DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 30 July 2019: Why is Centre pushing unviable, destructive Dibang Project?

Lot of media persons asked this question over the last few weeks ever since Union Cabinet cleared India’s largest proposed hydropower project, the 2880 MW Dibang Multipurpose Project, involving construction of one of the highest dam, and destruction of pristine Dibang river, one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra and also destruction of over 4550 ha of one of the most bio-diversity rich forests. Particularly when pointed out that the project is not even economically viable and its clearances involved all kind of violations, manipulations and frauds. And when highlighted that the every reason why the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Project remains stalled since Dec 2011 also applies to the Dibang project.

Diplomatic answer to that question is: issues of political economy. But when pressed further, the straight forward answer is what every media person knows: Corruption. Politicians, bureaucrats and engineering lobby simply love the opportunity when they get to spend Rs 30 000 crores and more on one project. Particularly when everyone know there is no accountability.

Some of the SANDRP’s blogs on this project:

  1. https://sandrp.in/2014/01/31/six-years-after-pm-laying-foundation-stone-no-clearance-no-work-for-3000-mw-dibang-dam/

2.https://sandrp.in/2014/10/23/insensitivity-analysis-of-dibang-multipurpose-project-fac-recommends-dibang-at-10-mt-height-reduction-will-destroy-4577-hectares-forest/

  1. https://sandrp.in/2014/05/17/dibang-project-rejected-forest-clearance-for-the-second-time/
  2. https://sandrp.in/2014/11/13/submerged-what-to-expect-if-the-dibang-river-is-dammed/

IMCLS asks NHPC to withdraw petition opposing compensation to tribals The Idu Mishmi Cultural and Literary Society (IMCLS) has written to the NHPC’s Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) chief manager, stating that refusal to pay compensation to the affected villagers whose land falls under unclassified state forest (USF) land in the 2880 mw DMP area “is total misdemeanour and inappropriate conduct on part of such a huge company.”

“To drive the people off their lands and off their homes, to drown the rich diversity and memories associated with the place, to mislead the people on compensation, and eventually to promise all necessary help and arrangements, and then failing to deliver on those promises after unsuspecting people agree to their proposition, is total misdemeanour and inappropriate conduct on part of such a huge company,” the letter read.

Urging the NHPC to withdraw the writ petition in the high court opposing granting of compensation against community land, the IMCLS said the NHPC should withdraw the writ petition to enable an “out of court settlement, so as to ensure early, decisive and amicable solution, devoid of confrontational attitude, and not let a travesty of justice be continued.” The IMCLS is the apex body of the Idu Mishmi community. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2019/07/27/nhpc-writ-petition-total-misdemeanour-and-inappropriate-conduct-imcls-says-as-it-asks-for-withdrawal/  (27 July 2019)

The Wire report on Dibang Dam delves into the specifics of the ambitious multi-purpose project, the purported aim behind it as well as the controversy that has been associated with it.  https://thewire.in/government/dibang-dam-arunachal-pradesh-hydropower-project  (22 July 2019)

The former secretary of the government of India’s water resources ministry Shashi Shekhar said that there are doubts about Dibang project’s feasibility. NHPC now has gone to the court against the compensation decided for the tribal community by the state government. https://india.mongabay.com/2019/07/hydropower-projects-come-back-in-focus-with-dibang-dam-push-and-the-dam-safety-bill/  (25 July 2019)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Arunachal Pradesh Subansiri Dam Work on despite assurance to NGT National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Dec 2015 had asked NHPC Ltd not to resume construction till safety issues were resolved. Despite this NHPC has reportedly achieved over 30% progress in concretizing since.

When work was stopped in Dec. 2011, show Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, the Subansiri project had completed concretization of 5.75 lakh cubic metres (cum). By March 2019, concretization at Subansiri had increased by 1.85 lakh cums to a total of 7.6 lakh cums.

Some of the work — slope protection to arrest rockslide on both banks of the river, for example — commenced in 2014 before the stay order and the NGT permitted such measures for safety and protection of the public and property. But the Tribunal also categorically told NHPC “not to undertake any work on the main project except those that were related to urgent repairs and maintenance”.

Yet, records reviewed by The Indian Express show, massive concretisation has been carried out to construct the project’s extended spillway, that has widened the dam base by over 100 metres. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/subansiri-dam-work-on-despite-assurance-to-ngt-that-it-wont-5831255/  (16 July 2019)

NGT reserves order on challenge to expert committee on Lower Subansiri project NGT on July 26 reserved its order on the issue of challenge to the composition of the expert committee constituted by the MOEFCC, in compliance with the judgment dated 16 October, 2017, on the Lower Subansiri project. The committee was directed by the tribunal to examine the reports of various committees, and to submit its own report, with recommendations, to the MOEFCC. Applicant Tularam Gogoi had raised serious concerns regarding bias on the part of all the three committee members who were selected by the ministry.

Notably, the bench expressed its displeasure and disappointment at the “casual manner” in which the ministry had proceeded in the case. Justice SP Wangdi, while referring to the already alarming situation of flooding in Assam, commented that the ministry had not taken the ground realities of the downstream impacted communities in Assam and had made up its mind to “bulldoze” the concerns of the public regarding the safety of the dam.

The bench also commented that the way in which the ministry had proceeded “clearly showed that they were pre-decided on the project.” https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2019/07/26/ngt-reserves-order-on-challenge-to-expert-committee-on-lower-subansiri-project/  (26 July 2019)

The focus of successive governments in power has been to monetize the region’s rivers through dam building. Multiple large dams are proposed for all the major rivers in the region.

– This singular vision of the North East’s development has sidelined many other compelling concerns or made them conditional to the success of dam building in this complex, international Himalayan river system. In the arena of water resources alone, the government has ignored flood management, prevention of water pollution by plastics and pesticides, and protection against soil erosion.

– If large dams are struck off, the governments and people of the North East have a host of integrated land and water based alternatives to choose from. These participatory forms of resource management could bring development without risking the futures of the communities of India’s border regions. https://scroll.in/article/931504/how-consent-for-dibang-dam-was-manufactured-by-terrorising-the-people-of-arunachal-pradesh  (25 July 2019)

The report explains environmental concerns associated with the dam project. https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/india-about-to-get-it-s-largest-hydropower-plant-but-environment-concerns-loom-large-371574.html

Sikkim NCLT approves NHPC’s Rs 907 cr bid for 500 MW Lanco Teesta HEP National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on July 26 approved state-run hydro giant NHPC’s Rs 907 crore bid for the debt-ridden Lanco Teesta Hydro Power Ltd. The Hyderabad bench of the NCLT approved the recommendations of the Committee of Creditors (CoC) of Lanco Teesta Hydro Power, which had in its meeting in December 2018 voted in the bid’s favour.

As per the resolution plan, NHPC would pay Rs 877.74 crore to the financial creditors and Rs 11.12 crore would go to the operational creditors of Lanco Teesta Hydro Power. “Resolution Plan submitted by NHPC, which is approved by members of CoC having 100 per cent voting share and subsequent revision of bid amount by the NHPC is approved by members of CoC by 97.34 per cent stands approved,” NCLT said in its order issued on July 26.

NHPC will fund the project through a debt-equity ratio of 70:30. The project had a liquidation value of Rs 132.08 crore. The NCLT had started insolvency proceedings against Lanco Teesta Hydro Power after admitting a plea by its lead lender ICICI Bank on March 16, 2018 and a resolution professional was appointed on April 24, 2018. Besides NHPC, another PSU Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) had also bid for the debt-ridden company. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/nclt-approves-nhpcs-rs-907-cr-bid-for-500-mw-lanco-teesta-hydro-power-project/1657734/  (26 July 2019)

DAMS

Pancheshwar Dam Doom for diversity Ecological concerns have always been sacrificed at the altar of development. The same will be the case of the Pancheshwar region, which is home to a variety of species writes Neeraj Mahar.

Thousands of hectares of broadleaf forests, dominated by sal and flanking small hamlets, that skirt meticulously carved out terrace farms in the valley of the Mahakali River, home to the giant golden mahseer — this is the defining image of the Pancheshwar region in the trans-boundary Mahakali valley of India and Nepal.

There are other species, too, for whom the Mahakali basin is home: The incredible flora and fauna like the Indian butter tree, tigers and golden mahseer among others. Studies by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Foundation of Ecological Security (FES) have documented 227 mostly forest-dependent bird species in the Goriganga basin, upto where the submergence area extends.

The basin is also renowned for its orchid diversity, harbouring more than 120 species. Mahakali River is known to be the abode for three dwindling otter species — Eurasian, smooth-coated and small-clawed. A study by Nepali scientists documented 72 fish species, including the endangered golden mahseer from River Mahakali. River flows, the first to be destroyed by the dams, are the mainstay for freshwater fish and riverine ecosystems. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/columnists/dam-for-nations–doom-for-diversity.html  (27 July 2019)

Tamil Nadu Dam built on private estate in the Nilgiris to be demolished A dam intended to block the course of a stream to create an artificial lake inside a private tea estate is to be demolished after the Revenue Department deemed the structure to be illegal.

The 30-foot dam was built on a private tea estate along the M. Kaikatty Road connecting Udhagamandalam to Manjoor, near Balocola. According to locals, the stream across which the dam was built carries water to irrigate agricultural field and tea estates downstream.

“The stream wells up with water during rains, and is always a source of water during times of drought,” said R Rajamanickam, a resident of Deversholai, which lies along the course of the stream. Following a complaint, officials from the Revenue department, led by the Revenue Divisional Officer in Udhagamandalam, visited the estate. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dam-built-on-private-estate-in-the-nilgiris-to-be-demolished/article28093821.ece  (21 June 2019)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Interview ‘River Interlinking would be ecological disaster’  Shashi Shekhar former water secretary on interlinking of rivers:- For interlinking, we need to know which river is surplus, and which is in deficit. We don’t have the mechanism to be able to tell. We will also be wasting water through canals, etc.

Further, surplus river water goes to the sea. Water not reaching the sea is a bad sign as saline sea water could ingress into land. Fresh water flowing into the sea is also crucial for creating the low pressure that draws monsoon winds.

Rivers are living organisms with unique ecosystems. They must be treated as such. We must be against interlinking. This is an engineering and political fad. Key to solving our water problem is better water management through harvesting of rain water, keeping rivers alive and changing eating habits. https://thewire.in/environment/river-interlinking-an-engineering-political-fad-former-water-ministry-secretary  (28 July 2019)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Godavari Water Sharing Dispute AP CM says govt will not take any decision that harms State’s interests As per this news report, Andhra CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy says that government will take suggestions and apprehensions of the Opposition and people into consideration before making a move on the proposal to lift the Godavari waters to Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar with Telangana.

“The Godavari waters can be shared by both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana if the proposal to lift waters is fruitful. Water requirement in nine districts of Andhra Pradesh and four districts of Telangana can be met,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/lifting-of-godavari-waters-will-not-take-any-decision-that-harms-states-interests/article28713825.ece  (25 July 2019)

Telangana No water, only sand in River Godavari With Godavari basin totally dried up without sufficient rains, Sri Ram Sagar Project (SRSP) and Kandakurti Triveni Sangamam associated with the Godavari watercourse, are currently dried up and looking like desert. 14 gates of Babli project across River Godavari in Maharashtra were lifted on July 1. But due to lack rains in the upper regions, there is no water in Godavari river, except sand and rubble. As a result, reservoirs in northern Telangana are empty.

The monsoon season begun and July month will end in another ten days. But the people are worried about the influx of water into Godavari River. The officials said the situation will be worse if rains don’t start in August. The gates of Babli project will be kept open till October 29 this year. Vishnupuri, Gaikwad and Babli projects in Maharashtra across River Godavari also became dead storage, effecting SRSP, which also reached dead storage.  https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/nizamabad-no-water-only-sand-in-river-godavari–547981   (19 July 2019)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Inland waterways a threat to aquatic life Building new inland water systems require dredging river beds making waters muddy – a possible threat to aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Brij Gopal, Coordinator at Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia National Institute of Ecology, says, “Dredging of rivers, like Hooghly, happen on a regular basis. It not only affects the species but can possibly change the courses of rivers.” The inland water-transportation is not something new. It was there even before Brits arrived in India though under their rule waterways received little attention. With the building of NW-1 and other waterways, the nature and magnitude of implications have to be enquired from fresh.

Dr. Jitendra Nagar, Founder and Secretary at Environment and Social Development Association (ESDA), says, “The ships passing through the inland waterways create huge vibration and sound that severely affects fishes, vertebrates, and insects.” “The aquatic species are very sensitive and either die or they migrate on a large scale, hampering their habitat from inland water traffic,” Dr. Nagar further adds. More water traffic can lead to more accidents, river pollution, and oil spillage. http://www.businessworld.in/article/Inland-Waterways-A-Threat-To-Aquatic-Life-Communities-Dependent-On-Rivers-/23-07-2019-173818/  (23 July 2019)

IRRIGATION

Punjab Treated water for irrigation a far cry In Jalandhar of the total 6,05,000 acres of farmland  (of which 4.25 lakh is under paddy cultivation) merely 1,400 acres (.23 per cent) is being irrigated with treated water from STPs and ponds.

– With Jalandhar STPs having a capacity of 235 MLD, as much 14,100 acres of farm land can be irrigated by treated water. However, only 16 MLD of treated water is being routed to fields. which collectively irrigates 960 acres of agricultural land.

–  In addition to this, the 10 lift water irrigation projects (across 10 sewage ponds) in the district generate 30 to 50 lakh litres of treated water, which is used to irrigate 400 to 500 acres of farmland. Of the 1,500 ponds in district, currently only 10 have lift irrigation projects.

– While it has taken the government decades to build over six STPs, 10 pond water (lift) irrigation and 45 rainwater harvesting projects in the district, of the total STPs, merely two to three contribute to treated water for fields while rest await pipelines for crops. The rest of the agricultural land is being irrigated primarily with groundwater.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/treated-water-for-irrigation-a-far-cry/802555.html  (16 July 2019)

URBAN RIVERS

Jaipur; Dravyavati river Paid news falsely promoting river concretization as rejuvenation  Very disturbing this paid news wrongly promotes concertizing river banks and turning them into canals as river rejuvenation example. In Dravyavati case not only the river banks, even the riverbed has been cemented. The real motive behind such projects is grabbing of river land for real estate development.

– Throughout the river’s 47-km-long course, 30 km are concretised and its width ranges from a minimum of 18 metre to a maximum of 100 metre. Check dams have been constructed every 200-300 metre with a four-metre-long porous concrete patch to ensure water percolates into the ground. Gardens, tourist spots and a botanical garden were set up on the banks of the river, and the Jaipur Development Authority reclaimed 193 hectares.

– “It is now a government property, and has given a boost to the real estate business. The rejuvenation project has been constructed to withstand the worst floods of the past 100 years,” Mr. Sharma said.

– According to Satyanarayana K, COO, industrial system, Tata Projects Ltd., the Dravyavati model can be replicated elsewhere. “There are number of States in talks with us for a similar project. We also had a discussion with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation but it did not materialise. We will pursue it now. We are here to give a better product,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/quiet-flows-the-dravyavati-in-jaipur-could-mithi-be-next/article28665080.ece   (23 July 2019)

As per this twitter post water gush in Dravyavati river blows away part of riverfront development work.  https://twitter.com/DrArvind_Singh/status/1154770489924960262

Ulhas river floods Badlapur town, Thane.

Mutha, Pune: Marathi news report on Mutha river encroachment.

RIVERS

KRISHNA RIVER ‘Uranium mining in Nallamala will have a disastrous impact’ The decision of the Centre to allow uranium mining in the Nallamala Forest, which is barely 0.5 km from the catchment area of the Krishna, will lead to contamination of the river water with radioactive materials, Jal Biradiri National Coordinator Bolisetty Satyanarayana said.

The decision to allow mining would not only affect the reserve forest but also the lives of the tribes of Amrabad, apart from affecting the lives of all those using the water of the Krishna for drinking, bathing, agriculture and other purposes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Mr. Satyanarayana told a media conference at the VJF Press Club. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/uranium-mining-in-nallamala-will-have-a-disastrous-impact/article28527542.ece  (17 July 2019)

A civil rights organization fighting for forest dwellers’ rights, Human Rights Forum (HRF), has demanded that the Government of India should withdraw the decision to survey and explore the tiger reserve in Nallamala forest for uranium, even as asking the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments to reject the survey and exploration proposal. https://www.counterview.net/2019/07/uranium-mining-frightening-implications.html  (27 July 2019)

GANGA Even Holy Ganges Has Not Been Spared For Political Gains’ We treat our rivers merely as a commodity, sucking them dry with our urban desires, relocating them at will for our benefit and tying them behind walls that myths proclaim can only be God’s doing. Legend has it the Ganga once gushed with such force that, without Shiva’s intercession, her descent to earth could wipe out the entire planet. Today, about 940 dams, barrages and weirs constrain her and her tributaries’ flow and many stretches are ecologically dead. As rivers are being continuously sliced and dredged, people along their banks wonder: will they ever be consulted—or even informed? https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/india-news-opinion-the-current-of-destruction-is-strong-even-holy-ganges-has-not-been-spared-for-political-gains/301978  (25 July 2019)

Haryana Searching Saraswati, killing Yamuna Govt. making futile efforts on reviving Saraswati a gone river with dams and groundwater pumping, while deliberately destroying its only flowing river Yamuna by allowing pollution, illegal sand mining, water intensive crops and water consuming industries. https://india.mongabay.com/2019/07/upcoming-elections-in-haryana-boost-efforts-to-revive-the-ancient-saraswati-river/  (19 July 2019)

YAMUNA Dams, barrages would leave Yamuna flowless Hridesh Joshi writes about impact of ongoing and proposed dam projects on Yamuna river in upper catchment.

-Yamuna is India’s sixth longest river and the longest tributary of Ganga. The survival of the Yamuna is critical to the success of projects like Namami Gange. But the river finds it difficult to survive as a result of the many interventions in its flow.

– Uttarakhand environment minister Harak Singh Rawat, while advocating the need for power projects for “electricity and development” of state, admits that big hydro dams are not good for the health of rivers. “They take long time to get completed and adversely affect the ecology of river,” Rawat told News18.

“It’s a pity that our engineers never studied ecology. For them, a river is water and nothing else. They do not understand that there is an ecosystem on the bed of the river, on the banks of the river and on the floodplains. They just do not have any idea about it. For them, if you remove all the water, then you have utilised something. If the water is flowing, it is a waste,” says Ravi Chopra, environmentalist and water management expert. https://www.news18.com/news/india/death-of-a-river-how-hydro-power-plants-have-sucked-the-life-out-of-yamuna-the-lifeline-of-delhi-2242997.html  (24 July 2019)

 ‘Yamuna after Wazirabad unsuitable for aquatic life’ The Yamuna’s stretch downstream of the Wazirabad barrage in Delhi is severely contaminated and unsuitable for aquatic life, preliminary findings of an ongoing study suggest. The NIH, which is conducting the study sponsored by the NMCG, recently submitted a preliminary report to the Yamuna Monitoring Committee, set up by the NGT. The team of scientists conducted a survey on June 7-8 and found that the DO values were non-detectable in the river stretch downstream of the Wazirabad barrage. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/yamuna-after-wazirabad-unsuitable-for-aquatic-life/articleshow/70287865.cms  (19 July 2019)

‘Uttar Pradesh dumps 524 MLD waste in Yamuna’ A report of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has revealed that 35 major drains of nine UP districts are discharging 524.02 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage into the Yamuna. Agra is the top polluter of the river with eight major city nullhas adding 205.57 MLD of sewage to the river.

According to the UPPCB report, about 807.53 MLD of sewage and 43.80 MLD of industrial effluent are being currently discharged into the river. The treatment of sewage is a major area of concern, as out of the total estimated sewage discharge of 807.53 MLD, only 283.51 MLD of sewage is being treated. The estimate of industrial effluent is based upon the consented discharge quantified from the units but actual industrial effluent may be more than the estimates owing to over discharge by consented industries and discharge from illegal units operating in non-conforming areas.

There are 300 industries in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Vrindavan, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Etawah and Prayagraj. These include textile, slaughterhouses, electroplating and other industries situated along the course of Yamuna that discharge their effluent and sewage into the river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/35-drains-of-9-up-districts-discharging-524-mld-untreated-sewage-into-yamuna-uppcb-report/articleshow/70321252.cms  (22 July 2019)

Dry Yamuna remains a threat to Mughal monuments Barrage project on Yamuna in Agra would not help river or Taj Mahal however few groups continue to demand it. Even after a fortnight of monsoon rains, river Yamuna in Agra continues to remain dry, with heaps of polluted garbage providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and bacteria. This time of the year, the river is usually in spate, recalls old timer Ganno Pandey. But “so far we see no water flowing down. Only the drains are bringing in lots of pollutants and polythenes,” Pandey adds.https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/dry-yamuna-remains-a-threat-to-mughal-monuments-1571787-2019-07-21  (21 July 2019)

NGT panel shows displeasure with govt agencies, committees The monitoring committee, attacked the UP and Haryana governments, the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Jal Board for their inaction. Referring to a committee set up by the UP government for cleaning the Yamuna, the report stated, “The monitoring committee is of the view that no useful purpose has been served by setting up such a committee [by UP government] as the engineers seemed unaware of the seriousness of the severe pollution-related stretches that emanate from specific drains in UP.”

“When they attended the last meeting called by this the [NGT-appointed] committee on 04.04.19, they were completely unaware of the tasks they were required to perform and could contribute nothing at the meeting,” the report further said.

The green tribunal-appointed body also attacked the Haryana government in the report for their “laxity”. “NGT may consider reprimanding the officers of the Haryana Pollution Control Board for their inability to discharge their statutory functions and lack of any regulatory vigil or control over 96 industrial pollution and other activities like sand mining and building bunds on the Yamuna,” it said. There are multiple drains which flow from UP and Haryana into Yamuna and pollute the river. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/cleaning-yamuna-up-haryana-dda-djb-slammed-for-inaction/article28726991.ece  (27 July 2019)

NGT directs Delhi, Haryana, UP govts to file compliance report NGT has directed the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments to file compliance reports on the steps taken to rejuvenate and control pollution in the Yamuna river. The green panel also warned of imposition of fine in case the state governments failed to submit the report.  A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked them to file an affidavit in a clear tabular statement indicating the steps taken so far, reasons for the delay in their implementation, actions required to be taken and the expected date of completion.

“This statement should cover all the components of Yamuna Mailey Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan, 2017, approved by this tribunal which covers environment flow, interception of drainages to STPs, up-gradation of existing STPs to meet the standards, setting up of new STPs, etc,” the bench said. The tribunal said the situation was grim and the regulatory authorities failed to apply the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle to control the polluting activities.

Noting that none of the counsels are ready with instructions and the authorities including heads of departments may be required to be held accountable, the tribunal granted further opportunity to the Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, DDA, DJB, DPCC and the municipal corporations concerned to furnish their comments within two weeks. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/yamuna-river-rejuvenation-ngt-directs-delhi-haryana-and-up-governments-to-file-compliance-report/articleshow/70319173.cms  (21 July 2019)

Summon polluters to court, make them pay: NGT body  In a bid to recover the pending environment compensation (EC) from defaulters, a two-member committee, appointed by the NGT, has proposed that defaulters be summoned by the green court and made to pay the fine there.

The committee also stated that government agencies had imposed a fine of Rs 7.33 crore, between February and April 2019. But only Rs 2.22 crore has been recovered till date, which is about 30% of the total EC imposed. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/summon-polluters-to-court-make-them-pay-ngt-body/story-jhFOTxhYebc2ua0vt8yaTO.html  (27 July 2019)

NGT panel head on Hindon river resigns, cites ‘non-cooperation’ from UP govt The resignation letter by S U Khan, former judge of Allahabad High Court, was sent to the NGT two weeks ago, one of the committee members told The Indian Express. “He could not get anything done due to non-cooperation from the Uttar Pradesh government. The letter also mentions that he won’t be able to give enough time to the NGT committee as the Allahabad High Court has given him a new assignment,” claimed the official.

The committee has submitted at least four reports to the NGT and all of them have accused UP officials of “apathy” and even “stonewalling” its action plan and monitoring. “Authorities majorly responsible for compliance of the (NGT) directions are not assisting the monitoring committee and their approach is lackadaisical, which frustrates the basic purpose of the committee,” read the latest report of the committee submitted to the NGT in February this year. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ngt-panel-head-on-hindon-river-resigns-cites-non-cooperation-from-up-govt-5852573/  (26 July 2019)

NGT nod for plan to tap rainwater along Yamuna Armed with multiple studies by National Institute of Hydrology, IIT and Central Ground Water Board and working on the nitty-gritty of the project over the past few months, Delhi government first approached the centre water commission in May this year and got its nod on June 18.

While the agencies gave their nod to the project early this month, the Delhi cabinet, also approved the proposal to pay Rs 77,000 per acre per year to farmers who own the land along the river.

According to officials, the project was first recommended in NGT’s 2015 order, ‘Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Rejuvenation Plan’. Various academic institutions, such as IIT Delhi, NIH, CGWB, IIT Bombay, WAPCOS and Delhi University, also indicated the potential to store huge amount of water on the floodplain. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-nod-for-plan-to-tap-rainwater-along-yamuna/articleshow/70386485.cms  (26 July 2019)

Govt panel earmarks 33 acres for its Yamuna pilot project According to sources, 33 acres of land in the village has been identified for the project and work is already underway. The study conducted by INTACH in 2015-16 for recharging groundwater in the national capital, stated, “The Yamuna floodplain, comprising 97sq.km of area in Delhi, offers a good scope for development of groundwater resources subsequent to the storage of monsoon waters on the floodplain itself. Under the Yamuna water sharing agreement, out of the 580 million cubic metre (MCM) of monsoon season flow allocated to Delhi, about 280 MCM goes unutilized due to lack of storages.” http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2019/jul/16/panel-earmarks-33-acres-for-its-yamuna-pilot-project-2004386.html  (16 July 2019)

Experts okay with farming along Yamuna After four years of a ban on cultivation on the Yamuna floodplain, the panel appointed to monitor the pollution of the river has recommended that farmers may be allowed to grow crops and vegetables but with regular and constant watch on the metal content and pesticides levels present in the harvested produce.

The study, ‘Metal Content in Vegetables, NEERI Study (2019)’, analysed data from three locations — Usmanpur Khadar, Geeta Colony and Mayur Vihar — and seven vegetables — cabbage, cauliflower, radish, brinjal, coriander, fenugreek and spinach. “Though the levels of metals present in the vegetables were found within FSSAI limits (except for lead), monitoring and testing of heavy metals in vegetables as well as soil and irrigation water along with water of river Yamuna should be carried out by authorities on a regular basis,” the report said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/after-4-yr-ban-experts-okay-with-farming-along-yamuna/articleshow/70386654.cms  (26 July 2019)

The study was conducted in February 2019 by the NEERI, a research institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The findings were placed before the NGT in May this year. “The source of lead could be industries dealing in automobile parts, batteries, paint and polythene. Various kinds of usage of lead-based compounds may also be potential sources,” said Goyal. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/vegetables-in-delhi-markets-contain-toxic-metals-study/story-L9d26TBm1lE6ttivb78jMO.html  (26 July 2019)

Haryana govt questions Delhi HC jurisdiction to hear Yamuna dispute In an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar, the Haryana government said the Upper River Yamuna Board (URYB) should listen to the dispute between the two states. The Haryana government told that the court it had raised the issue of jurisdiction several times but the court “has failed in its duty to decide the issue of jurisdiction before proceeding further in the matter”. The affidavit comes in a plea filed by advocate SB Tripathi, who had sought sufficient water for the national capital. The matter would be now heard on July 27.

In its reply to the court-appointed committee’s finding, Haryana contended the panel had extended its mandate. It said the committee has gone “beyond its mandate” while raising queries on sand mining. The high court had earlier appointed a committee to conduct an inspection of areas where bunds were allegedly constructed and submit its findings in a report. The committee had found instances of illegal sand mining. The Haryana government urged the high court to reject the committee’s report, which found that large-scale mining was going on in the river bed and that the Haryana government had not disclosed any information regarding the activity. Haryana has contended that the report was filed after a single inspection and without consulting it. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-high-court-doesn-t-have-jurisdiction-to-hear-yamuna-dispute-haryana/story-ZsZ4xV1A2CpacreBVAbM0I.html  (24 July 2019)

Rajasthan not getting Yamuna water share from Haryana: Union minister Union Jalshakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on July 22 informed the Rajya Sabha that Rajasthan was not getting its allocated share of the Yamuna water from Haryana in the absence of an agreement between the two states to transport water through Haryana.

Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan Kirodhi Lal Meena had asked the Jalshakti Ministry the reason for not providing water from the Tajewala headworks, which is located in Yamunanagar in Haryana, to Rajasthan despite the allocation of share of the Yamuna water to it by the Upper Yamuna River Board. He sought response on whether the Union government proposed to direct Haryana to provide Yamuna water to Churu and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan from the headworks. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/rajasthan-not-getting-yamuna-water-share-from-haryana-union-minister/806245.html  (23 July 2019)

Ganga, Yamuna, Taj Mahal ‘fight Pollution’ in this courtroom drama Pollution Hazir Ho, a satirical act directed by Dr M Sayeed Alam and staged recently in India Habitat Centre’s (IHC) Stein Auditorium had ‘Pollution’ as the defendant, and Ganga, Yamuna and Taj Mahal testifying against him. The defendant was accused of a range of crimes, from causing global warming to yellowing the pristine white walls of the Taj. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/events/delhi/ganga-taj-mahal-fight-pollution-in-this-courtroom-drama-in-delhi/articleshow/70293763.cms  (20 July 2019)

SAND MINING

National SC agrees to examine plea for CBI probe into illegal sand mining The Supreme Court on July 24 agreed to examine a petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into illegal sand mining, which is said to be causing severe environmental degradation in the country. A bench led by Justice SA Bobde issued notices to the Centre and five states where the illegal sand mining is reportedly rampant.

The bench was initially reluctant to entertain the matter and asked the petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan to approach a high court. “Let us have the advantage of the high court order,” the Justice Bobde said. It later agreed to look into the issue after Bhushan pressed that illegal sand mining was causing environmental degradation in a number of states. The top court then issued notices to five states — Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Response has also been sought from the CBI as the petitioner, M Alagarsamy, has prayed for an investigation by the agency. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sc-agrees-to-examine-plea-for-cbi-probe-into-illegal-sand-mining/story-7RRV8ZmUIBRP2gPVGUoqfN.html  (25 July 2019)

The petition sought eight directions vide its prayers. The plea said “no EC would be accorded to any sand mining project without a proper EIA, Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and Public Consultation, and appraisal as per the EIA Notification 2006.”Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, said mining has been going on in states without environmental clearance as required by law.

The petitioner sought directions to the Centre to implement and enforce Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, Minor Minerals Conservations and Development Rules, 2010, and the mining plan to be approved under the MMDR Act, 1957. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/sc-issues-notice-to-centre-five-states-in-plea-against-illegal-sand-mining-1563968685554.html  (24 July 2019)

Kerala NGT forms committee to assess damage to environment Taking note of excessive sand mining in Alappad, a coastal village, the NGT has formed a committee comprising representatives from the CPCB and State Pollution Control Board to determine compensation to be recovered for damage to the environment by unsustainable illegal mining. It asked the panel to submit a report within two months by e-mail and said it would be open to the concerned regulatory authorities to recover the compensation by following the due procedure of law.

The tribunal passed the order recently after perusing a report field by District Magistrate, Kollam, and the state pollution control board which showed that mining volumes have far exceeded the sustainable mining quantity proposed. The report shows that mining volumes have far exceeded the sustainable mining quantity proposed, NGT noted. The tribunal has taken suo motu (on its own) cognizance of an Indian Express news report titled “17-year-old’s video gets Kerala talking of impact of sand mining”. https://www.firstpost.com/india/ngt-forms-committee-to-assess-damage-to-environment-caused-due-to-unsustainable-illegal-sand-mining-in-kerala-7034681.html  (22 July 2019)

Chhattisgarh Sand mining rampant paying no heed to green bench ban Paying no heed to the ban imposed by NGT ban over sand mining in state, mafias are continuing with their illegal activities on the banks of Subarnarekha in Jamshedpur. According to eyewitness the sand mafias turning a blind eye to the ban are driving the tractor-trolleys and trucks inside the river, as the water level is very low and excavating the sand.

Trucks are being filled in the Seraikela area and then being sold at high rates at various places in the state and elsewhere. The situation is quite similar in the Baharagora area, where such illegal mining is rampant, added sources.

Sources said the authorities concerned are not serious about imposing the ban and do not carry out raids to catch the illegal mining in the area. Many believe that the officials are hand in glove with the mafias. Notably, sand mining ban has been imposed in state from June 10 this year to October 15. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jamshedpur/jamshedpur-sand-mining-rampant-paying-no-heed-to-green-bench-ban/articleshow/70278923.cms  (18 July 2019)

Madhya Pradesh Nayab Tehsildar attacked by sand mafia A Nayab Tehsildar was attacked allegedly by associates of a mafia in Hoshangabad on July 19 night while he was on his way to carry out a raid at an illegal sand mining site. The official, Atul Srivastava, was injured after his private vehicle was stopped and he was attacked by a group of men. The attackers, however, said that they attacked him on suspicion of child-lifting, a claim rejected by the officials.

SDM RS Baghel said, “Though they claim they attacked him on suspicions of child-lifting, I believe that the attack was perpetrated by them in a bid to stop the officers from visiting the illegal mining site. This is could be their conspiracy.” Fifteen people were detained while efforts are on to nab 10 others involved in the case. Officials also seized 15 tractors and trollies, two JCB machines along with other tools used in illegal mining. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/crime/210719/mp-on-way-to-raid-illegal-sand-mining-site-nayab-tehsildar-attacked.html  (21 July 2019)

Miners threaten suicide if admin tries to stop illegal sand mining For Khargone tehsildar, on July 22, it was not a usual raid against illegal sand mining. He was in a catch-22 situation when a group of people warned him of committing suicide if the illegal mining is stopped since it was their only source of income.

“If we will be stopped from sand mining we will end our lives,” threatened the labourers involved in sand mining to the tehsildar RC Khatediya. The tehsildar along with his team had gone to conduct raid at Kumharkheda after receiving information that illegal sand mining was underway near Kunda river which is 12 km from district headquarters. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/miners-threaten-suicide-if-admn-tries-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/70336849.cms  (23 July 2019)

Punjab In Ropar, illegal mining takes toll on groundwater While the Centre has initiated the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” for water conservation across the country on July 1, the illegal mining has already played havoc with the water table in the district, with the riverbed being dug up to more than 40 feet. If the experts are to be believed, the unchecked digging up of the riverbed in the district has not only resulted in the depletion of water table in the adjoining areas, but also in groundwater pollution.

Officials in the Agriculture Department said such complaints had increased manifold since the mining had been noticed in the rivers, especially in the Sutlej, during the last decade. Though water was found at 5 to 8 feet in villages on the river banks, now farmers are digging up new borewells up to a depth of more than 40 feet. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/in-ropar-illegal-mining-takes-toll-on-groundwater/802078.html  (15 July 2019)

CPI activists block highway to protest sand mining A large number of Communist Party of India (CPI) activists blocked the Fazilka-Ferozepur highway for two hours to protest the alleged illegal sand mining on July 17. Fazilka district unit CPI secretary Hans Raj Golden and Surinder Singh Dhandian alleged that the sand mafia in connivance with officials concerned had been swindling the government exchequer and amassing huge amount by excavating sand from different parts of the district.

They alleged that the sand mafia had been digging quarries much deeper than the stipulated 10-ft depth causing damage to the natural resources and posing threat to nearby agricultural and inhabited area. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/cpi-activists-block-highway-to-protest-sand-mining/803039.html  (17 July 2019)

Rajasthan Govt considering policy on M-sand as substitute for ‘bajri’ The government is considering formulating a policy on manufactured sand (M-sand) as a substitute of ‘bajri’ (riverbed sand) used for construction of buildings, in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on mining of the latter in the State since Nov. 2017. The State government has issued a limited number of mining leases for ‘bajri’ at private land. The apex court had in May this year also stayed the auction of sand mining blocks for which Letters of Intent (LoIs) were issued without getting clearance from the Environment Ministry.

Mines Minister Pramod Bhaya said in the State Assembly on July 16 that 97 mining leases for ‘bajri’ were at present operative in the State, while 216 LoIs had been issued since January 8 this year. “We will appoint a senior lawyer for representing the State government in the cases pending in the apex court and try for their early disposal,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-considering-policy-on-m-sand-as-substitute-for-bajri/article28526610.ece  (18 July 2019)

Goa NGT flays govt, ‘fines’ it another Rs 20L The principal bench of NGT has ordered forfeiture of Rs 20 lakh deposited by the state government after the latter failed to install CCTV cameras to keep a tab on illegal sand mining. The NGT further directed the directorate of mines and geology to complete the entire work within two months and deposit a further guarantee of Rs 20 lakh with the CPCB within 10 days, which “naturally shall be forfeited if the timeline prescribed therein is not adhered to”. During the hearing conducted through videoconferencing in the case of Saidas Khorjuvekar, the government sought more time. The issue was about illegal sand mining in ‘Zuvom de Tuyem’ island in Chapora river. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/illegal-sand-mining-ngt-flays-goa-govt-fines-it-another-rs-20l/articleshow/70403454.cms  (27 July 2019)

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ngt-fines-goa-govt-for-failing-to-check-sand-mining-sets-a-deadline/story-nHDmimIKkjaunLS9EbBlJL.html  (26 July 2019)

After villagers complaints, action against illegal sand mining After some villagers complaint against the rampant and illegal sand mining going on in Khandola on the left bank of the river Mandovi, the concerned government authorities took action against violators. Taking advantage of monsoon rain, illegal sand mining was going on at Kurdavwada in Khandola village Panchayat. With the help of the compressor and pipes and other machines sand mining was going on. A person from Bardez taluka alongwith labours was involved in sand mining. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/government-authorities-take-action-against-illegal-sand-mining-in-khandola/articleshow/70284533.cms  (19 July 2019)

Andhra Pradesh Activist demands action against illegal sand mining, officials Activist and former energy secretary E A S Sarma urged the state government on July 24 not to delay action against illegal sand miners and officials responsible for illegal sand mining in the Krishna river catchment area.

Sarma observed that the NGT had imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on the previous state government, urging it to collect the sum from erring miners and officials responsible for the illegal activity. But the state government had instead filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the NGT’s decision.

He further alleged that the previous government had aided and abetted the miners, by claiming that they had only conducted de-silting work, “This was their argument when they filed the petition in the Supreme Court,” Sarma added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/activist-demands-action-against-illegal-sand-mining-officials/articleshow/70369442.cms  (25 July 2019)

171 booked for illegal sand mining, transport Guntur Rural District Police have booked 171 persons and charged them under various sections besides imposing a fine of ₹1.32 crore. Continuing the raids on belt shops, the Guntur police sealed 940 shops and registered cases against 36 persons. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/171-booked-for-illegal-sand-mining-transport-in-guntur-district/article28453460.ece  (16 July 2019)

Ban on sand mining renders thousands jobless With construction activity coming to a grinding halt due to the ban on sand quarrying, thousands of workers in Nellore district are left in the lurch after losing their sole source of livelihood.    http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/jul/18/ban-on-sand-mining-renders-thousands-jobless-2005692.html  (18 July 2019)

Building workers protest against ban on sand mining The Krishna District Building Workers’ Union, under the aegis of CITU, staged a protest in the city against the State government’s recent 15-day ban on the sand mining.

There are 73 sand reaches in the district that cannot be touched due to the ban. The union leaders said that over two lakhs labourers engaged in sand mining were severely affected by the ban. Besides this, the onset of monsoon has added to their grief. They demanded that the State government resume the mining operations under the supervision of the Mining Department. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/building-workers-protest-against-ban-on-sand-mining/article28717673.ece  (26 July 2019)

YSRCP govt denies illegal sand mining in Krishna river belt The YSRC government on July 23, contrary to its earlier stand, said no illegal sand mining had taken place in River Krishna near the residence of former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu at Undavalli. Presenting his argument before on July 23, NGT senior advocate Venkataramani, while denying any illegal sand mining upstream of the Prakasam barrage, said only desilting exercise was carried out in the river. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/jul/24/ysrcp-government-denies-illegal-sand-mining-in-krishna-river-belt-2008586.html  (24 July 2019)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Did wetland destruction cause the floods in Navi Mumbai? Over the past 11 years, wetlands in Navi Mumbai the size of 1,740 football fields have been lost to reclamation, said environment group Vanashakti in a report that also pointed out how such destruction and reclamation of land was one of the main reasons for flooding earlier this month in that area.

The 77-page report said wetland reclamation across 29 locations in Uran, Navi Mumbai over the past 11 years, destroyed 1,201 hectare of ecologically sensitive areas. This has happened despite a 2014 Bombay high court (HC) order banning reclamation and construction on wetlands, after Vanashakti filed a petition to protect them. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/did-wetland-destruction-cause-the-floods-in-navi-mumbai/story-uW6ulUaCh83xTceDTcJXgO.html  (20 July 2019)

Chandigarh Finally, Admn nod to Sukhna as wetland The UT Administration has decided to declare Sukhna Lake, comprising 565 acres, a wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, and the catchment area falling within its jurisdiction a “zone of influence”. With this decision, all construction activities in the wetland area falling in Punjab and the UT will be regulated by the respective governments.

The proposal was approved during the second meeting of the Union Territory of Chandigarh Wetlands Authority on July 24.  While the UT will notify the area falling under its jurisdiction, the governments of Haryana and Punjab will notify the catchment areas falling within their administrative boundary to regulate activities under the Act for maintaining proper health of the Sukhna wetland. The Administration will issue a draft notification and invite objections from the public before issuing the final notification for the wetland. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/finally-admn-nod-to-sukhna-as-wetland/806688.html  (24 July 2019)

GROUNDWATER

Maharashtra In 11,078 villages, groundwater levels see worst dip in 3 years According to the latest report released by the Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA), as many as 11,078 villages in the state have reported a dip in groundwater levels between 1 metre and 3 metres. This time last year, the number of such villages was 9,529. It was 5,156 in 2017.

As per the latest report, three times more number of villages from Marathwada have been badly hit this year in comparison to 2018. Of the 1,844 villages that have shown the steepest decline (over 3 metres) in the groundwater table, as many as 948 villages are from this region. Similar is the situation in Nashik and Pune regions, where 465 and 98 villages respectively have seen a sharp decline in the groundwater reserves. The only positive picture this year emerges from the Konkan region where no village has reported any dip in groundwater levels. This time last year, 81 villages were affected from the coastal belt of the state. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/in-11078-villages-groundwater-levels-see-worst-dip-in-three-years-5849820/  (25 July 2019)

Thane water table thrice as low as Mumbai The situation is serious as studies have shown a fall in groundwater levels in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region MMR, with wide zone-wise differences. Recently, the BMC chief voiced concerns over only 20% rainwater percolation in Mumbai and 80% runoff into the sea.

According to measurements by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), the average depth of groundwater in Thane is 54.13 ft, in suburban Mumbai 35.17 ft and in the island city 16.73 ft. Recently, a state groundwater survey found that the number of areas in the Konkan region (including MMR) seeing a drop in water levels had increased sevenfold since 2015. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/thane-water-table-thrice-as-low-as-mumbai/articleshow/70237861.cms  (16 July 2019)

URBAN WATER

Hyderabad Reservoir level down, water crisis looming Due to the poor monsoon, the Himayatsagar reservoir, which has been meeting the drinking water needs of Hyderabad for close to 100 years, is now left with storage that will suffice only for a few days. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board is thinking of alternative arrangements to supply water to the city. (Image by Nagara Gopal/ The Hindu) https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/what-next/article28533511.ece   (18 July 2019)

Tirupati City may run out of water in a month Tirumala-Tirupati is in for a severe shock, as the temple city will run out of water in a month, if the monsoon continues to remain elusive. At present, the denizens receive water in their taps once in three days. With Kalyani dam reaching the dead storage level, the city’s western parts are also supplied the Telugu Ganga water, which is made available for the eastern and southern parts.

Water is currently drawn from the dead storage in Kandaleru reservoir (Nellore district) and pumped into Kailasagiri storage tank near Srikalahasti, from where it is pumped to Tirupati. There is an off-take point near Gudur from where water is also shared to Gudur town, making things worse for Tirupati. Since the Gudur off-take point is nearly 80 km away, laying a full-fledged pipeline to Kailasagiri not only comes at an exorbitant cost, but also does not serve the immediate purpose. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tirupati-may-run-out-of-water-in-a-month/article28430981.ece  (15 July 2019)

Jaipur City Risks Running Out Of Water In A Month If It Doesn’t Rain Jaipur is staring at a serious risk of running out of water in a month if there is no rain, according to the Rajasthan Public Health Engineering Department.

The main source of water, Bisalpur dam, that caters to the needs of the mostly dry city with a population of over 30 lakh – which the UNESCO added to its famous World Heritage Site list last month – has enough water to last only a month. The dam has a full capacity of 1,095 cusec metres; the current water level is 64.93 cusec metres, or 5.93 per cent. Jaipur has received only 116 mm rainfall so far this year. In comparison, the capital of the desert state received 225 mm rainfall by this time of the year last year. https://www.ndtv.com/jaipur-news/jaipur-risks-running-out-of-water-if-it-doesnt-rain-for-a-month-2074515  (26 July 2019)

WATER POLLUTION

Polluted water killed 7 every day in 2018 Notwithstanding available vaccines and medicines, polluted water killed seven people a day in India in 2018, while at least 36,000 people were diagnosed with water-borne diseases every day. In 2018, 2,439 people died because of four major water-borne diseases — cholera, acute diarrhoeal diseases (ADD), typhoid and viral hepatitis. In all, more than 1.3 crore people were diagnosed with these diseases.

As per this data, accessed from the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) and the ministry of health and family welfare, ADD — known to affect children below five years the most — was the biggest killer, accounting for 1,450 (60%) of the 2,439 deaths in 2018.

In the past five years, 11,768 people have died of these diseases — one every four hours on average — while 7.6 crore people were diagnosed with them during the same time. The trend of ADD claiming the most lives, followed by hepatitis, is common to all five years. Hepatitis killed 584 people in 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/polluted-water-killed-7-every-day-in-2018/articleshow/69996658.cms  (29 June 2019)

WATER

Centre Govt planning water reforms by bringing in new model law The government also plans to bring a second model law stipulating legal provisions for re-using and recycling water. Model laws are passed by the central government to offer a framework for states to legislate in areas where they have exclusive control, such as water.

Himanshu Thakkar of the SANDRP said any national policy on water had to pivot around ground water because “ground water is India’s water lifeline”. Secondly, he said there was a complete policy vacuum on the urban water sector and India urgently needs a programme to regulate its urban-water footprint. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-planning-water-reforms-by-bringing-in-new-model-law/story-m6WSRk7Ay6QUi6sCV70yNO.html  (18 July 2019)

Report State-by-state, supply of piped water in villages The data on individual household tap connections through Piped Water Supply (PWS) was provided by the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Gujarat, with 78.46% of its 64,77,917 rural households being provided water through taps at present, has the highest penetration under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), a reply tabled by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in Parliament shows. Among smaller states, Sikkim has the highest coverage at 99.34% for its 88,013 rural households. West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are at the bottom of the table with 1.31% (of 1,63,35,210) and 1.33% (of 2,58,81,064) rural households covered respectively.

The information was provided to Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria. The reply said that as per the Union Budget Speech 2019-20, it had been envisaged to ensure piped water supply to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeewan Mission. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/telling-numbers-state-by-state-supply-of-piped-water-in-villages-5852572/  (26 July 2019)

Op-Ed Making water guzzling thermal plants accountable Thermal power plants (TPPs) consume significant amounts of water during the electricity generation process. Most of India’s TPPs are located in water-stressed areas, and water shortages have led to electricity-generation disruptions and significant revenue losses to the economy.

– In December 2015, the MoEF issued a notification setting limits for water consumption by TPPs. However, the amended Environment Protection (EP) Rules codified in June 2018 ended up permitting TPPs to use more water than what was initially specified. There are certain mechanisms that need to be strengthened to make these regulations more effective.

– The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) recently released the format for TPPs to report on their annual water consumption. The power plants were asked to specify both metered and un-metered usage, report on the source (like river, canal or sea), and state the percentage of deviation from the water norms, along with the reasons and the corrective measures undertaken. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/making-the-water-guzzling-thermal-plants-accountable/article28691509.ece  (24 July 2019)

Karnataka Almatti dam almost full, farmers offer prayers Adequate rain in the Western Ghats and catchment areas of the Krishna River has increased the inflow into the Lal Bahadur Shastri Water Reservoir (Almatti Dam) and the dam will possibly reach full storage capacity soon.

Meanwhile, farmers and Balbatti’s villagers offered prayers and bagina to the river as the dam is nearing maximum storage capacity. It will be the first reservoir in Karnataka to be filled to its brim in this monsoon. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2019/jul/18/almatti-dam-almost-full–karnataka-farmers-offer-prayers-2005592.html  (18 July 2019)

Rajasthan State facing deficit monsoon As per minister of public health and engineering department BD Kalla statement in state assembly till date the state has received 187.53mm rainfall, which in general should be 209.94mm. In 2018, the rainfall received was 277.40mm. In districts such as Bikaner, Alwar, Baran, Dausa, Hanumangarh, Ganganagar, Jodhpur, Pali, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Sirohi, Nagaur, Jaipur and Tonk – the rainfall has been 20%-60% below normal. These districts in 2018 had also received less rainfall, said Kalla.

The minister said Bisalpur dam, which supplies water to Jaipur city and rural, Ajmer, and Dausa has supply availability till August 30, 2019 – the department had to depend on other sources to supply water. He added at per day 0.02tmc water is supplied from the dam. Similarly in Jawai dam of Pali district water availability for supply is till August 20, 2019 due to delayed monsoon this year and less rains in 2018.

The state dependence on ground water is 78%. Of total ground water availability 13% is being used. All the 222 cities of the state are benefitted with various drinking water schemes – of which around 28% urban areas are provided water through surface sources and 50% through groundwater sources; and rest 22% cities through both surface and ground sources. https://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/water-is-government-priority-no-dearth-of-fund-rajasthan-minister/story-1MWIkXAvnGLLdEchW425QM.html  (26 July 2019)

Andhra Pradesh Woman dies in fight over water A woman died in a clash over filling up water from a public tap in Sompeta town of Srikakulam district. The woman, identified as Tatipudi Padma (38) was a resident of Palli Veedhi area in Sompeta. https://www.ndtv.com/andhra-pradesh-news/woman-dies-in-fight-over-water-at-public-tap-in-andhra-pradesh-2070142  (16 July 2019)

DELHI WATER

IIT Delhi Report Drains Vital to Recharging Groundwater in Urban Areas When IIT Delhi’s civil engineering department in 2018 finished their report of Delhi’s drainage system, they were aghast. While recommending an urgent overhaul, they asked for storm drains to be treated like “key public assets” to ensure that encroachment is prevented and ensure that natural or artificial drains should carry only storm water of treated sewage. For instance, it chastised the DJB for puncturing sewer lines when they were blocked, and draining sewage into storm-water drains. https://www.news18.com/news/india/what-is-a-drainage-system-and-why-are-drains-vital-to-recharging-groundwater-in-urban-areas-2244789.html  (24 July 2019)

MONSOON IMD’s rainfall maps as on July 30, 2019.

IMD Normal rainfall measure may be lowered The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is likely to revise downward by 2% the quantity of ‘normal’ monsoonal rain, two independent sources confirmed to The Hindu. Currently 89 cm of monsoon rain from June to September is considered ‘normal’, more technically, the long period average (LPA), and this is derived from the average rainfall that the country got from 1960-2010.

Were this change to happen, the definition of ‘normal’ rainfall could dip below 88 cm, unprecedented since 1950. The dip in average rainfall is largely due to a surge in drought and depressed rainfall since 2000; 13 out of the last 18 years have seen ‘below normal’ rains (where rainfall is less than 95% of the normal) in India and there have been droughts (where rainfall was less than 90% of the normal) in 2002, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Separately, the IMD is also examining an internal report on whether the monsoon withdrawal and onset dates in parts of central India and north India need to be changed. This is because records over nearly two decades show that the monsoon rainfall after entering Kerala on June 1 has in recent decades been stalling and sluggishly advancing into parts of central India, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and also withdrawing late. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/normal-rainfall-measure-may-be-lowered/article28528252.ece  (18 July 2019)

India Gets 20% Below Average Rainfall In Latest Week Monsoon rains in the country were 20% below average in the week ending on July 17, as rainfall was scanty over the central, western and southern parts, the IMD said, raising concerns over the output of summer-sown crops. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-gets-20-below-average-rainfall-in-latest-week-weather-department-2071340  (18 July 2019)

Chandigarh Wettest July in 9 yrs In a record of sorts, the city has witnessed the highest rainfall in the first half of July in the past nine years. According to the Chandigarh Meteorological Department, from July 1 to July 15, the city recorded 246.9 mm of rainfall. Before this, it was way back in 2010 that the city had witnessed more rain, 299.1 mm, during this period.

Met Director Surender Paul said, “In Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh, the monsoon has been weak for the past many years. There has been a general pattern of alternate low and high rainfall. But this time, the monsoon has been quite active and several Met factors are responsible for this. The rain is not intense, but the duration is long. It is light to moderate.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/wettest-july-in-9-yrs/803211.html  (17 July 2019)

Punjab From deficit to 10% surplus rain The poor rains in catchment areas notwithstanding, the water storage in vital dams remains comfortable, with the availability being above the 10-year average for this time of the year. The water level at Bhakra Dam on the Sutlej, which is vital for irrigation and power generation, was recorded at 1,624.18 feet, about 110 feet more than that in the corresponding period last year.

The rainfall in Punjab, which till a few days ago was deficient by almost 50 per cent, is now 10 per cent above the long-term average. From June 1 to July 16, the state has received 147.9 mm rain against the normal of 135 mm, according to Met Department. Rains in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, on the other hand are deficient by 45 per cent and 36 per cent. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/from-deficit-to-10-surplus-rain-in-punjab/803143.html  (17 July 2019)

Record rainfall drowns Bathinda The city on July 16 got flooded after it received record 178 mm rain, which poured continuously for six hours. Residents were at the receiving end with the town’s drainage system choked following the heavy spell of rain. Most of the roads in the town were flooded with rainwater, which entered many localities and damaged household items. A number of educational institutions declared holiday.   https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/record-rainfall-drowns-bathinda/803032.html  (17 July 2019)

FLOOD

Dams Flood Assam State on alert after Bhutan releases excess water from hydro power dam Several flood-affected districts in lower Assam are on alert following the release of excess water from the dam of Kurichhu hydropower plant in Bhutan early on July 25 morning. In Barpeta district, the administration has sounded a red alert for people residing on the banks of the Beki and Pahumara rivers appealing them to move to higher and safer locations.

– The Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC) of Bhutan, which runs the 60MW Kurichhu project in eastern Bhutan, had announced on July 23 that it would release excess water from the 55 metre tall dam. “As per our information, DGPC released water at 3:00 am and 5:00 am on July 25 morning. The released water will take several hours to reach us, but we are on alert,” said Barpeta deputy commissioner Munindra Sarma. As per DGPC, the company opened the gates of the dam by 7 metres and 10 metres respectively on Thursday morning releasing around 1200 cubic metres of water per second.

– Since the released water would flow to neighbouring districts in Assam, administrations in these areas have alerted residents and have initiated necessary measures to tackle emergencies. Besides Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang, Bongaigaon and parts of Kamrup districts are likely to be affected by the release of water from the Bhutan dam.https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/assam-on-alert-after-bhutan-releases-excess-water-from-hydro-power-dam/story-9PhB8ukqDEMVJs1HcdTF2M.html  (25 July 2019)

Bangladesh floods worsen after breach, death toll nears 100 in India In Bangladesh, the Jamuna river broke through an embankment on July 17 night, inundating at least 40 villages and displacing more than 200,000 people, government official Rokhsana Begum said.

The floods have killed at least 43 animals in Kaziranga National Park, but authorities worry that poachers could take advantage of the deluge to target animals, especially one-horned rhinos, whose numbers are down to about 3,500 worldwide.

The death toll in Bihar, which was swamped by waters from the neighboring Himalayan nation of Nepal, jumped to 67, as rescuers reached further into flood-hit areas. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southasia-floods/bangladesh-floods-worsen-after-breach-death-toll-nears-100-in-india-idUSKCN1UD16P  (18 July 2019)

Ghaggar Floods Flood fears loom over Punjab, Haryana as Ghaggar flows above danger mark Haryana and neighbouring Punjab are facing a flood-like situation as major rivers are in spate. Ghaggar is flowing above the danger mark and overflowing canals have led to breaches at many places.

In Sangrur, Punjab, a dam built over the Ghaggar river collapsed on July 18, which has flooded fields located between Makrod Sahib and Phulad villages.

Ghaggar has also flooded Pantra and Ghanour areas. Flood water has submerged standing paddy crop in nearly a dozen villages including Bhunerhedi village of Patiala district. Badi Nadi river which flows through Patiala is also in spate. It has flooded Gopal Colony area where people are spending sleepless nights. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/flood-fears-loom-over-punjab-haryana-as-ghaggar-flows-above-danger-mark-1571040-2019-07-18  (18 July 2019)

Before the onset of every monsoon, villagers residing along the banks of the Ghaggar, a seasonal river, ensure that they have enough stock of ration and drinking water in case of floods. With the Irrigation Department yet to complete the repair of its banks and de-silting work, the villagers are on their toes fearing floods.

Floods during heavy monsoon are a regular norm in these areas with loss to both life and property after heavy inflow of water in the Ghaggar, which then floods nearby villages. While the district administration and Irrigation Department have started some de-silting work to clear its bed, heavy rains in the hills, coupled with illegal encroachments alongside its banks, are hampering the work.   https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/flood-fear-looms-large-in-villages-along-ghaggar/798588.html  (17 July 2019)

The Army and the NDRF were called in on July 18 after a 50-foot breach in the embankment of the river Ghaggar in Punjab’s Sangrur district left over 2,000 acres of agricultural field in the region inundated, officials said. The breach near Phulad village caused flooding in 2,000 acres of agricultural field, Sangrur Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori told PTI over phone.  https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/army-help-plug-50-ft-breach-ghaggar-punjab-sangrur-1571060-2019-07-18  (18 July 2019)

Ghaggar, flowing above the danger mark, has flooded 4,000 acres of agriculture land. Lack of mechanical boats, safety jackets and other equipment is impeding operations. There is no alternative route to carry sandbags to  the breach site to plug it.

According to drainage department officials, from Khanauri to Makraud  Sahib the width of the riverbedis102 feet, with the government acquiring adjoining land from farmers in 2006. After Makraud Sahib towards Haryana, land acquisition has been halted owing to some court litigation and the riverbed width here is reduced to 56 feet, and hence the breach. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ghaggar-breach-destroys-paddy/804677.html ( 20 July 2019)

The breach at Phulad village which had led to the flooding of the adjoining villages could not be plugged even on July 18 and its width widened to 85 feet. Heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of Ghaggar river on July 19 morning added to the woes of the district administration who continued to maintain constant vigil. Officials of the district disaster management cell, irrigation department and revenue department remained on alert. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/over-4000-acres-still-submerged-in-moonak-breach-widens/articleshow/70300729.cms  (20 July 2019)

The Ghaggar river continued to flow above danger mark in Sangrur on July 19, a day after it breached an embankment at Phulad village of Moonak sub-division of the district, with teams of the army and the NDRF struggling to plug the breach that widened to more than 150 feet.

The floodwater inundated paddy crop on 5,000-acre land at Surjan Bhaini, Salemgarh, Makorad Sahib, Bhundar Bhaini and Phulad villages besides Moonak town. In the neighbouring Patiala district, crop on nearly 3,000-acre land got submerged in water on July 19 after the Ghaggar overflowed into fields located along its banks near Badshahpur village in Patran sub-division. Floodwater entered Harchandpura, Arnetu, Uurja, Bhagomajra, Seouna Kath, Uralana and Kartarpur villages.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/ghaggar-breach-widens-crop-on-8-000-acres-submerged/story-ApFjINmIo9V3ezoT3A0jcJ.html  (20 July 2019)

Paddy on 400 acres submerged in Karnal A breach in Sirsa-Habri branch canal on Tuesday evening submerged paddy crop spread over 400 acres in Nigdhu village of Karnal district. The district administration is making efforts with the help of locals and Mgnrega team to plug the breach before the water spread in nearby villages. The farmers alleged that due to lack of cleanliness and overflow of water, the embankment breached at three spots causing flood-like situation in the area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/paddy-on-400-acres-submerged-in-karnal/articleshow/70258549.cms  (17 July 2019)

Meghalaya Flood Situation Worsens in Garo Hills, Embankment Breached The flood situation in the plain belt of Garo Hills worsened with water now flowing above the Solairtek Nagabund embankment on July 15 evening.  The region over the past ten days has seen a steady rise in water levels of both the Brahmaputra and its tributary, Jinjiram. It has now crossed the danger mark. The situation is expected to further worsen as the breach in the embankment means a threat to Phulbari town. https://www.northeasttoday.in/flood-situation-worsens-in-garo-hills-embankment-breached/  (16 July 2019)

Himachal Pradesh As per the information received from Giri Jaton dam the water level of Giri river has increased because of heavy rainfall. So, all 10 gates are opened. All are advised to stay away from Giri River. https://twitter.com/HimachalW/status/1154395861658394625

DISASTER

Arunachal Pradesh Cloudbursts, tremors leave trails of devastation Incessant rain along with cloudbursts and tremors which occurred in different parts of Darak circle and Aalo in West Siang district on the intervening night of 20 and 21 July has left trails of devastation.

“Hundreds of landslides have taken place on the Darak-Yomcha road (via Boje-Potom, Darak-Poyom-Boruraksap) and the Darak-Larmuk road (via Bogo), and many villages are cut off for the last one week,” the DIPRO said, adding that restoration works are being taken up by the executing agencies.

“In Morak, near Sala Potom, a landslide with an intensity of 100 m completely washed away wet cultivation fields with rich varieties of plants and trees, and all infrastructures there,” the DIPRO added. In Aalo, too, several wet rice cultivation fields, local houses in Kabu Maasi village, the boundary wall of the girls’ hostel in Pobdi, and many minor structures along the river course are reported to have been washed away, the DIPRO said. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2019/07/26/cloudbursts-tremors-leave-trails-of-devastation/  (26 July 2019)

Jammu & Kashmir Cloudburst wreaks havoc in Sopore villages Dozens of residential houses suffered damages as rain and strong winds besides a cloudburst hit several villages of Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district early July 15 evening.

As per locals the rain and winds wreaked havoc in Duroo, Hardushiva, Mundji, Warpora and other villages of Zaingair area of Sopore. The cloudburst caused flood-like situation as Zainagir canal passing through many villages swelled up with flood water. Reports from Tral area of Pulwama district also said that heavy rains followed by windstorm damaged scores of vehicles and other belongings in Dadsara area of Tral. https://thekashmirimages.com/2019/07/16/cloudburst-wreaks-havoc-in-sopore-villages/  (16 July 2019)

Torrential rain triggers flash flood in Bhaderwah village Torrential rain in the afternoon hours coupled with cloudburst wreaked havoc in Hanga area of Bhaderwah, as it triggered flash floods, damaged standing maize crop and a portion of Gatha-Hanga road, thus disconnecting 2500 population from rest of the district.

-The 6 Km stretch connecting Hanga, Noori, Thamli, Baadwa, Dharann, Chak-Katoch, Dhalo, Bhalian and Badote of Hanga-Noori Panchayat, boasts of odd 2500 populace with more than 1400 electors. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/chenab-valley/torrential-rain-triggers-flash-flood-in-bhaderwah-village/  (16 July 2019)

Odisha MCL coalmine mishap: 1 killed, 3 trapped A coalmine worker was killed while three others were feared trapped and nine rendered critical in a landslide at an open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) at Bharatpur of Talcher in Angul district on July 24.

Sources said, labourers working in the night shift at Bharatpur open cast mine in Talcher Coalfields of MCL came under a dump slide due to a strata failure. The accident occurred between 10 pm and 10:30 pm July 23 when a portion of earth caved in trapping 13 workers and heavy machinery. https://www.orissapost.com/mcl-coalmine-mishap-1-killed-3-trapped/  (24 July 2019)

ENVIRONMENT

National NGT sets 3-month deadline to shut polluting industries across India Contending that economic development cannot take place at the cost of public health, the NGT has directed the CPCB to shut down polluting industries in “critically polluted” and “severely polluted” areas within three months.

NGT directed the CPCB to assess, in coordination with the state pollution control boards, the quantum of compensation to be recovered from polluting units for the period of last five years, taking into account the cost of restoration and cost of damage to the public health and environment and the deterrence element.

“The scale of deterrence may be related to the period and the frequency of defaults. Such other factors as may be found relevant may also be taken into account. “No further industrial activities or expansion be allowed with regard to ‘red’ and ‘orange’ category units till the said areas are brought within the prescribed parameters or till carrying capacity of area is assessed and new units or expansion is found viable having regard to the carrying capacity of the area and environmental norms,” the bench said. It, however, made clear that white and green or non-polluting industries which are not causing any pollution will not be affected by this order.

It directed the CPCB with the assistance of experts to compile information with regard to polluted industrial areas based on water and air pollution norms and notify such information on public domain within three months. The tribunal also directed the MoEF to take steps for enforcement of action plan for improvement of the situation. The green panel sought a compliance report by the CPCB after three months by email and posted the matter for hearing on November 5..  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/ngt-sets-3-month-deadline-to-shut-polluting-industries-across-india/articleshow/70244940.cms  (16 July 2019)

Delhi Deposit ₹250 crore for bioremediation of landfills: NGT The NGT on July 24 directed the Delhi government and civic bodies to deposit an amount of ₹250 crore to an escrow account for a bioremediation and biomining project that is to be undertaken to deal with the Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa landfill sites.

NGT specified that out of the total amount, the Delhi government is liable to pay ₹125 crore while the other half of the amount is to be borne by the civic bodies, which will also include a cost of ₹20 crore each from the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Cantonment Board.

Stating that in case the civic bodies fail to deposit the amounts no corporation officer will get their salaries, the Bench observed, “At Bhalswa, Ghazipur and Okhla, leachate is contaminating the groundwater which is turning yellow and orange. The leachate is also reaching the Yamuna. There are traces of heavy metals in the groundwater and other parameters are several times beyond the permissible range.”

Directing authorities to begin work from October 1, the Bench said, “We are giving you a scientific solution. All this indecisiveness and putting blame on one another needs to stop. This [bioremediation] is already being followed in Ahmedabad. We will follow it for the entire country. It is a scientific model and cost effective. All that you have to do is temporarily hire machines and labour. No tender is needed either.”

The green panel also came down heavily on the north municipal corporation for providing an estimated cost of ₹1,200 crore to remediate the landfill. Referring to a recent order the NGT had passed pertaining to the Pirana landfill site in Ahmedabad, the Bench suggested that once the land is reclaimed, a biodiversity park or a waste processing plant can be set up. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/deposit-250-crore-for-bioremediation-of-landfills-ngt/article28530994.ece  (18 July 2019)

West Bengal Sunderbans lodge to be razed; state fined Rs 1 crore NGT has ordered the demolition of government’s Godkhali Tourist Lodge in the Sunderbans for violation of coastal zone regulations. The order also asked the state to pay Rs 1 crore as environmental compensation within 15 days. The bench ordered the forfeiture of Rs 10 lakh bank guarantee and asked the chief secretary of the state to take disciplinary action against officers involved in the violation. The bench also declared the Sagar helipad illegal because of the destruction of a mangrove forest and asked that a tower erected in Henry Island be dismantled.

Judicial member S P Wangdi, judicial member K Ramakeishnan and expert member S S Garbyal of the bench said the NGT has time and again reminded the state that the Sunderbans falls under the ecologically fragile and sensitive zone declared as a biosphere hotspot by the United Nations and mentioned the necessity to protect the precious region in interest of the environment and progeny. The lodge, built on the waterfront, cannot exist since no construction is allowed within 50m of the bank in Sunderbans and 100m for other areas.

An amicus curiae of the case, green crusader Subhas Dutta had earlier informed court about the violation of the NGT order as the building houses a bottling plant of water drawn from a deep tube-well, which is about 2km inside the island. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/sunderbans-lodge-to-be-razed-state-fined-rs-1-crore/articleshow/70235983.cms  (16 July 2019)

Sundarban: Nature’s own disaster manager In simple terms Sundarban is a water logged forest, which is also crisscrossed by various river channels and creeks. It is the world’s largest mangrove forest in coastal region of Bay of Bengal. Spread in both India and Bangladesh. It got its name due to presence of Sundari tree, which constitutes about 70% in the area. It is located in the delta region of many rivers like Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra.

Sundarban is considered as one of the wonder of this world. “ It has evolved over the millennia through natural deposition of upstream sediments accompanied by inter tidal segregation.”

It is the place where we can notice how land is being formed and transformed by the rivers and tides. The sediment which is brought by rivers with them is being continuously deposited. The deposition is further transformed by tides and water channels. Here geo-morphology is in action. You will see how land is formed and transformed by water. It is a geological museum.

Various research shows that mangroves can store greater amounts of carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem. It is called as blue carbon. So these ecosystems are our security against climate change also. And just imagine the ecosystem services provided by worlds largest mangrove and other mangrove forests.  https://medium.com/@parveenkaswan/sundarban-natures-own-disaster-manager-abd83eba2a67  (9 Aug. 2018)

Maharashtra Bombay HC quashes clearances for Rs 14K Cr coastal road project Bombay high court on July 16 quashed the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances granted to the city civic body’s ambitious Rs 14,000-crore coastal road project. The court’s ruling means the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot continue work on the 29.2 km-long project, proposed to connect the Marine Drive area in south Mumbai to suburban Borivali in north Mumbai.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N.M. Jamdar quashed the CRZ clearances while allowing a bunch of petitions filed by activists, residents and fishermen from the city challenging the project. “We are quashing the CRZ clearances granted to the project. We have held that the environment clearance is required for the project,” the bench said. BMC’s counsel Darius Khambata sought a stay of the order to appeal in the Supreme Court. The request was, however, refused by the high court. https://thewire.in/environment/bombay-hc-quashes-clearances-for-rs-14000-crore-coastal-road-project  (16 July 2019)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Earth is warming at faster pace than in last 2,000 years While average global temperatures are currently around 1°C hotter than pre-industrial times, there have been a number of periods of cooling and warming over the centuries. This had led sceptics of manmade global warming to suggest that human activity is not the main driver of climate change.

Researchers used data compiled from nearly 700 temperature indicators — tree rings, sediment cores, coral reefs and modern thermometer readings — to provide a comprehensive timeline of the planet’s recent climate history.

The findings are clear: at no point in modern human history did temperatures rise so quickly and so consistently as in the late 20th century — the period where the world’s post-war, fossil fuel-powered economy reached unprecedented heights of production and consumption. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/earth-is-warming-at-faster-pace-than-in-last-2000-years-study/article28713114.ece  (25 July 2019)

Ice covering arctic ocean disappearing faster than normal Ice covering the Arctic Ocean reached the second-lowest level recorded for this time of year after July temperatures spiked in areas around the North Pole. This month’s melt is tracking close to the record set in July 2012, the Colorado-based National Snow & Ice Data Center said in a statement.

– This year’s heatwave in the Arctic Circle has led to record temperatures in areas of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, extending long-term trends of more ice disappearing. Ice flows are melting faster than average rates observed over the last three decades, losing an additional 20,000 sqkm (12,427 miles) of cover per day — an area about the size of Wales. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/ice-covering-arctic-ocean-is-disappearing-faster-than-normal-2072422  (20 July 2019)

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan 52 rescued after cloud burst wrecks havoc Pakistani military rescued 52 people in a remote village of Neelum Valley where torrential rains triggered off by a cloudburst wreaked havoc in the region, an Army statement said on July 16.

Local media reports said that 22 people – two security personnel, nine locals and 11 preachers who were staying in a mosque were killed after being wiped out by flashflood in the region on July 15. Saeed ur Rehman Qureshi, director of operations at the SDMA, confirmed that 150 houses and two mosques were washed away by the flashflood.

Explaining the cloudburst, Muhammad Riaz, the Director General of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, told Xinhua that such weather pattern is very rare, occurring during the monsoon season and it happens when warm air mixes with cold monsoon air. He added that sometimes monsoon clouds get burst by mountains coming in their way, and the rain which has to scatter in a larger area pours down in a narrow radius. https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/pakistan/52-rescued-after-cloud-burst-wrecks-havoc-in-pakistan  (16 July 2019)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

South Africa Water quality and quantity reaches crisis levels According to a water specialist, the billions of litres of raw sewage flowing into the country’s rivers daily has reached crisis levels, and poses a threat to the country’s agricultural exports.

Prof Anthony Turton is a water resource management specialist, who has stated that sewage is the real crisis in South Africa: “Nationally we generate five billion litres of sewage every day, of which 4,3 billion litres are returned to rivers inadequately treated. This is becoming a national disaster. Once a river slips from a favourable state to an unfavourable state, we don’t have the science to get it back. There have been hundreds of studies on fixing the eutrophic Hartbeespoort Dam and no one has the answer. The Vaal River is going the same way; it’s too thick to drink and too thin to plough.”

Turton said that since the state is the biggest polluter of water, it could not be expected to police water pollution, and an independent water policing body was needed.  https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9128805/south-african-water-quality-and-quantity-reaches-crisis-levels/  (19 July 2019)

Scientists develop wastewater treatment process that remove pollutants from water Researchers developed a wastewater treatment process that uses a common agricultural byproduct to effectively remove pollutants and environmental hormones, known as endocrine disruptors.

According to the study published in the journal of Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, the performance of the catalyst that is currently being used to process sewage and wastewater drops significantly with time. Because high efficiency is difficult to achieve given the conditions, the biggest disadvantage of the existing process is the high cost involved.

Furthermore, the research done thus far has mostly focused on the development of single-substance catalysts and the enhancement of their performance. Little research has been done on the development of eco-friendly nanocomposite catalysts that are capable of removing environmental hormones from sewage and wastewater. https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/scientists-develop-a-wastewater-treatment-process-that-remove-pollutants-from-water-7041881.html  (23 July 2019)

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

Also see DRP News Bulletin 22 July 2019 & DRP News Bulletin 15 July 2019

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

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