These are rather ominous signs. As per the latest reservoir storage bulletin of Central Water Commission dated May 14, 2020, the 123 reservoirs monitored by CWC has massive, 64.6 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) in live storage capacity, which is about 165% of the capacity on same date last year and average of last ten years, even as monsoon is just weeks away. Most dams known to create DAM INDUCED FLOODS in the past, including Bhakra dams (we wrote about it earlier this month: https://sandrp.in/2020/05/07/are-we-ready-to-use-more-water-from-snow-melt-in-indus-basin-this-year/), Narmada dams, Odisha and W Bengal dams (Cyclone AMPHAN is going to bring a lot of water here in next few days, even before the monsoon), Krishna basin dams, Cauvery basin dams, Bansagar and Gandhi Sagar Dams, and Kerala dams among others. All these dams have above average storage situation.
About Kerala dams, we had already carried the warning letter from experts and civil society friends (https://sandrp.in/2020/05/11/open-letter-to-kerala-chief-secretary-about-monsoon-preparedness-and-disaster-risk-reduction/). Now it seems from the Mathrubhumi and other reports that Kerala may be in situation similar to the pre monsoon 2018 situation where there was huge water storage before the above average monsoon and when a significant number of hydropower units are out of operation either for repair or maintenance. This is again a prescription for disaster. Kerala government and civil society people seem aware of this reality and would hopefully take all necessary steps to avoid the dams induced floods that Kerala saw in Aug 2018 floods.
When on May 20 the Union govt holds meeting with states to assess monsoon preparedness, we hope they will look into this situation and give clearly defined Standard Operating Procedures to all concerned including Central Water Commission, India’s flood forecasting body. In fact considering the past track record, it may be good idea for the centre to set up an independent monitoring body to alert the nation about the developing situation in South West Monsoon 2020.
Kerala Water levels dams higher than 2019: Experts seek flood protocol KSEB and Kerala Disaster Management officials respond to the letter from Kerala friends about dam operations in coming monsoon to prevent disaster like in 2018: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/water-levels-kerala-dams-higher-2019-experts-seek-flood-protocol-124364 (12 May 2020)
3 shutters of Malankara dam opened Shutters of Malankara dam in Idukki district of Kerala were opened on May 17 morning, as the water level increased. Three shutters of the dam were opened 20 centimetres each at 6 am. As on May 17, the water level in the reservoir was 41.5 metres, while the Full Reservoir Limit (FRL) is 42.00 metres. The dam has a total of six shutters.
As per the official release from Idukki District Administration, the water level in the reservoir has been increasing as the summer rains have gained strength in Kerala and also the power generation at Moolamattom Power House has been increased. The water released from the Moolamattom Power House following the power generation flows to the Malankara dam’s reservoir. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/three-shutters-kerala-s-malankara-dam-opened-water-level-increases-124718 (17 April 2020)
Since 12 generators are damaged, the state is not able to bring down the water level in dams. There is a shortage of 555.95 Megawatts of electricity production in the state per day. Out of the 52 generators in Kerala, 12 are not functioning. Since the generators have not been working for the last three months, there is anxiety in having to open the dams if the rain intensifies in the region. If Idukki dam is opened, it will affect other dams below it. Most of these generators are either damaged or have been stopped for the annual renovation. The condition in Idukki dam is more serious. Two generators are damaged since three months and one more is in maintenance. Out of the six generators in Pallivasal, only three functions properly. In Neryamangalam, two generators are damaged. One generator each from Sholayar, Peringalkoothu, Kuttiyadi, Shenkulam are also not functioning at the moment. https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/generators-damaged-electricity-production-in-state-reduced-by-555-95-mw-1.4765879 (17 May 2020)
IMD forecasts on May 15, 2020 that this year the likely onset of monsoon over Kerala is likely to be on June 5 (+/- 4 days). The monsoon is likely arrive in Andaman and Nicobar in next 48 hrs, but there is no relation between that event and onset over Kerala. The new normal dates for onset, progress and withdrawal of SW Monsoon over India are available here: http://imdpune.gov.in/Clim_Pred_LRF_New/Reports.html https://mausam.imd.gov.in/imd_latest/contents/seasonal_forecast.php
An earlier onset of monsoon in the southern mainland state is a reason for worry. https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/monsoon-to-hit-kerala-on-june-1-six-days-earlier-than-usual-check-details/1958715/ (14 May 2020)
On May 20, Union Home Ministry will hold a two hour meeting with states to discuss preparedness of the states for monsoon, floods, cyclones in the context of Covid 19. The state disaster relief commissioners and disaster authorities are supposed to be ready with early warning systems, evacuation plan for people living in low lying areas, which includes the identification of such places, evacuation routes, modes of transportation, alternative places. The states will also be asked about the flood plane zoning legislations. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/centre-to-review-preparedness-for-monsoon-floods-cyclones/articleshow/75726333.cms (14 May 2020)
KSDMA updating rain preparedness document WELCOME move from Kerala govt. As part of the preparations for the 2020 southwest monsoon, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) is updating its monsoon preparedness document by incorporating guidelines for tackling natural-calamity-related exigencies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The updated ‘Monsoon preparedness and emergency response plan’ will be published shortly.
– “We have also incorporated lessons learned from the 2019 floods,” Sekhar L. Kuriakose, member secretary, the KSDMA, said. In 2019, against the backdrop of the 2018 floods, the KSDMA had updated the ‘Orange book of disaster management – Kerala – Standard Operating Procedures and Emergency Support Functions Plan.’ Simultaneously, it introduced the ‘Monsoon preparedness and emergency response plan’ as a separate document. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ksdma-updating-monsoon-preparedness-document/article31595663.ece (15 May 2020)
The govt on May 16 hired four private weather forecasters for a year and said it would use weather services and warnings issued by the IMD only for “comparison” ahead of issuing alerts. In a sanction order issued by the KSDMA, weather services have been sought from Skymet, IBM Weather Company, Earth Networks and Windy. These firms have been granted permission to source appropriate weather prediction and monitoring tools on a pilot basis, initially for improving “extreme alerts” in Kerala. A 10 per cent budget from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) has been allotted towards procurement of services from these private agencies. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala/kerala-seeks-weather-services-from-four-private-forecasters-will-use-imds-forecast-only-for-comparison-6413327/ (16 May 2020)
Cyclone Amphan Threat for Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal -Skymet Weather on May 14 said that that the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are vulnerable to the Cyclone Amphan. It also stated that the sea conditions would be rough between May 17 and 20. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/cyclone-amphan-threat-for-andhra-pradesh-odisha-west-bengal-skymet-120051401067_1.html (14 May 2020)
Map on 150 Years of All India Summer Monsoon Rainfall.
HYDRO POWER PROJECTS
SANDRP Blog Integrated Kashang HEP in geologically fragile and ecologically diverse, tribal area Kinnaur The letter from Himdhara to MoEF&CC provides detailed reasons why this project is being opposed by local people, Himdhara and so many others. Please Read, Sign and Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/12/integrated-kashang-hydropower-project-in-geologically-fragile-and-ecologically-diverse-tribal-area-kinnaur-himachal/ (12 May 2020)
See more details here. https://www.himdhara.org/2020/05/11/stopkashanghep-ec/ (11 May 2020)
SIGN THE PETITION TO MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT! https://www.himdhara.org/2020/05/11/stopkashanghep-ec/
Why 990 signatories, led by Himdhara wrote to MoEF’s EAC on River Valley projects not to extend EC to Kashang HEP in Kinnaur. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/himachal-pradesh-green-activists-locals-oppose-kashang-hydro-project-of-kinnaur/articleshow/75738561.cms (14 May 2020)
UHL hydro project disaster needs independent probe On May 16, 2020, the penstocks of the 100 MW Uhl III project at Lad Bhadol in Mandi, under testing, burst, leading to flooding of downstream power house.
30 people working at the project were trapped but all have been rescued to safety. The power house is about 150 m from the burst point in Chulla village. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/18/uhl-hydro-project-disaster-needs-independent-probe/ (18 May 2020)
Center AK Verma, Jt Secretary, Ministry of Power trying to push hydropower projects, without giving details of the crucial problems related to these projects, including its non-viability. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/indias-true-hydropower-potential-remains-untapped/article31580979.ece (14 May 2020)
Similarly, lobbies never lose an opportunity to push their agenda. International Hydropower Association sees and opportunity in pushing hydro in Covid 19 crisis. https://www.hydropower.org/news/hydropower-associations-unite-to-set-covid-19-recovery-pathway (18 May 2020)
At the same time, the MNRE has not capacity to undertake hydro and storage for streamlining RE growth. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/energy-speak/bringing-hydro-and-storage-under-mnre-for-streamlining-re-growth/4266 (16 May 2020)
Arunachal Pradesh Peer Review of Report on Etalin HEP Finds Multiple Flaws, Irregularities The FAC had recommended a multi-season study because it found that the EIA [environmental impact assessment] was inadequate,” Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, said. “Now, if an official agency accepts that the EIA is flawed and environmental clearance was given based on this EIA, then the environmental clearance should be reconsidered.”
Thakkar added that the FAC should ask WII to publicly respond to the peer review and, next, “FAC could assess both the peer review and WII’s response in view of the [terms of reference] initially given to WII. https://science.thewire.in/environment/etalin-project-dibang-valley-fac-wildlife-institute-of-india-peer-review/ (11 May 2020)
Is Etalin hydropower project financially viable? FAC rightly asks Power Ministry about viability of Etalin, but will it get the right answer? https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/is-etalin-hydropower-project-financially-viable-fac-asks-power-ministry/story-U3Rj1nO8Kc94mymHAqAS4L.html (12 May 2020)
“We are shocked to see that the FAC has accepted ‘in toto’ the report of WII by accepting the recommendations of its subcommittee. Besides the seriously problematic parts of the report which our peer review points out, the decision that was based on this study does not even meet the basic mandate prescribed by the FAC in its earlier meetings. It is a truncated study of a few months instead of a ‘multiple seasonal replicate study’. Multiple reports indicate that this is both ecologically destructive and a techno-economically questionable project. From my study, I found that there are also serious threats to human well-being from natural hazards that cannot be stopped by such hydro-electric projects,” said Chintan Sheth, former research fellow with National Centre for Biological Sciences who was part of the peer-review. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/fac-to-power-ministry-is-dibang-hydropower-project-financially-viable/story-qmDFONKnHEBrCIi74wZyHK.html (13 May 2020)
The forest panel further noted that as this is a large-sized project in the Himalayas, the inputs of IA (Impact Assessment) division of the environment ministry on whether the environmental impact of the proposed project and mitigating measures have been considered, will be obtained. The FAC also said that the inputs from the MoEFCC’s wildlife division and the National Tiger Conservation Authority are not available. It said that the wildlife division be requested to submit their comment in consultation with the NTCA while taking into account the report of WII.
-On this, environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta said, “given the fact that the FAC had sought the opinion of the NTCA, it is important for the NTCA to commission a fresh four-season study for tigers and other species.” “The FAC has now sought the opinion of the NTCA and one can hope that the NTCA speaks like an authority and in the long term interest of tiger, its habitat and co-predators and prey and not a subordinate office of the MoEFCC,” Dutta told Mongabay-India. https://science.thewire.in/environment/etalin-hydel-plants-future-now-hangs-on-its-economic-viability/ (14 May 2020)
Reorganization to undermine NTCA integrity Indeed, this is not a revamp, but clipping the wings of everyone. “These important organisations have very different objectives — forest management, species conservation, enforcement and research. Increasing efficiency and transparency is a must, but I am not sure this is going to be achieved by merging such very different bodies together. In fact, it could well weaken India’s efforts to protect the environment, at a time in history when it is critically needed,” said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.
“That this reorganisation exercise is being carried out secretly during lockdown is a cause of concern. If they go ahead, NTCA regional offices that are like last frontiers in protecting wildlife have to report to two bosses: Deputy Director-General of MoEF&CC regional offices and also to Member Secretary of NTCA in New Delhi,” said Assam-based environment activist Rohit Choudhary, who filed an RTI on April 20 seeking details of the plan.
“There is no doubt that reorganisation will result in loss of independence and integrity of NTCA, WCCB and FSI. Pressure can be exerted on the officials to accord clearances for environmentally-disastrous projects,” he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/special-units-for-tigers-wildlife-crime-face-axe-in-moef-revamp/article31552416.ece (10 May 2020)
Meghalaya Foundation for first power project in West Khasi hills laid CM Conrad K Sangma on May 13 laid the foundation stone for the Rs 30 Cr Riangdo Small Hydro Power Project at Suanggre Hamegam village, Shallang, West Khasi hills district. It is the first power project in the entire West Khasi hills, with 2 units of 1.5 MW each. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/meghalaya-cm-conrad-sangma-lays-foundation-for-first-power-project-in-west-khasi-hills/75712194 (13 May 2020)
SANDRP Blog Uttarakhand Flood Ravage and the Dams: short film – English https://sandrp.in/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-english/ (16 Dec. 2013) The Hindi version can be seen here. https://sandrp.in/2013/12/16/uttarakhand-flood-ravage-and-the-dams-short-film-hindi/ (16 Dec. 2013)
MoEF RELEVANT DECISIONS in Minutes of the FAC meeting held on Apr 23, 2020, now available.
- 54 Ha of forest land for Yamuna riverbed mining in SIrmour dist in HP. DEFERRED FOR MORE INFO
- Collection of minor minerals from 64 ha of Song River in Dehradun dist. DEFERRED FOR MORE INFO
- 1165.66 Ha for Etalin HEP: FAC has asked:
- MINISTRY OF POWER to respond about changes in National Energy Plan in last six years; priority of the project among various projects; updated tariff.
- State Govt, in association with Shillong Reg office of MoEF&CC to submit updated C/B analysis, details of forest land; to review trees to be cut for leaving as it is for the birds
- Inputs of IA division of MoEF, about impacts and mitigation;
- Inputs of Wildlife division/ NTCA
- 98.05 ha of Forest land for construction of Ganga Water Lift Scheme in Gaya/ Bodhgaya dists of Bihar: APPROVED http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/51111121912211FACminutes23April20_compressed.pdf
BBMB क्या हम इस साल सिंधु बेसिन में बर्फ पिघलने से अधिक पानी का उपयोग करने के लिए तैयार हैं ? Hindi Translation of SANDRP blog: https://m-hindi.indiawaterportal.org/content/kayaa-hama-isa-saala-saindhau-baesaina-maen-barapha-paighalanae-sae-adhaika-paanai-kaa-upayaoga/content-type-page/1319335680 (09 May 2020)
Jammu & Kashmir Centre Approves Modified Project Report Of Ujh Dam The centre has given approval to a modified detailed project report (DPR) of the Ujh Multipurpose Project on Ujh River, a tributary of Ravi in Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir at an estimated cost of Rs 9,167 crore, an official spokesman said on May 16, 2020. The Central Advisory Committee for consideration of techno-economic viability of major and medium irrigation, flood control and multipurpose project proposals accepted the project proposal. The DPR was prepared in 2013 by the Indus Basin Organisation of the MoWR.
– A 116.00 m high dam is proposed at the river with full reservoir level (FRL) at 608 m. The proposed dam site is Barbari village about 1.6 km downstream of Panchtirthi. The powerhouse site is approximately 9.5 km downstream of the dam site near Deoli village.
– While approving the project, the committee directed that “for ensuring consumptive utilisation of water beyond already envisaged through project, possibility of additional utilisation should be explored at the earliest so that the water released to generate hydropower may not flow out of the country and such project should be implemented on priority”. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centre-approves-modified-project-report-of-ujh-dam-in-jammu-and-kashmir-2230050 (17 May 2020)
Gujarat Water aerodromes await assessment, activists question govt’s priorities A few environmental activists have raised questions over concerns for the environment and the priorities of the central and state governments at a time when the country is in the midst of a strict lockdown, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, that is likely to have an adverse impact on the economy. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/for-sea-planes-at-narmada-bhavnagar-water-aerodromes-await-assessment-activists-question-govts-priorities-6405376/ (12 May 2020)
Telangana Godavari water released from Mallannasagar under Kaleshwaram project In another milestone in Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP), the irrigation department has started wet run at Mallannasagar under KLIP to release Godavari water to from Komuravelli- Mallanna Sagar pump house, one of the crucial phases in the project. The Godavari water released from Ranganayaka Sagar, has reached to Mallannasagar surge pool. Mallannasagar is the biggest manmade reservoir in KLIP with a 50 tmcft water storage capacity. Two important reservoirs, Mallannasagar and Kondapochamma, built by the Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL), has pump houses with 63 machines with a total capacity of 3,767 megawatts. Out of these, 49 machines are continuously pumping the water. Another 12 machines erection works are at a brisk pace. In a low-key event, the officials have begun the wet run on Tuesday (May 12, 2020) evening. As part of this exercise, firstly water released from the first machine.
– Mallannasagar pump house has eight machines with 43 Mw capacity. The water discharge capacity is 248.500 cusecs. Over 1,25,000 lakh acres of ayacut in Siddipet and neighbouring districts will get the irrigation water from Mallannasagar. All the tanks on the way to Kondapochamma also will be filled with the Godavari water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/godavari-water-released-from-mallannasagar-under-kaleshwaram-project/articleshow/75702692.cms (12 May 2020)
Alleging manipulations in the tender process of ₹24,000 crore called for during the lockdown period in Kaleshwaram project including Dummugudem Lift Irrigation project, the Congress demanded that the tenders be cancelled and government go for global tenders. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/cancel-kaleshwaram-dummugudem-tenders-congress/article31568943.ece (12 May 2020)
Polavaram Dam Over 1000 migrant workers from various state leave Polavaram dam work to go to their villages, affecting dam work. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/polavaram-works-severely-hit-as-migrant-workers-leave/article31577191.ece (13 May 2020)
INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES
Krishna river water sharing dispute ‘Historical water war’ between both the Telugu states took center stage with the CMs locking horns Both the states which are investing massive funds for irrigation and water resources development are caught up in the old fight that is among one of the causes which stirred-up the agitation for a separate Telangana.
-With the situation reaching Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), it is to be seen whether the Centre interferes and holds a meeting of the Apex Council to clear the issue between both the states. The sharing of Krishna waters between Telugu states is yet to be awarded by the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal, which also is responsible for allotment of water to states like Maharashtra through which the Krishna river also flows through. This could come up in the Supreme Court. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/explained-latest-krishna-river-water-sharing-row-between-telangana-and-andhra-124565 (14 May 2020)
Centre asks Andhra to stop construction of new schemes on Krishna river In reply to a complaint lodged by Bandi Sanjay, the president of Telangana unit of BJP, Union Minister for Water Resources, Gajendra Shekawat said his ministry has discussed the matter with the AP government. “I’ve directed that a meeting of the KRMB must be convened soon to resolve the dispute,” he said. Shekawat has ordered that the DPRs of the proposed ventures must technically examine whether they are in line with the provisions of KRMB, an autonomous body, cited in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
-KRMB took note of the Telangana government’s complaint and wrote to a letter to Aditya Nath Das, special chief secretary, irrigation, AP, on May 15, seeking an explanation on the proposed construction of new projects, as they are in violation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
-Telangana has alleged that AP is drawing up to eight tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water from the Krishna river daily. The board also cited that it had written two more letters to the AP government on earlier occasions this year – January 1 and May 13 – seeking the DPRs. However, the AP government is yet to furnish the details, it added. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-asks-andhra-to-stop-construction-of-new-schemes-on-krishna-river/story-Cl4emPCpuGJcsBxMnSAGML.html (16 May 2020)
Hindon, Ghaziabad Rivers are still not clean besides lockdown भारत में लॉकडाउन लागू होने के बाद देश की कई नदियों की तस्वीरें वायरल हुई हैं. इन तस्वीरों को देखकर लगता है कि देश की नदियां बिल्कुल साफ हो गई हैं लेकिन जमीनी सच्चाई कुछ और है. जल प्रदूषण विशेषज्ञों का कहना है कि नदियों के पानी की गुणवत्ता जरूर सुधरी है लेकिन वह पूरी तरह साफ नहीं हैं. छोटी नदियों के लिये तो इस लॉकडाउन में भी खुद को साफ करना मुश्किल हो रहा है. दिल्ली से हृदयेश जोशी की रिपोर्ट… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3LpBr4J2wo (13 May 2020)
Maharashtra CPCB bans PoP idols CPCB on May 12 banned the use of Plaster of Paris (PoP) in making idols in order to avoid polluting water bodies by their immersion. The use of thermocol and plastic has also been outlawed. While environmentalists are happy, artisans say the order will aggravate unemployment amid the already damaging lockdown. While Maharashtra has effected its own ban on plastic and thermocol, CPCB’s ban on PoP will alter the landscape for competitive mandals that create 12-25ft tall murtis. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/central-pollution-board-bans-all-pop-idols-ganesh-murti-makers-in-maharashtra-upset/articleshow/75729776.cms (14 May 2020)
Article (Marathi) by Parineeta Dandekar on relation between catchments and Urban Water Supply sources, some remarkable practices from around the world, something Indian decision makers need to understand. https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-water-in-the-city-and-forests-in-the-mountains-abn-97-2162993/ (16 May 2020)
Book Review Why Rivers Remember And We Forget
Krupa Ge, the author of ‘Rivers Remember’, talks about surviving the 2015 Chennai floods and making sense of its chaos by Sharmila Vaidyanathan. https://www.natureinfocus.in/books/why-rivers-remember-and-we-forget-krupa-ge (26 March 2020)
Karnataka Govt okays Hubballi-Ankola railway line project in Western ghats Though covering an area of 1.8 lakh square kilometres—or just under 6% of the total land area in India—the Western Ghats contains more than 30% of all plant, fish, bird, and mammal species found in the country. The Western Ghats, apart from being a storehouse of tropical biodiversity, is also the source of 38 east-flowing rivers and 27 rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea. The Godavari, Krishna, Mandovi, Cauvery and Zuari are some prominent rivers that originate in the Western Ghats. Approximately 24.5 crore people living in the peninsular Indian states receive most of their water supply from rivers originating in the Western Ghats.
– Vijay Nishanth, biodiversity management committee member of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Forest Cell, highlighted that the area is among the biodiversity hotspots in the world as it houses about 2,500 endemic species of plants, insects, animals and amphibians. If a part of the area is used for development, many of the endemic species will go extinct, he added.
-The project is set to affect the vegetation, faunal diversity and animal movement in the Western Ghats. The proposed railway line passes through different types of forests, including evergreen, semi-evergreen, moist deciduous and dry deciduous with a dense canopy.
-The project is a “complete hoax and professional fraud”, according to a former Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) with the Karnataka forest department. Requesting anonymity, the ex-CWW added that apart from the loss of vegetation, the project will also affect rainfall. The forests release tiny particles which seed clouds and induce rainfall due to which the top ridges receive 4,000-6,000 mm of rainfall. On account of good vegetation cover, there’s good organic matter in the soil, and it helps in the percolation of water, he informed.
-The water comes out at lower ridges in the form of springs even several months after the rains stop, leading to the availability of water even during dry periods, he explained.
-The destruction of vegetation in the Western Ghats will lead to erratic rainfall, no scope for rainwater to percolate into the soil, and hence the water will rush downstream at high-speed, taking away the soil along with it, he highlighted.
-“In this way, the Western Ghats start getting destroyed and the eroded soil deposits in lakes and rivers, which will reduce their capacity to hold water. Either there will be a flood or a drought, as we have already witnessed in 2018 and 2019. All this can lead to a reduction in crop yields and subsequent food shortage,” he stated. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/05/karnataka-government-okays-rail-line-in-the-western-ghats/ (06 May 2020)
Destruction that could have been avoided. https://scroll.in/article/961632/in-the-western-ghats-2-2-lakh-trees-will-be-axed-to-make-way-for-upcoming-rail-line (12 May 2020)
Maharashtra Govt requests centre to exclude 15% of Western Ghats ESA for mining, industries The proposal was to be made on May 14 during a meeting with the Union environment ministry, which is expected to decide on the matter at the same meeting. On May 11, during a meeting chaired by state forest minister Sanjay Rathore with senior forest officials, it was decided the state would request the Union environment ministry to exclude 15%, or 17 villages, from the final ESA notification, said Jeet Singh, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Maharashtra forest department. “This was proposed based on suggestions received from the state’s industries department and mining bodies as the draft ESA extends into some villages falling within mining and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas,” said Singh. He said the state would modify its final response to the draft ESA on the basis of the Centre’s response.
-Ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010, said, “There is a much larger area that needs to be protected comprising origins of rivers and major water courses. They have all been traditionally protected. We are witnessing an era of complete destruction of nature to fill the pockets of a small number of people, which is leading to an increase in the economic disparities. Exclusion of 2,500 plus sqkm will certainly lead to social unrest for local communities for these villages.”
-Kanchi Kohli, an environmental governance expert with Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research said, “From the very beginning ESAs are being declared without taking the local situation into account or holding any public consultations. A decision to keep such areas in or outside protected zones needs to be a much more widespread exercise rather than a decision between state and Central governments alone.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/exclude-15-of-western-ghats-esa-for-mining-industries-state-requests-centre/story-PrnMTA9DyE4pUQXSnyyiIM.html (13 May 2020)
Gujarat GPCB admits industry polluted Sabarmati A new Gujarat government report, “Impact of Lockdown due to Covid-19 Pandemic on Surface Water Quality”, published by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has claimed that the health of several of Gujarat rivers, many of which fall into the list of the most-polluted rivers of India, has improved, due to “the enforcement of the national lockdown.” Especially referring to two downstream spots of Sabarmati, Miroli and Vautha, 25 and 55 km downstream of Ahmedabad respectively, the report says at both of them one could observe “very good impact of lockdown on water quality”, with biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen (COD) improving by “above 50%.”
– Khari river, a river that passes through Ahmedabad district, has also “observed an improved water quality”, thanks to the “lockdown effect”, it says, adding, “Many of the locations of the Khari river reflects reduced concentration of BOD, COD, TDS and NH3-N significantly.” “The water quality has been improved at stations of Khari river at Lali village near Ahmedabad, before and after confluence with Kharicut Canal at Ropada, near Dehagam, Naroda Road Bridge, Odhav Kathavada Road Bridge, behind Maradiya Chemicals and so on.
– Referring to yet another major river on which a riverfront project has been planned, Vishwamitri in Vadodara, Gujarat’s cultural capital, the report says, on its downstream at Khalipur BOD was found to have been reduced by 42.6%, while COD got reduced 49.4%, indicating the water quality has “improved in the lockdown.”
– Further referring to several South Gujarat rivers, which get polluted because heavy concentration of polluting industries in the region, the report says, Damangaga, Kolak and Amlakhadi have also observed “improved water quality” due to reduction of COD and BOD.
– At the same time, the report claims, monitoring stations at other major rivers of Gujarat — Narmada, Tapi, Mahi, Kim, Kaveri and Par – found that “the water quality remains almost unchanged and continues to remain satisfactory as it was before the lockdown period.” https://www.counterview.net/2020/05/gpcb-admits-industry-polluted-sabarmati.html (16 May 2020)
Punjab Gharials flourish in Beas The water quality of the Beas has considerably improved in the last 45 days and the PPCB has removed the river from polluted category after a recent survey. The gharials are being regularly spotted basking on the mid-channel islands in the Beas Conservation Reserve.
On an average, about 25 gharials have been spotted per sighting at different locations of the reserve. They have also been spotted co-existing with the cattle. Encouraged by the ground reports, the wildlife department has decided to release more gharial hatchlings in winter. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/highly-sensitive-to-pollution-gharials-flourish-in-beas-in-covid-19-lockdown/articleshow/75710044.cms (13 May 2020)
Chitti Bein no more black Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal said, “Changes in Chitti Bein and Kala Sanghian drains are clear indications that water has become purer as industrial waste is not falling into them. The question is why the government isn’t serious enough about dealing with this cancerous waste. For us, cancer has been a bigger killer than Covid. A permanent solution to these toxic effluents has to be sought after the lockdown.”
– Senior environmental engineer, PPCB, Harbir Singh said, “Both commercial and industrial wastes are causing problems. There is also a considerable difference due to commercial establishments like hotels, service stations, dhabas, etc, being closed. We will be formulating a report on the prime causes of reduction in pollution.”
-The polluted Ghaggar river whose black and foamy water started emitting a pungent smell in the past two decades, has turned clear in the Sardulgarh area of Mansa district. Villagers appealed to the Punjab Pollution Control Board and district administration to keep a close check on industries disposing of their effluents into the Ghaggar as many of them had resumed work. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/chitti-bein-no-more-black-environmentalists-elated-86090 (18 May 2020)
Kerala Video report says that the Kallayi River in Kozhikode is flowing clean due to less pollution and footfall of human beings. https://www.dnaindia.com/india/video-covid-19-water-quality-of-kerala-s-kallayi-river-improves-due-to-lockdown-2823938 (07 May 2020)
CAUVERY; Karnataka Rains, lockdown make river cleaner – According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre, the normal average rainfall during the pre-monsoon period (from March 1) should have been 76 mm, but the actual rainfall is 83 mm, which is 8% more than the normal.
There was good rainfall, especially in Mandya and Mysuru region. In Bengaluru, Vrushabhavathi Valley is also getting cleaner. This joins Byramangala Lake near Bidadi and then flows towards Sangama. Byramangala Lake, which froths like Bellandur, is seeing less frothing with industries shut during lockdown.
Water activist Vishwanath Srikantiah said that at present, Bengaluru is getting water not just from KRS, but also Kabini. “I have noticed that the water has become a little soft and there is variation in taste. Less pollution is one of the reasons,’’ he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/may/18/showers-lockdown-clean-up-cauvery-river-2144682.html (18 May 2020)
NARMADA Madhya Pradesh Narmada river water quality has been good in pre lockdown, but has improved during lock down, at Hoshangabad as per this report. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/may/15/lockdown-cleans-up-narmada-river-as-water-quality-improves-in-mp-2143761.html (15 May 2020)
GANGA Uttarakhand Solid waste being dumped in open and by local stream and set on fire frequently as per Dainik Jagran May 15 report. https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/pauri-garhwal-scandal-of-ngt-rules-in-pauri-20271839.html (Dainik Jagran, 15 May 2020)
YAMUNA Delhi HC seeks reply on plea alleging untreated sewage water in drain The Delhi high court has sought response of the Delhi government and Delhi Jal Board on a plea alleging that the waste collected by the government agencies from the septic tanks are discharged in Najafgarh drain and released into Yamuna river without being treated. The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 27.
-Advocate Sangeeta Bharti, representing the Delhi Jal Board, said the licences were being issued by the civic agency but the supervision and implementation of the process is by a committee, constituted by the Delhi government and headed by the concerned District Magistrate. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/hc-seeks-delhi-govt-djbs-reply-on-plea-alleging-untreated-sewage-waste-released-in-drain/articleshow/75756694.cms (15 May 2020)
Haryana Video report on migrant crossing Yamuna. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDRES_0UBbs (15 May 2020)
Maharashtra Otters having fun! Feasting over Giant river prawn and Indian flapshell turtle!
FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS
WESTERN GHATS 3 new fish species found
Filament barbs are a group of small freshwater fishes found in the rivers of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, where nine species are known under the genus Dawkinsia. They are popular among aquarium hobbyists and are wild-collected and captive-bred for trade. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/three-new-species-of-fishes-found-in-western-ghats/article31551352.ece (10 May 2020)
Andhra Pradesh Pollution board probe into dead fish at Ameenpur lake “Dozens of fish were found belly up in the water or on the bank of the lake. The most likely reason is effluents from industries nearby,” said Thakur Raj Kumar Singh of the Human Rights & Consumer Protection Cell Trust. Ameenpur lake is the only biodiversity heritage site in the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/pollution-board-probe-into-dead-fish-at-ameenpur-lake/articleshow/75363537.cms (25 April 2020)
Highlighting a recent incident when several fish in Ameenpur lake died and were found floating on the surface, they allege that factories located either in Patancheru or IDA Bollaram are dumping chemicals in the lake. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/industries-polluting-air-and-water-residents-hyderabad-s-ameenpur-allege-124402 (12 May 2020)
Coronavirus lockdown adds to woes of climate-hit fishers With climate change impacts, pollution and now Covid-19, hundreds of thousands of fishers now have their backs to the wall, and many are looking for alternate livelihoods. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2020/05/15/coronavirus-lockdown-adds-to-woes-of-climate-hit-indian-fishers/ (15 May 2020)
SANDRP Blog Why indiscriminate river bed mining is wrong, dangerous and unethical Shri Manoj Misra, former IFS officer and founder of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, in this Guest Blog highlights how river bed material is the life blood of the riverine biodiversity and helps rivers do several of its key functions.
Indiscriminate mining that now goes on in almost every river channel in India is disastrous for the river, its biodiversity and river dependent people. Please Read and Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/17/why-indiscriminate-river-bed-mining-is-wrong-dangerous-and-unethical/ (17 May 2020)
Yamuna facing illegal in-stream mining amid lockdown In April May 2020, local people and media reports have highlighted riverbed mining practices going on in the Yamuna river impacting river eco-system and riparian communities in gross violation of lock down norms during the Covid 19 crisis, Bhim Singh Rawat report reveals. Please Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/17/yamuna-facing-illegal-in-stream-mining-during-lockdown/ (17 May 2020)
May 11 video shows sand miners have created bund across river Yamuna at Kairana (UP) and Panipat (Haryana) blocking river flows. Deep mechanized in-stream mining is happening which is in violation of norms. Riverbed farmers and villagers are severely affected and objecting to this unsustainable mining practices.
Large scale illegal and mechanized mining going in Yamuna river in Naglarai area of Kairana in Shamli district. https://rashtriyajungtimes.page/article/nangalaaraee-mein-yuddhastar-par-shuroo-hua-khanan-ka-khel/c-5L9l.html (11 May 2020)
Uttarakhand Govt eyes a part of Rajaji Tiger Reserve for Kumbh -One of the key reasons behind Uttarakhand government seeking permission for diversion of 778 hectares area of the Rajaji National Park (RNP) allegedly on temporary basis for Kumbh 2021 event is, to keep Haridwar Kumbh area open for mining activities in Ganga which if declared a Kumbh Kshetra – as the saints have been demanding – would rein in riverbed mining activities there. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/05/uttarakhand-eyes-a-part-of-rajaji-tiger-reserve-for-kumbh/ (07 May 2020)
Dainik Jayant report May 11, 2020 mentions that land adjoining to Shakti Canal in Vikas Nagar has been damaged due to illegal riverbed mining activities in Yamuna river and posing threat to safety of canal structure.
स्थानीय लोगों का कहना है कि इस मार्ग पर रात दिन खनन से भरे भारी वाहनों की आवाजाही लगी रहती है, जिससे मार्ग जर्जर होने के कारण कई जगहों पर धंस गया है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/vikasnagar/story-road-sinking-threatens-shakti-canal-3205818.html (10 May 2020)
शक्ति नहर पर 50 के दशक में बने पुलों को खनन के भारी वाहनों की आवाजाही से खतरा हो रहा है। लोगों ने ज्ञापन के माध्यम से इस पर रोक लगाने की मांग प्रशासन से की गई है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/vikasnagar/story-restriction-on-movement-of-heavy-vehicles-from-shaky-bridges-of-shakti-canal-3209586.html (12 May 2020)
Dainik Jayant, Amar Ujala reports on mining issues from the state on May 18, 2020
Andhra Pradesh –Telangna Sand mining sparks row between border villagers Mining of sand in Tungabhadra river near Gundrevula in C Belagal mandal of Kurnool district has led to a row between people of border villages of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which are already locked in a controversy over sharing Krishna river waters.
People of border villages levelled allegations against each other that sand was being illegally mined in their respective territory. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/may/14/sand-mining-sparks-row-between-andhra-pradesh-telangana-border-villagers-2143157.html (14 May 2020)
Telangana Sand mining at Kaleshwaram-In the last few years, Kaleshwaram area has emerged as the epicentre of sand quarrying activity in Telangana and sand from here travels to Hyderabad and beyond day in and day out, generating decent revenue for the State government and benefiting the local population. It’s no surprise that sand mining and sales took off first when the Telangana government relaxed Covid-19 lockdown norms and permitted gradual opening of the State’s economy recently. https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/sand-mining-takes-off-in-kaleshwaram-622502 (14 May 2020)
WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES
Maharashtra Boost for greens’ drive to save Navi Mumbai wetlands, mangroves As the world celebrated the Migratory Bird Day last Saturday, environmentalists campaigning to save mangroves and wetlands in Navi Mumbai have received a big boost as the Union environment ministry amended CRZ norms protecting mangroves, while the State Mangrove Cell has proposed to protect and conserve five wetlands including Panje under the wildlife protection Act. TOI had recently reported that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has already asked the state environment department to look into the complaints of destruction of Panje and other wetlands in this region. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/boost-for-greens-drive-to-save-navi-mumbai-wetlands-mangroves/articleshow/75672012.cms (11 May 2020)
In Mumbai wetland, a spectacle in pink A deep pink algae bloom at Talawe wetlands near NRI Complex in Navi Mumbai seems like first of its kind occurrence in the MMR coastline.
https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/in-mumbai-wetland-a-spectacle-in-pink/story-GvaVadtSV84vftcToN7zQP.html (16 May 2020)
This has happened in May 2017 also. Sanjai Sinha, a textile businessman, said: “The colour of the pond may have changed because of the effluents discharged by the industries across the Vashi creek. The industries may have found a way to get an outlet for effluents near the pond.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/pink-pond-has-residents-guessing-4661274/ (18 May 2017)
Andhra Pradesh HOUSING SCHEME FOR POOR, DISPLACING POOR FISHERFOLKS, DESTROYING MANGROVES AND BIODIVERSITY:- While the levelling work had begun around three months ago, the fishermen from nearby villages, who depended on the land for their livelihood, say that much of the work was carried out after the nationwide lockdown came into place from March 25. Since then, petitions have been filed with the NGT as well as the Andhra Pradesh High Court, objecting to the removal of the mangroves. While the High Court has ordered to maintain status quo on the construction activity, the NGT has constituted a five-member panel to look into the matter. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/dire-impact-removing-mangroves-andhra-govt-housing-scheme-124722 (17 May 2020)
Satellite images reveal mangroves on 100 acres of land felled for housing project at Kakinada. https://newsmeter.in/satellite-images-reveal-mangroves-on-100-acres-of-land-felled-for-housing-project-at-kakinada/ (13 May 2020)
Tamil Nadu Community Conservation- Mookaneri & Ammapet Lakes A story on an attempt at restoring and conserving the lakes driven by a community project in Mookaneri and Ammapet, Salem. Made by Srishti Films, with Kalpavriksh, for Vikalp Sangam. https://youtu.be/jJLH42rcsQ0 (28 Jan. 2020)
Jharkhand Solar lift irrigation helps Gumla farmers More than 200 farmers in three blocks of the Jharkhand district went the green way to reduce dependence on monsoon rains. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/solar-lift-irrigation-helps-gumla-farmers-move-away-from-diesel-pump-sets-71091 (13 May 2020)
Bengaluru Wells movement to solve water crisis “Rainwater falling in the plot gets channelised into the recharge well. The 15-ft well is now filled up to 10-11 ft, and has around 2000 litres of water. I’ve been building a house in the plot, and water from the well is used for all construction needs.” Raghuram built the well after being inspired by ‘A Million Wells for Bengaluru’ movement. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/million-recharge-wells-biome-friends-of-lakes-rainwater-harvesting-43978 (12 May 2020)
Study Breaking wheat-paddy cycle a must to save groundwater -With five million hectares under rice cultivation in the country’s Indo-Gangetic plains of north west, including Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it is the most important production area for India’s two staple cereals — rice and wheat. The crops in this region are harvested on the cost of natural resources that leads to groundwater depletion and deterioration in soil and environmental quality, the scientists said. They have also advised the farmers to adopt root zone irrigation (RZI) over flood irrigation to save the groundwater.
-The research has suggested that RZI not only saves about 50% water, but also improves yields up to 20% by eliminating surface water evaporation with similar management practices over flood irrigation.
-Director of ICAR-CSSRI, Karnal, PC Sharma, said, “There is an immediate need to break the wheat-paddy cycle to save groundwater for the future generations.” He said that maize could be a better option for both wheat and paddy as it consumes 50% less water, but there is a need of assured marketing of maize such as wheat and paddy to divert farmers. “Both rice and wheat need 20% less nitrogen-based fertilisers under a subsurface drip fertigation (injection of fertilisers) system. It can improve ecosystem’s health and cut the emission of greenhouse gases,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/breaking-wheat-paddy-cycle-a-must-to-save-groundwater-cssri-study/story-Dw2Zperrefw8WecQkrEriM.html (14 May 2020)
Haryana Govt limits paddy cultivation to 50% in 8 blocks Govt seems serious this year about crop diversification scheme. The government has toughened its stance on paddy growers in eight blocks where the water table is deeper than 40 metres.
– Farmers have to diversify at least 50 per cent of the area under paddy by growing alternative crops. Farmers who cultivate alternative crops on less than 50 per cent of their area in the target blocks will not be eligible for incentive of Rs 7,000 per acre. In case of such farmers, paddy will not be procured by state government agencies. These farmers will not get any subsidy from the Agriculture Department. The state government has launched “Mera Paani, Meri Virasat” scheme for replacement of paddy with maize, cotton, bajra and pulses on 1 lakh hectares in target blocks of Fatehabad, Kaithal, Kurukshetra and Sirsa districts. The target blocks are Ratia, Siwan, Guhla, Pipli, Shahabad, Babain, Ismailbad, and Sirsa, having 1,79,951 hectares area under paddy cultivation.
– Farmers operating with 50-hp electric motor will not be allowed to grow paddy. The government has decided to restrict cultivation of paddy in Thanesar and Pehowa blocks of Kurukshetra and Fatehabad and Jakhal blocks of Fatehabad, having 3,136 hectares under paddy with water table deeper than 35 metres.
– CRITICISM: “Similar incentives were announced last year and farmers were to be given Rs 2,000 per acre, but no money was given. There are flooded areas where no crop except paddy can be cultivated. The BJP and JJP should ask its farmer cells to adopt the scheme and stop growing paddy. Subsidy on drip irrigation should be increased to 95 per cent,” said Gurnam Singh Charuni, BKU (Charuni) chief. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/govt-limits-paddy-cultivation-to-50-per-cent-in-eight-blocks-83142 (11 May 2020)
Finding incentive amount too low, difficulties in selling local variety of crops in past, confusion on timeline and mechanism of payment, failure of govt in providing assured incentive in past, areas unsuitable for other crops, farmers in state are not happy with the govt decision and planning protest to oppose it. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/why-haryana-farmers-not-ready-to-leave-paddy-cultivation-6406055/ (12 May 2020)
Farmers led by BKU and Rice Millers’ Association opposed Haryana govt decision to restrict paddy cultivation in 19 Groundwater over exploitation blocks. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/farmers-threaten-stir-over-curbs-on-paddy-cultivation-84582 (13 May 2020)
Congress calls the whole thing a conspiracy. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/crop-diversification-scheme-a-planned-conspiracy-congress-83141 (11 May 2020)
Punjab Can direct seeding be alternative to paddy transplanting? A technology that allows farmers to sow paddy seeds directly could be a solution to shortage of migrant transplantation labourers during lockdown. It also saves water by not requiring flooding of fields. In DSR, there is no nursery preparation or transplantation. The seeds are instead directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine.
– Paddy seedlings are transplanted on fields that are “puddled” or tilled in standing water using tractor-drawn disc harrows. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the plants have to be irrigated almost daily (if there are no rains) to maintain a water depth of 4-5 cm. Farmers continue irrigating every 2-3 days even for the next 4-5 weeks, when the crop is in the tillering (stem development) stage. The underlying principle here is simple: Paddy growth is compromised by weeds that compete for nutrition, sunlight and water. Water prevents growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in the submerged stage, whereas the soft ‘aerenchyma tissues’ in paddy plants allow air to penetrate through their roots. Water, thus, acts as a herbicide for paddy. The threat from weeds recedes once tillering is over; so does the need to flood the fields. It would be best to avoid the herbicides recommended in this report. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/labour-short-can-direct-seeding-be-alternative-to-paddy-transplanting-6408653/ (14 May 2020)
Delhi Illegal extraction of groundwater a criminal offence: NGT “Illegal extraction of ground water is a criminal offence under the Environment Protection Act. Compensation must be recovered on the formula already laid down. It will be appropriate that Chief Secretary, Delhi calls a meeting of all concerned within one month from today and oversees preparation of an appropriate SOP for fixing responsibility on the subject,” the bench said. The Ministry of Jal Shakti may also take necessary steps in the matter, the bench added. The tribunal had earlier constituted an independent Monitoring Committee, headed by former Delhi high court judge, Justice SP Garg, to look into the issue. The Committee had found that 14,231 borewells were illegally operating in Delhi and 15 per cent of the groundwater had reached below 40 meters. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/delhi/illegal-extraction-of-groundwater-a-criminal-offence-ngt-85223 (15 May 2020)
Coronavirus chaos to worsen water crisis “The demand-supply gap is scary. Everyone is talking about washing hands for 20 seconds, but it’s a luxury for a vast chunk of the population that doesn’t not have access to drinking water,” said water expert Himanshu Thakkar. He added the AAP government has fixed many gaps but the problem still remains acute. Even the central government has failed as its focus is to push big projects, he said. “Now is the time to act as the situation will get worse during peak summer,” he warned. https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/coronavirus-chaos-to-worsen-water-crisis-in-delhi-1678595-2020-05-16 (16 May 2020)
DJB prepares to up water output in its summer plan “A total of 155 existing water bodies will be rejuvenated. Tenders for 59 have been announced, out of which work for 22 has already been awarded,” the statement said. Additionally, new lakes are being created at Dwarka, Timarpur, Rohini, Nilothi, Pappan Kalan and Satpula, it said. Besides, 1,077 water tankers have been deployed at 87,308 locations in areas such as unauthorised colonies and slum clusters, which do not have piped connections. Further, 254 tube-wells, 117 Water ATMs and e-piaos (water kiosks) have been installed in water-deficient areas. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/as-part-of-djb-s-summer-plan-1k-water-rankers-upping-water-production/story-R3cEBilEe3PJLeqZvPtGsJ.html (16 May 2020)
Gujarat Pilot sensor-based service delivery to monitor rural drinking water Govt is all set to implement sensor-based service delivery monitoring system in rural drinking water sector under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). The pilot is already underway in two districts of the state so as to monitor the functionality of water supply i.e. potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality being provided to every rural household regularly on long-term basis.
– A meeting of State officials with the Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation was on May 13, 2020 for the finalisation of the Annual Action Plan for providing household tap connections to rural households for the FY 2020-21. Out of 93.6 lakh rural households in the State, 65 lakh (70%) are already having household tap connections. The state plans to provide 11.15 lakh household tap connections in rural areas in 2020-21. Gujarat state has set the target year of 100% coverage by the year September, 2022. https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=204000 (14 May 2020)
Haryana All rural houses to get tap water connection by 2022 Haryana has 29 lakh rural households out of which 19 lakh HH have tap water connection, 1 lakh was provided in 2019-20, 7 lakh HH will be provided in 2020-21. In 2020-21, 100% HH will be covered in one district and 2898 of 6987 villages. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/all-rural-houses-to-get-tap-water-connection-by-2022-84574 (14 May 2020)
J&K Rural households to get tap water connections by Dec 2022 J&K officials said there are 18.17 lakh households in the region, out of which 5.75 lakh are already provided with Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs). Out of the remaining households, J&K has planned to provide 1.76 lakh households by 2020-21. The UT is likely to get Rs 680 crore as central share under JJM for this financial year and it is eligible for additional allocation based on physical and financial performance. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/rural-jampk-households-to-get-tap-water-connections-by-dec-2022/1833389 (13 May 2020)
Telangana For MGNREGA workers safety is not an option There are 1.16 crore wage seekers under MGNREGA in state and many of them are working amid the pandemic without safety gears as they have no other choice. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/physical-distance-wont-feed-us-telangana-mgnrega-workers-safety-not-option-124465 (13 May 2020)
Maharashtra Govt running out of time to help rural sectors Ashwini Kulkarni, a civil society activist, said the state governments need to start works in which physical distancing can be maintained. https://www.news18.com/news/india/people-desperately-need-work-in-maharashtra-govt-running-out-of-time-to-help-rural-sector-warns-nrega-activist-2617933.html (13 May 2020)
Agriculture Ministry 296MT record grain output likely in 2019-20 Agriculture ministry on Friday released its third estimates for foodgrain production in the country in 2019-20, showing total foodgrain output at record 295.67 MT — which is higher by 10.46 MT than the foodgrain output of 285.21 MT achieved during 2018-19. Total production of rice during 2019-20 is estimated at record 117.94 MT – higher by 8.17 MT than the five years’ average production of 109.77 MT. Similarly, production of wheat during 2019-20 is estimated at record 107.18 MT – higher by 3.58 MT as compared to wheat production during 2018-19 and is higher by 11.02 MT than the average wheat production of 96.16 MT in the country. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/296mt-record-grain-output-likely-in-2019-20/articleshow/75771429.cms (16 May 2020)
Falling short Edit on NITI Aayog task force headed by Ramesh Chand on Sugar Sector problems says it is disappointing. https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/falling-short-120051400024_1.html (14 May 2020)
Tamil Nadu Govt attempted to bury CAG report on 2015 Chennai flood Fascinating (its old, but still worth taking note of for the records) how the TN govt tried to avoid and postpone tabling CAG report on Chennai floods of Dec 2015: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/obfuscation-blame-games-how-tn-govt-attempt-bury-cag-report-2015-chennai-flood-104494 (28 June 2019)
Maharashtra State sets new criteria for meteorological disasters For the first time since 2006, the state government has declared new parameters for declaring drought and excessive rains, based on rain figures for 1961-2010. Mah receives 1140.3 mm rainfall per annum. Sangameshwar (Ratnagiri dist) is the taluka with highest rainfall at 3548 mm. Palus (Sangli) has the lowest rainfall at 325 mm. Entire Marathwada, plus Ahmednagar, Solapur and parts of Sangli, Satara are considered drought prone as rainfall there is over 30-40% below state average. The govt declares drought when any taluka has less than 50% rainfall in June and July. Agri experts said last twenty years data should have been the basis. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/state-sets-new-criteria-for-meteorological-disasters/articleshow/75782588.cms (17 May 2020)
Sikkim Officer, Soldier Killed In Avalanche A Lt Colonel and a soldier of the Indian Army were killed in an avalanche in the mountainous Lugnak La region of north Sikkim on May 14, officials said. The two personnel were part of an 18-member group which came under the avalanche, they said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/lt-colonel-soldier-killed-in-avalanche-in-north-sikkim-2229070 (15 May 2020)
NTPC, Power Grid investors worry about rebates and cost write-offs -As of March, NTPC has approximately ₹14,000 crore of receivables outstanding from state electricity boards. Depending on the payment time, the company generally provides 1-2.5% of rebate to customers.
-A 2% rebate on the outstanding receivables amounts to ₹280 crore, a 2% hit to NTPC’s profit estimates for 2020-21. But the quantum of impact will rise significantly if NTPC has to forgo fixed costs for the unused power during the lockdown.
-It is, however, not clear yet how the government plans to compute the waiver on fixed charges. Also, unless it explicitly treats this as a one-time exception, the development can be an overhang for public sector utility stocks. After all, these stocks are known for their defensive characteristics and minimum guaranteed returns on capital invested by them. https://www.livemint.com/market/mark-to-market/fixed-charge-uncertainty-weighs-on-ntpc-power-grid-11589432347454.html (14 May 2020)
Tata group, Adani, CESC may join the race to buy BSES companies The Tata group, the Adani group, and CESC are planning to join the race to buy the 51 per cent stake held by Reliance Infrastructure in BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL), say investment banking sources. They will be joining others keen on acquiring the stake in BRPL, the largest power distribution company in New Delhi with over 2.56 million consumers and in BYPL which supplies electricity to around 1.7 million consumers across Central and East Delhi. https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/tata-group-adani-cesc-may-join-the-race-to-buy-bses-companies-120051500069_1.html (15 May 2020)
Scientists want covid-19 pollution levels to be baseline for future policy targets Other scientists also agree, but exercise caution against implementing a one-size-fits-all policy. “We need to also understand the purpose for which we are setting baseline levels,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, former IMD DG and a consultant with UNDP and World Bank.
-“There will be different levels for cities, for rural farm regions, and for industrial regions—we need to index these levels accordingly,” Rathore said. Rathore also warns against singling out air pollutants, saying that policymakers should also look at the soil and water data. “We should also extend this exercise to water and soil pollution as well, and should not leave them for last-ditch efforts as we have seen earlier,” he said. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/scientists-want-covid-19-pollution-levels-to-be-baseline-for-future-policy-targets/articleshow/75729943.cms (14 May 2020)
Include the true value of nature when rebuilding economies after coronavirus A strong signal from an independent report commissioned by the finance ministry of one of the world’s richest nations could go a long way in persuading its counterparts around the world that much-needed economic recovery must go with — and not against — the grain of nature… Fortunately, another key multilateral process — the next revision to the UN System of National Accounts (SNA) — is getting under way. Post pandemic, the economic “recovery must go with — not against — the grain of nature”. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01390-w (12 May 2020)
Interim Report of the independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. The Dasgupta Review is an independent, global review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta (Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge). The Review was commissioned last year by HM Treasury and is supported by an Advisory Panel drawn from public policy, science, economics, finance and business. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/interim-report-the-dasgupta-review-independent-review-on-the-economics-of-biodiversity (30 April 2020)
Study Melting Himalayan Glaciers Threaten Domestic Water Resources Retreating glaciers and snowpack loss threaten high-altitude communities that rely upon seasonal melt for domestic water resources. But the extent to which such communities are vulnerable is not yet understood, largely because melt contribution to water supplies is rarely quantified at the catchment scale.
The Khumbu Valley, Nepal is a highly glaciated catchment with elevations ranging from 2,000 to 8,848 m above sea level, where more than 80% of annual precipitation falls during the summer monsoon from June to September. Samples were collected from the rivers, tributaries, springs, and taps along the major trekking route between Lukla and Everest Base Camp in the pre-monsoon seasons of 2016–2017.
-Results indicate between 34 and 90% of water comes from melt during the dry, pre-monsoon season, with an average meltwater contribution of 65%. With as much as two-thirds of the dry-season domestic water supply at risk, the communities of the Khumbu Valley are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change as glaciers retreat and snowpack declines. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2020.00128/full (29 April 2020)
Erratic Monsoons Come at a High Cost There are several reasons scientists assert that climate change has made India’s monsoons more erratic. Sunil Amrith, a history professor from Harvard University, and author of the book Unruly Waters, explains how on the most basic level, monsoons are caused by two factors: (1) the level of moisture in the atmosphere and (2) the difference in heat between the land and the ocean. Scientists observed that the warming of the ocean’s surface due to climate change has increased the amount of moisture that monsoon winds pick up while heading to South Asia.
-No amount of flood management can resolve how glacier melts have massively increased runoff to the rivers fed by the Himalayas, for instance. An apt example of the costs of neglecting curative strategies comes from the state of Uttarakhand. In 2013, devastating floods killed more than 4000 people, uprooting roads, dams and bridges in the Hindu pilgrimage town of Kedarnath (Chandrashekhar). The economic losses were $3.8 billion.
-What policy prescriptions can help the suffering of the rural poor? There are two broad approaches that are currently prevalent to resolve this issue: (1) concerted efforts to reduce aerosol emissions, domestic burning of biomass, and crop burning, that is, factors causing climate change and (2) making farmers less dependent on climate. The first method tackles the problem from its source, that is, they are curative strategies, and the second shields farmers from the impact of climate change, that is, they are alleviation strategies. https://science.thewire.in/environment/climate-change-india-rainfall-monsoons/ (14 May 2020)
-Dr Pranav Pandit, a veterinary epidemiologist at One Health Institute, University of California Davis, said there is scientific evidence linking deforestation, rapid urbanisation, climate change with pandemics like Covid-19, which offer clues to how pandemics can be prevented. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/deforestation-exploitation-of-wildlife-leads-to-pandemics-like-covid-19-epidemiologist/story-QNnOsXd2sqR3QOQ6UqxVFI.html (13 May 2020)
India China ASF reached northeast, possibly through carcasses floating down from China Pandemic for pigs hits northeast India -Some residents of Dhemaji heard of the epidemic in Tibet when they went on work to the India-China border this February. They were told of pig carcasses floating down the Siang river—the main stem of the Brahmaputra as it enters India from China. Many of the northern tributaries of the Brahmaputra also originate in Tibet. African Swine Flu (ASF) broke out in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam within days of the first sightings of pig carcasses on the Siang.
-Transboundary transmission of ASF through rivers is a possibility strengthened by reports of wild boar deaths in the area, specifically at Lidor Soyit on the upper ridge of the Sille river in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The reports surfaced on May 14. One of the ways ASF is transmitted is through the wild boar population and the ticks that live off them. Transmission may have happened via wild boars as well.
-The Lidor Soyit case threatens the wild boar population of Kaziranga National Park, the world-famous home of the one-horned rhino. The Brahmaputra flows along the forest. Most families at a village adjacent to the park’s Agoratoli Range rear pigs and movement of domestic as well as wild boars is common in the area. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/05/18/pandemic-for-pigs-hits-northeast-india/ (18 May 2020)
India Pakistan India opposes Pakistan-China move to build major dam in Gilgit-Baltistan India on May 14, 2020 opposed a move by Pakistan and China to build a major hydropower plant in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying it has shared its concerns regarding such projects with both countries.
– The Pakistan government on May 13, 2020 signed a Rs 442-billion contract with a joint venture formed by China Power and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), a commercial arm of the Pakistani military, for constructing the Diamer-Bhasha dam. The state-run Chinese firm has a 70% stake in the joint venture and FWO 30%. The eight million acre feet reservoir with a height of 272 metres is set to be the world’s tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam. Construction work on the dam is expected to begin in a couple of weeks, the Pakistani media reported. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-opposes-pakistan-china-move-to-build-major-dam-in-gilgit-baltistan/story-HgRauxDzd8FjagWbAZaBAM.html (14 May 2020)
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) had approved the project for construction in 2010, but it suffered delays because of international lending agencies which remained associated with the project but later backtracked because of opposition from India as major part of the dam is located in Gilgit-Baltistan, the Dawn paper said. The government has already spent about 170 billion PKR on the project since then on land acquisition and other expenses. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-awards-442bn-diamer-bhasha-dam-contract-to-joint-venture-between-power-china-and-fwo/article31583253.ece (14 May 2020)
Pakistan has been for years very keen to build a cascade of mega dams along the Indus flowing down from the Himalayas, but has struggled to raise money from international institutions amid opposition from India. https://theprint.in/world/pakistans-40-yr-old-gilgit-baltistan-dam-project-could-finally-be-a-reality-with-china-help/422614/ (15 May 2020)
Diamer-Basha Dam in PoK an ecological disaster in the making -A letter written by the original designer of the dam, General Butt, in 2004 to then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf stated, “I shudder at the thought of earthquake effects on Bhasha. Dam-burst would wipe out Tarbela and all barrages on Indus; which would take us back to the stone-age.” https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/china-funded-diamer-basha-dam-in-pok-is-an-ecological-disaster-in-making/articleshow/75773410.cms (18 May 2020)
Bangladesh Govt plans to revive small rivers, canals, wetlands The government has taken a massive plan to recover canals, wetlands and small rivers across the country and re-excavate those to increase their navigability and water reservation capacity, groundwater recharge and thus preserve the biodiversity. These activities will be done under a project titled “Re-excavation of small rivers, canals and wetlands inside 64 districts project (1st Phase),” reports UNB.
According to an official document, some 4,086.622km of 88 small rivers, 352 canals and eight wetlands will be re-excavated under 561 packages in 375 upazilas and two city corporations. The amount of excavated soil will be 15.15 crore cubic metres, 62.32 square metres of turfing while that of plantable tress 13.41 lakh. https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2020/05/08/preserving-biodiversity-govt-plans-to-revive-small-rivers-canals-wetlands (08 May 2020)
Pakistan ‘Green Stimulus’ to combat Covid-19, protect nature PM Imran Khan has this week approved a “Green Stimulus” focussed on two objectives – job creation and restoration of our natural ecosystems. The focal areas for intervention include planting trees, reviving our protected areas and sanitation improvement. The targeted beneficiaries are the unemployed youth and women and the daily wagers who are suddenly out of jobs and migrating to rural areas.
The three chosen intervention areas are prioritised as they are all “shovel ready” with complete federal/provincial level ownership, all can be easily made Covid-19 safe, all deliver climate compatible development and they all provide avenues for jobs as “nighabaans” – custodians of the environment. (Malik Amin Aslam Khan, the author is the Advisor to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Climate Change, and the Global Vice President of IUCN.) https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/05/04/pakistans-green-stimulus-to-combat-covid-19-protect-nature/ (04 May 2020)
Bhutan Govt uses Covid-19 crisis to boost agriculture Leaders see the pandemic as an opportunity to boost agriculture and wean the country off expensive imports from India, after decades of unsuccessful attempts to promote self-sufficiency. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/04/30/bhutan-uses-covid-19-crisis-to-boost-agriculture/ (30 April 2020)
AUG Blog Map of 2019 landslides Dave Petley on Landslide fatalities in 2020, showing the highest numbers in South Asia.
https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/05/13/2019-fatal-landslides-2/ (13 May 2020)
Report China held water back from drought-stricken Mekong countries Eyes on Earth studied data from a 28-year period to determine the extent that dams in China on the Upper Mekong River impact natural water flow.
While these dams have disrupted the river’s natural systems for years, 2019 saw a particularly damaging situation, as downstream countries faced a severe drought while the Upper Mekong received above-average rainfall.
China’s water management practices and lack of data-sharing with neighboring countries threaten the livelihoods of roughly 60 million people. https://news.mongabay.com/2020/04/china-held-water-back-from-drought-stricken-mekong-countries-report-says/ (30 April 2020)
Uzbekistan Dam failure NASA post about the Sardoba Dam breach on May 1, 2020: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146693/dam-failure-in-uzbekistan (07 May 2020)
Another satellite map from NASA of breach in Sardoba dam in Uzbekistan on May 1, 2020: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146703/flooding-in-uzbekistan-and-kazakhstan (08 May 2020)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
USA Expanding Paved Areas Has an Outsize Effect on Urban Flooding Researchers agree that the expansion of pavement and other impervious surfaces is making the Urban floods situation worse because it prevents the land from absorbing these torrents of water. But there was no agreement what this contribution was.
– Now a study by Hydrologist Annalise Blum and her co-authors, published in March 2020 in Geophysical Research Letters has found that, on average across the U.S., every time a city expands roads, sidewalks or parking lots by one percentage point, the annual flood magnitude in nearby waterways increases by 3.3 percent. Blum and her colleagues—including Paul Ferraro, an economist at Johns Hopkins University—used an extremely large data set covering 39 years of records from 280 stream gauges, which measure water levels in rivers and streams to isolate the impact of paving from other factors. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/expanding-paved-areas-has-an-outsize-effect-on-urban-flooding1/ (15 May 2020)
Longest river was recently drier than during the Dust Bowl For the first decade of the century, the Upper Missouri River Basin was the driest it’s been in 1,200 years, even more parched than during the disastrous Dust Bowl of the 1930s, a new study (See: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/05/05/1916208117, Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA) says. The drop in water level at the mouth of the Missouri — the country’s longest river — was due to rising temperatures linked to climate change that reduced the amount of snowfall in the Rocky Mountains in Montana and North Dakota, scientists found. The Missouri River winds 2,300 miles from western Montana to St. Louis, where it joins the Mississippi River. It runs through the Dakotas and past Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, where it supports farming in several states and provides fresh water for dozens of municipalities.
– Historically, the Upper Missouri accounts for about 30 percent of the total flow at the mouth of the Missouri and will diminish over time, the authors said. “In the UMRB, what we’re really worried about is a future of snow droughts,” Wise said. “Snowpack in the Rocky Mountains is very sensitive to warming temperatures.” Instrumental records could tell them what happened only in the past 100 years, so the researchers relied heavily on tree ring data, where rings are wide during periods of normal to high moisture and narrow when it’s low.
– The “Turn-Of-The-Century Drought” study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused only on the 10 years after 2000. The basin has continued to experience droughts this decade — in 2012, 2013 and 2017 — but their severity in comparison with historic drought is unknown.
– The study said, “Only a single event in the late 13th century rivaled the greatest deficits of this most recent event.” This is in terms of the most severe flow deficits.
– A study (https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/04/16/southwest-megadrought-climate-change/?itid=lk_inline_manual_15) published last month in the journal Science found that a vast region of the western United States — California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho — is already in the grips of the first climate change-induced mega drought. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/05/11/missouri-river-drought-climate-change/ (11 May 2020)
Hundreds of new wells may leave Arizona’s most precious rivers running dry And the wells are being drilled to much deeper levels. The average depth of new wells drilled since 2010 in the Sierra Vista subbasin is about 150 feet deeper than wells drilled in the 1970s.
Gerrodette described what she sees as a worst-case scenario: If the aquifer falls too much, she said, the river would dry up and eventually trees would wither when their roots could no longer reach the water table. Over a period of years, the green corridor would wither, and the birds and animals would vanish.
Gerrodette said the river is now “hanging on by a thread” — threatened not only by pumping that occurs today, but also by pumping that happened decades ago. Over the years, wells in the Sierra Vista area pulled down the aquifer and left what hydrologists call a “cone of depression,” a drawn-down portion of the water table that continues to expand toward the river.
Despite conservation efforts, communities near the river still use more groundwater than they did in the mid-1990s, Gerrodette said, and now developers plan to build thousands of new homes, all of which would rely on the same groundwater that supplies the river.
“That’s my greatest fear, is that the river will be overcome,” Gerrodette said, “and that we would lose this treasure.” https://www.azcentral.com/in-depth/news/local/arizona-environment/2019/12/05/water-pumping-threatens-arizona-riparian-area-san-pedro-river/3937598002/ (12 May 2020)
July 2019 article on US Dam safety, but it is still useful to take note of. https://e360.yale.edu/features/in-an-era-of-extreme-weather-concerns-grow-over-dam-safety (09 July 2019)
Compiled by SANDRP (email@example.com)
Also see: DRP News Bulletin 11 May 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 04 May 2020
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