In the second half of 2019, ten additional wetlands of India have been recognized as Ramsar sites taking the total tally of such wetlands from 27 to 37. Does getting Ramsar tags really help the cause of wetlands protection? Here we try to show the present conditions and threats the Ramsar wetlands sites have been facing in North India. The subsequent compilation would share details of Ramsar sites in other zones of India.
The haphazard road construction and widening in Uttarakhand have been proving disastrous for local water sources in fragile mountain region for long. In the latest instance, the villagers of Bheta-Badoli under Dhauladevi block in Almora district have complained of road debris choking the natural stream and damaging the traditional water source of the village.
As per local media report, around 1.5 km stretch of Almora-Ghat Panar, Pithoragarh National Highway (NH) 109 B is undergoing widening for about past one month. The work is happening with heavy machines like JCB, Pokland towards Almora near Dhyadi village some 10 km away from local market Danya. The debris and muck generated in the process are simply being pushed down the slope, in violation of all norms.
There are large number of stories this week from all over India highlighting the crisis that Urban Rivers in India face. Urban rivers, like the Urban Water sector, exist in complete policy vacuum. There is no policy to guide the Urban water governance. Cosmetic efforts being done when President Donald Trump of USA visits India on Feb 24-25, 2020 at Yamuna (in view of his visit to Agra) or Sabarmati (visit to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad) won’t really help. The crisis not only affects the rivers, but the health, livelihoods and lives of millions and millions of city dwellers too, in addition to the downstream river users. Our Water Resources establishment has no clue, as is evident from their calling the Dravyawati river channelization in Jaipur as an example of river rejuvenation and suggesting such rivers should be given to corporates to rejuvenate in similar ways! It’s doubtful if the new National Water Policy now being formulated will help, unless it dares to suggest radical changes.
The floodplains of Yamuna in Delhi have been facing encroachment threats for long. In the latest incident a huge portion of riverbed underneath Nizammudin bridge towards Games village was found turned into a dumping ground on February 16, 2020. This was happening despite the protection of floodplains from encroachment and waste dumping were among key concerns of remarkable National Green Tribunal (NGT) judgement “Maili Se Nirmal Yamuna” of January 13, 2015. Continue reading “Despite NGT order and Yamuna Monitoring Committee-CPCB-DDA responses, action awaited about dumping on Yamuna floodplain”
[SANDRP is happy to publish this open letter dated Feb 11, 2020 from Bangalore Environment Trust on the above subject. The letter is addressed to: The Chief Secretary & Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka; The Development Commissioner, Government of Karnataka; The Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department; The Commissioner, Bengaluru Development Authority; The Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike; The Chairman, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board; The Chairman & Member Secretary, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board; The Chairman & Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board; Regional Directorate (South), Central Pollution Control Board; Director General & Deputy Director General of Forests, MOEFCC; Regional Office (Mahadevpura zone), Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Justice N Santosh Hedge, NGT appointed expert committee Chairman, Engineering Member, Bangalore Development Authority. The full text of the letter along with annexures is carried here.]
We are very glad that Karnataka Government is working hard under the ambit of NGT (National Green Tribunal) to rejuvenate Bellandur and Varthur Lakes. While we wholeheartedly thank you, for all your efforts to save the lake, we would also like to join hands with you.
We are putting forth some feedback on the process of rejuvenation. By doing that, we sincerely hope that the government will pause to assess the effectiveness of the actions taken so far and adjust future actions, in collaboration with citizens. Continue reading “Open letter on Bengaluru’s Bellandur & Varthur Lakes’ Rejuvenation”
The Maharashtra government submitted an affidavit in High Court that the state has 15865 wetlands, down from 44714 in 2010. How did 28849 wetlands disappear from the very definition of wetland? While all of these wetlands may not have disappeared from ground, their disappearance from govt papers as wetlands means that they are now open to all kinds of abuse and encroachments. It along with other wetlands related stories here shows how little the governments are concerned about the wetlands.
Guest Blog by Jubin Mehta
Narmada is a sacred river originating in the Maikal Hills of central India from a place called Amarkantak. Parikrama is a Sanskrit word derived from the root ‘pari‘ meaning around and ‘krama‘ meaning going. And hence, Narmada Parikrama means circumambulating the river. This is a spiritual/religious tradition of the Hindus existing from centuries wherein pilgrims start walking from any point along the river after collecting Narmadaji’s water in a vial and start walking with the river to their right.
If a person has started from the north bank, they’d walk upstream to the origin of the river in Amarkantak, cross over from beyond the origin point, come to the south bank and walk downstream till the point where the river meets the ocean in south Gujarat. From here, pilgrims board a large boat for an estimated four to seven hours to cross over and reach back to north bank at a place called Mithi Talai. From here, the pilgrim starts walking upstream again to arrive again at the point where they started from. At the end of the journey, pilgrims go to the super sacred Omkareshwar which is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ and also a river island which means a person cannot go to this point during the parikrama. One of the rules of the walk is that a person cannot cross over the river and go to the other bank or in the middle. At Omkareshwar, the pilgrim pours back the water that she collected in a vial when she started the walk and completes the parikrama. Continue reading “Experience of Narmada Parikrama in 2020: a 3500 km pilgrimage along the river”
This week’s news bulletin has a number of examples of Better Water Management Options that India has, let us focus on the example from state. These examples come from Kerala (achieving a barren land free constituency & KERI study showing the need for desilting of Malampuzha reservoir), Tamil Nadu (lessons from implementation of System of Rice Intensification in large parts of cultivable land and also declaring the Cauvery Delta as protected agriculture zones that will help stop the problematic hydrocarbon exploration project as also, hopefully other destructive projects), Odisha (govt filing affidavit in the Supreme Court asking it to stop work on Polavaram Dam of Andhra Pradesh is hugely belated but right move), Telangana (rejecting the Godavari Cauvery River Linking proposal of NWDA for its shoddy water balance), Uttarakhand (Dehradun DM accepting in affidavit to High Court that 270 acres of river bed land is encroached in the district), Kashmir (drive to remove encroachments of Khushal Sar lake, even if selective, hopefully it will be a beginning), NGT (cancelling the township coming up in lake eco sensitive area in Bengaluru) among others. We have listed only the welcome initiatives from the govt. Even if these initiatives are taken to logical conclusion and also emulated by other states, it can go a long way in moving towards better water management.
The Water & Environment sector, including the Agriculture, Environment & Forests, Urban Development, Ganga and & Other Rivers, Water Resources Ministry, Rural Employment Program and Rural Drinking Water Mission, seems to have seen disappointment from the allocations in Union Budget 2020-21 presented by the Union Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Seetharaman to the Parliament on Feb 1, 2020, most independent observers have concluded. The Budget has proposed some welcome measures in solar power and rural infrastructure sector. But on the whole, considering the situation in Water Sector & Climate Change impacts already upon us, and considering the various statements from the government, these sectors have not received the priority they deserve. Continue reading “Water-Environment Sectors disappointment in Budget 2020”
A number of welcome developments around dams appear in this week’s DRP News Bulletin from SANDRP. The prominent is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation declaring that it may not need Pinjal Dam, which SANDRP had said in its report way back in 2012-13 and the then BMC commissioner had agreed to in an interview to NDTV. This should also lead to cancellation of the Damanganga Pinjal River Link proposal. The Maharashtra govt decision to review the need for Human dam is also welcome. The Kerala State Information Commissioner’s decision to direct that the Dam Break Analysis should be in public domain is also a useful precedent that all states and CWC need to follow immediately and also amend the proposed Dam Safety Act to include a provision that all Dam Safety related information, including meeting minutes, agenda, decisions, status reports etc will be in public domain.