention failed to make impact. CPCB seems mute spectator of rivercide.

Amit Rathi Sand Mining

GROUNDWATER

SANDRP Blog Himalaya-friendly groundwater governance Guest Blog by Chicu Lokgariwar on Groundwater Governance in Himalayas and importance of SPRINGS https://sandrp.in/2019/04/22/himalaya-friendly-groundwater-governance/      (22 April 2019)  

Study Groundwater depletes in north and east India  Study shows a rapid decline in usable groundwater between 2005 and 2013 leading to the risk of severe food crisis and drinking water scarcity for millions of people.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/groundwater-depletes-north-and-east-india   (23 April 2019)

Uttrakhand Dwindling groundwater a big problem The Rice Bowl of Uttarakhand is grappling with rapid depletion of groundwater. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/in-rice-bowl-of-ukhand-dwindling-groundwater-a-big-problem/articleshow/68981200.cms    (22 April 2019)

Telangana Hyderabad groundwater levels falling In its latest status report, the groundwater department has said that the minimum and maximum depth of water below the ground varied from 0.45 metres to 67 metres. The department attributed the lower levels to the 16 per cent deficit rainfall in the water year 2018-19. The state received 724 mm rainfall against the normal 865 mm.

– Out of 33 districts, 17 districts comprising 293 mandals had received less rainfall than normal. Out of the 584 mandals overall, 31 received excess rainfall (+20 per cent of normal), 246 received normal rainfall (-19 to +19 per cent), 293 deficit rainfall (-20 to -59 per cent ) and 14 mandals received scanty rainfall (more than -59%).  https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/270419/hyderabad-rainfall-deficit-sinks-groundwater-levels.html    (27 April 2019)

Haryana

URBAN WATER

Gurugram Appu Ghar’s water supply snapped over Rs 7 lakh pending bills The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) disconnected the water supply of International Recreation and Amusement Limited (IRAL—popularly known as Appu Ghar in Sector 29) on April 22 over non-payment of water bills for three years worth an approximate Rs 7 lakh.

The GMDA also disconnected the water supply of a reputed school and a residential society for non-payment of water bills ranging between Rs 5 and Rs 13 lakh. Three months ago, the GMDA had identified 50 water bill defaulters, of which owners of 20 connections deposited the pending bills while the others are yet to clear their dues. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/appu-ghar-s-water-supply-snapped-over-rs-7-lakh-pending-bills/story-EDcPqRPyyQGd1Y5DSceNgO.html   (24 April 2019)

WATER POLLUTION

Karnataka Farmers grow crops with wastewater After state govt pumped Bengaluru city’s treated wastewater into Kolar’s tanks last year, farmers made use of the raised groundwater table to grow crops amidst concerns of contamination. https://www.villagesquare.in/2019/04/22/drought-hit-farmers-grow-crops-with-treated-wastewater/    (22 April 2019)

Chennai Sewage mixes in potable water Chennai residents have been at the receiving end of sewage-mixed water for years now and the frequency has spiked over the last six to seven months. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sewage-leaks-water-chennai-residents-cry-foul-metrowater-blames-it-science-100520  (23 April 2019)

Chitrakoot Residents complain of sewage contaminated water supply  Chitrakoot residents also facing sewage contaminated water supply problem. https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/chitrakoot/story-negligence-the-dirty-water-of-the-sewer-filled-in-the-pipeline-2498857.html  (21 April 2019)

WATER

Water management: Still a neglected electoral issue? This is based on SANDRP blog earlier published in EPW too.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/water-management-still-neglected-electoral-issue   (25 April 2019)

Key points about water issues of Bundelkhand in this report – STRANGE statement from PM: “We will make efforts to add streams to the rivers of Bundelkhand,” said Modi in Banda. What exactly does it mean?

– “I have seen a video of roads being washed to welcome the prime minister in Banda. Is he a ‘chowkidar’ or a ‘shahenshah’ from Delhi?” asked Priyanka at a public meeting in Bundelkhand on April 24.

– As ground water levels continued to deplete over the years, the Akhilesh Yadav government had banned digging of new tube wells in blocks facing overexploitation of water. After installation of Yogi Adityanath government, the issue was considered afresh and new tube wells were allowed. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/lok-sabha-elections-2019-politically-untapped-concern-begins-to-flow/story-0Gk1aB5bqULdWs4jj09slL.html  (27 April 2019)

As per reports during PM visit to Bundelkhand roads were washed with tanker water. https://www.indiatoday.in/elections/lok-sabha-2019/story/priyanka-gandhi-vadra-bundelkhand-yogi-adityanath-1509298-2019-04-24  (24 April 2019)

Similar reports came from Varanasi where around 1.4 lakh litres of drinking water was used to wash the roads where over 30 per cent of the population goes without piped water. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/varanasi-uses-1-4-lakh-litres-of-water-to-wash-roads-for-modi/cid/1689451  (26 April 2019)

AGRICULTURE

Gujarat Potato farmers cry foul as PepsiCo sues them Farmers groups have launched a campaign calling for government intervention, after multi-billion dollar conglomerate PepsiCo sued four Gujarati farmers, asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each as damages for ‘infringing its rights’ by growing the potato variety used in its Lays chips.  The case was heard in an Ahmedabad court on 26 April 2019.

PepsiCo has invoked Section 64 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights. However, farmers groups cite Section 39 of the same Act, which specifically says that a farmer is allowed “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”.

Farmers groups warned that the case could have a snowballing effect on other crops. “These are among the first cases of alleged IPR infringement against farmers in India in a post-WTO world. Wrongly decided, these could set a wrong precedent impacting farmers’ livelihoods quite adversely,” said Badribhai Joshi of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, in a statement. https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/potato-farmers-cry-foul-as-pepsico-sues-them/article26936480.ece    (25 April 2019)

In an Ahmedabad civil court on April 26, PepsiCo’s lawyer offered a settlement on these terms: the farmers must give an undertaking that they will not use its registered variety and destroy their existing stocks, or must enter PepsiCo’s collaborative farming programme where farmers buy seeds from the company and sell the produce back to the company. The lawyer for the farmers said they would need time to consider the offer, and to reply to the court. The next hearing is on June 12.

For farmers groups as well as the corporate farming industry, the case is being seen as a precedent that could have a far-reaching impact on how other food crops are developed, sown and sold in the country. Farmers groups have asked the Central government to make a submission in court on their behalf and fund their legal costs through the National Gene Fund.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pepsico-offers-conditional-settlement-to-gujarat-potato-farmers/article26953341.ece   (27 April 2019)

– With protests coming from all ends of the political spectrum, the Gujarat government has decided to back four potato farmers in their fight. Gujarat produces 33 lakh tonnes from its 1.21 lakh hectares planted with the potato crop, with Banaskantha recently pipping Uttar Pradesh’s Agra to become the country’s largest potato producing district. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/gujarat-govt-to-back-potato-farmers-in-pepsico-fight/article26967988.ece  (28 April 2019)

As per one more report, Gujarat government will move the court seeking to become a party to all such lawsuits, Deputy CM Nitin Patel said. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pepsico-india-case-on-illegal-potato-farming-gujarat-govt-backs-farmers-will-seek-to-become-party-to-lawsuits-5698580/  (28 April 2019)

MONSOON

27% pre-monsoon rain deficit critical for Indian farming IMD has recorded 27 per cent less pre-monsoon rainfall from March to April, a phenomenon critical to agriculture in some parts of the country. IMD recorded 43.3 millimetres of rainfall across the country from March 1 to April 24 as against the normal precipitation of 59.6 millimetres. This was 27 per cent less of the Long Period Average (LPA).

The highest deficiency of 38 per cent was recorded in the northwest India division of the IMD, which comprises States of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

“This was followed by the Southern peninsula division comprising all five States of the South India and the UT of Puducherry, Goa and coastal Maharashtra, where the deficiency recorded was 31 per cent,” the IMD said. East and North-East India division recorded 23 per cent deficiency.

The Central India division is the only one to have recorded five per cent more rainfall than the normal. Pre-monsoon showers, thunderstorms and lightening have killed more than 50 people in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan this month. http://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/page1/27–pre-monsoon–rain-deficit-critical–for-indian-farming.html  (29 April 2019)

FLOOD

Jammu and Kashmir Irrigation & Flood Control Department Irrigation and Flood Control Dept., Jammu and Kashmir upgrades its website on Flood Forecasting and Monitoring Section. https://www.kashmirfloodalert.com/

DROUGHT

Gujarat SERIOUS WARNING FROM SAURASHTRA FARMER “Year 2019 will be a turning point for agriculture in Saurashtra,” says 54-year-old farmer Chandubhai Patel. “The groundwater level and availability in the region is only going down. This year is a test. If Saurashtra doesn’t get normal rainfall this time, there will be no water left for drinking, let alone irrigation.” https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/saurashtra-woes-helpless-farmers-hope-for-the-miracle-of-water-64100       (22 April 2019)

This story shows how angry are most of the farmers of Saurashtra for lack of water, lack of remunerative prices for their crops and crop insurance money.  https://india.mongabay.com/2019/04/will-agriculture-distress-in-saurashtra-benefit-the-opposition/    (22 April 2019)

Ukai dam has sufficient water to meet demand until July Ukai dam has capacity to store 7,414 MCM of water at 345 feet, enough to meet the requirements of most of the cities, towns and villages of South Gujarat for at least two years. Most of Ukai dam’s 1,055 million cubic metres (MCM) of water would go once it is released for irrigation by the authorities concerned.

There is possibility of the reservoir going empty this year, a rare phenomenon to happen in three decades. SMC supplies 1,200 MLD of water to the citizens in the city. The demand for water goes up to 1,300 MLD in summer months.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/ukai-dam-has-sufficient-water-to-meet-demand-until-july/articleshow/68650564.cms  (31 March 2019) 

The photo blog on Gujarat drought finds different ground reality against government claims that enough is being done to deal with the situation. https://thewire.in/rights/kutch-gujarat-drought-photo-essay  (23 April 2019)

Andhra Pradesh Water crisis worsens by the day in Kadapa About 625 villages in Kadapa district have been hit by severe drinking water crisis. – There are 35,000 households in Kadapa city with 4 lakh population. As per the official source, the water requirement per day is 50 million litres. The municipal officials have been bringing water form Lingampalli, Gandi and Bugga areas and bore wells. Groundwater-levels have deepened and bore wells are unable to supply enough water.

– The water that recently came from Alaganuru reservoir to Penna river recharged the groundwater-levels and the Gandi scheme has been supplying water.

– Ravindranagar population is 2.6 lakhs. 38,000 families are residing in Proddutur Town, which is the second largest town in the district. Irrigation officials released daily 75 cusecs water from Mylavaram Reservoir’s south canal to Proddutur, through Kundu river. This water reaches to Rameswaram headwater works and supplies to the town.

– As per the official source, 22 million litres water per day is required, but only 15 MLD is being supplied. Yerraguntla Municipality’s demand is 4.2 ML of water per day, but they are getting 2.7 million litres only. In this way, all the Municipalities and rural areas have been facing severe water issues. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/250419/water-crisis-worsens-by-the-day-in-kadapa.html    (25 April 2019)

Vijaywada facing severe water crisis Residents of Vizianagaram are witnessing the worst-ever water crisis of their lifetimes. A drought-like situation has engulfed the town for the first time in the last five decades, pushing its four lakh residents into despair. The groundwater table has sunk to unprececented levels, and the town’s municipal water supply is unreliable and infrequent.

–  The town needs a supply of 45 MLD (Million Litres per Day) but the actual supply is hardly around 15 MLD. Vizianagaram Municipality is unable to supply water even once in four days. Almost all borewells have dried up with groundwater levels dipping below 200 feet from the surface.

– At the Collector’s suggestion, the municipal authorities have prepared a plan to draw the Nagavali’s water from Thotapalli reservoir to Vizinagaram. The water will be linked to Gadigedda, a tributary of Champavati river. A 117-km long canal will be used to draw Nagavali water up to Gadigedda. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/unprecedented-water-crisis/article26967714.ece  (27 April 2019)

Located in Lothugadda panchayat of Mentada mandal, in Andhra’s Vizianagaram, Kondaparthi – and other hamlets like Vuyyadavalasa, Jeerikivalasa, Ippalavalasa, Thotavalasa, Erravanivalasa, Basalapadu, and Sarakavalasa – are staring at a massive water crisis. But their pleas for help from authorities concerned have been ignored so far, the residents say.

The hamlets are home to roughly 1,500 people, most of them Adivasis. The hillside hamlets depend on five tanks, that locals say, have a capacity of 10,000 litres each, and 10 handpumps, for their water needs. But the tanks have dried up thanks to the scorching heat, and the hand pumps are mostly producing air because of groundwater depletion. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hit-groundwater-depletion-adivasi-hamlets-andhras-vizianagaram-demand-action-100692  (25 April 2019)

Maharashtra Dams running dry, set to aggravate drought scenario Even as the arrival of the monsoon is at least one-and-a-half month away, 20 major dams in the state such as Jayakwadi in Aurangabad district, Manjra in Beed district and Bhima-Ujani in Solapur district have gone dry. The water resources department, Mumbai, has said that these dams have zero stock of water as of date and barely 20.09% water stock is available in all the major, medium and minor irrigation projects in the state.

– Marathwada, which is the worst affected, has just 5.28% live water available as against 30.67% live water stock on April 25, 2018. Other districts followed by Aurangabad are Nagpur (11.09% water stock), Nashik (18.87%), Pune and Amravati (24.39 %).

– Water is being provided to Latur, Parbhani and Osmanabad through tankers and small irrigation projects. In Aurangabad and Jalna district officials have been asked to identify new water filling stations to be brought under the control of the district administration. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/maharashtra-s-dams-running-dry-set-to-aggravate-drought-scenario/story-sxdD1EJPNYgR0kr3TdZr6O.html  (26 April 2019)

Gosi dam storage touches ‘dead’ mark Last year’s poor rains have brought down the water level even in Gosikhurd project — the largest dam of the region — to below dead storage. According to the latest data compiled by state’s water resources department (WRD), the level in Gosikhurd has touched nil.

It means the water level is below the level of the dam’s regulators through which water is released for irrigation in Bhandara, Nagpur and parts of Chandrapur districts. In the last five years, such a situation was witnessed only in 2017. In 2018, the water level was 6% above the dead storage mark.

Once the level goes below the dead storage mark, water has to be siphoned out. Given the size of Gosikhurd, its too early to push the panic button, said sources.  The dead storage itself has over 400 million cubic meters (MCM) of water. This is more than the current storage of all the big dams put together in Nagpur division which covers east Vidarbha. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/gosi-dam-storage-touches-dead-mark/articleshow/69048689.cms  (26 April 2019)

1 hand pump and 5,000 people in Ghanichamata Less than 25kms from Nashik city, in Ghanichamata, on the outskirts of Dindori village, which is grappling with drought, a single hand pump caters to nearly 5,000 residents. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/a-summer-scare-one-hand-pump-and-5-000-people-in-maharashtra-s-ghanichamata/story-cBhxgJVj54gasXIyJItgGK.html     (24 April 2019)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bhutan Rs 4.5K cr Mangdecchu HEP’s power tariff protocol deal finalized India and Bhutan have finally signed tariff protocol for the output of INR 4.5K crore 720 MW Mangdechhu hydropower project. First yield of this project is to get to India by May-June 2019. An agreement to that effect was signed by Bhutan’s economic affairs secretary, Dasho Yeshi Wangdi and the power secretary of India, Ajay Kumar Bhalla on April 23, 2019 in Thimphu.

– The starting tariff for a term of 35 years is Ngultrum 4.21 (Eqv. INR 4.21) per unit. That will go up at a rate of 10% every 5 years till Bhutan’s loan for the project is repaid and 5% afterward. Government of India has funded INR 33.82bn for the project with 70% of that as loan and 30% grant. The power plant is on the Mangdechhu River in Trongsa Dzongkhag District of central Bhutan. It is being developed by Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority constituted by India and Bhutan. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/india-bhutan-finalized-rs-4-5k-crore-mangdecchu-hydro-projects-power-tariff-protocol/69042951      (25 April 2019)

As per one more report, the foreign secretary said that the Indian side was looking forward to reaching an early agreement on Sunkosh and inauguration of the Mangdechhu. The two sides also discussed on taking forward the Kholongchhu project which has been halted because of the issues with the Indian guideline on cross border electricity trading. The guideline was revised last year upon Bhutan’s request.

The Indian foreign secretary said that India’s own economy is experiencing a rapid growth and the energy requirement is huge. “Cooperation in the field of hydropower is a win-win situation,” he said adding that India will support all the projects in Bhutan’s interest. http://www.kuenselonline.com/gois-assistance-for-12th-plan-formalised/   (27 April 2019)

Bhutan  Nu 30B in the red last year Bhutan exported 4.53 million units (MU) of electricity harnessed from its renewable natural resources, rivers, to India last year earning Nu 10.5B. While this is a decline compared with the 5.37 MU in 2017, which earned Nu 12B, it is attributed to poor hydrology. On the flip side, the country imported Nu 7.9B worth of diesel and Nu 2.3B worth of petrol, almost negating the proceeds from the sale of electricity.

In addition, the country also imported Nu 295M worth of electricity from India during the lean season and main source of electricity in India is from the thermal plants, coal. Minus the loan repayment of about Nu 3B on average for the hydropower plants, Bhutan’s clean energy is negated by dirty energy import in its entirety.  http://www.kuenselonline.com/nu-30b-in-the-red-last-year/    (23 April 2019)  

ASIA

Myanmar More than 50 feared dead after landslide at jade mine   The township is close Uyu river:- More than 50 people are feared dead after a landslide hit a major jade mining area in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state, an official has said.

– The accident took place near Maw Wun Kalay village in Hpakant Township around 11:30pm local time (17:00 GMT) on Monday when a mud-filter pond, situated in an old mining site, collapsed. At least 20 people have been killed so far this year in collapses and landslides at mining sites, according to the Hpakant Township office. Most of the victims were identified as internal migrant workers who scavenge jade or pieces of the precious stones left over from company mining operations.

– Hpakant area is the centre of the country’s jade mining industry and produces some of the best-quality jade in the world. According to environmental advocacy group Global Witness, jade production in Myanmar was worth around $31bn in 2014. The country’s lucrative jade industry is dominated by companies and businessmen linked to leaders of the previous military government. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/50-feared-dead-landslide-myanmar-jade-190423104209902.html   (22 April 2019)  

THE REST OF THE WORLD

US Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy reflects on the Cuyahoga River cleanup as a symbol for the nation’s progress on clean water Fifty years ago, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught fire, becoming a powerful symbol for a U.S. public increasingly concerned about the environmental damage around them. This year, the state of Ohio deemed the river clean enough that its fish are safe to eat.

A 1967 photograph, showing old cars used as rip-rap along the banks of the Cuyahoga to protect it from erosion is held in front of the river decades later.
(POWERFUL PHOTO: A 1967 photograph, showing cars used as rip-rap along the Cuyahoga River to protect it from erosion, is held in front of its banks decades later. AP file photo)

– That remarkable turnaround is part of a broader cleanup of the nation’s waters, air, and land that resulted from a suite of laws passed in the early 1970s in response to public abhorrence at episodes like the June 1969 fire, an abhorrence that found expression on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day. Gina McCarthy, former EPA chief:

– It showed that we needed to have a national debate, but also that people could take action on their own before that national debate. That, to me, is a really big signal and what turned the corner [on environmental protection]: People everywhere started to engage.

– It’s (the Change today from then) really about resilience, and it’s clearly quite remarkable. We underestimate it every time. We underestimate our ability to change, and when we stop polluting and damaging these resources, we underestimate their incredible resilience. Life finds a way.

– We need to keep rivers and streams flowing and recognize that we have to reinvest in some of the technologies that brought us to where we are today… But we need a momentum boost again to reengage with the work that is needed to fix the environment, according to today’s standards and today’s circumstances.  https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/04/gina-mccarthy-on-climate-change-earth-day-and-striking-down-epa-rules/     (19 April 2019)

The Missouri River Is Just Going to Keep On Flooding FASCINATING ACCOUNT OF HISTORY OF MISSOURI RIVER AND FLOOD CONTROL EFFORTS: The Missouri River used to be out of control. “It cuts corners, runs around at nights, fills itself with snags and traveling sandbars, lunches on levees, and swallows islands and small villages for dessert,” is how the humorist George Fitch (pretty accurately) described it in 1907.

– Fitch: “It is a perpetual dissatisfaction with its bed that is the greatest peculiarity of the Missouri. It is harder to suit in the matter of beds than a traveling man. Time after time it has gotten out of its bed in the middle of the night, with no apparent provocation, and has hunted up a new bed, all littered with forests, cornfields, brick houses, railroad ties and telegraph poles.”

– 1940: The construction of Fort Peck Dam in Montana, which after its completion in 1940 allowed the Corps to store water to be released into the river in drier months, followed by major channelization efforts upstream from Kansas City. It was already channelised downstream from Kansas to confluence with Mississippi earlier.

– 1943: Then came big floods in 1943, after which Congress assented in 1944 to a combined plan cooked up by the Corps and the irrigation-focused Bureau of Reclamation to dam the Missouri at five places in the Dakotas, the last of them Gavins Point Dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska state line near Yankton. These dams drowned the best parts of several Indian reservations and created the country’s largest reservoir system, with 72.4 million acre-feet of storage. Corps was in control of authorised purposes of flood control and navigation.

– The largely artificial river-like entity that resulted, which has existed in more or less its current form since the mid-1960s, is about 200 miles shorter than the meandering 2,546 miles the Missouri River was measured at in 1895. It’s also a lot narrower than that Missouri River was, with a channel width ranging from 600 to 1,100 feet.

– Yes, there was some flooding in 1967, 1975, 1978, 1984, 1986 and 1987, and a lot in 1993. But the 1993 floods were caused by epic summer rains in the Midwest, not snowmelt from the Plains or the Rockies, and the worst of the damage was on the Mississippi River and on the lower Missouri far from the dams. In 1997, in a triumph for the Corps, the Upper Missouri Basin experienced the biggest runoff year since regular record-keeping began in 1898, but major flooding was averted.

– A new runoff record in 2011, 22 percent higher than the 1997 peak, proved too much even for even the nation’s biggest reservoir system to manage, and there was heavy flooding downstream from and between the dams.

– 2019: This year, even though it isn’t expected to set any overall runoff records, is looking even worse. Floodwaters breached levees in more than 40 places along the Missouri in mid-March, and more than a month later much of the river valley from Omaha and Council Bluffs southward to Missouri — most of which, because the river channel hugs the hills on the Nebraska side, is in Iowa — is still soaked.

– In 2014, though, 372 property owners sued the Corps, claiming that actions taken to protect endangered species were causing floods along the Missouri that represented an unconstitutional taking of private property without compensation. In March 2018, Federal Claims Court Judge Nancy B. Firestone agreed, but only partly, ruling that localized flooding in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014 could be blamed on the Corps, but the big floods of 2011 could not. I’m guessing the same will apply for the floods of 2019. Changes made to help endangered species may have made the river valley a little wetter.

– 2019 will mark the fourth time in just 10 years that runoff exceeds its pre-1978 record. A 2016 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attributed recent runoff increases mostly to a change in weather patterns that has led to more precipitation falling in colder months when less of it evaporates. NOAA concluded that this was probably just natural variation, not climate change, but added that its modeling of future changes caused by global warming “bears resemblance to the recent observed trends.”

– Gerald Galloway, then a brigadier general and now an engineering professor at the University of Maryland, concluded after the 1993 floods: “Persistent flood losses during a half century of flood-control programs raise serious questions concerning the long-term efficiency of such programs. A movement to reduce flood damages through nonstructural means, limiting unwise development of the floodplain and evacuating those at most risk, gradually has become a viable alternative to the construction of dams, levees, and floodwalls.”

– A couple of hours into the Nebraska City public meeting, a woman in the audience blurted out, “If water were running through the White House, you don’t think there would be a solution?” Remus paused, smiled and said: “I think there would be a solution.” The approach that reigned from the 1930s through the 1960s was unsustainably unbalanced, and that acknowledging this does not constitute environmentalist extremism. And while it was long assumed that ensuring navigability complemented flood control, given that channelization makes the river run faster, in recent years the Corps has been contending with claims from researchers that some of its navigational structures actually worsen flooding. (To contact the author of this story: Justin Fox at justinfox@bloomberg.net)  https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-04-28/missouri-river-floods-are-just-going-to-keep-on-happening  (28 April 2019)

Study Water pollution is rampant in streams across Europe A new study from Greenpeace revealed that pesticides and antibiotics are contaminating European waterways at an alarming rate, endangering the lives of wildlife and making microorganisms more resistant to drugs.

The study, which was conducted out of a lab in the University of Exeter, found 100 pesticides and 21 drug variations in 29 different water sources spread throughout Europe. A total of 10 European nations, including the U.K., were featured in the project. Around half of the waterways in the study had pesticide levels that were above predefined limits, while a quarter of the substances discovered have been banned. https://inhabitat.com/water-pollution-is-rampant-in-streams-across-europe/  (11 April 2019)

DISASTER

Himalayan region unprepared for mega quake Scientists agreed that: 1. Indian Himalayas can get an earthquake of 8.5 or above. 2. India is ill prepared to face it. 3. Even govt buildings won’t stand a medium scale earthquake 4. Safety from Earthquake cannot be an optional requirement.

And yet govt is going ahead with a massive dam like Lakhwar without even disaster impact assessment. The scientists should know this too.  https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/himalayan-region-unprepared-for-mega-quake-india-yet-to-learn-from-past-mistakes-scientists-119042300691_1.html    (23 April 2019)  

Arunachal Pradesh 6.1 Magnitude earthquake hits state, tremors felt in Tibet A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck early April 24, the US Geological Survey said. The epicentre of the shallow earthquake was about 40 km southeast of Along, and 180 km southwest of the state capital Itanagar. It struck at 1:45 am. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/strong-6-1-magnitude-earthquake-hits-arunachal-pradesh-2027634     (24 April 2019)

Uttarakhand Geologists for immediate relocation of 12 Pithoragarh villages Geology and Mining Depart survey of 20 villages during Dec. 2017 has found that 12 villages are highly prone to landslides and recommend there relocation elsewhere as soon as possible.  The villages that need to be immediately relocated are Senar, Kultham and Bhadeli in Munsiyari, Tankul, Chalma Chilaso, Himkhola, Kanar, Dharpangu, Suwa, Bungbung, Garguwa, Syari, Jamku and Bharbheli in Dharchula and Garzila of Berinag.  https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/geologists-for-immediate-relocation-of-12-pithoragarh-villages-in-uttarakhand-pithoragarh/1521933  (24 April 2019)

Cyclone Fani IMD says depression may morph into cyclone by April 26 The IMD has upgraded the outlook for a pre-monsoon depression over the South-West Bay of Bengal to that of a tropical cyclone, which it expects to materialise by Apr 27, 2019. A preparatory low-pressure area was expected to take shape by April 25, before undergoing gradual strengthening into a powerful cyclone likely headed for Tamil Nadu, past East Sri Lanka, over the next three to four days.

IMD has forecast widespread rainfall with isolated very heavy to extremely heavy rain for Tamil Nadu and adjoining Andhra Pradesh. This would suggest a landfall of the cyclone just to the South of Chennai, as some models are forecasting. Fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy falls and squally winds are also likely over Kerala and Coastal Karnataka during Apr 28-30. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/imd-says-depression-may-morph-into-cyclone-by-saturday-hit-tn/article26924049.ece   (23 April 2019)  

IMD issued Red Alert warning Heavy rainfall are expected in coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on April 30 and May 1.  The IMD has also predicted heavy rainfall in other southern states, including Kerala, with the likelihood of the depression forming in the Bay of Bengal. A ‘yellow alert’ has been issued for Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur and Malappuram on April 29. http://www.rsmcnewdelhi.imd.gov.in/images/cyclone_pdfs/indian_1556205081.pdf    (25 April 2019)

As per latest report, Cyclone ‘Fani’ is very likely to intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” in the next 12 hours and further soar into a “very severe cyclonic storm” in the next 24 hours, the Cyclone Warning Division of the MeT department said on April 27. https://www.firstpost.com/india/cyclone-fani-to-intensify-to-very-severe-cyclonic-storm-in-24-hours-wont-make-landfall-in-tamil-nadu-says-imd-6532341.html  (29 April 2019)

ENVIRONMENT

SANDRP Blog Election Manifestos of 2019: Which party shows faith in people, rights & democracy? Analysis of election Manifestos about Environment, Water, Rivers and related issues. Plz Read, Share and send feedback.    https://sandrp.in/2019/04/26/election-manifestos-of-2019-which-party-shows-faith-in-people-rights-democracy/   (26 April 2019)

TOI Vikas Carton 260419

Report Environment is the Modi govt’s most under-reported disaster The UPA govt didn’t have a stellar record on environment, but what has happened in past 5 years is unprecedented says Dhruv Rathee. The biggest statistical evidence for this lies in the Environmental Performance Index, where India was ranked the fourth-worst country (177) in the world out of 180 last year. 5 years ago, India was ranked 155th.   https://www.ecologise.in/2019/04/14/dhruv-rathee-environment-is-the-modi-governments-most-under-reported-disaster/   (14 April 2019)

1.2L hectares of forest lost in 5 NDA years Between 2014 and 2018, the forest loss was 1,22,748 ha with the maximum loss being reported in the year 2016 (30,936 ha) and 2017 (29,563 ha). In contrast, the casualty in the UPA-2 regime between 2009 and 2013 was 77,963 hectares, while 87,350 ha of tropical forest disappeared in 2004-08 when UPA-1 was in power.

The latest data came from the University of Maryland, which used Nasa satellite images to look into forest loss trends all over the world. The data has been released by the Global Forest Watch, an arm of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a US-based non-governmental organisation. Indian forest and tree cover loss was 21,942 ha in 2014, which dropped to 20,997 ha next year before shooting up in 2016 and 2017.

Subsequently there was a dip in 2018 when the forest loss figures stood at 19,310 ha. The maximum losses in the UPA regimes, on the other hand, were reported in 2008 (20,702 ha) followed by 2004 (19,166 ha) and 2012 (18,804 ha). https://www.deccanherald.com/national/12l-hectares-of-forest-lost-in-5-years-of-nda-731210.html   (29 April 2019)

National Farmers dreams remain unfulfilled Farmers were sold a dream in 2014 that everything was going to change. But now they have compelling reasons to feel they were deceived.

– Transferring agriculture input subsidies (fertiliser and power) to farmers in cash is the need of the hour. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/lok-sabha-elections-farmers-bjp-congress-manifesto-5687360/    (22 April 2019)

Political debutant pitches for tribal rights in Banswara battle Chandulal Barada, who is conducting the Galandar meeting, says the tribals of the central India want a separate Bhil Pradesh. “The Bhils are present in 72 assembly segments across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This forms 12 parliamentary constituencies. We need a state to use our resources,” he adds. People of Banswara and Dungarpur don’t get drinking water from Mahi dam and it is supplied to districts in Gujarat several hundred kilometers away. “We need water to drink and for irrigation. If we have water, we don’t need to migrate to neighbouring states for work,” says Mukesh Kalasna, 38, of Ramsagda village in Dungarpur.

– Bharatiya Tribal Party, founded by Gujarat’s Chhotu Vasava, entered Rajasthan’s politics two months before the December 2018 assembly elections, and registered victory on two seats (Sangwara and Chorasi) of Dungarpur district which are part of the Banswara Lok Sabha constituency. In Lok Sabha polls, the party has fielded candidates in four constituencies: Banswara, Udaipur, Chittorgarh and Jodhpur. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lok-sabha-elections/lok-sabha-elections-2019-political-debutant-pitches-for-tribal-rights-in-banswara-battle/story-SDd2AyIByluY8n6xJBi89O.html  (28 April 2019)

Gujarat  Hamlets Still Wait for Bijli, Sadak, Pani Here is a tragic story of villages (called Vandhs in Kutch) without Bijli, Pani and Sadak, just 15 km from Dhordo, where annual Rann Utsav (festival of desert) is held by Gujarat govt each year, where there are all the attractions for tourists including RAIN DANCE. But Bhitara Vandh and Nana Bhitara gets tanker water once in 5-6 days if they are lucky.   https://thewire.in/rights/gujarat-kutch-bijli-sadak-pani-hamlets   (21 April 2019)

National NGT directs govt to submit report on constitution of BMC The NGT has ordered the environment ministry to submit a report on the constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at the local level in every state within three months. Taking note of blatant noncompliance of the provisions under the Biological Diversity Act 2002 and the failure to give proper attention to the unique biodiversity prevalent in India by the state governments, the NGT in August 2018, sought constitution of the BMC at the local level in every state. Despite court orders, however, only 1,44,371 BMCs have been formed as against 2,52,709 panchayats where BMCs were to be constituted. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/ngt-directs-govt-to-submit-report-on-constitution-of-biodiversity-management-committees-119041500930_1.html      (15 April 2019)

Goa When wings were rightly clipped EXCELLENT reply by RITWICK DUTTA to NITI AAYOG CEO Amitabh Kant on Supreme Court cancelling the Environment Clearance for Airport project in Goa: “The Supreme Court judgment isn’t an instance of ‘judicial interference’, as described by Kant, but an act of upholding the rule of law. It is time the government and NITI Aayog’s energy is channelised towards reforming institutions like NGT, so that they serve the interest of the people, and not just the interest of private investors.” https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/blogs/et-commentary/when-wings-were-rightly-clipped/     (26 April 2019)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 22 April 2019 & DRP News Bulletin 15 April 2019

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.