DRP News Bulletin · Groundwater

DRP NB 29 June 2020: Don’t blame NGT for Govt failure on Groundwater regulation

In a strange twist of logic, CII and FICCI have indirectly blamed National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the abject failure of the government in coming out with a credible set of regulations for groundwater use by industries. Groundwater is India’s water lifeline, most of the water that India uses comes from groundwater, be it rural or urban water supply, industrial & commercial water supply and also irrigation. However, the levels are going down and quality is deteriorating at most places. Basically because the government has shown ZERO interest ensuring credible regulation of groundwater use.

The Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) and Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA), both under Union Ministry of Water Resources have been complete failures. In fact, CGWA was set up under the Environment Protection Act 1986 with wide powers in 1996-97, following a Supreme Court order, not any initiative of the government. But it functions like a department of the government, not as any independent regulatory authority, and has in face become a licensing body rather than regulatory body. It would give license to completely non essential water intensive industries like water bottling plants and cold drinks plants even in drought prone areas and groundwater dark zones, collecting license fees. The key issue is that groundwater regulation cannot happen through a centralised agency like CGWA, but an aquifer level body. Secondly, the groundwater regulating body should also know where does the groundwater recharge happens and protect and encourage them. CGWA has been a total failure here.

Even states have completely failed in ensuring any credible regulation of groundwater. As a story from Maharashtra below shows, Maharashtra came out with a groundwater act in 2009, but it remains unimplemented, since no rules were finalised! Even now the government is going through the motions of finalisation of rules! No state in India has shown any confidence inspiring attempt to regulate groundwater use or ensure that groundwater recharge mechanisms are protected and enhanced.

NGT stepped into this mess in January 2019 and asked centre to come out with more credible norms, but each of the draft of the norms that MoWR & CGWB has put up before the NGT have been pathetic, showing COMPLETE non seriousness in doing anything to regulate groundwater use.

Now these industrial associations like CII and FICCI, have written to NITI AYOG and MoWR, both of which are themselves part of the problem, to intervene, provide interim extensions of NOCs based on rather weak promises and ensure that industries can continue to exploit unsustainable groundwater use. This is shocking and unacceptable. Unfortunately no media has spoken up against this. Unregulated use of groundwater has been a massive disaster for millions of people since they have been deprived of access to basic water need and livelihoods. Such advocacy for unbridled use of groundwater without any credible regulation will bring bigger disaster for more people.

GROUNDWATER

Industries seek relief from govt on groundwater use In Jan 2019, the NGT had ordered the Centre to put on hold its new norms on groundwater use. The Jal Shakti ministry had submitted three reports to the tribunal, but all were rejected since none were credible. The tribunal further ordered in January 2020 that permission should be granted on the basis of a study of groundwater availability and periodical report that replenishment had resulted in improvement.

– Industry bodies have now approached the Jal Shakti ministry seeking relief on the use of groundwater, considering that more than 20,000 applications for no-objection certificates (NOCs) have been put on hold by the authorities. Representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) wrote to Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar on 16 June to resolve the regulatory uncertainty over granting NOCs.Around 800,000 companies fall in overexploited, critical and semi-critical blocks, representing 36% of 3,881 groundwater assessment units, he said, requesting anonymity.

– The industry bodies sought intervention from policymakers to address the issue by way of an ‘interim extension’ to the NOC applications till a clear policy is adopted.This extension may be granted to businesses submitting an impact assessment by an external agency empanelled by the CGWA, and promise to comply with the new guidelines once they are issued.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/industries-seek-relief-from-govt-on-groundwater-use/story-EFJmbtn3HXGJQ4oFeoZjBM.html  (24 June 2020)

Maharashtra Even after 11 years groundwater rules not notified In 2009, Maharashtra passed a law called Ground Water Management and Development Act to regulate the use of ground water. However, for implementation of any law, administrative rules are needed to be framed, but pressure from various vested interests ensured that even after 11 years, rules have not been notified. According to activists working in the field of water conservation, in urban and semi urban areas, the tanker lobby and water guzzling industries like soft drink and liquor industry, and in rural areas, the whole politico-economic system built around crops like sugarcane ensured that these rules are never notified.

An official of state water regulator Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) said, “As per the Act, there should be survey of ground water levels every three years but we are still using the 2013 survey to decide which are most exploited zones.” In the case of a city like Mumbai, it was never surveyed. Indiscriminate lifting of ground water is going on in Mumbai and 3,000-4,000 tankers are operating every day, but in absence of any law, they are operating with impunity, he added.

MWRRA’s member Vinod Tiwari said, “We have asked the state govt to place the rules under the law before state legislature in monsoon session and get legislative approval.” Kaustubh Diwegaonkar, Director of States, Ground Water Survey and Development Agency said, “The draft rules under the law were framed in 2018 on which we received over 5, 000 suggestions & objections. The rules were revised taking into consideration these & now they have been circulated among concerned depts for their comments. After their comments are received, final rules will be notified.”  https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/maharashtra-no-rules-notified-even-11-years-after-passing-the-ground-water-management-and-development-act/articleshow/76646856.cms  (26 June 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog Landslide on NHPC’s Teesta V project in Sikkim damages the Dam This photo is possibly the worst advertisement for a hydropower project with landslide rocks sitting on top of the dam. A massive landslide has severely damaged the 55 m high dam of the 510 MW Teesta Hydropower Project of NHPC, possibly in late hours on June 26, 2020 or early hours of June 27, 2020. This is a major blow to NHPC, considered India’s premier hydropower company.  https://sandrp.in/2020/06/27/landslide-on-nhpcs-teesta-v-project-in-sikkim-damages-the-dam/  (27 June 2020)

https://www.facebook.com/thevoiceofsikkim/videos/975725886217227/?t=0

SANDRP Blog Vyasi Hydro is draining muck and Rs. 40 lakh geo jute work into Yamuna With information from local people, this report exposes how the under construction Vyasi Hydro Project on Yamuna River in Uttarakhand constructed muck dumping site on the river bed against all norms, then spent lakhs to cover it with jute, which got washed away in the first rains on June 20, 2020. The muck has been flowing down into the river, affecting the river and people, but for all these violations, known to the EAC and MoEF, UJVNL gets decorated with recommendation for clearance for Lakhwar dam, just upstream! Local people are rightly demanding independent inquiry and holding those responsible accountable. Please Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/06/24/vyasi-hydro-is-draining-muck-and-rs-40-lakh-geo-jute-work-into-yamuna/  (24 June 2020)

Kerala People’s persistence can win good fight Excellent detailed report about the struggle against the Athirapally Project over the decades.  https://thefederal.com/the-eighth-column/athirappilly-project-when-peoples-persistence-can-win-the-good-fight/  (24 June 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir ANDRITZ bags over Euro 50 million equipment contract Austria-based technology company ANDRITZ on June 22, 2020 announced it has bagged a contract worth over Euro 50 million from Chenab Valley Power Projects for supplying the complete electro-mechanical equipment for the run-of-the-river 624 MW Kiru hydropower plant in Kishtwar district in Jammu & kashmir. CVPP is a Jt Venture between NHPC, JKSPDC and PTC. It will be executed by ANDRITZ’s Indian subsidiary with its manufacturing facilities in Mandideep, near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, and Prithla, near Faridabad, in Haryana.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/andritz-bags-euro-50-million-equipment-contract-for-jk-hydro-power-project/76511172   (22 June 2020)

DAMS

India’s major reservoirs have twice as much water as last year, and much more than the 10-year average storage for this time of the year. “The water reserves are in a healthy position this year mainly due to the excess rainfall that the country received last season. Besides, the monsoon withdrawal was also delayed,” said Rakesh Kumar Gupta, Member, Design and Research, at CWC. Last year, the country-wide rainfall was 110% of the Long Period Average. This surplus rain left dams at optimum capacity, forcing discharge many times during the monsoon.

Could the lockdown have had a role in the water accumulation? While it is true that the lockdown from March 25 through May saw very little human activity — especially in factories and industries that are the main consumers of power — there is no evidence to link this to the water situation. “The dams were in a good position since last monsoon. However, we cannot link the consumption (low or regular) with Covid-19 situation,” Gupta said.  https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/healthy-stock-in-reservoirs-monsoon-6478177/  (27 June 2020)

Uttarakhand पंचेश्वर बांध: 87 गांव ही नहीं डूबेंगे, पेड़पौधों जीवों की कई प्रजातियां खत्म हो जाएंगी: रिपोर्ट पर्यावरणविद् हिमांशु ठक्कर कहते हैं कि भारत-नेपाल की सरकारों को पता है कि ये परियोजना आर्थिक तौर पर व्यवहारिक नहीं है। पंचेश्वर से बनने वाली बिजली की कीमत कम से कम सात रुपये प्रति यूनिट होगी। जबकि सौर और पवन ऊर्जा से कम पैसों में बिजली मिल रही है। इतनी महंगी बिजली बेचना दोनों देशों के लिए आसान नहीं होगा।  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/dam/pancheshwar-dam-87-villages-will-be-submerged-many-species-of-plants-and-animals-will-be-destroyed-71896  (22 June 2020)

Himalayan Quake and a High-Risk Project In the wake of growing earthquakes & long overdue big one in Himalaya, there is a need to reassess the risks from one of the most controversial projects in recent decades, the Tehri Dam writes Bharat Dogra. https://www.newsclick.in/Himalayan-Earthquake-Tehri-Dam-High-Risk-Project  (27 June 2020)

Lead story from DRP NB of June 22, 2020 on no govt report even after seven years of Kedarnath disaster has been republished: http://sdcuk.in/seven-years-after-uttarakhand-disaster-any-lessons-learnt/  (28 June 2020)

Chhattisgarh Environmentalists object move to proceed with Bodhghat project  Activists working for tribal rights said discussions about the projects must be done at gram-sabha level. “This is a welcome step that the govt have started consulting with the public representatives of the Bastar region on the Bodhghat project. The gram sabhas and villagers should also be consulted,” said Alok Shukla, convener, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, a pressure group that was formed in 2009 and focuses on people’s issues in the mineral and forest-rich state.

He cited that the project was stalled earlier because of fears over its adverse ecological impact. “It is the state govt’s priority to provide irrigation facilities in the Bastar region, but it shouldn’t happen at the expense of the environment and the local tribal population,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/environmentalists-object-chhattisgarh-govt-s-move-to-conduct-survey-for-bodhghat-project/story-A84b944V551TLZBCujKCtM.html   (27 June 2020)

Maharashtra Locals oppose Brindavan Gardens project near Khadakwasla dam Merely two days after the state irrigation department floated a tender to replicate Mysuru’s iconic Brindavan Gardens near the dam site at Khadakwasla, villagers from the area seem to oppose the Rs 30-crore project to be built on the 28-acre plot along with the reservoir.

-Stating that the land is located close to a defence establishment, they have raised the issue with irrigation officials, demanding the venture be scrapped. Locals feel that the village will not benefit from the project. They said that it will only increase menace. Instead, villagers want pressing issues such as water supply and providing basic amenities be looked into by the irrigation dept on priority, which still remain unaddressed.

-In a letter addressed to the irrigation dept, villagers complained that the decision to build the garden was taken without considering their views. “Most of the land attached to the dam was acquired from the farmers. It appears that there is an attempt to hand over the entire land to private realtors in the name of carving out a garden,” reads the letter.

-Commenting on the issue, sarpanch Saurabh Mate, said, “We have demanded land to construct schools and colleges, but the proposal is pending since decades. But the garden project has been given a green signal without any delay. Nearby villages like Nanded, Kirkitwadi, Nandoshi and Sanasnagar want plots to build drinking water projects, but nothing has been done on that. The irrigation dept’s prime task is to provide drinking water. Decorative initiatives such as a garden should be secondary.” https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/locals-oppose-brindavan-gardens-project-near-khadakwasla-dam-days-after-tender/articleshow/76538034.cms  (24 June 2020)

Rajasthan Gurjar-Meena communities at loggerheads over Panchana dam water With a wide gulf of trust deficit among communities and dilling-dallying on part of govt to ensure water for drinking & irrigation can result in serious law & order situation for state govt. Water of Panchana dam is a tinder box.

-“Water of Panchana dam would not be allowed to release in any canal until we get Chambal water into this dam. This meeting is just beginning and if we did not get water, people of this area would agitate,” declared Kirori Singh Bainsala, the Gurjar leader at a mahapanchayat held at Gudla village. Gurjars have a committee named Gudla Panchana Samiti to deal with issues of their interest related to Panchana dam water.

-Gurjar is the dominating community in twelve villages nearby Panchana dam but their area does not fall into the command area of the original plan. The catchment of the dam covers Todabhim, Karauli in Karauli district and Bamanwas and Gangapur in Sawai Madhoupur district. These are predominantly Meena dominant area. Later a lift canal was built to supply water to Gudla and other villages also.

-Authorities had released some water from the dam this week in order to lower the water level. They were trying to install a pump in the newly completed lift canal aimed at irrigating the field of Gudla area. The decision to lower the water level was taken in a meeting on May 23 in presence of four MLAs and district collector of Karauli & Sawai Madhopur. But Gurjar community led by Kirori Singh Bainsala stopped the water flow.  https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/gurjar-meena-in-rajasthan-is-at-loggerhead-again-this-time-over-panchana-dam-water/605880  (13 June 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Govt to constitute SPV for 27 Rayalaseema water projects Special Chief Secretary (Water Resources) Adityanath Das has issued an order on June 27 according permission to incorporate a 100 per cent State-owned SPV under the dept, proposed to be named Andhra Pradesh Rayalaseema Drought Mitigation Projects Development Corp Ltd” or such other name as approved by the Registrar of Companies. The SPV will be incorporated with an initial paid-up capital of Rs 5 crore to be met from the water resources dept’s budget.

-These Rayalaseema drought irrigation projects are not only limited to 27 projects and more can be added in future based on the requirement, which may also increase the overall capital outlay. With formation of a separate SPV, any financial difficulties/ constraints of the new projects cannot spill over into any other govt project and vice versa.

-The SPV can also arrange financing through loans from financial institutions and even has the option to tap into public markets. It may be recalled that the govt has been working on formation of SPVs for major irrigation projects such as Rayalaseema Drought Mitigation Project, Polavaram project, Uttarandhra Sujala Sravanti and others, expected to cost Rs 70,000-80,000 crore. The officials said the proposals to form SPVs for the other projects were pending with the finance dept and would be formed after getting financial concurrence. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/vijayawada/2020/jun/27/andhra-government-to-constitute-spv-for-27-rayalaseema-water-projects-2162058.html  (27 June 2020)

IRRIGATION

Haryana Strange instead of compensating Karnal canal breach affected, irrigation dept planning to fine villagers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duZ_qq8F4tk  (22 June 2020)

Four micro irrigation projects Haryana has bagged four micro irrigation projects worth Rs 1,200 crore, funded largely by the Centre. The drip and sprinkler irrigation will have nearly 64 per cent funding by way of loans from NABARD and 13 per cent in the shape of subsidy from the Centre. The projects are Rs 500-crore micro irrigation projects using treated water from sewage treatment plants, Rs 400-crore project using Bhakra waters on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, Rs 189-crore projects on existing canal commands and Rs 113-crore farm water micro irrigation projects. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/haryana-goes-in-for-micro-irrigation-103379  (24 June 2020)

Rajasthan स्काडा सिस्टम, मोबाइल से दिख जाएगा नहर में पानी प्रदेश के नर्मदा नहर प्रोजेक्ट और गंग-भांखड़ा नहर पर भी स्काडा सिस्टम लगाया जाएगा। स्काड़ा सिस्टम वेब आधारित होने के कारण नहर में प्रवाहित पानी व अन्य आंकड़े किसान तथा जनता द्वारा इंटरनेट (सेटेलाइट) से किसी भी जगह या स्थान से देखे जा सकते हैं। किसान अपने मोबाइल पर भी नहर में आने वाले पानी की जानकारी ले सकेगा।   https://www.bhaskar.com/local/rajasthan/news/ashok-gehlot-rajasthan-government-installed-scada-system-in-narmada-canal-project-and-ganga-bhakra-canal-127442490.html  (24 June 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

Godavari, Nasik Article (Marathi) by Parineeta Dandekar on Godavari rejuvenation in Nashik. https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-godavari-river-free-from-concrete-abn-97-2198602/  (27 June 2020)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Draft EIA Notification 2020: Dilutes EIA process & encourages violations In this Guest Blog Amruta Pradhan provides detailed analysis of the Draft EIA notification 2020. Please Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/06/23/draft-eia-notification-2020-dilutes-eia-process-encourages-violations/  (23 June 2020)

India Rivers Forum Statement on Draft EIA notification.  https://indiariversforum.org/eia2020/

VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS THE ISSUES RELATED TO EIA NOTIFICATION: This video explains in simple terms the problems with the Draft EIA Notification 2020. The video is based on SANDRP critique of EIA notification.

Please Watch, Share widely.

Walking Along River Ken – Webinar | Veditum x SANDRP Veditum hosted 3 webinars on rivers so far. Details here of the 1st one that we hosted with South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People on KEN RIVER WALK. It has the webinar recording + lots of resources & ways to stay connected. More to come from the other webinars. Please watch and also amplify/share.  http://www.veditum.org/upstream/walking-along-river-ken-webinar-veditum-x-sandrp/  (24 June 2020)

Commentary Rights of rivers in India by Shrishtee Bajpai These orders may not be able to immediately control the destruction or exploitation of rivers but the author hopes that they could transform the legislative approach to nature and reduce the current domination of developmental projects over the protection of nature. That hope does not seem to have any basis.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/06/commentary-righting-the-wrong-rights-of-rivers-in-india/  (23 June 2020)

NARMADA Rajkumar Sinha narrates the new threats to Narmada, including the thermal power projects proposed.  https://www.spsmedia.in/development/narmada-boond-boond-jal-ka-dohan-by-rajkumar-sinha/   (23 June 2020)

Gujarat 1st sea-plane service likely to start in October Seaplanes planes (14 seater) in Gujarat to fly from Sabarmati riverfront to statue of unity from Oct 2020. The other possible route connects to Shetrunji river in Palitana, a jain pilgrimage place, among 16 across India. A floating jetty at each end of Sabarmati river and Statue of Unity will be built. https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/gujarats-first-seaplane-service-likely-to-start-in-october/articleshow/76543584.cms  (24 June 2020)

Rs 68.24-lakh disproportionate assets found from GPCB office PCB environment engineer Girjashankar Sadhu has been found to have disproportionate income of Rs 68.24 lakh, 53.51 % over what should have been his properties & investment, according to the preliminary inquiry by Gujarat ACB.  https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/crime/rs-68-24-lakh-disproportionate-assets-found-from-gpcb-officer/articleshow/76653896.cms  (27 June 2020)

Karnataka Govt lays down criteria to appoint PCB chief The rules were fixed against the backdrop of a PIL filed in Nov. 2019 requesting the Karnataka High Court to direct the state govt to frame the recruitment rules for the appointment of chairperson and members of the Pollution Board. But what about criteria of having track record to take independent & effective decisions?  https://www.hindustantimes.com/bengaluru/karnataka-lays-down-criteria-to-appoint-pollution-board-chief/story-Dp17WvyO5tBGxoDWNiAtMN.html  (21 June 2020) 

Western Ghats 16 lakh Goans’ water security ‘jeopardised’ Taking strong exception to “virtual clearances” to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements has urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa. Asking the Supreme Court must ensure mandatory compliance with the recommendations in the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel Report, calling for restrictions on damaging activities like mining, quarrying and red-category industries in the Western Ghats, NAPM says, “The three projects would require cutting down over 50,000 trees and diversion of 216 ha forest and private land.”

NAPM pointed out that the projects would also put the water-security of over 16 lakh Goans in jeopardy as the projects would cut across the River Ragada, a tributary of Mhadei.  https://www.counterview.net/2020/06/hurried-nod-to-western-ghat-projects-16.html  (24 June 2020)

Punjab In Kapurthala, first of its kind project to treat wastewater Pollution Control Board & the district administration Kapurthala on June 20, 2020 inaugurated ‘in–situ remediation project’ to clean the domestic waste water. The pilot project has been launched at Bhulana drain, which carries wastewater of 27 colonies and village and eventually converges into Holy Bein near village Hussainpura. Deputy Commissioner Deepti Uppal said that as compared to STP, it is a low budget technology.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-in-kapurthala-first-of-its-kind-project-to-treat-wastewater-6468835/  (21 June 2020)

Himachal Pradesh Power supply to polluting Pharma units snapped SPCB on June 23, 2020 ordered discontinuation of power supply to Baddi-based pharmaceutical unit Torque Pharmaceuticals, which had been found dumping untreated industrial effluents and sewage in a water body in violation of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974.

-It came to light during inspection by a senior environmental engineer of the SPCB on June 18 that the pharma unit was unscientifically dumping effluents and sewage in a nearby water body through a tanker. Its effluent treatment plant was also not operational and there was no separate drain for waste, which was being disposed of in a nearby nullah, said SPCB officials.

-The water quality of the Sarsa river in Baddi, where several nullahs confluence, has not improved due to the dumping of untreated effluents by the erring units. This river has been placed under the ‘priority III’ category by the Central Pollution Control Board on the basis of the BoD assessment — it was found to be 8 – 16 mg per litre, as against the safe limit of 3 mg per litre, showing deteriorating quality of water.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/power-supply-to-baddi-pharma-unit-snapped-102767   (23 June 2020)

In this June 22 video shared by Healing Himalaya; Reckong Peo Palika in Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh is seen dumping solid waste straight in Sutlej river.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/videos/2084908764976775/?t=0

Telangana 25 check dams to come up in Khammam district – 25 check dams have been sanctioned across various rivulets, streams and other water bodies under four irrigation sub-divisions in the district at an estimated cost of ₹ 75.22 crore. A multipurpose check dam is under construction across the Munneru river at Prakashnagar in the town at a cost of ₹ 7.45 crore. The proposed water harvesting structure is designed to prevent wastage of floodwaters and conserve the precious resource.

– About 61 proposals were earlier submitted to the State govt for construction of check dams across several streams & rivulets under Khammam, Wyra, Madhira & Sattupalli sub-divisions in the last financial year. Of these, 25 proposals were approved by the govt in Jan 2020.

-Work on some of these proposed check dams including the one across Nimmavagu in Raghunadhapalem mandal are progressing at a brisk pace. The upcoming structure across Nimmavagu will benefit the tribal farmers and help recharge the groundwater table in K V Banjara and several other adjoining villages in Raghunadhapalem mandal in Khammam sub-division. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/25-check-dams-to-come-up-in-khammam-district/article31892823.ece  (22 June 2020)

Tamil Nadu Check dam to be built across the Vaigai at Arapalayam – PWD Executive Engineer (Periyar-Vaigai Basin) T. Subramanian said on June 23 that the CM had made an announcement for the construction of the check dam across the Vaigai at Arapalayam at a cost of ₹12 crore. He said the Govt Order was awaited to start construction.

-“Due to over-exploitation, the groundwater level has drastically reduced in the city. Hence, the construction of this check dam at Arapalayam will help recharge borewells and wells in the surrounding areas,” said a PWD official. The check dam will be constructed between the bridge connecting Arapalayam with Aruldosspuram and the Kamarajar bridge. The dam can store water up to 7 million cubic feet.

-According to ‘Water Watch,’ a monthly magazine released by Centre for Urban Water Resources of Dhan Foundation, a headwork was commissioned at Arapalayam and protected drinking water was supplied from as early as 1892. However, the headwork was decommissioned later because the river was contaminated due to sewage inflow. “A structure similar to a check dam was constructed at Arapalayam for supplying drinking water. However, it remained redundant for many decades now,” said the PWD official.

-5 proposals, including the Arapalayam structure, were sent by the dept for construction of check dams and bed dams across the Vaigai. 2 check dams had been constructed between Raja Mill Road and Kuruvikaran Salai. Two other bed dams would be constructed to divert water for Paravai & Madakulam tanks. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/check-dam-to-be-built-across-the-vaigai-at-arapalayam/article31895648.ece  (23 June 2020)

Marudaiyaru river vanishes along its course? The landmark Marudaiyaru river appears to have gone missing in some places. Activists and the public have not been able to find it at certain spots. However, the river is very much around but due to encroachment or weed overgrowth, it can be admittedly difficult to find. They have complained the Marudaiyaru in Perambalur has not been maintained for several years. The spots overrun by weeds need to be restored by utilising the MGNREGA scheme, activists said.

-The Marudaiyaru covers a distance of 63 km, of which 33 km is in Perambalur and 30 km in Ariyalur. The width of the river ranges 10-120 metres. It begins in the hills of Keezhakanavai in Perambalur and passes through villages in the district like Pudunaduvalur, Nochiyam, Neduvasal, Kurumbapalayam, Kottarai, Sathanur and Varanavasi. It then connects to Vaipoor village in Ariyalur district before it merges with the Kollidam river. The Marudaiyaru has 10 streams. Four streams flowing through Perambalur include Perali, Mungilbadi, Siruganpur and Kolakkanatham. The total catchment area of the river is 795 sq km, of which 425 sq km is in Perambalur & 370 in Ariyalur. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/jun/22/tamil-nadus-marudaiyaru-river-vanishes-along-its-course-2159593.html  (22 June 2020)

Madhya Pradesh Video shared by Bihari Shahwal on twitter on June 24, shows flyash settled on riverbed of Rihind tributary & clogging causeway on river is being flushed into the river with the help of JCB machine. The river had faced flash flood of sludge on April 10, 2020 after the a fly ash Dam of Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project of Reliance Company beached near village Harrahva in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, killing six people and destroying downstream river & fields.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/videos/2676304959278873/?t=0

More details here. https://sandrp.in/2020/04/12/singruali-fly-ash-dam-breach-who-regulates-these-dams-in-india/

CHAMBAL An ancient curse becomes a modern day blessing The Chambal has always been considered different from the other rivers in our country because of its past, its name is synonymous with one of the most notorious regions and conjures up fearful images of the rule of guns and gangs. The areas around the Chambal river are known as ‘Beehad’ or uncultivated forest lands and ‘Ghatis’ or valleys.  https://turnslow.com/chambal-river-curse-myth-photos-dacoits-valleys-madhya-pradesh-rajasthan-uttar-pradesh-yamuna-rivers-clean-pollution-free/

GANGA Center Rs 4,000 cr plan for herbal cultivation on river banks Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 15 said that a corridor of medicinal plants would be created on the banks of the Ganga & for this National Medicinal Plants Board would identify 800 ha near the river. The plan is part of a Rs 4,000 crore program launched for the promotion of herbal cultivation. The NMPB has supported 2.25 lakh ha area under cultivation of medicinal plants. Now, 10,00,000 ha will be covered under herbal cultivation in next two years with the outlay of Rs 4,000 crore. The move is expected to lead to Rs 5,000 crore income generation for farmers. It will also develop a network of regional Mandis for medicinal plants. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/ganga-river-banks-now-part-of-rs-4000-cr-plan-for-herbal-cultivation/1835564  (15 May 2020)

YAMUNA Haryana 26 bleaching units in Panipat sealed A four-member committee constituted by the Panipat administration sealed 26 illegal bleaching units in the district in the past two days and disconnected their electricity connection. Shailender Arora, regional officer, HSPCB, said the joint committee under the supervision of the SDO, HSPCB, resealed seven illegal units in Nimbri village on the Sanoli road on Monday and disconnected their power connections.

– Besides, two illegal bleaching houses in Jalpar village and three in Kurar village were sealed. The team found three dismantled units. “Showcause notices have been served on bleaching unit owners,” Arora said. On June 23, the team sealed nine units situated on the Panipat-Rohtak road. Three units were located in Naultha village and six in Dahar village. “The HSPCB had sealed these nine units earlier as well, but the owners resumed operations,” he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/26-bleaching-units-in-panipat-sealed-103365  (24 June 2020)

In the old industrial area of ​​Panipat district these days, people living with chemical water has become difficult. Due to lack of proper drainage system, the streets are filled with chemical water. People passing through this are facing trouble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CDh5r8l2s8&feature=youtu.be  (26 June 2020)

RIVER BIODIVERSITY

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh Baby gharials return to Yamuna after almost a decade The ghariyals nested and laid eggs in Etawah, near 30 km upstream of Yamuna at Bhaupura. On June 15, 43 juveniles emerged and swam in the river with the adults, drawing massive crowds from the villages. Curious onlookers said two of the hatchlings died and 24 could still be seen on the banks and in the river.

-Even last year, ghariyals were seen in the Yamuna for breeding for the second time but on a much smaller scale, at a place where Yamuna and Chambal meet in Etawah near Sumer Singh fort. This year their number had considerably risen, said experts. They said there had been one sighting of ghariyals nesting in Yamuna downstream in Sajeti of Kanpur rural.

-After this discovery, the wildlife experts and enthusiasts have started a detailed study on this phenomenon with the help of their volunteers who are keeping a watch on ghariyals of Yamuna. Forest sub-inspector Tabish Ahmad said the experts had made the Bhaupura village their base to study and they were seeking help of the villagers.

-In 2007, an unspecified disease had claimed lives of more than 100 ghariyals in Chambal and their bodies were found in the Yamuna. Many experts from different countries conducted comprehensive research, which included tagging transmitters, to find out the cause and to help them in survival. One set of experts had blamed liver cirrhosis caused by high pollution level and another thought it was hunting.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/greens-thrilled-as-chambal-ghariyals-breed-again-in-yamuna/story-GxeP82OBYG9jirZYbnWYbN.html   (25 June 2020)

Study Dams spell doom for fresh water fish A global study finds that freshwater fish suffer more due to fragmentation and loss of connectivity of rivers due to building of dams. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/dams-spell-doom-freshwater-fish  (19 June 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Uttar Pradesh Fishing community bears burnt of river pollution Despite having provisions for involving local communities in mitigation and conservation-related activities, policies, in many instances, have robbed riverine communities off their customary rights over the river and subsequently, their means of subsistence.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/river-pollution-conservation-up-s-fishing-community-bears-brunt-71908  (23 June 2020)

SAND MINING

Uttar Pradesh Unnao journalist who reported on ‘Sand Mafia’ killed A reporter for a Kanpur-based newspaper was killed on June 19 in Unnao district allegedly at the behest of a ‘sand mafia’ and illegal land grabbers active in the region. According to a report in NewsClick, journalist Shubham Mani Tripathi (25) was shot by “unidentified persons” near the Gangaghat area of Unnao district while he was returning home with a friend on a motorcycle. He was rushed to a hospital in Kanpur, where he died. He worked for a newspaper named Kampu Mail. Days before his killing, Shubham Mani Tripathi had informed authorities that he had been threatened by persons involved in illegal sand mining and land encroachment activities.  https://m.thewire.in/article/media/shubham-mani-tripathi-journalist-killed-unnao-sand-mafia/amp  (24 June 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Most Jhelum sand mining contracts go to outsiders In Srinagar district, which has 10 mineral blocks along the way the Jhelum flows, all 10 contracts have been bagged by non-locals. In north Kashmir district of Baramulla, which has the highest 38 mineral blocks, contracts in 26 blocks for sand mining have gone to people from outside J&K. In Dec 2019, over 200 mineral blocks in the Jhelum and its tributaries across all 10 districts of the Kashmir were thrown open for mining the sand and the bids were invited online.

-The Geology and Mining Dept, J&K, which looks after the mineral blocks along the Jhelum, earned Rs 5.08 crore for awarding 10 mineral blocks in Srinagar to non-locals, whereas in Baramulla, the online bidding of 38 blocks fetched the dept Rs 20.15 crore. In Baramulla, 26 contracts have been secured by outsiders. In Budgam district, the sale of seven mineral blocks has fetched the dept Rs 4.67 crore, where four contracts have been fetched by outsiders.

-Even as the Dept of Geology and Mining fetched good revenue from the sale of these mineral blocks, the result of high bidding prices has increased the prices of sand across Kashmir. Meanwhile, there are growing environmental concerns as more and more extraction of sand from the Jhelum river bed has destroyed the natural habitat of fish. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/j-k/most-jhelum-sand-mining-contracts-go-to-outsiders-104595  (26 June 2020)

Uttarakhand On June 24, with monsoon rain, water level increased in Yamuna river at Vikas Nagar over-topping illegal bridge. Trucks still seen ferrying RBMs.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/videos/313250696361967/?t=0

Gujarat Massive mining scam unearthed A large scale illegal mining racket busted in Devbhoomi Dwarka, has uncovered the alleged nexus between sand mafia and local administration. That the illegal activity was unearthed by Rajkot Range Police and not the local cops lends credence to the allegations, says the Opposition.

-There have been 38,100 cases of illegal mining in past five years. Yet, FIRs have been filed only in 2.16% cases -Chandanji Thakor, Cong MLA, Siddhpur. Against 5,463 cases of illegal mining registered in Gujarat between July 2014 and June 2015, by the end of June 2019 this figure touched 7,340 – an increase of 34.4 %. This information was provided by Gujarat govt as a written reply to Thakor’s unstarred question in the fifth session of the Assembly last year.

-Dwarka Congress President Yasin Gajan also pointed out that in 2018-19, around 250 lakes were brought under govt’s Sujalam Sufalam Yojana. Of these 250, in 50% cases, bauxite mineral has been first excavated from the land and the hollow portion that remained counted as a lake. https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/massive-sand-mining-scam-puts-mafia-govt-nexus-under-scanner/articleshow/76519254.cms   (23 June 2020)

Telangana Sand extraction back in full swing Telangana State Mineral Development Corp has done a record sand sale of up to 1.689 Million cubic metres (MCM) and earned a high of ₹108.61 crore in May. During May 2019 the corporation had sold 1.496 MCM earning ₹96.66 crore when the construction and real estate industry were functioning normaly!

– Sand is extracted mainly from the Godavari river bed from districts of Jayashankar-Bhupalpally, Bhadradri-Kothagudem, Mancherial and others, including from Annaram, Medigadda and Dummugudem barrages and others with 76,891 cubic metres extracted daily and four crore cubic metres available in stockyards. The corporation was allocated 42 desilting areas and 61 patta lands in 15 districts. District level sand committees were formed to decide on extraction process — manually or by machine depending on the sand bearing areas or desiltation. Booking is online stockyard-wise — www.sand.telangana.gov.inhttps://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/sand-extraction-back-in-full-swing/article31892399.ece  (22 June 2020)

Tamil Nadu ‘Sand mining rampant near Athur’ A large group of farmers from Athur union have appealed to the Collector to intervene and stop rampant illegal sand mining carried out by a gang in the area. The activity has led to dwindling watertables along the Kodaganar riverbed, they say. The farmers said water bodies were being rejuvenated by the State govt under the kudimaramathu programme. However, officials were not keen to take stern action against sand mining gangs. Despite making specific complaints with locations, there was no tangible action so far, they alleged.

-The sand miners sold the sand at exorbitant prices and even named them as sand from Tiruchi riverbed, Karur riverbed, Vedasandur stretch and so on. The illegal activity was no longer a secret in the region now. The ‘looting’ was being carried out day and night with the full support of a few police, mining and PWD officials, they said. The farmers attributed the drinking water shortage faced by residents in the pocket to theft of sand from approach channels.

-Earlier, the sand miners were stealing in bullock carts and two-wheelers. Now, they did it openly by deploying men and material, including tipper lorries and poclain equipment, like an industry. As a result, deep gorges had not only made the water flow difficult, but also too many shallow spots might turn the area into a desert very soon, they contended. The mining activity stretched from Seevalsaragu panchayat union limits to Veerakkal panchayat. Pockets, to name a few, such as Adilakshmipuram, Velagoundanpatti and V Koothampatti and Vakkampatti were the most damaged spots by the sand miners. In one spot, in order to have access to the riverbed, sand miners demolished the wall of the check dam and drove tractors and poclain to the spot. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/sand-mining-rampant-near-athur/article31918219.ece  (25 June 2020)

Kerala Major graft alleged in Kerala’s Kabani river dredging Wayanad Prakriti Samrakshana Samiti (WPSS) has alleged major corruption in the dredging of Kabani river to remove sediments accumulated in the river bed during last year’s flood. The WPSS alleged that sand worth crores of rupees was mined from the river under the guise of removing sediments. Meanwhile, Panamaram gram panchayat president Shiney Krishnan dismissed the allegations, saying sediments comprising sand, mud and remnants of trees were removed from the river bed and not just sand alone. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2020/jun/27/major-graft-alleged-in-keralas-kabani-river-dredging-panchayat-refutes-charges-2161914.html  (27 June 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Assam Closure notice issued to Assam OIL withdrawn -In a letter to OIL’s resident chief executive based in Assam’s Duliajan, PCBA said the closure notice issued on June 19 was withdrawn following an affidavit by the company to the pollution watchdog that said OIL will submit a detailed timebound environmental management plan within 15 days.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/closure-notice-issued-to-assam-oil-withdrawn/story-3LOvMTGicGKzgqSobogp8I.html  (23 June 2020)

The wildlife and biodiversity impact of the wells were not studied for nearly a decade since the ministry granted them environmental clearance. Two environmental clearances were issued to OIL in 2011 years after it was granted the Baghjan petroleum mining lease in 2003. One related to the drilling of six exploratory wells in Tinsukia’s Mechaki area. The second clearance allowed drilling of 41 development and exploratory wells in north Hapjan, Tinsukia and Dhola. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/assam-gas-field-may-have-flouted-green-guidelines/story-uhmEbSU6w7NUSCqdJmpVLJ.html  (26 June 2020)

Operations to control the gas blowout and fire at OIL’s Baghjan 5 well in have hit a roadblock, with torrential rains leading to floods and the collapse of a bridge near the site of the gas leak. “After heavy rainfall since the last 3 days, the area has been badly hit by flood and the site has been inundated with floodwater,” said a release from OIL on June 25.  https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/assam-rain-bridge-collapse-baghjan-blowout-fire-6475612/  (25 June 2020)

-NGT on June 25 imposed a heavy fine of Rs 25 crore on OIL for causing damage to the environment, humans and wildlife, over its failure to stop the fire at its oil well at Baghjan. The tribunal also constituted an eight-member committee headed by former high court judge BP Katakey to look into the matter and submit a report in 30 days. The committee has been asked to probe the cause of the gas and oil leak, extent of loss and damage caused to human life, wildlife, environment, damage and health hazards caused to the public and whether any contamination has been caused to water, air and soil of the area of the oil well and its vicinity.  https://nenow.in/north-east-news/assam/assam-ngt-imposes-rs-25-crore-fine-on-oil-for-baghjan-fire.html  (25 June 2020)

Manipur Community participation in conservation of Loktak Community participation in conservation of Loktak Lake. Members of CSOs re-introduced aquatic and semi-aquatic plants for food, for earning, and for revitalizing the ecosystem of the lake.  http://vikalpsangam.org/article/community-participation-in-conservation-of-loktak-lake-of-manipur/  (22 June 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Madhya Pradesh Groundwater recharge saved the livelihoods of farmers District Tikamgarh, SRIJAN (Madhya Pradesh), being located in Bundelkhand has very undulating topography, erratic rainfall, and unpromising agriculture. With erratic rainfall, the agriculture lands located in the vicinity of the small streams are left with a limited source of water for irrigation. These shallow streams, running dry without any scope for recharge take its toll on the rabi crop. To address the issue, SRIJAN made an effort to construct small pond like structures called “Doha” along the stream. This allows the arresting of water during monsoons, leading to creating additional water potential, which otherwise was not tapped earlier.

So far 23 such structures have been constructed covering 3 villages & stream length of 4 kms, benefiting over 150 families. The intervention will provide the farmer with source for irrigation. The district administration has appreciated the effort & promised support in the long run. https://rranetwork.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/srijan-initiatives-on-doha-model-convergence-collaboration-and-cross-learning/  (26 June 2020)

Punjab Work on revival of ponds With ground water increasingly being used for irrigation over the years, the state is now looking to change course and revive a traditional water system. https://www.newsclick.in/Groundwater-Rejuvenation-Traditional-Ponds-MNREGA-Mission-Tandrust-Punjab  (24 June 2020)

Ponds cleaning work progress The govt generated employment of 1,052,524 man-days under the MGNREGA since May 12. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/economy/covid-19-punjab-s-pond-cleaning-project-gathers-pace-71900  (22 June 2020)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru BBMP to raze encroachments around lakes  Following a direction from the Karnataka High Court, the civic body has started surveying lakes to identify encroachments. The demolition drive — that made big noise about five years ago – is likely to resume once again. “We have issued a notice to inform the public in advance. We will start the demolition of buildings soon after completing the survey. We have identified 40 lakes in the first phase,” Mohan Krishna, Chief Engineer (Lake) at BBMP told Bangalore Mirror.

-As per the order copy, the city has a total of 205 lakes, including 38 lakes that were handed over to the BBMP from Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Forest dept recently. Officials said a survey of 116 lakes has been carried out already. The civic body has taken steps to conduct boundary surveys of the remaining lakes in the days to come. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/bbmp-to-soon-raze-encroachments-around-lakes/articleshow/76599293.cms  (25 June 2020)

Delhi State of water bodies A Delhi-based NGO and a residents’ welfare association have come up with an index to show the health of the capital’s 1,009 water bodies. These were mapped with the geo-coordinates provided by Delhi Parks and Gardens Society and each given a score of 0 to 7, with 7 being the healthiest. In the exercise, no waterbody in Delhi could get more than a 4 rating. Several waterbodies, in fact, received a negative rating on the health index, indicating encroachment or presence of construction on their area. 11 residents of 11 villagers sent 11 000 postcards to the Chief Justice of India to highlight the condition of these waterbodies. Tyagi himself is one of the 11 representing Budhela village. The other villages involved are Jhuljhuli, Rawta, Ujwa, Shikarpur, Malikpur, Ghumanhera, Issapur, Paprawat, Dhansa and Kanjhawala.

– The study carried out by the Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment (Cycle India) and the RWA of Jhuljhuli village in southwest Delhi, determined that only 327 water bodies currently have water, while 345 are dry and fully bereft of water. Another 302 have been given negative health ratings because they were found to have been partially or completely encroached upon. Paras Tyagi, co-founder of Cycle India, said, “Of the 327 waterbodies that have water in them, a majority of them are in urban villages and rural areas. However, these are also paradoxically the areas that have been the most affected,” said Tyagi. “Johads and small village ponds that earlier were useful for the local residents have dried up and there is no step being taken to revive them. In most places, such lakes get covered by soil and trash and developed as land.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/city-of-lakes-why-delhis-claim-doesnt-hold-water/articleshow/76540002.cms  (24 June 2020)

DJB to bring Mughal-era lake back to life at Roshanara Bagh Delhi Jal Board is particularly good at declaring plans, so here is one for rejuvenation of Mughal Era Roshanara Bagh in Shakti Nagar area, built by the second daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The plan is to use treated sewage, a plant to be constructed at a cost of Rs 11 Crore to treat 2.25 MLD sewage. Secondly, the groundwater pumped out by DMRC in phase 4 of its construction in nearby areas will be pumped to the lake.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/djb-to-bring-mughal-era-lake-back-to-life-at-roshanara-bagh/articleshow/76667798.cms  (28 June 2020)

JAL JEEVAN MISSION-RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Centre Gaps in implementation of rural drinking water plans Taking note that Maharashtra, West Bengal and Odisha are among the states which are unable to reach their respective targets of 2019-20 for the scheme Har Ghar Jal, the Union Jal Ministry has asked them to step up their efforts for a speedy implementation of the scheme. In a letter to the Maharashtra Govt, the Centre has urged the state to involve local village community and user groups to achieve drinking water security as 62 percent of the 1.42 crore rural households in the state still don’t have functional tap connections. While Odisha could complete 27.97 percent of its target to provide tap water connection in 2019-20, West Bengal came as a worst performer with providing only 4,750 tap water connections against the target of 32 lakh households this year.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/centre-finds-gaps-in-implementation-of-rural-drinking-water-plan-in-maharashtra-west-bengal-and-odisha-asks-cms-to-step-up-their-efforts/articleshow/76492524.cms    (21 June 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Uttar Pradesh Govt to promote sugarcane farming to help rural women Women can make additional earning by selling these seedlings to the sugarcane farmers. According to official sources, 1,399 rural women in 145 women self-help groups have already been trained by the department so far.  https://www.livemint.com/news/india/yogi-govt-to-promote-sugarcane-farming-to-help-rural-women-to-earn-more-11592996120938.html  (24 June 2020)  

MONSOON

As per IMD maps (see below with State wise, Sub Division Wise and River Basin wise rainfall figures), till June 28, 2020, India has received 182.2 mm rainfall, 20% above normal.

Among 36 sub divisions, 3 had large excess (W MP, E UP & Bihar), 11 Excess, 10 Normal and 4 (W UP, J&K, HP and NMMT) had deficit rainfall.

IMD Sub Div Rainfall 280620

Among states & UTs, 3 (Sikkim, UP, Bihar) had large excess, 8 had excess, 18 had normal and 8 had deficit rainfall.

State wise rainfall till June 28 2020

Among river basins, Kinchiang in Meghalaya had the highest rainfall at 3243.2 mm, 78% above normal, Sone basin had the highest surplus rainfall

Ruver Basin wise rainfall June 28, 2020

IMD Monsoon has covered the country, fastest pace since 2013 The normal date for the monsoon to span the whole country is July 8. This year, the monsoon set in early on its appointed date of June 1 and was only briefly stalled due to the impact of cyclone Nisarga that struck Maharashtra on June 2.

-“The early advance over Central & Northwest India was facilitated by formation of a low pressure area over Bay of Bengal which moved west-northwestwards, and another cyclonic circulation over central India,” the IMD said in a statement. “Considering southwest monsoon onset and advance over the country as a whole, there has been normal progress over south and east India, about a week delay in advance over northeast India and about 7-12 days early advance over Central and northwest India.”

-However, the monsoon’s advent into northwest India has not translated into significant rainfall in the region. The IMD says that most of the rainfall will be towards India’s northeast, at least until June 29. Usually the monsoon trough see-saws, in that heavy rain in the north-east translates to little rain over the rest of the country and when rains wane over the Himalayan foothills and the east, it starts to pick up in the rest of the country. “Rains may revive over north India by June 28th, but they are unlikely to be very heavy,” tweeted Mahesh Palawat, Vice-President, Meteorology, Skymet Pvt. Ltd. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/monsoon-covers-entire-country-nearly-two-weeks-early-imd/article31923038.ece  (26 June 2020)

Kerala Govt appoints private forecasters An order by govt’s Disaster Management Department issued on June 19 and viewed by The Hindu, authorises the release of ₹95 lakh to three private companies — Skymet Private Ltd, Earth Networks and IBM Weather Company — to use “ensemble predictions to improve extreme weather alert services in the State.” The order states that these services solicited would be part of a 1 year pilot project.

– The Kerala government’s decision builds on an earlier order from April 30 where it said it was dissatisfied with the IMD. The IMD, that order reads, had promised to ready15 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) before the monsoon. “Unfortunately no new AWS has come up and the near time data streaming is minimal to nil,” the letter rues. After 2017 cyclone Ochki, the IMD as part of sprucing up the State’s weather warning capabilities committed to installing 100 AWS. However these could only be installed as per a pre-defined IMD protocol.

– Skymet has already made an app, called Kerala Rain, that issued 15-day forecasts and “real time monitoring” for 100 weather stations. “It gives location specific notice about possible floods in a region. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/unhappy-with-imd-kerala-tests-private-forecasts/article31893388.ece  (22 June 2020)

The Economic Times (June 24, 2020) Cartoon on Kerala decision to go for private forecasting, abandoning IMD.

Kerala goes for Pvt forecasting agencies, leaving IMD. The Economic Times

Uttarakhand Vikram Singh, Dir, IMD, Dehradun announcing monsoon arrival & heavy to v heavy rainfall across state btwn 24-26 June. Clueless govt got 1 month RBMs extension (till June 30) by MoEF. Will it stop riverbed mining now or waiting for disaster to strike? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkgyvETzflc&feature=youtu.be    (23 June 2020)

FLOODS 2020

Even as monsoon as just set in, the rivers has already crossed the Highest Ever Flood level at some locations in Brahmaputra and one location in Mahananda (Ganga) basin Bihar, as depicted using CWC Hydrographs, see below.

CWC Hydrograph of Monitoring site at Moujabadi, Mahananda River, Kishanganj dist in Bihar
CWC hydrograph of Dikhrow river in Sibsagar district in Assam crossing HFL on June 22, 2020
CWC Hydrograph Ambari Kuch Bihar Dist Torsa River W Bengal 260620
CWC Hydrograph Suklai River Brahmaputra Kamrup dist Assam 270620

Dam Floods Assam Neighbouring Bhutan released water from its Kuricchu dam from 5am on Thursday, ramping up the water level in rivers flowing through the bordering districts of Chirang, Baksa and Barpeta. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/floods-in-assam-arunachal-3-killed-lakhs-affected-6476683/  (26 June 2020)

Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Golghat, and Tinsukia districts were added to the list of five districts inundated on Thursday. The five districts were Dhemaji, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar and Dibrugarh districts. To add to the dire situation, neighbouring Bhutan has released over 2700 cumecs of excess water from Kurichu dam, about 30km from Barpeta Road in lower Assam on Thursday (June 25). The dam’s water will directly impact the level of Beki, Manas, Pagladia, Kaldia and Pohumara rivers, affecting lower Assam districts like Nalbari, Baksa, Barpeta, Chirang, and Bongaigaon.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/15-killed-in-assam-floods-1-89-lakh-people-affected-in-9-districts/articleshow/76639003.cms  (26 June 2020)

Floods in state have claimed the 16th human life since May 22 as the rising water level displaced more than 2.52 lakh people across 16 districts on June 26. “The number of flood-hit districts almost doubled from nine to 16 overnight. So far, 2,52,661 people have been displaced and 18,234 of them have taken refuge in relief camps across five districts,” an ASDMA spokesperson said, adding that social distancing was being maintained in these camps due to COVID-19 restrictions.

-Eight rivers including the Brahmaputra have been flowing above the danger level, threatening to inundate more areas, officials said. “Crops on 11,765.27 hectares across 704 villages have been affected. More than 1.62 lakh livestock and fowls have been affected too,” the spokesperson said.

-Landslip in Guwahati: Heavy rain also caused landslip in Guwahati. Two persons were injured after two houses collapsed in the city’s Kahilipara area.

Bridge collapse:- In Tinsukia’s Baghjan area, where one of OIL’s wells had a blowout, operations for capping it had to be virtually abandoned. “A large part of the area is inundated and the levels of all the rivers are rising. And while a bridge on one of the access roads collapsed on June 24, the condition of another bridge on an alternative road is deteriorating,” an OIL spokesperson said.

-“We are in touch with the Army for constructing a Bailey bridge for transporting men and material to and from the Baghjan site,” he added. Heavy rain has affected the survey for assessing the damage toward compensating the people affected by the blowout, Tinsukia district officials said. Assessment of 530 families has been completed so far. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/lakhs-hit-as-assam-flood-fury-continues/article31928382.ece  (27 June 2020)

More than 35,000 affected, 2 dead “The main Brahmaputra is already in flood throughout its reach. With the rainfall continuously for two to three days as forecasted, it may inundate villages along its banks in the districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Nalbari, Kamrup, Morigaon, Darang, Tezpur, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Dhemaji, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia” the CWC release added.

-The release said that no urban floods had been reported yet. In many areas in Sivasagar, embankments had been damaged, and roads were affected in both Sivasagar and Dhemaji districts. The rest of Northeast too — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura — will receive isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall till June 26. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/assam-floods-weather-6472902/  (23 June 2020)

36,707 people in 4 districts — Dhemaji, Jorhat, Sivasagar and Dibrugarh — have been affected because of last week’s rainfall. “But in the next four-five days, heavy rain is expected and it (flood situation) might take a turn for the worse. For now, it is under control,” Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) project coordinator Pankaj Chakrabarty said.  https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/assam-two-killed-over-35000-affected-in-fresh-wave-of-floods-6473037/  (24 June 2020)

Assam:- Unusual River Suklai at Suklai site in Udalguri District a tributary of Puthimari River has again almost touched HFL after some 38 hours. It had crossed its previous HFL 75.73 attained on 25-09-2018 by 0.12 metre on June 25, 2020 around 18:00 hours.

Dam Floods Odisha Kendrapara farmers panic as Hirakud releases floodwater Farmers in Kendrapara district are a worried lot after the first floodwater was released from Hirakud dam Thursday, June 25, 2020. From past experience, they say the floodwater released into the Mahanadi river will reach Mundali in Cuttack by Saturday and then it will reach their district. This season, they fear, the embankments that have gone weak may not stand the force of the floodwater. Even as floods have started, the embankments have not yet been repaired or strengthened. Water resources department executive engineer Prabodh Kumar Rout, meanwhile, said that the weak embankments have been identified and are being repaired. The floodwater will not affect the crops, he assured. https://www.orissapost.com/kendrapara-farmers-panic-as-hirakud-releases-floodwater/  (26 June 2020)

Krishna Basin Flood into upstream projects kindles hopes downstream Against the commencement of inflows (flood) on July 3 into Almatti last year, the reservoir has already received over 25.5 tmc ft of fresh water from June 1 to June 21 this water year. Similarly, against the availability of less than 40.5 tmc ft water, gross storage, in Almatti and Narayanpur dams as on June 21 last year, the water available in the two major projects in Karnataka this year is over 75 tmct ft. Another 4 TMC inflow by Monday (June 22) morning into Almatti’s current storage of 51.5 TMC is expected. This may not be occasion for untainted rejoicing, as this report suggests. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/flood-into-upstream-projects-kindles-hopes-downstream/article31884210.ece  (21 June 2020)

Tamil Nadu Cauvery, Vennaru water enters Nagapattinam ahead of paddy cultivation People in Nagapattinam rejoiced as the Cauvery and Vennaru rivers entered the district for first time in nine years, ahead of its time for Kuruvai paddy cultivation. Officials, farmers, celebrated as the waters reached Pandavaiyaru river in Erayankudi of Keezhaiyur block.

-Cauvery waters were released from Mettur dam on June 12. Upper Anaicut Dam (Mukkombu) was opened on June 15 and Grand Anaicut Dam (Kallanai) on June 16. According to officials, Vennaru was released at 3,300 cusecs, Cauvery 3,020 cusecs and Grand Anaicut channel 1,260 cusecs from Kallanai on Sunday. Kollidam was released 700 cusecs from Mukkombu.

-The river water was expected to enter the district by June 28 in the district but the early arrival was made possible due to time completion of works in delta districts, officials said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/jun/22/locals-rejoice-as-cauvery-vennaru-water-enters-nagapattinam-ahead-of-paddy-cultivation-2159968.html  (22 June 2020)

Sikkim Rains trigger flash floods in Passingdang Incessant rains have caused flash floods and landslides in Passingdang area of Upper Dzongu in North Sikkim since Saturday (June 27)  night. The flash floods have destroyed several houses and properties. However, there has been no reports of casualty so far. Sources from the spot report that flash floods started around 8 pm on Saturday (June 27) night. So far, 19 houses have been fully damaged, and a small bridge has been washed away. https://www.eastmojo.com/sikkim/2020/06/28/in-photos-rains-trigger-flash-floods-in-passingdang-north-sikkim  (28 June 2020)

West Bengal Due to extremely heavy rainfall River Torsa at Ambari in Koch Bihar District is flowing at 40.2 metre on June 25, 2020 at 17:00 hours which seems .3 m below of HFL 40.5.

URBAN FLOODS

Bengaluru On June 25 evening, Vrishabhavathi river was in spate following heavy rainfall. Video viral on social media shows a protection wall along Mysuru road has collapsed in the floods. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/videos/1603610543139318/?t=0

– Mayor M Goutham Kumar on June 26 blamed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the unscientific work. “The retaining wall was built about 15-20 years ago. The BBMP hadn’t taken up any work in recent times,” Kumar said after inspecting the site. The NHAI, which widened the road, had just reinforced the existing wall, without scientifically checking its strength. As a result, only a spell of heavy rain was enough to wash it away, he added.

-Meanwhile, senior BBMP officials blamed the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) for blocking the water path with medians to construct pillars and thereby causing waterlogging and the collapse of the wall due to seepage.  https://www.deccanherald.com/city/focus-bengaluru/mayor-blames-nhais-unscientific-work-for-vrishabhavathi-wall-collapse-854253.html  (27 June 2020)

-Rakesh Singh, Additional Chief Secretary of the Urban Development Department, wrote to BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar, noting that the quality of work did not meet the “minimum expectations”. “Prima facie, it is felt that the implementation of the project has not been up to the mark. Since the SWDs are the only conduits to safely carry the stormwater, the minimum expectation is that the concrete/masonry structures designed to withstand the flood-level flows are not washed away under moderate discharge”, he noted.  https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/vrishabhavathi-wall-collapse-forces-review-of-drain-works-854252.html  (27 June 2020)

-Civic officials, however, blamed multiple infrastructure projects on the road for the wall giving way. Netizens raised concerns over the safety of Metro structures. Arun Padaki tweeted: “Washing away of Mysuru Road partially near Kengeri Lake was a disaster waiting to happen since 2016 when Metro extended road without embankment. Even non-engineers wouldn’t build such poor roads. Negligence on part of BMRCL and BBMP (sic).”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/day-after-wall-collapse-bmrcl-says-metro-pillars-on-mysuru-road-safe/articleshow/76659799.cms  (27 June 2020)

Around 130 to 140 metres length of the wall was washed away by persistent rain in Kengeri, which recorded 185 mm of rainfall. An enquiry is underway to ascertain what led to the collapse of the retaining wall and to detail the work done and funds spent by the BBMP on the retaining wall. The details will be submitted to the state government. The stormwater drains across the city will be reviewed following the incident.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bengalurus-mysore-road-partially-closed-after-wall-collapse-vrishabhavathi-river-127464  (27 June 2020)

Patna Residents fear a repeat of last year’s urban floods Informative report revealing reasons behind last year’s Patna floods and exploring flood impacts: -But heavy rainfall alone is not to be blamed for the urban floods in Patna. There are other important factors, including the larger inefficacies of urban planning that lead to the sinking of the city last year. Recently, on June 19, a group of independent researchers released an analysis report, “The Patna Water-logging 2019: A Classic Case of Administrative Failure Doubled With Public Negligence”, which documents numerous administrative factors aggravating the urban floods crisis manifold.

-Patna is bound by three major rivers – Ganga, Punpun and Son. Floods in North bihar increase the water levels in these rivers too. As city’s natural drains excess run-off into these rivers, and If this coincides with heavy rainfall and it might be a disaster. However, there are other human factors that have made the matters worse. Until the 1990s, Patna had around 1,000 ponds, of which only 200 are remaining at present. These ponds were a part of the city’s natural water management.

-Although Patna ranked 32nd in 100 cities in the country picked up to assess the implementation of the Smart City project, it has a choked drainage network and a punctured sewage system. For instance, last year when the city drowned and the officials scrambled to clear the choked drains, they could not find the map of the city’s drainage network.

-The recently-released analysis report also blames Namami Gange, one of the flagship projects of the Central government, for keeping Patna residents stranded for days during last year’s floods. “Sewer pipelines are being laid down in the entire city and this has led to the damage of the previous drainage system by breaking drainage pipes, creating manholes, puddles and ditches, which have further assisted the accumulation of water in the city,” reads the report.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/monsoon-hits-patna-bihar-residents-fear-a-repeat-of-last-years-urban-floods-exacerbated-due-to-poor-civic-management/  (22 June 2020)

DISASTERS

Uttarakhand On June 22, around 9:00am, important bridge in Pithoragrah on Munsyari-Milam road COLLAPSED when driver of heavy trala truck carrying poclain machine tried to cross Sanergad river despite warning. Poclain machine was being taken to cut rocks along 80km long Munsyari-Milam road. BRO has reportedly given contract to ABCL company to complete road work by 2021. https://hillmail.in/munsyari-milam-bridge-collaps-near-indo-china-border-in-pithoragarh-district/  (22 June 2020)

https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/videos/899868867156719/?t=0

LANDSLIDES

West Bengal Landslides of Darjeeling town – human factor also a trigger? This blog gives locations of six landslides within municipal limits of Darjeeling on June 12-13, 2020 when monsoon set in with 105 mm rainfall in Darjeeling in 36 hours and 299 mm in Kurseong. It also gives photos and locations of landslide each in Kurseong and Mungpoo.  https://savethehills.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-landslides-of-darjeeling-town.html  (16 June 2020)

Sikkim 3 killed in landslides June 22, 2020: Two schoolgirls were killed and a third sustained grievous injuries when the car they had hitched a ride in got caught in a landslide, triggered by heavy rainfall, in east Sikkim on Monday (June 21). The driver too succumbed to his injuries. The incident took place at Shankareybhir in Rorathang around 11.30am. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/2-schoolkids-among-3-dead-in-sikkim-landslide/articleshow/76519943.cms  (23 June 2020)

Arunachal Pradesh A minor girl was buried alive when a landslide hit a residence in Donyi Colony here on June 25 morning. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2020/06/26/minor-dies-in-landslide-cm-expresses-sorrow/  (26 June 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

Draft EIA 2020 Legitimising Environmental Destruction Detailed piece by Manju Menon, Kanchi Kohli explaining how the EIA 2020 is designed to deny citizens the social, legal and political forums available to protect the environment from bad government decisions. https://science.thewire.in/environment/eia-2020-environmental-degradation-draft/  (24 June 2020)

The most devastating blow to the EIA regime is the creation of an ex-post-facto clearance route — where an EIA clearance was never sought or granted, and the construction of the project took place regardless, the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure, with some minor fines for the violations, and find its sins blessed. Where such ex-post-facto clearances were being granted previously, the courts cracked down on them as illegal. Therefore, what could not be ratified will now find itself notified. The legality of sidestepping the courts is questionable and will have to be tested. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/ease-of-harming-environment-6478163/  (27 June 2020)

-Citing thousands of public representations seeking extension of the mandatory 60-day notice period to the draft EIA 2020 notification published during the Covid-19 lockdown, officials in the Environment Ministry proposed that the deadline for receiving objections and suggestions to the draft be extended by another two months to August 10.

-On May 4, file notings recorded the Environment Secretary’s instruction to extend the notice period by 60 days. Accordingly, a draft order with the new deadline of August 10 was put up for approval the same day by the Joint Secretary concerned. On May 5, the file reached the Minister through the offices of the Additional Secretary and Secretary. Javadekar wrote June 30 as the extended deadline and signed the file. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/environment-impact-assessment-draft-prakash-javadekar-deadline-extension-lockdown-6476451/  (26 June 2020)

The ministry has received over 5,000 suggestions, objections and representations on the draft notification. A majority of them said that in light of the lockdown, the ministry ought to have put the notification on hold and objections were also raised on the limited time period allowed to send views.  https://www.news18.com/news/india/javadekar-curtailed-time-for-public-comments-on-disputed-eia-notices-overruled-senior-officers-reveals-rti-2687065.html  (25 June 2020)

Report Concerns grow as coal mining cuts through tiger reserves  Environmentalists backed by some state governments have raised concerns over the Indian government’s recent decision to auction 41 coal mines in ecologically sensitive pockets of Maharashtra state.

Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha in central and eastern India are known habitats of Asian tigers, with Madhya Pradesh alone housing more than 500. The state of Maharashtra said that the Bander coal block was too close to the northern edge of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), which with its core and buffer areas is home to 115 tigers and 151 leopards. Both wildlife and tribal people will face the brunt of the move when vast chunks of forests will be chopped down to make way for the excavation of coal in open-cast mines.

Jairam Ramesh, Congress MP and former environment minister, described his “deep sense of shock at the manner in which coal blocks in areas of rich biodiversity were put up for auction” in a letter to Prakash Javadekar, the current environment minister. “You will have the records: The ‘go’ and ‘no go’ classification of coal blocks was made by a joint team of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Coal India in 2009-2010,” Ramesh said. He added: “I am aware that some politically powerful power producers have had their eyes on some of these coal blocks — the one dangerously near Tadoba.” He also urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep his promise on climate change.

Maharashtra’s Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray has opposed the auction of the mine site near the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur district. Chandrapur, a coal mining hub, is the most polluted town in the country. Three mines have been put up for auction in Maharashtra.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said: “This is a very big policy decision. The state government should have been taken into confidence,” he said.

Chhatisgarh Environment Minister Mohammad Akbar wrote to Javadekar and requested “that coal blocks in the area of Hasdeo forest and Mand rivers as well as those in the area of the proposed elephant reserve not be included in the upcoming auction.”

Bittu Sahgal, founder ff Sanctuary Nature Foundations, said: “The government and policy makers need to recognize that forests, wetlands, grasslands and mangroves are infrastructures, not impediments to infrastructure.” https://www.arabnews.com/node/1696001/world  (27 June 2020)

Chhattisgarh Money for cowdung The initiative is part of the ‘Godhan Nyay Yojana’, announced by CM Bhupesh Baghel at an online press conference on Thursday (June 25) . It will commence from 20 July, when ‘Hareli’, a local festival, is celebrated. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/money-for-cow-dung-chhattisgarh-launches-scheme-for-livestock-owners-6476679/  (26 June 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Uttarakhand  100 years report on heating hills The Uttarakhand pollution control board studied climate and rainfall data over a 100-year span, from 1912-2012, and found the mean annual temperature went up by 0.46°C. Within the state, Pithoragarh witnessed the highest spike (0.58°C), followed by Chamoli (0.54°C), Rudraprayag (0.53°C), Bageshwar (0.52°C) and Uttarkashi (0.51°C) — all hill districts. The plains fared better — Haridwar saw an increase of 0.34°C, the lowest, followed by Dehradun (0.37°C) and Udham Singh Nagar (0.42°C). As a point of reference, in 2019, the average global surface temperature was up by 0.98°C since 1880, according to NASA.

– Rainfall deficit over the past century, meanwhile, has been a significant 13.05cm. The Satzlar (low-intensity continuous rain over seven days in mid-July, when the Harela festival is celebrated), has stopped entirely. “The most important change is very rare (occurrence) or absence of snowfall events in the lesser Himalayan region and complete absence of the Satzlar.”

– Uttarakhand is home to 968 glaciers — 407 in the Alaknanda basin, 271 in Kaliganga, 238 in Bhagirathi and 52 in Yamuna. With temperatures rising and the glaciers melting away, pro-glacial lakes have formed in these basins. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hills-are-heating-up-100-year-report/articleshow/76541523.cms  (24 June 2020)

Study Harmful algae blooms in Arabian Sea linked to Himalayas melting -Scientists have linked snow melting in the Himalayas to the loss of important plankton more than 1,000 miles away, which is affecting fish populations and the fisheries and coastal people that depend on them.

-As snow and ice melt in the Himalayan mountains, the winter winds that blow down from them are becoming warmer and more humid, the researchers say. This alters the currents of the Arabian Sea and distribution of nutrients – and in turn the marine food chain, with fish struggling in the new conditions. This is happening at a much faster rate than that predicted by global models, the study says.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/22/harmful-algae-blooms-in-arabian-sea-linked-to-himalayas-melting/  (22 June 2020)

Planting new forests ‘can do more harm than good’ -Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found. One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions. A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated. The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution.  https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53138178  (22 June 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

India Bhutan Govt Rejects “Totally Baseless” Reports On Water Stoppage To Assam In a statement, Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that since June 24, 2020, there have been several news articles published in India alleging that Bhutan has blocked water channels that supply irrigation water to Indian farmers in Baksa and Udalguri districts in Assam adjoining the country’s Samdrup Jongkhar district.

– “This is a distressing allegation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to clarify that the news articles are totally baseless as there is no reason why the flow of water should be stopped at this time,” it said. Bhutan’s statement came hours after Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, in a late night tweet, termed the media reports as “incorrect” and said that the actual reason was natural blockage. “Recent media reports about Bhutan blocking water supply to India has been incorrectly reported. The actual reason being the natural blockage of informal irrigation channels into Indian fields! Bhutan has been actually helping to clear the blockage,” Mr Krishna said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bhutan-rejects-totally-baseless-reports-on-water-stoppage-to-assam-2252651  (26 June 2020)

Covid-19 hits Bhutan-India water cooperation? There were reports in the local media saying Bhutan had blocked water to the dongs, as the traditional mud and stone irrigation channels are called. “Nothing can be further from the truth,” countered Ugyen Rabtan, vice president of the Bhutan India Friendship Association’s (BIFA) Geluphu chapter. “Why should we stop water flowing down from the hills? The farmers from Baksa wish to cross the border to repair the dong channels but due to Covid-19 related protocols this cannot be allowed as Bhutan is taking strict measures to keep the country pandemic free. But instead of having a dialogue with the local authorities about our efforts, these farmers have been misled into believing that we have deliberately stopped the water.” https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/26/covid-19-hits-bhutan-india-water-cooperation/  (26 June 2020)

India Nepal Bihar raises concerns over Nepal stalling repair works on barrage, embankment As per a long-standing arrangement, the Bihar government maintains the Gandak barrage afflux on both sides of the border. India and Nepal share 18 gates each of the barrage. Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said, “For last 10 days or so, our employees have not been allowed to monitor the western Gandak afflux… our employees have to repair and do maintenance (of the barrage) in flood season.” Jha, however, appreciated Nepal government for co-operating with most flood-fighting works on western Gandak afflux during the lockdown. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bihar-raises-concerns-over-nepal-stalling-repair-works-on-barrage-embankment-6473150/  (24 June 2020)

-As per another report, work on strengthening of the afflux bund and maintenance of the Valmiki Nagar barrage across river Gandak, as well as Lalbakeya river bund, on the Nepal side resumed on June 23 with “confusions” removed at a meeting between Nepal and Indian (Bihar) officials and engineers at the barrage site.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/confusion-sorted-nepal-allows-flood-work-on-its-side/articleshow/76537763.cms  (24 June 2020)

Nepal Arun River in Sankhuwasabha partially dammed by landslide In Rasuwa, floods in the Bhotekoshi river damaged the under-construction dry port and Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project in Gosaikunda Rural Municipality on Sunday (June 21) morning. According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Laxman Thapa Magar, the floods damaged three vehicles and living quarters of the workers at the dry port construction site. The flooded river also damaged a bridge at the project site of the hydel project. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-1/2020/06/22/arun-river-in-sankhuwasabha-partially-dammed-by-landslide  (22 June 2020)

Landslide in Palpa buries four, three killed June 22 2020: A landslide swept away four vehicles at Sammobari along the Tansen-Ridi road section in Palpa district on Monday (June 21). At least two bodies have been recovered from the incident site while one person, who was found seriously injured in the incident site, died. The landslide occurred six kilometres from the district headquarters Tansen and buried a tanker, a jeep, a mini truck and a car. The number of passengers in the vehicles swept by the landslide is unconfirmed. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-5/2020/06/22/landslide-buries-four-vehicles-in-palpa-two-bodies-recovered  (22 June 2020)

Nepal China Nepal fears China encroachment  The report mentions diverting of a number of rivers that flow from Tibet to Nepal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nepal-fears-china-encroachment/articleshow/76542042.cms  (24 June 2020)

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/amid-ongoing-india-feud-is-the-nepal-government-turning-a-blind-eye-to-chinese-encroachment/610718  (24 June 2020)

The document, accessed by Hindustan Times, said patches of Nepalese territory in several districts had already been encroached by China and cautioned that Beijing could take over more territory in the north if the rivers continue to change course. The loss of Nepalese territory due to the rivers changing course could run into “hundreds of hectare land”, it said.

– Nepal, which shares a boundary with China in the north, has 43 hills and mountains from the east to west, that act as the natural boundary between the two countries. The survey department has assessed that the changing course of 11 rivers had already cost Nepal 36 hectare, or 0.36 sq km, across four of its districts; Humla, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Sankhuwasabha.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-could-set-up-border-outposts-in-encroached-territories-nepal-govt-document/story-UD04e4xBMlTSbXcj2BQh8N.html  (23 June 2020)

In a press statement on news reports about Nepal-China boundary, Nepal govt has rejected boundary dispute claims. https://mofa.gov.np/press-statement-on-news-reports-about-nepal-china-boundary/  (25 June 2020)

Pakistan Surging glacier creates lake, floods valley GLOF?: A lake near the Machuhar glacier in Hunza Valley in Pakistan had burst its banks on May 3, 2020, causing a flood that submerged farms, the local power plant and part of the Karakoram Highway. Most residents had to sleep in tents afterwards.

– Zaheer Uddin Babar, the focal person for GLOFs in the Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority, said, “We can’t interlink the recent incident with a GLOF. Satellite images received from SUPARCO [Pakistan’s Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission] are not indicating any glacial lake. It may be the water spilled out from a lake on the surface of the Machuhar glacier. The water flow was as low as 3,000 cusecs [cubic feet per second] only.” GLOF flow can go upto lakh cusecs. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/12/surging-glacier-creates-floods-pakistan-valley/  (12 June 2020)

Bangladesh River dredging made costly for enhanced tax burden While river dredging is a top priority of the government to increase navigation, a sharp rise in taxes on the import of dredgers in the proposed budget for FY21 will hit private investment in the sector and impact the Delta plan 2100adversely, says the business community.

-The total dredger requirement for Bangladesh is about 500, and for Delta2100, Bangladesh will need an additional 2,000 dredgers over the next 20 years. However, there are only 156 dredgers in Bangladesh, and this includes those owned by both the government and private sector contractors.  https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/economy/2020/06/22/river-dredging-made-costly-for-enhanced-tax-burden  (22 June 2020)

CHINA

China denies millions of lives at risk as catastrophic flooding threatens Three Gorges Dam 400 million lives may be at risk as torrential rain in China threatens the Three Gorges dam. The Chinese government has moved to defend the structural integrity of the Three Gorges Dam, as a hydrology expert took to international media over the weekend to warn it could collapse at any moment. The warning came as more details emerged over the drowning of eight children swept to their deaths near the city of Chongqing, home to more than 30 million people, in the swollen & swiftly moving Fu River, upstream of the dam, on Sunday, June 21, 2020. The Children were playing by the river which had swollen to 50 m width.

– On June 22 (Monday), Chongqing issued its first red alert over the flooding since 1940, warning of “super historic flooding”. More than 40,000 people have so far been evacuated.

– Social media is awash with images of buildings being swept downstream, submerged cars and city streets being turned into fast-flowing rivers. The English-language news website Taiwan News reports that the rainstorms have so far impacted the lives of eight million people along the Yangtze river and cost the Chinese economy $AU4.2 billion.

– The US-based “China in Focus” network said on Monday (June 22) up to 400 million lives could be at risk downstream from the Three Gorges Dam, including those living in the megacities of Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai. German-Chinese hydrologist Wang Weiluo told Radio France Internationale on Monday the Three Gorges Dam dam’s design, construction, and quality inspection were all carried out by the same group of people.  https://7news.com.au/news/disaster-and-emergency/china-denies-millions-of-lives-at-risks-as-catastrophic-flooding-threatens-three-gorges-dam-c-1119460  (24 June 2020)

REST OF THE ASIA

Uzbekistan Dam collapse was a disaster waiting to happen The tragic failure of the Sardoba dam has sparked fresh debate around water conflicts and the need for cooperation between countries in Central Asia.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/23/uzbekistan-dam-collapse-was-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen/  (23 June 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade Exclusive analysis of US cities shows emergency on affordability of running water amid Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of ordinary Americans are facing rising and unaffordable bills for running water, and risk being disconnected or losing their homes if they cannot pay, a landmark Guardian investigation has found. Exclusive analysis of 12 US cities shows the combined price of water and sewage increased by an average of 80% between 2010 and 2018, with more than two-fifths of residents in some cities living in neighbourhoods with unaffordable bills. In the first nationwide research of its kind, findings reveal the painful impact of America’s expanding water poverty crisis as aging infrastructure, environmental clean-ups, changing demographics and the climate emergency fuel exponential price hikes in almost every corner of the US. Water bills exceeding 4% of household income are considered unaffordable.

– between 2010 and 2018 water bills rose by at least 27%, while the highest increase was a staggering 154% in Austin, Texas, where the average annual bill rose from $566 in 2010 to $1,435 in 2018 – despite drought mitigation efforts leading to reduced water usage. In Austin, Texas,if prices in the city continue to go up at the current rate, more than four-fifths of low income residents – defined as people living under 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) – could face unaffordable bills by 2030.

– The US is the only country in the industrialized world without a regulatory system – like Ofwat in the UK – responsible for monitoring rates and performance, according to Stephen Gasteyer, professor of sociology at Michigan State University.  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise  (24 June 2020)

Groundwater Monitoring using Observations from NASA’s GRACE Missions -Hour long webinar providing an overview of the GRACE missions, groundwater data availability, and their applications in the monitoring and management of water resources. This lightning webinar will also serve as the foundation for the upcoming advanced webinar: Using Earth Observations to Monitor Water Budgets for River Basin Management II. Link to download materials from presentation given. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x76e2rsjIY  (26 June 2020)

Study Decoding the Skies: The Impact of Water Vapor on Afternoon Rainfall – The role that atmospheric water vapor plays in weather is complex and not clearly understood. However, University of Arizona researchers have started to tease out the relationship between morning soil moisture and afternoon rainfall under different atmospheric conditions in a new study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“The prevailing wisdom on the relationship between soil moisture and rainfall is that if you have wetter soil in the morning, you’ll have a greater occurrence of rainfall in afternoon, but it’s more complicated than that,” said lead author Josh Welty, a UArizona doctoral student in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. “On a global scale, we see evidence that you can have greater chances of afternoon rainfall over both wet and dry soil conditions, depending on atmospheric moisture.”

-The researchers focused on days in which afternoon rainfall occurred and noted the difference between the number of rainfall days that occurred over wetter-than-average soil and the number of rainfall days that occurred over drier-than-average soil. They then grouped their results into three categories: high, mid and low atmospheric moisture transport by wind.

This research builds on a 2018 study that identified soil moisture’s role in afternoon rainfall amount in the Southern Great Plains of Oklahoma. The new findings show that the relationship between soil moisture, afternoon rainfall and atmospheric moisture in Oklahoma doesn’t apply across the entire northern hemisphere.

-Understanding the role of water vapor in weather is important because its effects are felt everywhere, says Welty’s thesis adviser and paper co-author Xubin Zeng, Agnese N. Haury Endowed Chair in Environment and director of the Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center and Land-Atmosphere-Ocean Interaction Group.

-Understanding this relationship is even more important as global warming changes patterns of atmospheric moisture, soil moisture and more. Such changes will not only have effects on weather and natural disasters, but also on agriculture, Zeng said. https://scitechdaily.com/decoding-the-skies-the-impact-of-water-vapor-on-afternoon-rainfall/  (27 June 2020)

Africa. Nila Basin. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan hope for Nile deal in weeks Even as the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile, 15 km upstream from border with Sudan is about to start in July, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have decided to try to find a solution to Nile water sharing through African Union’s help over the next few weeks. Cairo, however, had appealed to the Security Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move aimed at stopping Ethiopia from filling the dam. The Council was expected to hold a public meeting on Monday (June 29, 2020) to discuss the issue. (https://in.reuters.com/article/ethiopia-egypt-dam/egypt-ethiopia-and-sudan-hope-for-nile-dam-deal-in-weeks-idINKBN23Z060 June 28, 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 22 June 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 15 June 2020

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

 

 

4 thoughts on “DRP NB 29 June 2020: Don’t blame NGT for Govt failure on Groundwater regulation

  1. There is news in the DRP NB 29 June 2020 regarding “Maharashtra: No rules notified even 11 years after passing the ground water management and development act”. The said news is misleading. The statement-wise misconceptions in the said news are listed below:

    (1) In 2009, Maharashtra passed a Law called Ground Water (Management and Development) Act to regulate the use of ground water.

    – Although Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act is of the year 2009, it was notified on 03 December 2013 and came into effect from 01 June 2014. Prior to this Act, Maharashtra Groundwater (Regulation of Drinking Water Purposes) Act, 1993 was existing in the Maharashtra which was notified on 16 August, 1993.

    (2) However, for implementation of any law, administrative rules are needed to be framed.

    – As per the Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009, “The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, and subject to the condition of previous publication, make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act”.
    The wording here is quite clear. For carrying the purpose of the Act, the State Government “may” (here the wording is not “must”) make rules. It is not mandatory on the part of the Government to notify the Rules as the word “may” is used. The non-availability of the “Rules” by the Government cannot be the excuse for non-carrying out the purpose of the Act. For the enforcement of the Act, provisions in the Act are enough.

    e.g. The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act was enacted in the year 2005. Till date i.e. year 2020, the Rules are not notified for the purpose of this Act. (The Rules made in the past were repealed). Still this Authority is carrying out its function and duties for the purpose of the Act without any Rules. This shows that the provisions in the Act are sufficient to carry out the purpose of the Act and same can be the case for enforcement of Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009.

    (3) but pressure from various vested interests ensured that even after 11 years, rules have not been notified. According to activists working in the field of water conservation, in urban and semi urban areas, the tanker lobby and water guzzling industries like soft drink and liquor industry, and in rural areas, the whole politico-economic system built around crops like sugarcane ensured that these rules are never notified.

    To blame various vested interests, such as the tanker lobby and water guzzling industries like soft drink and liquor industry, and in rural areas, the whole politico-economic system built around crops like sugarcane for non-notification of the Rules is incorrect as the Law i. e. provisions in the Act can be enforced even without Rules as stated above. The period of 11 years of non-notifying the Rules is also incorrect as the Act was effective from 01 June 2014, and not from the year 2009, which results into a delay of 5 years till date in the notification of the Rules.

    (4) An official of state water regulator Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) said, “As per the Act, there should be survey of ground water levels every three years but we are still using the 2013 survey to decide which are most exploited zones.”

    – There is no specific provision in the Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009 to carry out survey of ground water levels every three years. Hence the claim of the said provision in the Act to carry out survey of ground water levels every three years is totally incorrect.

    However, if the survey of ground water levels is to be carried out every three years, the Regulatory Authority can issue the Order to the executive department to that extent and get the ground water level survey done every three years.

    (5) In the case of a city like Mumbai, it was never surveyed.

    – The Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA) is the State Government Department responsible to carry out any other functions and duties entrusted to it under the provisions of Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009. The Project Agreement between International Development Association and Government of Maharashtra required that the Maharashtra State shall establish the Groundwater Agency, especially for the development of minor irrigation schemes based on groundwater. As per this agreement, the State Government has established the Groundwater Surveys & Development Agency (GSDA) during the year 1972. Hence, the main focus of the GSDA is on the functions and schemes related to irrigation in rural areas. In the past, GSDA might have not done survey regarding groundwater in the Mumbai city which is purely an urban area. GSDA can carry out this survey in Mumbai as it is the entrusted Authority for carrying out functions and duties under the said Act in the whole of Maharashtra State.

    In the past, other government authorities had done survey of the groundwater in the Mumbai. Hence the statement “In the case of a city like Mumbai, it was never surveyed” is completely incorrect.

    (6) Indiscriminate lifting of ground water is going on in Mumbai and 3,000-4,000 tankers are operating every day, but in absence of any law, they are operating with impunity.

    – Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009 extends to the whole of the State of Maharashtra and Mumbai is in Maharashtra State only. So, the claim of any absence of any Law is incorrect as the said Act is also applicable to Mumbai. Indiscriminate lifting of ground water in Mumbai by the tanker operators with impunity as claimed in the news, can be dealt by the concerned Authorities with the provisions in the said Act. When the Authorities are able to count 3000-4000 as the number of the tankers operating every day in Mumbai, the action on illegal tankers can be taken under the said Act/Law by the concerned Authorities.

    The above details regarding the misconceptions in the said news, may give more clarity on the issue of enforcement of Maharashtra Ground Water (Management and Development) Act, 2009, in absence of the notification of the Rules under the said Act.

    Like

    1. Many thanks, Prasanna ji,

      This is VERY useful and informative, coming from someone who is not from GSDA. We would like GSDA to respond since so many questions arise from this, it would be useful for them to clarify.

      Thanks again, keep writing.
      Himanshu Thakkar

      Like

  2. The Report of Ground Water Resources Assessment of Maharashtra – 2017 was published in July 2019 with the block-wise Ground Water Resources Assessment and it seems that there is complete ignorance about the 2017 Survey Report.

    Further, the State like Madhya Pradesh had carried out and published Groundwater Survey for the years 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 i.e. every two years.

    Like

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