Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 1 June 2020: No escape from Dam floods as dam lobby continues to dominate

Feature image: Officials of the irrigation department visited the breached Tiware dam near Chiplun in Ratnagiri, in July 2019. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

The report of the 10 member committee headed by Shri Nandkumar Vadnere, appointed by the Govt of Maharashtra in Aug 2019 was submitted on May 28, 2020. The report titled “A report on Floods 2019 (Krishna Sub-Basin): Experts Study Committee: Analysis, Causes, Remedies” from all accounts is a major let down as is apparent from the way one of the members felt so humiliated that he had to resign: he was not provided basic information to do justice to the Terms of Reference, his chapters were unilaterally removed from the draft report by the chairman, under pressure from higher ups. The report is actually an attempt to show, by hook or by crook that dams were not responsible for the Krishna basin floods of Aug 2019. Almost exactly the same way CWC came out with a shockingly unscientific, contradictory report about Aug 2018 Kerala floods to prove that dams had no role. The report did not even ask if the any of the dams followed the rule curve, though it made recommendation that rule curves should be followed! The story keeps repeating for each of the dozens of instances in recent years. The report of the Tiware dam disaster in Maharashtra in July 2019 has been submitted in Feb 2020, but is not yet in public domain. These few recent instances show how strong a strangle hold the dam lobby has over the official water institutions and governance in India. The Dam Safety bill now before the Parliament will not help as it has no provision to remove or even loosen this stranglehold, there is no place for independent oversight in the bill. Without an accountable reservoir operation policy, legal and institutional paradigm there is no possibility of freedom from dam induced floods.

As monsoon 2020 officially starts today we may as well remind ourselves that our dam population is aging, a very large proportion of them are earthen dams, we do not have credible dam maintenance track record and there are increasing instances of high to very high intensity rains in increasing number of catchments. In case of large number of dams we do not know what is the updated Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) and if the spillway capacity is adequate to pass such updated PMF. IMD has already forecast very heavy rains in coastal and Northern Maharashtra and South Gujarat in the first week of June 2020 under the influence of Cyclone Nisarg. As we highlighted last week, the water storage in Sangli Satara region (among many others) dams on May 30 was 256% of the level on the same day last year. Last year even with lower levels on May 30 2019, these dams did end up contributing to unprecedented and disastrous Upper Krishna basin floods in Aug 2019.

Every dam can potentially help moderate floods in the downstream areas. Provided it is operated prudently, keeping in mind the downstream flood situation and upcoming inflows and forecasts. When not operated prudently, EVERY SINGLE DAM CAN POTENTIALLY CREATE AN AVOIDABLE FLOOD DISASTER. That is plain reality. Faster we overcome the stranglehold of dam lobby to accept that reality, better it will be for us.

This is not to say that dams alone are responsible for all floods in the downstream area. There are indeed a very large number of factors that can lead to flood disaster in any area. We need to keep all of them in mind and tackle all of them. But to begin with preconceived notion that dams can never contribute to floods in downstream area, is surely an invitation for more dam induced dam disasters.

SANDRP Blog Maharashtra’s Upper Krishna Basin again faces prospects of Dam Floods?  The water storages in the biggest seven reservoirs of Sangli Satara districts in Upper Krishna Basin in Maharashtra as of May 30, 2020 is 256% of the storage on the same date last year. Last year, these dams ended up in significantly contributing to the unprecedented flood disaster in Upper Krishna basin in Maharashtra. With much higher storage levels this year and monsoon hardly a week away, will this basin again face dam induced floods this year too? Please Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/30/maharashtras-upper-krishna-basin-again-face-prospects-of-dam-floods/  (30 May 2020)

Maharashtra Floods 2019: Don’t waste crisis SHOCKING REVELATIONS: In this Guest Blog, Pradeep Purandare, member of the Maharashtra govt set up 2019 Maharashtra Krishna Basin Flood inquiry committee, reveals why he had to resign from the committee. Set up on Aug 23, 2019 under the chairmanship of Shri Nandkumar Wadnere, the 10 member committee is yet to submit its report even as monsoon 2020 is knocking the doors. Purandare reveals that none of the recommendations of the Wadnere committee 2007 have been implemented. Mr Purandare was denied the basic information that he sought for the committee’s work.

The chapters he drafted as directed by the committee and which were accepted by the committee, were deliberately not included in the Draft Report, because “somebody pressurises the Chairman & he meekly succumbs”. The report was finalised by the chairman without consultation with the members. Shocking Saga of Dam lobby who does not want any accountability or even transparency in dam operations in India. PLEASE READ AND SHARE WIDELY.  https://sandrp.in/2020/05/26/maharashtra-floods-2019-dont-waste-the-crisis/  (26 May 2020)

Parineeta Dandekar writes (Marathi) about the Wadnere Committee report on Maharashtra Upper Krishna Basin floods of 2019 and why Pradeep Purandare as a member had to resign. https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-only-committees-to-prevent-major-floods-in-krishna-river-twice-abn-97-2174178/  (30 May 2020)

Maharashtra Almatti Dam and Krishna basin floods While these are good suggestions, the conclusion about Upper Krishna dam are not entirely conclusive as this report says. Also the reality of these encroachments cannot be ignored, and dam operations has to take this reality into account. And when they do not, and do not take appropriate and possible actions, then they must be held accountable.

– “State government should implement a strict policy against encroachments. To ensure this the flood plain and zoning rules should be immediately applied to prohibited areas near the river to remove these encroachments,” the committee strongly recommended. “Maharashtra State Climate Change Adaptation Policy 2017 and Integrated Dam regulation policy should be implemented. The flood carrying capacity of rivers should be restored. The flood lines should be updated,” the Wadnere committee recommends. State government should deploy dopler radar for better prediction of rains in Krishna river basin. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/flood-in-western-maharashtra-not-due-to-almatti-dam  (29 May 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Manipur Ithai barrage: To decommission or not As expected of ORF, they do not reach any clear conclusion, they just ask question and then make tautological statement that scientific decision should be made. Of course. But it does not even say this needs to be done urgently or how it needs to be done. https://www.orfonline.org/research/the-ithai-barrage-of-manipur-to-decommission-or-not-66917/  (28 May 2020)

Ladakh NHPC chief to discuss hydro, solar projects AK Singh, CMD, National Hydroelectric Power Corp (NHPC) called on Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh RK Mathur and presented the plan of NHPC to develop three hydro projects – Khalsi (80 MW), Kanyunche (45 MW) and Takmaching (30 MW) & a 50 MW solar power project at Phyang. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/nhpc-chief-meets-ladakh-l-g-to-discuss-hydro-solar-projects/76101590  (30 May 2020)

Himachal Pradesh This says a budget of Rs. 174 crore has been approved by central govt for modernization and upgradation of 60 Mw hydro project on Giri river in Sirmaur district which has been suffering from silt and worn out machinery impacting power generation. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/himachal/news/174-crores-sanctioned-for-the-renovation-of-60-mw-giri-bata-hydroelectric-project-127360534.html  (01 June 2020)

Madhya Pradesh Power surplus MP plans to build more dams and hydro projects to displace thousand more. https://www.spsmedia.in/1013/hundreds-of-vill ages-will-be-set-up-in-three-hydropower-projects-in-dindori-and-mandla/  (28 May 2020)

Video Report Is Hydropower benign, reliable and financially viable?? Kindly watch the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxbJyIaxrsw  (10 Oct. 2019)

MoEF Decisions of the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee meeting on River Valley Projects held on May 15, 2020, the minutes have been just published.

  1. Rammam-III HEP (120 MW) W Bengal and Sikkim-Extension of validity of EC granted on Aug 17, 2007: 13 yrs will be over on Aug 16, 2020, rules do not allow further extension, apply de novo for fresh EC.
  2. Bodwad Parisar Sinchan Yojana (42420 ha CCA), in Jalgaon and Buldana dist, Maharashtra by Tapi Irrigation Development Corp: Extension of validity of EC. RECOMMENDED for extension to 18.4.2023.
  3. Veeraballi Pumped Storage Project (2720 MW) in dist Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh by Astha Green Energy Ventures India Pvt. Ltd.- Fresh ToR: RECOMMENDED
  4. Ippagudem Pumped Storage Project (3960 MW) in dist Mulugu, Telangana by Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd: Fresh ToR: RECOMMENDED
  5. Integrated Kashang HEP (243 MW) in dist Kinnaur, HP by HP Power Corp Ltd.- Ext of validity of EC: PP absent
  6. Koel Major Irrigation project in Village Danote, dist Raigarh of Chattisgarh by WRD – Ext of validity of EC: RECOMMENDED http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/30052020EU1CLA1T32EAC.pdf

Industry NHPC to suffer power generation loss of Rs 119.43 cr due to lockdown  “The restoration schedule of three power stations i.e. Chamera-II Power Station, Kishanganga Power Station, Loktak Power Station has been affected due to movement restrictions imposed in wake of CoVID-19 pandemic. An estimated loss of Rs 119.43 crore is expected due to anticipated generation loss,” NHPC said.

– At Parbati-II, the construction activities were completely halted from March 23 to April 22 due to the lockdown. At Subansiri Lower, it said all construction work was suspended from March 24 because of lockdown. The completion time of the project has been affected. The lockdown would also have an impact on the cost of the project, it added. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/nhpc-to-suffer-power-generation-loss-of-rs-119-43-cr-due-to-lockdown/76101559  (30 May 2020)

IHA 2020 Hydropower status report highlights  – 15.6 GW in installed capacity was added in 2019, down from 21.8 GW in 2018. The countries with the highest increases in were Brazil (4.92 GW), China (4.17 GW) and Laos (1.89 GW).

– Hydropower developments have not been immune to economic impacts but the industry is facing widespread uncertainty and liquidity shortages which have put financing and refinancing of some projects at risk.

– India has overtaken Japan becoming the nation with the fifth-largest hydropower production capacity in the world with its total installed base now standing at over 50 Gigawatt (GW), behind Canada, US, Brazil and China, but India has added just 300 MW installed capacity in 2019-20, one of the lowest in last two decades. So hydropower is going downhill everywhere and globally. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/india-overtakes-japan-with-fifth-largest-hydropower-capacity-in-the-world/76095023  (29 May 2020)

A critical review of IHA report: http://www.transrivers.org/2020/3081/

DAMS

SANDRP Blog Michigan Dam failures: New Warnings for India’s Dam Safety The Dam induced Flood disaster in Mid-Michigan starting on May 19, 2020 brought 500 year flood, huge damages and part of the Midland town was at least under 6 ft water. Two Earthen Dams were involved: Edinville Dam reached and Sanford dam overflowed.

Map from Four Lakes Task Force Report
Map from Four Lakes Task Force Report

Edinville dam was in battle with FERC for close to two decades, but FERC did not succeed in making the dan owner Boyce Hydro to fix the problems, mainly inadequate spillway capacity. The detailed blog highlights the disaster and what preceded it. There is a lot that India can learn from this episode. Plese, Read, Share.   https://sandrp.in/2020/05/25/michigan-dam-failures-new-warnings-for-indias-dam-safety/  (25 May 2020)

CWC asks for review of rule curves of reservoirs “Rule curves of major reservoirs where flood cushion is not in-built need to be reviewed to have some dynamic flood cushion for major part of the flood season. This holds true for Kerala too,” Sharad Chandra, CWC Director, Flood Forecast Monitoring, said.

– “The rule curves for three major reservoirs in Kerala that include Idduki, Idamalayar and Kakki have been reviewed and reformulated with consideration of flood moderation in consultation with the CWC,” he said. Stating that faulty reservoir operation remains a challenge in minimising the flood risk, Mr. Chandra said dams by design did not cause flooding if the reservoirs were operated as per some standard operating procedure/operation manual/rule curves, which provide different levels to be maintained at different times in a year.

– “If the reservoir levels are quite high during the initial and middle months of a flood period, then it is tantamount to inviting trouble. Filling of reservoir should generally be slow during the initial period of the flood season and aggressive filling should be done during the end of the flood season. Inflow forecast should be utilised for real-time operation of reservoirs. It helps in pre-emptying the reservoir to avoid flooding-like situation downstream,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/review-rule-curves-of-major-reservoirs-cwc/article31695491.ece  (28 May 2020)

Kerala HC seeks stance of govt A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on May 28 sought responses of the State government and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in a suo motu writ petition on the issue of rise in water level of dams and regulation of dam waters.

The suo motu case was registered based on a letter addressed by Justice Devan Ramachandran to Chief Justice S. Manikumar.

When the petition came up, the Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chali asked the government and the KSEB to file a statement in response to the petition. The court ordered to implead the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) as a respondent in the case. The judge in his letter said the water level in major and minor dams in the State, especially in Idukki, is already high on account of the reduction in the generation of electricity caused by the COVID-19-induced lockdown. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/water-level-in-dams-hc-seeks-responses-of-govt-and-kseb/article31696292.ece  (28 May 2020)

Dams in likely to be opened early Excellent news. Great to see this move by CWC. This in a way proves how right we were that dams played a big role in increasing the flood disaster in Aug 2018. Then both KSEB and CWC did not agree with us, but this move shows how right we were.  https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/dams-in-kerala-likely-to-be-opened-early-1.4789691  (28 May 2020)

Chhattisgarh Bodhghat irrigation project The Jal Shakti Ministry and the Water Commission (CWC) have given their in-principle approval to the pre-feasibility report of the Bodhghat multipurpose irrigation project. The proposed project, worth Rs 22,653 crore, envisages construction of a dam on the Indravati River near Barsur village in Dantewada district. The project would provide irrigation facility to an area of 3.66 lakh hectares annually in naxal-affected Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur districts, besides generating 300 MW of hydropower. With the approval granted, the state government can take up work of survey and preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project. Shocking decision, but there is no way this project would be acceptable.  https://www.businessinsider.in/india/news/bodhghat-irrigation-project-in-cgarh-gets-central-nod-govt/articleshow/75942400.cms  (24 April 2020)

Gujarat 20 tribals detained for opposing fence around project land Around 20 tribals from Kevadiya village in Narmada district were detained on May 27 after they protested against the state government’s move of constructing a fence around the land near the Statue of Unity for development of tourism projects, police said. Villagers came out in large numbers to oppose the move by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) to put up the fence around the land covering six villages near the Statue of Unity. The villagers said that it threatens to displace around 5,000 tribals currently living in the area. State government started constructing the fence and acquiring the disputed land a few days back after getting permission from the High Court, which had earlier stayed the process over a PIL challenging the government’s stake on the land. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/20-tribals-detained-for-opposing-fence-around-project-land/1847678  (27 May 2020)

Congress MLAs and Bharuch MP support the opposition by Tribals for fencing of their lands in six villages around Statue of Unity.

The PIL filed by an NGO, claimed the land was acquired by the SSNNL in 1960s for the Narmada dam project, but was never used, and hence the tribals continued to own it. The govt needed to acquire the land afresh under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, as original acquisition lapsed after the tribals continued to use the land for the last 58 years, the PIL had said.  https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/guj-cong-mlas-detained-on-way-to-protest-fencing-work-near-sou/1850861  (30 May 2020)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Godavari-Krishna water sharing dispute Retired engineers urge Centre to stop Telangana projects The Retired Engineers’ Association of Navyandhra Pradesh has urged the Union government to stop Telangana from proceeding with any activity at the sites of several new projects it was taking up on Krishna river. In a detailed letter that ran into several pages to Union Minister for Jal Sakthi (Water Resources) Gajendra Singh Skekhawat, signed by association president M. Visweswara Rao, the retired engineers urged the Centre to instruct the CWC and the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) to critically examine the hot issue of new irrigation projects of Telangana and to ensure that it strictly complied with the provisions of the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014.

– Andhra Pradesh was allocated 512 tmcft assured water and 150 tmcft flood water and Telangana was allocated 299 tmcft of assured water and 77 tmcft of flood water. However, Telangana was building new projects to use about 179 tmcft of flood water, the letter alleged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/retired-engineers-urge-centre-to-stop-telangana-projects/article31705987.ece  (30 May 2020)

KRMB has convened its 12th meeting on June 4 here. The board has also written to the two member States to submit the DPRs of all the projects completed by them.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ap-telangana-water-row-krmb-convenes-meet-two-weeks-after-centres-directions/article31712969.ece  (30 May 2020)

Plans are afoot to bring Godavari river water under Kaleshwaram project to fill the Nizam Sagar Project via the Haldi reservoir. Thereby, water would be released to different areas by lifting it at Nagamadugu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/plans-are-afoot-to-fill-nsp-with-godavari-water/article31712356.ece  (30 May 2020)

PPT on river water diversion Telangana Congress made a power point presentation on the Pothireddypadu project and alleged that diversion of 88,000 cusecs of water from there and 3 tmc from Sangameshwaram to Andhra Pradesh would turn south Telangana into a desert.

– The TPCC president said that KCR was spending ₹1 lakh crore on Kaleshwaram project to only get 2 tmc water while AP was expanding Pothyreddypadu project to take away 7 tmc Krishna water. “More than the people of Telangana, KCR is favouring the contractors by remaining silent,” he alleged. He also said that water lifted from Kaleshwaram by spending huge money could have been drawn through gravity from the SLBC projects but the CM did not complete even the canal works so as to take up Kaleshwaram for his personal benefit. Mr. Reddy asked the CM to explain as to why pending projects of united Mahabubnagar district were not completed so far.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/cong-power-point-presentation-on-river-water-diversion/article31689948.ece  (27 May 2020)

May 29 to mark a historic day for Telangana, when Godavari water would be pumped to the highest level to Kondapochammasagar reservoir. CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao will unveil the event when water will be lifted to a height of 618 metres. The water from Godavari river, lifted from various stages from the Laxmi barrage (Medigadda), will be pumped into the Kondapochamma Sagar with a capacity of 15 tmc and from there through gravity, water will be supplied to the hitherto arid land that had no irrigation facility till date. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/a-momentous-day-for-telangana/article31690058.ece  (27 May 2020)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

West Bengal Bangladeshi barge sinks in Bengal river; none injured A Bangladeshi barge sank in a river in South 24 Parganas district on May 25 after hitting a submerged pontoon jetty that was damaged by Cyclone Amphan, officials of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) said.

-The incident occurred early in the morning in the Hatania-Donia river in Namkhana, they said. The left side of the barge is fully submerged in the river, they said.

-“The barge M V Prianka was carrying a cargo load of about 800-900 tonnes of fly ash from Budge Budge jetty in West Bengal to Bangladesh. It was sailing during low tide and hit the submerged pontoon jetty,” a barge operator told PTI. The accident could have been averted had the state administration marked the area, he said.   https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/bangladeshi-barge-sinks-in-bengal-river-none-injured/1845199  (25 May 2020)

MV Mamatamoy Maa sinks in the Hooghly on 12.03.2020. Source: Telegraph pictures/Manthan

This was the fifth such incidents and four similar incidents have occurred between March to May 2020. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/west-bengal-fly-ash-of-capsized-barge-may-hit-river-biodiversity/articleshow/74623784.cms  (12 March 2020)

https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/bangladeshi-barge-sinks-in-hooghly/cid/1753225  (12 March 2020)

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/bangladeshi-barge-ferrying-fly-ash-sinks-again-in-hooghly-river/1797006  (09 April 2020)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/bdesh-barge-sinks-crew-of-8- rescued/articleshow/75074423.cms (09 April 2020)

http://www.uniindia.com/brave-heart-indian-fisherman-pir-ali-sheikh-on-his-solo-effort-saved-7-drowning-bangladeshi-crew-in-the-hooghly-river/east/news/1960581.html  (18 April 2020)

For more details kindly see MANTHAN report.  https://avliverma.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/are-national-waterways-actually-suitable-mode-of-transport-for-bulk-transport-for-bulk-cargo-such-as-fly-ash/  (23 March 2020)

Tripura gets its first international waterway In an agreement signed between India and Bangladesh, Sonamura-Daudkandi route on Tripura’s River Gomti and Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi routes were added to the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes. This is the first ever international waterway that Tripura has got and the state is hopeful that the protocol route will emerge as a ‘gateway of Northeast’ in future by tapping into bilateral connectivity and trade potential. As per the revised protocol, a 93 km stretch of Gomti in Tripura’s Sepahijala district connecting Sonamura on the Indian side and Daudkandi in Bangladesh and Rajhahi-Dhulian route would be in effect which is expected to improve connectivity in both the countries and augment infrastructure in Bangladesh.   https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/tripura/tripura-gets-its-first-international-waterway-with-river-gomti-approved-as-indo-bangla-protocol-route-6420731/  (21 May 2020)

IRRIGATION

Haryana Gao Connection has republished SANDRP report in Augmentation canal breach by Bhim Singh Rawat: https://en.gaonconnection.com/augmentation-canal-breaches-becoming-a-new-normal-in-haryana/   (30 May 2020)

As per this report, the irrigation department would employ 92 pump sets of  a total 379 cusecs capacity to prevent water logging in low lying farm lands along Western Yamuna Canal in Sonipat district. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/haryana/sonipat/news/in-the-rainy-season-92-pumpsets-with-379-cusec-capacity-will-be-installed-for-drainage-from-the-fields-127362173.html   (01 June 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

Kotdwar Solid waste dumped at trenching ground by the Khoh river in Kotdwar being frequently burnt affecting residents health adversely. https://dainikjayantnews.com/trenching-ground-bana-logo-ke/  (26 May 2020)

Image

Ghaziabad Hindon River before meeting Yamuna at Greater Noida. Momnathal villagers say two months lockdown has hardly made any difference to pollution level in the river. (Image May 24, 2020)

RIVERS

Assam Oil well blows out  At a time when MoEF&CC has approved drilling clearances, a Oil India Limited oil well has blown out in Baghjan Village in Tinsukiya district on May 27 impacting 800 villagers mostly fisherfolks and reportedly killing a dolphin in bio-diversely rich area.

Three days after the blowout, the rig was still spewing out crude oil and gas [image by: Binanda Hatibaruah/Third Pole ]

-Describing the blowout as a “very serious issue,” Chandra Mohan Patwary, a minister and the spokesperson of the Assam state government, said that Dharmendra Pradhan (Union Petroleum Minster) would be visiting Assam with the heads of OIL and ONGC, and the state government had asked its pollution control board personnel to accompany the minister to the site. “They will try to take control of the situation.”

-Devajit Moran, secretary of local NGO Green Bud, said, “Oil leakage is an old problem, but this is the first time we are witnessing such a big disaster. We warned the government but no one cares. More than 15,000 people here are fishers. The rest are farmers. The oil has formed a layer on the water and the soil. It will take 2-3 years for nature to recover from this. Every piece of land has become uncultivatable now.” https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/05/30/oil-well-blows-out-in-assam/  (30 May 2020)

Baghjan 5, the oil well that is experiencing the blowout, is next to the Maguri-Motapung wetland, an eco-sensitive zone. A paradise for bird lovers, this wetland attached to the Dibru river attracts migratory species – including ruddy shelduck, bar-headed goose, falcated duck, ferruginous duck, northern pintail, Eurasian wigeon. The wetland also supports endangered Gangetic river dolphins, several species of fishes and other aquatic and amphibians unique to the habitat. https://longform.storiesasia.org/oil-well-blowout-threatens-national-park-in-assam-india 

Meghalaya Cleaner rivers in Shillong MSPCB finds the water quality level in the main rivers showed an overall 51.9 percent improvement. Most inspiring is the April 2020 assessment on the two most polluted rivers that run through the heart of Shillong city. They are Umkhrah and Umsyrpi Rivers, where the scientific assessment indicated that the quality of water has drastically improved.

-The Umkhrah River water quality improved by 58 per cent and the Umsyhyrpi by 38 per cent since the lockdown, stated senior scientist of MSPCB, Dr B Nongbri. She said that the absence of mini-industrial activities on the banks of Umkhrah is the main factor for the positive findings that was carried in prominent spots under standard parameters. https://www.sentinelassam.com/north-east-india-news/meghalaya-news/lockdown-heralds-good-news-for-water-quality-of-rivers-in-shillong-479120   (27 May 2020)

Chhattisgarh Production halted at over 100 firms sans water treatment plant The officials informed in the meeting that under the boundary area of Raipur Regional Office, 21 drains are found which ends in the Kharun River. 4 STPs are under installation at Nimora, Bhatagaon, Chandanidih and Kara under Raipur city. Also an STP is proposed at Dhamtari. The time of completion of their construction is scheduled for March 2021.

-Similarly, 16 drains have been identified which ends up in Mahanadi and among them a sewage treatment plant is proposed each in Gobra Nawapara and Rajim.

-Apart from this, two drains have been identified which ends in Shivnath river, for which a sewage treatment plant is proposed in Simga. An STP 6.2 MLD is under construction at Village Mohad of Rajnandgaon under Bhilai Regional Office while STP for Durg city and Kawardha is proposed. STP of 25 MLD capacity at Balikonta under Jagdalpur Regional Office is under construction. Currently, about 20 per cent of its work has been completed. Also, construction of STP in Kanker and Dantewada is proposed. Apart from this, 2 STPs are under construction under Raigarh regional office area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/chhattisgarh-production-halted-at-over-100-firms-sans-water-treatment-plant/articleshow/76063535.cms  (28 May 2020)

Andhra Pradesh No change in rivers water quality In terms of water pollution, APPCB officials said there has not been much of a difference in the last two months as the domestic sewage linked to the rivers continues to remain the same.

“Since the rivers in AP doesn’t have any industrial pollution involved, the lockdown did not contribute in improving the water quality in the state. Places like Tungabadra in Kurnool, Krishna river in Vijayawada, Godavari river in Rajahmundry side does have few domestic sewage connections leading to the river. The pollution levels remain the same,” scientist BV Prasad added.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/in-lockdown-air-quality-in-state-gets-top-rating/articleshow/76015305.cms  (27 May 2020)

Maharashtra Water quality improved at coastal areas, Mithi river got more polluted Prior to the lockdown, 2,671 MLD of domestic waste was being generated in Mumbai of which 2,016 MLD was treated before being released into the sea, according to MPCB. This means 25% of the city’s sewage is entering the sea without any processing. “During the lockdown, total sewage generation fell by 450-500 MLD while the gap in treatment continued to be 25%. However, the daily sewage load entering Mithi was over 300 MLD,” said YB Sontakke, joint director (water quality), MPCB.

-He added that water pollution in Mithi River continues to be a serious issue for Mumbai. “Owing to lesser water flow due to less desiliting activity during April, stagnation of water and low dilution led to higher pollution levels,” said Sontakke. “We are checking with the BMC regarding desilting work and progress before monsoon.” Fewer water samples were collected during March owing to travel restrictions during the lockdown, while samples for May are being collected and published soon, said Sontakke.

-An independent expert said MPCB’s findings could be accurate, but the sample collection source needed to be checked. “Coastal water quality during pre-monsoon months is generally poor for Mumbai. The findings show a marked decline BOD — indicating the level of oxygen that aquatic life need for survival — and nitrate levels in coastal waters during April, which fell below safe standards due to less sewage load,” said professor AD Sawant, water quality analyst and member of Supreme Court committee on Mithi River rejuvenation. “The installation of STPs along Mithi River need to be expedited and all desilting activities need to be completed to ensure increased river flow and dilution to curb pollution,” said Sawant.

-Meanwhile, the water quality at Ulhas River, a major river providing water to Mumbai metropolitan region also improved to a non-polluted status based on samples collected from six regions along the river. “Apart from a drop in industrial effluents, other activities such as washing of vehicles, jeans washing units, service centres etc. all stopped, improving Ulhas water quality,” said Sontakke. However, other industrial zones like Tarapur MIDC, Rabodi nullah etc. recorded higher levels of pollution. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/water-quality-improved-at-coastal-areas-mithi-river-got-more-polluted-during-lockdown-period-report/story-Q11XF5NrRWfV4xCV0M0g3O.html  (29 May 2020)

Tamil Nadu NGT orders testing of water quality in Kosasthalaiyar river NGT has directed a committee constituted by it to test the groundwater quality of the Kosasthalaiyar river on the Tamil Nadu side in a case relating to dumping of nearly 1,000 litres of expired milk sachets into the river near Tiruthani by a manufacturing unit in Andhra Pradesh.

-The directions were issued by the bench in the case taken up suo moto that dates back to January. During a hearing in March, the joint committee comprising the District Collector, Tiruvallur and members of the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh PCBs recommended imposing an environmental compensation of ₹1.85 lakh on the company.

-But proceedings in the case could not be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and the committee wanted two more months for filing their report.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ngt-orders-testing-of-water-quality-in-kosasthalaiyar-river/article31698806.ece  (28 May 2020)

GANGA Uttar Pradesh:-ToI again puts catchy misleading headline; while report content even ground situation do not confer to the ‘remarkable’ changes especially in Kanpur and downstream areas given abysmal status of STPs and no stop in sewage pollution:

– At Kada Ghat, the annual average value recorded for TC has increased tremendously between 2012 and 2016. In 2016 it was 41,167, a sharp increase from 4,958 in 2012. In March 2020, its MPN per 100ml of water was only 2,100 and at Rasoolabad only 1,700, but the number in March 2019 was 13,000 and 9,200 respectively.

-Other locations which record high TC count but where lockdown led to reduction in the number of bacteria in the river water were upstream of Kanpur; Shuklaganj in Kanpur; Tarighat downstream Ghazipur; upstream and downstream of Varanasi and Rasoolabad Ghat Prayagraj where the MPN for TC was 16,000 per 100ml of water in March 2019 and 3,400 MPN per 100ml of water in March 2020.

-In the downstream stretch of the river in various cities though there has not been much change in pollution indicators. The reason, sources said, could be drainage and sewage both flowing into the river. Lockdown also made more people stay at their homes than go out for work, with some working outside returning home thus adding to human and household waste from cities.

-However, at sampling locations at Jajmau bridge; downstream of Kanpur; downstream of Prayagraj and at other stretches close to cities the concentration of faecal coliform in the river water has either not reduced much or even increased. At Jajmau, the value was 26,000 MPN per 100ml of water for faecal coliform in March this year and 17,000 MPN per 100ml of water in March 2019.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/ganga-rivers-lockdown-avatar-much-cleaner-in-up/articleshow/76100309.cms  (30 May 2020)

Uttarakhand Pokhrad Gadhera and Water Conservation You Tube video discussion by Kumaon Vani Community Radio on Pokhrad Gadhera (stream) and Water Conservation issues. It says with growing use in upper limits, the perennial stream is gradually drying up impacting dependent communities downstream.  पहाड़ी क्षेत्र में लोग स्वयं और अपने मवेशियों हेतु पेयजल प्राप्त करने के लिए नौलों, धारों, गधेरों और छोटी नदियों पर निर्भर रहते हैं। जिन्हें भूमिगत जल धाराओं से पानी मिलता है लेकिन आज इन सभी का अस्तित्व खतरे में है। जिसके कारण आज पेयजल का गंभीर संकट पैदा हो गया है। पर्यावरणीय बदलावों के कारण वर्षाचक्र गड़बड़ा गया है, जिसके वजह से भूमिगत जल स्रोत रिचार्ज नहीं हो पा रहे हैं। हालात यह हैं कि ऐसी नदियां, गाड़ और गधेरे जिन्हें भूमिगत प्राकृतिक जल धाराओं से पानी मिलता था, आज सूखने की कगार पर हैं। https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEKYhF3sLhQ  (29 May 2020)

YAMUNA Haryana Dainik Bhaskar May 24 report https://www.bhaskar.com/local/haryana/panipat/news/yamuna-water-becomes-potable-bod-and-tds-levels-improve-by-more-than-50-127333822.html  and Dainik Jagran May 20 report mention https://www.jagran.com/haryana/karnal-yamuna-s-immaculate-appearance-after-two-decades-echoed-day-and-night-in-cannes-20286493.html  of significant improvement in Yamuna river water quality in Panipat and Karnal. However Dhanaura drain in Karnal and Drain No. 2 in Panipat are still carrying polluted water.

Uttar Pradesh This says improvement in Yamuna river biodiversity around Etawah post lockdown.

“I have been associated with the Yamuna Action Plan since the year 2000 and I have never seen the river this clean. The level of pollution reduces further and its water becomes clearer near Etawah; here the water from Chambal river further dilutes the pollution. I am amazed at the effect the lockdown has had on all rivers,” said Dr Rajeev Chauhan, a conservation officer with the Wildlife Institute of India-Dehradun, who has been studying the Yamuna river for the past 30 years.  https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-lockdown-yamuna-cleanest-in-30-years-as-industrial-dumping-halts-2234790  (25 May 2020)  

Aligarh district administration planning to revive Karwan and Neem rivers which join Yamuna in Agra.  https://www.livehindustan.com/uttar-pradesh/aligarh/story-karvan-and-neem-river-may-get-sanjivini-in-lock-down-soon-3189991.html  (03 May 2020)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Punjab  Rare dolphins spotted in Beas as pollution dips Another report mentions frequent dolphin sightings around Harike Wetland Sanctuary following improvement in Beas river water quality on account of lockdown.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/rare-dolphins-spotted-in-beas-as-pollution-dips-89068  (24 May 2020)

West Bengal Gharial travels 1100 km to Hooghly in 61 days -This is not the first time that a long-range movement of a gharial has been documented. In October 2015, a gharial that was released in Gandak River by Bihar Forest Department and Wildlife Trust India was captured by locals in the Mahananda River in West Bengal. This gharial had travelled more than 1000 kilometre in 234 days.  https://www.timesnownews.com/the-buzz/article/gharial-travels-1100-km-from-nepal-to-west-bengals-hooghly-in-61-days/597460  (27 May 2020)

Uttar Pradesh River people conserving Yamuna biodiversity The video shared by Panch Dev Yamuna Nadi Mitra Samiti, Ekdla in Fatehpur Uttar Pradesh mentions of some traditional knowledge on sustainable fishing practices. The Samiti part of larger Friends of River Yamuna group also released a turtle stranded into farmlands back into river marking World Turtle Day May 23.

In the interior remote areas, the group is spreading awareness on importance of dolphins for the health of the river. Jaikant Singh member of the Samiti also requesting some fisherfolks avoid fishing during breeding season. https://youtu.be/VyAFWugbOPg  (30 May 2020)

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This report published on occasion of World Turtles Day 23 May 2020 says that lockdown checked smuggling turtles from Chambal River Sanctuary. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/bharatpur/dholpur/news/smuggling-of-turtles-stopped-by-lockdown-namami-gange-project-will-be-protected-in-chambal-127331275.html   (23 May 2020)

Improvement in bird biodiversity at Okhala According to an ecologist from Wetland International who recently visited the sanctuary, the habitat has improved, with cleaner water in wetlands because of absence of industrial effluents in the river Yamuna during the lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease.

He further pointed out that favourable climatic conditions such as lesser heat, and occasional rains recently, also helped the sanctuary retain its greenery in the month of May when summer is at its peak usually, which is something he feels is favourable for the ongoing breeding season of the terrestrial birds. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-marked-improvement-in-okhla-bird-sanctuary-habitat-due-to-lockdown-say-experts/story-Tk3W8lOddyhEbWTbtmgdkN.html  (31 June 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Gujarat Draining Bandhara in search of fish. Complications of water management

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The two Bandharas on Udh Nhai River at Mattidhad and Dabhal storing huge quantities of water have been purposely drained by free loaders in search of free fish in river. These free loaders are least bothered about impact of releasing water from bandhara on plantations and nearby wells. The wells have drained immediately and there is no water for plantation. Plantation owners had applied FYM and in absence of water there is possibility of these plantation drying up. In past when monsoon had arrived on 15th June the water in these Bandharas saved the villagers. These miscreants should face action. Police should identify these culprits who tinker unauthorised with the assets of WRD Department and for few rupees worth free fish, drain out entire river jeopardizing livelihood and drinking water supply.

NPSSFW(I) PR on May 26, 2020: Rescind Order to Reduce and Reschedule Fishing Ban Period: Save Fish & Fisher People

Demands National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers

National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (I) has taken strong exception to the reduction and rescheduling of annual fishing ban period directed by the Department of Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying under their Order No.30035/15/97FY (T-1) Vol.V dt.25.05.2020 (copy of order attached). The order has reduced the fishing ban period from 61 days to 47 days and has rescheduled the uniform ban periods for the East Coast from 15th April to 31st May 2020 and for the West Coast from 15th June to 31st July 2020.

NPSSFW(I) objects to the revision of fishing ban period on following grounds –

  1. The order for revision of Fishing Ban Period is unilateral and it violates consensus:

The 61 days’ ban period with uniform ban separately for East and West coast was introduced in 2015. NPSSFW(I) and several other fish workers’ organisations already requested the Government in writing not to revise the fishing ban period. (Vide NPSSFWI letter dt. 2nd April, 2002. Copy attached) The impugned order states that there have been representations to amend the fishing ban period in the Indian EEZ, but it fails to state that there have been representations against the revision. The Department of Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying did not even care to consult with the fish workers’ organisations in the matter. So far our information goes the state governments also were not consulted.

  1. The order for revision of Fishing Ban Period is against conservation and regeneration of fish stock:

The 61 days’ fishing ban period was deemed necessary for conservation and regeneration of fish stock since it covered the prime fish breeding periods both in the East and the West Coasts. Actually there is need to have at least 3 months’ fishing ban period for small scale fishers with livelihood compensation and 4 months’ fishing ban for larger fishing boats for both better regeneration of stock and more equitable distribution of catch in favour of the small scale fishers. NPSSFW(I) has also raised this demand in its earlier communications.

  1. The order for revision of Fishing Ban Period is against the interest of small scale fishing communities:

Because of monsoon induced inclement weather conditions the period from April to June in the East Coast and June to July in the West Coast is not favourable for small scale fishing. Monsoon intervenes in fish drying activities, which is integral part of small scale marine fisheries of our country. Reduction of 17 days of fishing ban period thus means giving 17 days of advantage to larger fishing entrepreneurs over the small scale fishers. These 17 days will mean 17 days of monopoly loot of our marine fish resources by the larger fishing boats. This will drastically reduce the share of catch of the small scale fishers.

  1. The order for revision of Fishing Ban Period is going to hit the migrant fish workers:

The migrant fish workers, who are the great majority of vessel crew fish workers in the mechanised fishing fleet of West Coast and Tamil Nadu will be worse hit by this revision. The boat owners have not paid them wages during the lockdown in violation of the orders of the Government of India. Starved and herded like cattle in some fishing boats they were desperate to return to their home. Many of them have already returned or are on the way to return. The postponement of fishing ban in the West coast will make the boat owners pressurise them to stay back.

  1. The order for revision of Fishing Ban Period is not going to help fishing in the East Coast:

The East Coast is hard hit by cyclone Amphun. In West Bengal and Odisha many boats are damaged. It is also not possible to finish the maintenance works and complete other arrangements to set sail for fishing within six days. As such the pre-poning of the end of fishing ban in East coast by 17 days is not going to help fishing in a meaningful way.

In view of the above NPSSFW(I) urged on the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (copy of letter attached) to immediately revoke the Order No.30035/15/97FY (T-1) Vol.V dt.25.05.2020 issued by the Department of Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and stick to the 61 days’ fishing ban issued under the earlier Order No. 30035/15/97FY (T-1) Vol.V dt. 20.03.2020 (copy of order attached)

NPSSFW(I) has further requested the Union Minister to provide a monthly livelihood compensation allowance of Rs.15,000/- per month per household to small scale marine fishing communities for the periods of lockdown and fishing ban period taken together.

NPSSFW(I) calls upon all small scale fish workers organisations to raise their voice in protest against the unilateral, autocratic, marine fish resource destroying, anti small scale fish worker order to revise marine fishing ban period. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3446841302010185?__tn__=K-R 

Fisheries scheme has no relief component -“Due to coronavirus restrictions and previous climate reasons, fishers have not been able to go to sea for several months. Now Cyclone Amphan has also hit fish workers on the east coast and the annual monsoon fishing ban will come into effect in a few days. Given the huge loss of income, we had asked the Centre to give a financial assistance of ₹10,000-15,000 a month for each fish worker family,” said T. Peter, general secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF).

-In late March, in the early stages of the lockdown, the Fisheries Ministry responded to the NFF’s demand by sending letters to the State governments asking for estimates on losses to fishworkers, leading to hopes that the stimulus package would provide such support. “We have heard nothing further from the Ministry after those initial discussions and the package announced by the Finance Minister has nothing much for small and traditional fishers,” said Mr. Peter.

-Anil T. Varghese from the secretariat of NFF in Delhi said, “The Ministry itself put out a statistics handbook in 2019 with clear estimates of number of fish workers in each State and their average earnings.”

– On May 25, the Ministry reduced the duration of the annual fishing ban in the monsoon season from 61 days to 47 on the demand of mechanised fishing boat owners, saying it was to provide COVID-19 relief. “The ban is there for important environmental reasons to ensure that fish spawning can take place during the monsoon and regeneration of fish stock,” Mr. Peter said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fisheries-scheme-has-no-relief-component/article31680854.ece  (26 May 2020)

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog UP riverbed mining overview: NGT, CBI, Govts cannot stop the menace Following large scale illegal mining incidents in Yamuna, Chambal, Ken, Betwa and many other rivers in Uttar Pradesh, the NGT in past few years has issued significant orders. Towards the end of 2018, the CBI had also started inquiry into illegal mining case in Betwa river in Hamirpur district which involved the then Mining Minister Gyatri Prajapati and the district magistrate among others. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/27/up-riverbed-mining-overview-ngt-cbi-govts-cannot-stop-the-menace/  (27 May 2020)

Uttar Pradesh:- शामली के कैराना क्षेत्र के गांव नगलाराई में यमुना नदी में खनन माफियाओं द्वारा यमुना का सीना चीर कर भारी मात्रा में रेत निकाला जा रहा है। जिससे किसान व ग्रामीण बेहद परेशान है। जिसको लेकर उन्होंने के मर्तबा संबंधित अधिकारियों को भी शिकायत की परंतु कोई भी कार्यवाही नहीं हो पा रही है।

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-यमुना में चल रहे रेत खनन को लेकर प्रशासन द्वारा परमिशन मिली हुई है। जिसको लेकर नियम अनुसार खनन करने की आज्ञा प्रशासन ने दे रखी है। परंतु सभी नियमों को ताक पर रखकर भारी मात्रा में यमुना का सीना चीर कर रेत निकाला जा रहा है। वहीं किसानों ने खनन माफियाओं पर आरोप लगाते हुए बताया कि रेत खनन के चलते उनकी फसल बर्बाद हो रही है। जिसमें वह पहले ही लॉक डाउन के चलते कर्ज में डूब कर भुखमरी की कगार पर आ रहे है। ऊपर से यमुना में चल रहे रेत खनन के कारण उनकी फसल बर्बाद हो रही है। जिसमें वह भूखमरी के कगार पर आने पर मजबूर है। इस संबंध में किसानों ने कई मर्तबा संबंधित अधिकारियों को शिकायत की परंतु कोई भी कार्यवाही नहीं हो पा रही है।

-किसानों ने आरोप लगाया कि यमुना नदी के अंदर से मशीन व पॉर्कलेन जेसीबी मशीनों द्वारा भारी मात्रा में रेत निकाला जा रहा है। जिसमें 10 से 15 फुट गहरे गड्ढे कर कर रेत निकाला जा रहा है। जिसको लेकर आने वाले समय में किसानों व ग्रामीणों को बाढ़ का खतरा बना हुआ है। जिसमें यमुना नदी में पानी आने के बाद कटान शुरू हो जाएगा जिससे यमुना के किनारे लगने वाले सभी छोटे-छोटे किसानों की फसल यमुना के आगोश में समा जाएगी। https://www.indiahone.com/2020/05/Shamli_28.html  (28 May 2020) 

SANDRP Blog Yamuna Riverbed Mining: Miners, Govts throw rule book in river Latest and disturbing images taken on May 27, 2020 display brazen riverbed mining in Yamuna river in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

Miners create illegal bridge on Yamuna at Haripur, Vikas Nagar
Mechanized in-stream mining with heavy machines where river water is impounded and flow compromised by making illegal makeshift bridge at Haripur, Vikas Nagar. (May 27, 2020)

The images related to Vikas Nagar stretch of river show that miners have not only created a temporary bridge across the riverbed to transport mined material but also using heavy machines to dig the riverbed. In the process the river flow has been impounded at the location. https://sandrp.in/2020/05/28/yamuna-riverbed-mining-miners-govts-throw-rule-book-in-river/  (28 May 2020) 

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Yamuna river at Katapathar Vikas Nagar. Locals say riverbed being mined continuously. Muck dump of Vyashi HEP can be seen in the backdrop which may prove dangerous during monsoon floods. (May 23, 2020)

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Deep, in-stream, mechanized riverbed mining in Yamuna river at Vikas Nagar in violation of norms continues. The illegal makeshift bridge have not been removed by the administration. (Dainik Bhaskar, 01 June 2020)

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Flood affected villagers have been pleading local admin, which seems to have turned totally indifferent & thus implicit in illegal mining activities. https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/vikasnagar/story-complaint-of-making-way-for-mining-in-yamuna-3250320.html  (31 May 2020)

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Miners, ‘reporter’ in Kotdwar blame each other of attack, blackmail. Uncontrolled, illegal riverbed mining turning into huge law & order problem in Uttarakhand.   https://dainikjayantnews.com/kotdwar-mein-khanankariyo-aur-rajeev-gaur-ke-bich/  (31 May 2020)

Himachal Pradesh Large scale mechanized mining going on in Yamuna near Poanta for past 15 days, where miners even created illegal bridge across river. On May 29 a woman range officer held captive for hours, when she reached spot to stop it.

https://www.navodayatimes.in/news/crime-plus/himachal-mining-mafia-held-bridge-over-yamuna-river-and-taken-hostage-sohsnt/147843/  (29 May 2020)

Punjab CBI probe sought in former scribe murder case Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former member of parliament Prem Singh Chandumajra demanded that the CBI probe the murder case, alleging that the mining mafia was behind the murder. SBS Nagar police officials say the involvement of the mafia had not been established.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/punjab-police-arrest-six-for-former-journalist-sanpreet-mangat-s-murder/story-okoMMizqJymD9xOWopOWZL.html  (23 May 2020)

Jharkhand  14 villages injured in mining dispute Villagers ask village headman to allow sand mining from Koel river only for Panchayat requirement and objection to illegal mining by him reportedly resulted in violent clash injuring 14 villagers in Pratapur area of Gadhwa district.  https://www.livehindustan.com/jharkhand/story-firing-in-jharkhand-garhwa-district-over-the-issue-sand-14-people-injured-3238014.html  (21 May 2020)

Madhya Pradesh Amid Lockdown, Senior Cop Raids Stockpiles of Illegally Mined Sand  A police team led by DIG seized a huge amount of illegally mined sand during a raid conducted in Bhind district on May 27 amid Covid-19 lockdown. Alleging large scale corruption, DIG did not rule out involvement of police staff members and two local Congress leaders in conducting illegal sand mining in the area.

-In connection with the case, DIG Chambal Range Rajesh Hingankar has suspended two police staffers Mukesh Rajawat and Ashish Sharma. Both were posted in Sheopur and have complaints against them of ‘extorting money and involvement in illegal sand mining’.  https://www.news18.com/news/india/bhind-dig-seizes-illegally-mined-sand-during-raid-involvement-of-police-staffers-local-congress-leaders-suspected-2641489.html  (28 May 2020)

Kerala Hadtal against sand mining at Thottapally The dharna was organised under the aegis of the Samara Samithi at the Alappuzha district collectorate on May 23. On May 22, around 550 trees, mostly casuarina trees, close to the Thottappally estuary were axed. The trees were cut down based on an observation that the trees were impeding the flow of floodwaters from Kuttanad. According to the district administration, the trees were chopped to widen the estuary and ensure smooth flow of water during the rainy season.

-Prior to the felling of trees, the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) had started removing sand deposit from the estuary. The removed sand is being transported to its unit at Chavara. Although the fishermen community is not against sand removal from the estuary, which is an annual process to ensure the flow of floodwaters into the sea, it is up in arms against the transportation of the mineral-rich sand. In the previous years, the sand removed from the estuary was kept nearby.

-The fishermen alleged that the trees near the estuary had been felled to extract more mineral-rich sand from Thottappally, which would be detrimental to the environment and the fishermen community in the region. Apart from removing sand deposit and the steps to widen the estuary, the Irrigation Department has launched work to deepen the 11-km leading channel of the Thottappally spillway. Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran said the actions were intended to prevent flooding in Kuttanad. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hartal-against-sand-mining-at-thottapally/article31660502.ece  (23 May 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Report Fate of wetlands: The absurd CRZ Amendment 2020 Since its inception, multiple amendments with relaxations were issued over the last 20 years, thereby diluting the very essence of CRZ regulations. The latest dated May 1, 2020 is probably yet another nail in the coffin. With this, the CRZ regulations have lost the ecological sanctity that it was meant to uphold.  https://www.heraldgoa.in/Edit/Fate-of-wetlands-The-absurd-CRZ-Amendment-2020/161104  (28 May 2020)  

Andhra Pradesh  NGT Directs Expert Committee To Consider Compensating Fisher Folks The petition filed by traditional fisher folk communities had raised serious concerns about destruction of nearly 300 acres of mangroves in close proximity of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in East Godavari District. The clearing of mangroves have taken place for development of State Government sponsored housing project- Pedalandariki Illu as well as construction of a container depot for the railways.

Picture : Before Clearing
Before clearing. Image News 

The orders were passed in a petition filed by a social activist, D.Pal as well as local traditional fisher folk community members from Kakinada whose livelihoods have been severely impacted due to the mangrove destruction and reclamation of the creek for these projects. According to the petitioners, the destruction has impacted the livelihood of 1 lakh fisher folks who are directly or indirectly dependent on these mangrove wetland and creek ecosystems.

According to the petitioners, Kakinada coast is already prone to inundation due to climate change induced sea level rise, and that the destruction of mangroves which act as a defense from such inundation has increased the risk of the same. The petitioners have also requested for a coastal vulnerability assessment of the Andhra Pradesh Coast This becomes even more relevant in light of the recent massive destruction caused along the Andhra- Orissa- West Bengal coast due to Cyclone Amphan. https://www.impactnews.in/mangrove-destruction-in-andhra-coast-ngt-directs-expert-committee-to-consider-compensating-fisher-folks/  (31 May 2020)    

GMR told to stop dredging in Kakinada The action comes in response to a report published in The Hindu on May 22 detailing the threat to the mudflat and the mangrove cover and destruction of the prime habitat of birds — endangered Great knots (Calidris tenuirostris), and Indian skimmers (Rynchops albiocollis), which are listed as a vulnerable species. The dredging was being carried out by GMR Energy Limited to shift existing installations.

-On May 27, District Forest Officer (East Godavari-Territorial) Nandani Salaria and PCB Kakinada Executive Engineer A. Rama Rao Naidu conducted a site inspection on the directions of East Godavari Collector D. Muralidhar Reddy. -“On the site, a bund has been erected on the mudflat front. The inflow of water and sand being dredged from the mudflat into the mangrove cover has been recorded. The GMR authorities have been directed to stop the dredging activity and remove the bund by June 1,” Ms. Salaria said.

GMR told to stop dredging in Kakinada - The Hindu
The Hindu 

– “The bund is an immediate threat, impacting the soil topography and salinity on the site being levelled with the dredged material,” Ms. Salaria added. Mr. Rama Rao Naidu said the APPCB is investigating the issue. -Former Union Power Secretary E.A.S. Sarma, wetland expert K. Mruthynjaya Rao, and conservation biologist J. Eswar Narayana have documented the destruction of the Kumbabhisekham mudflat due to the dredging, and sought the intervention of the State and the MoEF&CC in the matter.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/gmr-told-to-stop-dredging-in-kakinada/article31705118.ece  (29 May 2020)

Telangana HC asks govt to stop illegal construction at water body State High Court on May 25 directed the State to stop any illegal construction near a water body at Puppulguda village in Rajendranagar mandal of Ranga Reddy district. It further directed the State immediately to remove any encroachment on the said water body. The bench directed the State and its PCB and authorities of Musi River Development Corporation and State WALTA Authority and Lake Protection Committee to file their counter affidavits in the PIL filed seeking protection of above water body.

Good, but should the HC no punish those responsible? https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/may/26/stop-illegal-construction-at-water-body-telangana-high-court-to-government-2148070.html  (26 April 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Gharana a dying wetlands The article by Niraj Mahar details the author’s experience during a visit to a remote wetland nestled between the India-Pakistan border in J & K. The conservation efforts & the unique social challenges associated with the effort is detailed from the accounts of the author’s field experience. https://www.geographyandyou.com/the-last-sigh-of-a-marsh-jammus-gharana/   (28 May 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Himachal Pradesh Gharats (Water Mills)- Builders Guidebook “Released When we set out to revive on such worn down water mill near our Village in Himachal Pradesh, India, we came across a challenge, there was no prior-art document or guidebook we could refer to while working with the craftsperson. The learnings that we found our, we share in this guidebook for others to consider. If you are an enthusiast or would like to know more about building watermills, I am sure you will find this guidebook of interest. I do hope it offers you no answers and leaves you with many wonderful questions to quest for further!”  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gharats-water-mills-himachal-pradesh-builders-guidebook-gupta/  (26 May 2020)

Maharashtra Ground-smart breaking climate agricultural model empowers rural women This case study showcases the success of a women-led climate-smart agricultural model in enhancing women’s livelihoods, incomes and food security. Located in central-western India, the Marathwada region is recognised as one of India’s most drought-prone areas. Marginal farmers in this region grow cash crops such as soy and cotton, which require more water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This damages their land, health and the environment in the long run.  https://cdkn.org/resource/groundbreaking-climate-smart-agricultural-model-empowers-rural-women-in-maharashtra/  (25 May 2020)

Bundelkhand Nurturing Networks and Revitalising Rain-fed agriculture Bundelkhand – a hilly region in the central and north India, has often been covered in the news for extreme distress and impoverishment. This film showcases a holistic approach which was adopted as part of an initiative to find agriculture solutions for small farmers in rain-fed regions of Bundelkhand. It explains the role Revitalising Rain-fed Agriculture (RRA) network along with Development Alternatives, INTACH and PSI in working towards strengthening farmer based institutions to become a mediator for small holder and marginal farmers.  https://youtu.be/DUxUJoChBcA  (04 May 2020)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Sewage diversion channel in Bellandur lake does little to stem flow Despite building a Rs 50-crore sewage diversion channel around Bellandur Lake, raw sewage continues to enter it, according to a field investigation conducted by Bangalore Environment Trust.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/sewage-diversion-channel-in-bellandur-lake-does-little-to-stem-the-flow/articleshow/75988349.cms  (26 May 2020)

Despite the government investing crores of rupees into reviving these lakes, and widespread citizen engagement, not much has changed. While the main reason is the lack of coordination between government departments, the absolute lack of science-based solutions is also a major gap.

-In this context, ATREE and BIOME have developed the ‘Bangalore Citizen Science Lakes Dashboard’ to share knowledge and best practices for better management of lakes.  https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/bengaluru-lakes-fish-and-bird-deaths-cause-prevention-what-to-do-44499  (27 May 2020)

Agra Water Woes Resume with Return of Scorching Heat Despite the Rs 3000 crore Ganga Jal pipeline project, many areas in Taj city continue to struggle with the water supply, particularly in colonies in the Trans Yamuna areas.

-The water quality and quantity improved till April end, but as temperatures began rising from early May, the river is once again dry and polluted, adds Pandit Jugal Kishor of Sri Mathuradheesh temple on the river bank.

-The upstream cities are drawing all the water, leaving hardly anything for Agra. Even the minimum flow in the river has been affected, adds Shravan Kumar Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society. Singh said his organisation had petitioned UP chief minister to use MANREGA resources, to clean up rivers and community ponds on a war footing. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2020-05-26-agra-water-woes-resume-return-scorching-heat-heatwave  (25 May 2020)

The Rs 3,000 crore 135 kilometre long pipeline project from Palra in Bulandshahar district, brings 150 cusecs of water from the Ganges. Of this, 10 cusecs are diverted to Mathura. The rest joins the Yamuna at the Sikandra Water Works. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/now-a-new-sangam-of-yamuna-and-ganga-in-agra/1727986  (06 Feb. 2020)

Delhi Water shortage adds to stress RWAs in upscale areas like South Extension-II have complained about water supply being curtailed forcing them to rely on tankers. Also, some water-stressed areas in rural and outer Delhi have reported a shortage. Delhi has a demand-supply gap of 250-300 million gallons per day during summer.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/water-shortage-adds-to-the-stress-in-delhi/articleshow/76021547.cms  (27 May 2020)

Ghaziabad Residents without regular water supply for 2 days When power supply, maintenance issue affect water supply in a high rise standing next to a polluted river. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/residents-of-highrise-near-hindon-airbase-without-regular-water-supply-for-two-days/story-n1sMrYxv7JoSBfZtlld9CP.html  (28 May 2020)  

WATER

Ahead of rains, 14K ponds to be cleaned in Punjab
KS Pannu, Director, Mission Tandarust Punjab, inspects the ongoing desilting of a pond at Isserhail village in Fatehgarh Sahib. (The Tribune) 

Punjab 14K ponds to be cleaned The state govt is trying to clean 14500 ponds before the monsoon under Mission Tandurast Punjab. But strangely, it is dewatering them, in addition to  cleaning? https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ahead-of-rains-14k-ponds-to-be-cleaned-90449  (27 May 2020)

Odisha Extensive Mining and Lockdown Unleash Severe Water Crisis in Jajpur An explicit partiality towards industrial and factory units and allowing them to make unchecked usage of water bodies and contaminating them has brought the Brahmani river belt to this unprecedented water crisis. The difficulties that the people are facing in these extended summer months and the inadequate attention paid by the authorities to their needs is only a clear indicator of the fact that people matter the least for the government and it is the industrial/corporate interest that seems to be its greatest priority.  https://thenewleam.com/2020/05/extensive-mining-and-lockdown-unleash-severe-water-crisis-in-odishas-jajpur/  (14 May 2020)

Rajasthan Water scarcity in Barmer In many far-flung areas of Barmer district, there is severe water crisis and in many rural areas PHED waterlines are damaged and water tanks are dilapidated. Women in these areas try to collect water from pits where water gets accumulated due to damaged pipelines. In many rural areas, the situation has remained the same since Independence. Every year, plans are made for summer season, but nothing changes on ground. The state government’s project to connect these villages is going on, but it will take many years. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/forget-washing-hands-there-is-no-drinking-water-in-barmer-villages/articleshow/75957438.cms  (25 May 2020)

Madhya Pradesh Villagers depend on leakage from pipeline Bardia village in Petlawad tehsil faces the problem all year long. Despite them making several complaints, the officials have not taken any action on the issue. The problem is so grave that the villagers have dug a pit near a leaky pipeline of the Mahi river project and are using the water being collected in the pit.

-The village has about 400 people and none has taps under the Nal Jal Yojana, nor any other reservoir or arrangement for water. There is, however, a water tank in the village but is all dried up. The villagers have to walk miles to get meagre quantities of water, which is a terrifying situation right in front of the administrative officials, who have chosen to ignore it. https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/madhya-pradesh-in-bardia-leakage-from-pipeline-is-the-only-source-of-water-for-villagers   (28 May 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Several villages in Kurnool district face drinking water scarcity Lockdown restrictions seem adding into water woes in Kurnool district amid rising heat. Several villages in the Kurnool district have been facing acute drinking water scarcity. The villagers especially on the western part of the district have to wait for days to get a pot of water. Though the problem is very common during every summer season, the officials concerned are least bothered to address the problem.

-Several incidents in the past were seen where the residents had clashes while getting water. About a month ago, the residents of Venkatanayuni Palle in Dhone constituency assembled at one place in large numbers to get a pot of water. Till date the problem was not fixed.  https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/kurnool-several-villages-in-kurnool-district-face-drinking-water-scarcity-625070  (28 May 2020)

Maharashtra Water deprived villagers in Melghat and adjoining areas claimed that they have to walk miles along rocky terrain to fetch water.  https://www.dnaindia.com/india/video-it-takes-entire-day-to-fetch-water-villagers-face-hardship-in-maharashtra-due-to-shortage-2826224  (28 May 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Uttarakhand Hail, storm, rain in last week of May 2020 have again impacted cash and horticulture crops in Purola region of Uttarakhasi district. (Dainik Jagran/Amar Ujala, Hindustan Hindi 30/31 May 2020) 

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MONSOON

FLOOD

DAM FLOODS IN ASSAM  Flood situation worsens in Lakhimpur as NEEPCO continues to release dam water Villagers stage demonstration on the bank of Ranganadi at Panchnoi against release of waters by NEEPCO from its RHEP dam to the downstream of the river. Flood situation in Lakhimpur district worsened on May 24 as NEEPCO continues to release dam water of its Ranganadi Hydro Electric Plant (RHEP) at Yazali in Arunachal Pradesh on the downstream of river Ranganadi for the third consecutive day. The hydro-electric plant of the North East Electrical Power Corporation (NEEPCO) is located in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh in the Ranganadi basin and adjoining Dikrong basin.  https://nenow.in/north-east-news/assam/assam-flood-situation-worsens-in-lakhimpur-as-neepco-continues-to-release-dam-water.html  (25 May 2020)

River Kopili at Kampur at Nagaon seems almost touching previous HFL 61.58 metre at 17:00 hrs on May 27 and then falling back. Seeing continuous rain in basin CWC has predicted it to cross the HFL between 17:00 to 21:00 hrs on May 27 2020 and remain above HFL for longer time. https://twitter.com/CWCOfficial_FF/status/1265573997888049152 

01062020 k

River Kopili at Kampur station in Nagaon district touched peak flood level 61.75 m at 13:00 hrs on May 28 which is only 0.04 m short of HFL 61.79. Water level expected to fall further as CWC says  rains have stopped and the releases from upstream dam has started falling. https://twitter.com/CWCOfficial_FF/status/1265914157339009029 

Arunachal Pradesh Landslide near Subansiri dam triggers panic along Assam-Arunachal boundary Understandable panic over the landslide. NHPC has no substantial response, except assurances, which have no credibility.

Landslide near Subansiri dam triggers panic along Assam-Arunachal boundary
Image source: North East Now 

Landslide due to heavy rain in the foothills of eastern Himalayas on Assam-Arunachal boundary in Lakhimpur-Dhemaji districts has created panic among people living on the downstream areas of the Subansiri river since May 26 last.

On the next day, people living in the inter-state boundary of the two districts were alarmed as the landslides took place around 200 meters away on the right side from the under-construction mega structure of the 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) dam at Gerukamukh. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/assam/landslide-near-subansiri-dam-triggers-panic-along-assam-arunachal-boundary.html/amp  (29 May 2020)

Anand Sankar on FB post comment: I visited there in 2008. Most of the NHPC engineers that time were south Indians from Andhra Pradesh. They were candid off the record that the soil study, everything had been wrong. Didn’t they lose the coffer dam for 4 consecutive monsoons? Or more? The ferocity of the river that point is phenomenal.

Landslide kills three The 27-year-old mother, her son, aged 7 years and a daughter aged 3 years died on the spot when the house they were living in was buried by the mudslide. Dibang Valley superintendent of police, S Singpho, said that the incident occurred around 5 pm on May 25 in Arzoo village, around 90kms from Anini, the headquarters of the district. The SP said incessant rain has been battering the district heavily for the past 9-10 days causing landslides at many places. Rainfall-triggered landslides and flood have left trails of large scale devastation in several other parts of the state as well.  https://nenow.in/north-east-news/arunachal-pradesh/landslide-kills-three-in-arunachal-pradesh.html  (26 May 2020)

Meghalaya 1630 people have been displaced due to flash floods in West Garo Dist of Meghalaya on May 24, DM said. No loss of life is reported. Road communication is disrupted as three bridges, including two wooden and one concrete have been washed away. Didak river flowing through Rakshamgre and Photamati & Ghagua rivers flowing through Tikrikilla were flowing above the danger mark following heavy rains in the night of May 23.  https://thenewsmill.com/1630-people-homeless-due-to-flashflood-in-meghalaya/  (25 May 2020)

The cloud burst caused the floodwaters to rise over six feet in many areas, inundating the entire Raksamgre market in West Garo Hills district. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-flash-flood-in-meghalayas-garo-hills-inundate-quarantine-centre-2234992  (25 May 2020)

-Parts of Assam and neighbouring Meghalaya have been receiving extremely heavy rains since May 20 after super cyclone Amphan weakened.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/flood-alert-for-assam-exceptionally-heavy-rain-likely-in-meghalaya-and-arunachal-pradesh/story-KwWXSe0N1qoTNjHp8pcVUN.html  (26 May 2020)

CWC Special flood advisory for Brahmaputra, Barak Basin Flood Advisory dated May 27 says state of Assam to get Heavy to Very Heavy Rainfall with isolated Extremely heavy rainfall has been forecast in Southern parts of Brahmaputra Basin for next 24 hours due to which there is likelihood of continuation of rising trend in Kopili river in Nagaon and Morigaon Districts for the next 2 days.

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There is a likelihood that river Kopili at Kampur may touch the Highest Flood Level during the night of 27th May 2020 and fall slowly thereafter. River Brahmaputra is likely to cross Danger Level and flow in Severe condition. Due to the combined effect of Brahmaputra and Kopili, river Brahmaputra is likely to flow in Severe Flood Situation from May 28. Due to forecast of heavy to very heavy rainfall in Barak and Meghna basins, river Barak, Katakhal, Kushiyara are likely to rise rapidly and may flow in Above Normal to Severe Flood Situation in the Districts of Districts between 28th and 30th May 2020. http://cwc.gov.in/sites/default/files/special-advisory-ne-states-27052020.pdf 

Bihar Is North Bihar prepared for the overlapping challenge of COVID-19 and the annual floods? North Bihar, the most flood-prone area in the country, is notorious for floods that happen almost every year. But, this year, it may be a double whammy as floods will have to be managed amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic. There is a need to develop mechanisms to lessen the flood vulnerabilities by focusing on the first two phases of the floods — pre-floods and during the floods. https://en.gaonconnection.com/is-north-bihar-prepared-for-the-overlapping-challenge-of-covid-19-and-the-annual-floods/  (28 May 2020)

Punjab CM okays 55 crore for flood protection A government statement said as per decisions taken in meetings with Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) authorities, outflows have been increased to an average of 30,000 cusecs from the Bhakra reservoir and the reservoir level on May 26 stood at 1,561.06 feet, which is 53.5 feet lower than the last year’s level of 1,614.56 feet. The outflows from the Pong Reservoir have also been increased to an average of 15,000 cusecs and the reservoir level as on May 26 was 1,346.54 feet against 1337.72 feet last year. The Pong reservoir is mainly rainfed and has little to no snowmelt inflows.

– During the meeting, discussions were also held on a set of three initial reports submitted by Israel’s national water company, Mekorot Development and Enterprise Ltd, on the state’s water situation and roadmap for tackling the water crisis. The state had in June last year signed an agreement with the company for formulation of water conservation and management master plan for the state. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/punjab-cm-okays-rs-55-crore-for-flood-protection/1848779  (28 May 2020)

Uttarakhand On May 28 several parts of state received heavy rainfall. A video shared by Ranveer Singh Bisht shows flash flood in a small stream of Byasi village in Thailisain Block of Pouri district. The stream supports a mini hydel seasonally and water mill round the year. It feeds East Nyaar river.

Also see, Phutkal landslide dam bursts in Zanskar valley, flood creates extensive damage in 2015. https://sandrp.in/2015/05/08/phutkal-landslide-dam-bursts-in-zanskar-valley-flood-creates-extensive-damage/  (08 May 2015)

Cyclone Amphen Broken houses, rotting fish Nilanjan Ghosh, head of the Kolkata chapter in Observer Research Foundation, says the southern most one-third of the Sundarbans has become uninhabitable, and around 1.5 million people need to be relocated. It is an argument he has been making for a decade now, but he has received no positive response from policymakers, who are afraid of the chaos such a move may cause.

But with the sea rising in the area at a rate of 8 millimetres per year, with cyclones becoming more frequent and more severe as another result of climate change, and with the Ganga delta itself sinking due to silt being held back by numerous dams and barrages upstream, there may soon be no alternative but to depopulate a part of the world’s largest mangrove forest. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2020/05/25/cyclone-amphan-leaves-behind-broken-houses-rotting-fish/  (25 May 2020)

Embankment politics, livelihood loss, pandemic Embankments are the only protection available to many people in the basin-like islands especially in the southern Sundarbans, added Mistry. The southern Sundarbans suffers from land loss due to erosion, there is frequent breaching of embankments with the related loss of houses and cultivable land.

-According to the official record, out of the total girdle of about 3122 km lengths of embankment maintained by the Irrigation & Waterways Department, Aila damaged 778 km of the embankment. However, experts and local communities maintain the extent of the damage was much more.

-To reconstruct the damaged embankment and dykes, the Ministry of Water Resources sanctioned Rs. 5032.00 crores to the state.

-“The fund was never fully utilised. The state government did construct concrete structures but in a few stretches. Most of the mud embankments that exist today have foundations that go back to 150 years during the British colonial time,” said Sugata Hazra, professor and former director of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University, who has studied the area extensively.

-Manturam Pakhira claimed that the then regime at the Centre, the UPA led by the Indian National Congress, was disbursing the funds in phases and concrete structures were constructed in a few stretches. After the Narendra Modi-led BJP govt came to power in India, the funds stopped coming.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/05/embankment-politics-livelihood-loss-pandemic-and-other-issues-mount-in-sundarbans/  (27 May 2020)

Worst impact on non-indigenous and exotic However, what is of concern is the decline of the terrestrial component of the ecosystem at an increasing rate, particularly on the Indian side. The Indian Sundarbans region is experiencing net land loss due to relative sea level rise and erosion. Modelling studies show that there will be a dramatic decline in suitable Bengal tiger habitats in the Sundarbans. Mangrove tigers are good swimmers but not aquatic animals. The same applies for mangroves too; mangrove vegetation can withstand diurnal inundation but are not aquatic plants.

-Resilient rebuilding would involve rebuilding or creating new institutions, organisations, and systems to address, manage, and overcome adverse conditions now and in the future. This is expensive in terms time, effort and money, but social return on investment in the form of secured lives and livelihoods is also higher despite climate-related hazards, and returns accrue over the design life of the program, and beyond. Resilient rebuilding could also address risks to the natural system. This would involve: 1. facilitating silt and freshwater flow into Indian Sundarbans to keep pace with relative sea level rise, 2. halting withdrawal of groundwater, and 3. making space for mangroves to migrate further inland. The last action can be undertaken only if humans relinquish the space they currently occupy. https://www.firstpost.com/india/in-sundarbans-cyclones-worst-impact-not-on-natural-areas-and-inhabitants-but-on-non-indigenous-and-exotic-8414271.html  (29 May 2020)

Also see Indigenous peoples in Sundarbans ruined by lockdown, cyclone. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/01/indigenous-peoples-in-sundarbans-ruined-by-lockdown-cyclone/  (01 June 2020)

The mangroves of Sundarbans provide sustainable livelihoods to millions of people and functions as a protective barrier for its inhabitants from natural calamities. As the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are expected to increase in the future, it is very important to conserve the mangroves of the Sundarbans.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VHBJdTGH9k  (31 May 2020)

URBAN FLOODS

Bengaluru 211 flood prone spots identified State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has identified 211 vulnerable spots in Bengaluru that are prone to flooding. Out of the 211 vulnerable spots, 58 have been categorised as sensitive while the remaining 153 as moderately sensitive. The flood prone spots have been identified based on a digital elevation model that has been created on the basis of historical data on frequently flooded areas, satellite terrain mapping, and data on black spots (junctions that get water logged) identified by traffic police. All this was overlaid on the GIS platform to identify the vulnerable spots. To ensure free flow of water, the civic body had taken up desilting of stormwater drains while KSNDMC had installed 28 water level sensors in the stormwater drains to get real-time data. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/211-flood-prone-spots-identified/article31644091.ece  (21 May 2020)

ENERGY OPTIONS

PM calls for innovative models in rooftop solar PM emphasized on the need for an innovative model in rooftop solar sector and said that each state should have at least one city, either its capital or any other renowned tourist destination, which is made fully solar through rooftop power generation. The PM also asked to expedite the plan for a carbon neutral Ladakh and discussed about the supply of drinking water in coastal areas by harnessing the solar and wind energy. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/pm-reviews-power-and-re-ministries-calls-for-innovative-models-in-rooftop-solar/76061993  (28 May 2020)

THERMAL POWER  

Karnataka KPCL engineer’s ‘blunder’ may halt ops in thermal plants State’s 3 thermal power plants, which generate 40% of the total state output, have been put in a tough spot due to non-compliance with emission rules while remedial measures by KPCL have been delayed as an engineer tried to sabotage tenders worth Rs 1,600 crore to favour one of the bidders.

-Following a 2017 order by the MoEF&CC that amended emission norms for thermal power stations in the country, installation of Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) system became compulsory to check air pollution and water consumption. The deadline for implementation of the project was December 2019. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/kpcl-engineers-blunder-may-halt-ops-in-thermal-plants-841433.html  (24 May 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

‘National Wildlife Board an active agent in environmental destruction’ In this interview Ritwick Dutta is making valid points and raising important questions. https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/insight/national-wildlife-board-an-active-agent-in-environmental-destruction-843688.html  (30 May 2020)

Also see, Analysing the Draft EIA Notification 2020.  https://www.cprindia.org/news/8951  (08 May 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

What is the relationship between locusts and and climate change? During quiet periods—known as recessions—desert locusts are usually restricted to the semi-arid and arid deserts of Africa, the Near East and South-West Asia that receive less than 200 mm of rain annually. In normal conditions, locust numbers decrease either by natural mortality or through migration.

However, the last five years have been hotter than any other since the industrial revolution and since 2009. Studies have linked a hotter climate to more damaging locust swarms, leaving Africa disproportionately affected—20 of the fastest warming countries globally are in Africa. Wet weather also favours multiplication of locusts. Widespread, above average rain that pounded the Horn of Africa from October to December 2019 were up to 400 per cent above normal rainfall amount. These abnormal rains were caused by the Indian Ocean dipole, a phenomenon accentuated by climate change. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/locust-swarms-and-climate-change 

Killing insects before monsoon crucial -According to some assessments, the locust outbreak this time is linked to climate change. The World Meteorological Organisation earlier this year said unusually heavy rain in late 2019 was a factor in the severe desert locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa region. The outbreak was the worst in over 25 years, and the most serious in 70 years for Kenya. This is expected to spread further by June 2020 in a severe threat to food security.

A closeup of a locust
A closeup of a locust (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

-Originally, the locusts began migrating from the Horn of Africa last year. They migrated from the Middle East to Iran, Pakistan and then into India.

-“These locusts which migrated to India early this year might have found greener pastures as the pre-monsoon rains during March–May were in excess over north India this year,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/killing-insects-before-monsoon-crucial-to-halting-second-wave/story-tNOfgjVLw3XnTPc6GHPhEO.html  (26 May 2020)

Locust control: ‘govt. ignoring non-chemical measures’ -Providing a list of these safe and effective measures along with references and sources in the letter, Prof. Rajinder Chaudhary, Advisor, Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, Haryana has requested the government to control locusts only through biological and non-chemical measures rather than hazardous chemical measures.

-“If chemical methods cannot be junked all together, then at least in the areas near the population and close to catchment and storage areas of waterbodies, the government must adopt the safer non-chemical measures instead of adopting chemical measures,” said Prof. Chaudhary.

-According to Prof. Chaudhary, there is no doubt that the locust attack was a menace that could be ignored, but it must also be ensured that locust control measures do not pollute air, water, environment and food chain. While the ill-effects of aerial spraying of dangerous pesticides were well-established, it is rather disheartening that in spite of the fact that the government honoured an organic farmer with the Padma Shri this year, his advice on safe control of locust was being totally ignored by the government. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/locust-control-govt-ignoring-non-chemical-measures/article31719432.ece  (01 June 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

Bhutan Punatsangchhu I: identifying ancient landslides in high mountain areas

Punatsangchhu landslide
The site of the landslide at the Punatsangchhu I dam, via Google Earth.  The image provides the coordinates of the site. (AGU Blog)

Dave Petley in this post shows that the very decision to build a hydropower project at this site was wrong and if the developers even noticed the ancient large moving landslide at the location of Punatsanghchu I HEP in Bhutan. Putting in dock a lot of people including CWC, NHPC, WAPCOS, may be GSI and many others. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/05/26/punatsangchhu-i/  (26 May 2020)

ASIA

New Paper The July 2018 Xe Nammoy hydropower complex dam failure A paper has recently been published in the journal Geomorphology (Latrubesse et al. 2020) that also consider carefully the causes and impacts of this event. Whilst the paper is focused mainly on modelling and understanding the flood that resulted from the breach of the dam, it also considers the failure mechanism of the dam itself. Interestingly the authors have examined the materials from which the dam was constructed.

– What is not in doubt is that heavy rainfall prior to the failure induced the breach event. However, the dam did not overtop – indeed analysis in the paper suggests that the water was at least 15 m below the crest of the saddle dam when failure occurred.

– The core of the dam used weathered materials quarried locally. The research team examined the characteristics of these materials. They concluded that the dam materials may have had a lower clay content than the designers had anticipated, which in turn provided a higher level of permeability than had been expected. Thus, Latrubesse et al. (2020) suggest that water penetrated into the core of the dam, driving piping and, ultimately, triggering a rotational failure in the dam itself, which then allowed the breach to occur. This mechanism of failure is a hypothesis rather than a definitive analysis. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/05/28/the-july-2018-xe-nammoy-hydropower-complex-dam-failure-a-new-paper/  (28 May 2020) 

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Michigan Dam Failures Are a Warning In November 2019, The Associated Press reported that 19 dams in Michigan, including the first of the dams to breach, were in unsatisfactory condition and presented high hazards, meaning their failure can cause loss of life.

The failed Sanford Dam last week, which flooded the Tittabawassee River and parts of Sanford, Mich.
Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

– We won’t be able to say we weren’t warned. The federal government offered a stark message in its national climate assessment in 2018, cautioning that aging and deteriorating dams and levees “represent an increasing hazard when exposed to extreme or, in some cases, even moderate rainfall.” The report noted that heavy rainfalls led to widespread dam or levee failures in 2005, 2015, 2016 and 2017. “The national exposure to this risk,” the report said, “has not yet been fully assessed.”

– The Oroville Dam in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada illustrates the point. In 2005, three environmental groups urged the repair of an emergency spillway on the dam, which at 770 feet is the tallest in the United States. At the time, the work would have cost roughly $100 million, according to one of those groups. In 2017, the spillway failed. Some 185,000 people were evacuated downstream because of the potential of catastrophic flooding. The cost of repairs following the near catastrophe was $1.1 billion. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/opinion/michigan-edenville-dam.html  (27 May 2020)  

Also see; Do two failed dams, foretell a dire future? https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/05/27/michigan-dam-failure-future/  (27 May 2020)

Southeast Texas Property Owners Allege State Responsible for Flood Damage More than 30 residents in Chambers County have filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas, alleging that the design of a local highway has caused repeated flooding of thousands of acres of property, including their homes and businesses. According to the lawsuit, the state’s decision to install a solid concrete traffic barrier in the highway’s median causes flooding on properties along the north side of I-10. While the lawsuit recognizes that the median protects driver safety, the plaintiffs point out that Texas transportation engineers elected to use a type of barrier that retains water upstream rather than letting the water flow downstream.

– While the structure serves public purposes, like maintaining access and enhancing public safety, both the state and federal constitutions preclude the state from forcing a few individuals to bear the burden of providing those public benefits without just compensation.” The lawsuit notes that Texas courts, including the Texas Supreme Court, have ruled that the government must compensate private property owners for their losses suffered when the state chooses to provide a public benefit in situations like this. With the change in the law announced last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, this will be one of the first tests of the state’s liability to property owners under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/southeast-texas-property-owners-allege-state-responsible-for-flood-damage-301066208.html  (27 May 2020)

Analysis Renewable energy consumption topped coal in 2019 for first time since 1885: EIA  US renewable energy consumption in 2019 surpassed coal energy consumption for the first time in 130 years as coal used for electricity continues to decline while more renewables are joining the grid as part of an energy transition to cleaner power sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Energy Review. Total renewable energy consumption in 2019 reached a record high of 11.5 quadrillion Btus, an increase of 1.4% year on year and the fourth straight year to grow, according to the report. Meanwhile, coal energy consumption fell to 11.3 quads, a drop of 15% year on year to its lowest level since 1964 and its sixth consecutive year to fall.

– Since 2015, US renewable energy growth is almost entirely attributable to the use of wind and solar in the electric power sector. Electricity generation from wind surpassed hydro for the first time in 2019 and is now the most-used source of renewable energy for electricity generation in the country on an annual basis, according to EIA. https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/052920-renewable-energy-consumption-topped-coal-in-2019-for-the-first-time-since-1885-eia  (28 May 2020)   

2020 Atlantic hurricane season is going to be bad The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Atlantic hurricane forecast, published May 21, shows an abnormally active season in the coming months. The Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts June 1 and ends November 30 but for the past six years has been arriving early, typically produces 12 named storms. This year, NOAA is forecasting between 13 and 19 named storms, six to 10 of which could become hurricanes (compared to the average six). Three to six of those hurricanes could develop into major hurricanes — category 3, 4, or 5 storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher. The average season sees three major hurricanes.  https://grist.org/climate/its-official-the-2020-atlantic-hurricane-season-is-going-to-be-bad/  (23 May 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 25 May 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 18 May 2020

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

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