Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 17 August 2020: The Contempt of Court case against MoEF

[Feature image: Cartoon on Draft EIA 2020 by Surendra, The Hindu https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/cartoon/cartoonscape-august-12-2020/article32328005.ece (12 Aug. 2020)]

This last week, one Contempt of Court case was deservedly in news, when on the eve of India’s 74th Independence day, the apex Court found public spirited Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of Court. Prashant Bhushan’s commitment for the cause of the people and responsible governance of various institutions is beyond question. He is known for being critical of the government and judiciary’s track record and is supported in this by most independent minded persons.

However, there was another contempt case this last week, related to environmental issues, that was not so much in the news. On June 30, 2020, Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in response to petition by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad had directed, among other things, that Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) should translate the Draft EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification of 2020 into all the official languages of India and disseminate widely in ten days. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-hc-extends-public-response-deadline-to-draft-eia-2020/article31951610.ece)

One expected any law abiding person or agency to either implement the court order or if they had any legal challenge or technical issue of implementation, to seek appropriate remedy by the due date of July 10, 2020. But the MoEF did neither. A clearer case of contempt of court would be difficult to find. On Aug 11, 2020, the petitioners in the Delhi HC filed a contempt petition in the same court and the HC issues notice to the respondent MoEF for the “wilful disobedience” of a Court order to publish the translated versions of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification in all 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule. (https://www.latestlaws.com/latest-news/hc-notice-to-environment-ministry-on-contempt-plea-over-publishing-of-translated-eia-notification/)

On Aug 13, 2020, while allowing MoEF to withdraw the Special Leave Petition (SLP) by MoEF challenging the Delhi HC order of June 30, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian stayed the Delhi HC contempt proceedings against MoEF. There was apparently no great discussion on merits or demerits of the contempt case, either in the court or outside. Is this decision of the Supreme Court going to bring greater respect and implementation of the Court orders or will it breed greater complacency and disrespect for the orders of the court?
(https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/draft-eia-2020-sc-stays-delhi-hc-contempt-proceedings-against-centre-for-failure-to-publish-notification-in-regional-languages-161382)

We leave it to readers to decide, what signal they are getting from the case of two Contempt of Court orders of the Supreme Court of India.

Draft EIA 2020 encourages environmental violations, warn experts Amruta Pradhan, environmentalist and PhD scholar at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru in collaboration with South Asia Network on Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP), has studied the new draft EIA in connection with hydro projects and how the government is pushing such projects to ensure a smoother path for industries in securing environment clearances.

-“The new draft EIA is a threat to environmental justice,” Amruta told TOI. Up to 25 MW hydro-power projects will be exempted from EIA. Thus, even if the projects have any serious local level implications, they will not be scrutinised. Under the present system (EIA notification 2006), any project up to 25 MW hydro-power project or up to 10,000ha irrigation project if found to be environmentally harmful as per the local site conditions, the State Expert Appraisal Committee can categorise it as B1 project requiring EIA. The projects would then be appraised at the state government level. Also, if the project fulfilled general condition that it is proposed in close proximity of or if located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of protected areas, critically polluted areas, eco-sensitive areas, inter-state and international boundaries then it was automatically categorised into Category A project to be appraised at the central government level.

-“Under the proposed draft, the general condition does not apply to the B2 category projects. Thus many hydro-power projects, up to 25 MW, can come up within 10 km of the sensitive areas. The cumulative footprint will be much larger and there are chances of the projects being split on paper into multiples of 25MW installed capacity. Further, thresholds for categorisation can be changed by the technical committee appointed by the MOEFCC. Projects under category B are further categorised as B1 and B2. Thus it may happen that projects with much greater capacity or command area will be pushed under category B2 and can thus threaten the ecologically important pockets. Once the clearance is granted, it is for a lifetime and there is no review,” she added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/draft-eia-2020-encourages-environmental-violations-warn-experts/articleshow/77330476.cms  (10 Aug. 2020)

The new draft further weakens the environmental regulations and silence the affected communities, hindering our steps towards sustainable development. Featuring in the video:

Zaman Ali (Advocate, Bombay High Court)

Himanshu Thakkar (Coordinator, South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People)

Nishant Bangera (Founder, Muse: A Youth Organization)

Vikrant Tongad (Environmentalist, Founder, SAFE)

Neha Sinha (Conservation Biologist)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyHo7zs9vmg&feature=youtu.be   (10 Aug. 2020)

Excerpts from the interview of Union environment secretary R P Gupta spoke suggest govt not taking objections, suggestions to Draft EIA 2020 seriously. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/retrospective-approvals-not-in-draft-eia-norms/articleshow/77556387.cms  (15 Aug. 2020)

Good to see a senior CPCB scientist saying this: “In India, the changes made in the draft EIA 2020 are completely contrary to the principles of environment protection and sustainable development with reference to EIA notification 2006.” https://www.thestatesman.com/opinion/lets-save-rivers-1502915598.html  (09 Aug. 2020)

‘Scrap EIA for PRR’: An open letter from Citizens for Bengaluru to Vijayakumar Gogi, Chairman KSPCB:- https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/scrap-eia-for-prr-an-open-letter-from-citizens-for-bengaluru-to-vijayakumar-gogi-chairman-kspcb/articleshow/77534269.cms   (14 Aug. 2020)

The draft notification seeks to dilute the concept of public consultations, which lies at the core of the EIA process, for a large number of projects. https://www.newsclick.in/Draft-EIA-Notification-Compromises-Rights-Trbals-Forest-Dwelling-Communities-Environment-Ministry-Prakash-Javadekar-Climate-Change   (12 Aug. 2020)

In letters to the government, the BAI criticised several provisions of the draft EIA 2020 and sought its withdrawal citing the coronavirus pandemic while the CREDAI supported it. https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/eia-2020-news-narendra-modi-government-environment-real-estate-lobby-credai-bai_in_5f31a0f1c5b64cc99fdca7dc  (11 Aug. 2020)

-In this episode of India Development Debate, Tamanna Inamdar discusses the various red flags in the draft EIA 2020 with Manoj Misra, Convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan and Shibani Ghosh, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, and Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD0vpSgegN0  (13 Aug. 2020)

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has taken an exception to the MoEFCC’s draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, 2020, and pointed out that the document in its current form has ignored the sensitivity required for ecological conservation and also to achieve sustainable development goals.

-Baghel has drawn Union Minister Prakash Javadekar’s attention to the gaping holes in the draft EIA notification, 2020. He made an impassioned plea that the key environmental policy guideline should be in consonance with the rights of the tribals and rural bodies in a state such as Chhattisgarh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chhattisgarh-cm-raises-objection-over-draft-eia-notification-writes-to-union-environment-min/story-X13XA2WJNtwwIZtoi1KSbM.html  (14 Aug. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Sikkim …this is shocking and very disappointing to know that even in this global Covid Crisis the government seems to be in haste (hurry) to sell our last free flowing stretch of Teesta, Indigenous people’s land and the global hotspot biodiversity belt through NHPC Stage IV !!!

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This is to bring to notice every Sikkimese that this particular project will be the biggest environmental disaster of Sikkim. *** there is a Writ Petition in Hon’ble High Court challenging the SIA (Social Impact Assessment) so the matter is sub-judice but still it seems government has bend down knees before NHPC… further I would like to appeal to all environment based organisations, civil society, Universities, individuals and to all Lepcha organizations Sikkim Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association RMRT Renzyoung Tarloam, Mutanchi Loam Aal Shezum etc. to come and support this fight to save the last stretch of Teesta River and Indigenous land….

Affected citizens of Teesta highly condemn this act and request government to really think of a sustainable Sikkim… https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3682986041729042

Himachal Pradesh Local people opposing Jangi Thopan hydro power project.   https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3690279647666348

Image may contain: 8 people

 

Assam Engineering major Larsen & Toubro on Friday (Aug. 14) said it is set to execute the 120 MW Lower Kopili hydro-electric project in Assam. The project involves engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of project infrastructure, civil and hydro-mechanical works. The scope involves construction of all components of 120 MW Lower Kopili hydro-electric project, including roads, 65-metre high concrete gravity dam, power intakes, surface powerhouse and a 3.6-km long head race tunnel. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/set-to-execute-lower-kopili-hydro-electric-project-in-assam-larsen-toubro/articleshow/77546811.cms  (14 Aug. 2020)

Tamil Nadu SMEC to provide engineering services for 500MW pumped storage project Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd has engaged design and engineering firm SMEC to provide detailed engineering and project management services on the 4 X 125 MW Kundah Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project. Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp Ltd is the project proponent. The project, in the Nilgiris hills of the Tamil Nadu State, will provide peaking benefits by using the existing reservoir at Porthimund as the upper reservoir and Emerald as the lower reservoir. https://www.powerengineeringint.com/renewables/hydroelectric/india-smec-to-provide-engineering-services-for-500mw-pumped-storage-project/  (14 Aug. 2020)

MoEF FAC to meet on Aug 18, 2020 relevant agenda items include: – 72 ha forest land for Patpadi Irrigation Project in Dewas Madhya Pradesh. The full reservoir is in “VERY DENSE” (Density 0.7) forest area. 8176 trees to be felled. To provide irrigation to 1848 ha in Uday Nagar Teh, Dist Dewas. Cost Rs 48.35 Cr (Factsheet: http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/AdditionalInformation/AddInfoSought/0_0_81114126121918102020FCFactsheet.pdf)

– 409.53 HA forest land for 142.72 Million Cubic Meter Capacity RESERVOIR Fact Sheet: http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/AdditionalInformation/AddInfoSought/0_0_81114124121918082020FCFactsheet.pdf,

Site Inspection Report and various annexures: http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/AdditionalInformation/AddInfoSought/0_0_8115125512141SiteInspectionreportonKeshavapuramproposalofTelanganastate_compressed.pdf At KESHAVAPURAM  RF, Medchal Malkajgiri District FOR TO HYDERABAD

The water will come from Kondapochamma Sagar reservoir by gravity. It will also need 261 ha of non-forest land. There are 139,274 trees in the proposed area for diversion. The total value of the trees is Rs.111.825 lakhs. http://forestsclearance.nic.in/AgendaDetail.aspx?id=239!dis1

URBAN RIVERS

Dravyavati, Jaipur ‘RFD project fails to improve Jaipur’s water table’ A survey revealed at many locations the water table was depleting instead of witnessing a rise. Former chief engineer of ground water department SM Kanwar, who conducted a geophysical survey, in his report revealed that there was an annual 2.17-metre rise in water level at Mahal (near Jagatpura) from 2014-18. The report said in all there was a 10.85-meter rise in the water table in the past five years. However in 2019, there was a depletion of 16.17 metre.

-From an annual increase of 3.24 metre in Bilwa, it declined 9.64 metre in 2019. In areas on the route of the river including Sanganer, Durgapura and Mansarovar, annual decline of 0.07 metre to 3.73 metre were recorded. Kanwar said, “It is quite evident that once natural passage is cemented, the water table steeply receded. For artificial groundwater recharge, JDA has developed 104 check dams of 1-metre height on this river bed. However, the table cannot be recharged as water passed is blocked. If JDA constructs recharge structures now, it will be a costly affair.”

-Experts alleged that ground water department was never contacted before taking up important work related to groundwater recharge. However, an official at JDA said, “The water level in downstream has receded due to excessive withdrawal by farmers of the area. It was proposed to ban usage of wells in the periphery of the river. But, nothing such happened.”

-Tata Projects, which developed the rejuvenation project, refuted the claims and termed it misleading. The firm in its statement said, “Dravyavati River Rejuvenation project witnessed the usage of stone pitching technique along nearly the 12-km stretch wherein huge stones weighing nearly 40-kg each were laid in a particular manner thereby ensuring enhanced water percolation into the soil. Every 300-metre there is a check dam with a 10-metre perforated concrete section to further ensure optimum recharging of groundwater.”

-It further claimed that as per a decadal average study conducted by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), groundwater in Rajasthan has declined by 62.70% since 2008. The decadal average was counted from November 2008 to Oct/Nov 2018 – a time period when Dravyavati River Rejuvenation had not taken shape.

-The study goes on to point the reason as “there has been deficit rainfalls in recent years – leading to increased number of wells, tubewells and water tankers that are leading to depleting groundwater levels in Jaipur and its vicinity”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/dravyavati-river-project-fails-to-improve-citys-water-table/articleshow/76500245.cms   (22 June 2020)

Around 300 farmers of 34 revenue villages whose plots were allegedly acquired for the Dravyavati river project have decided to intensify their protest. The farmers alleged that over 600 bighas of private land was acquired without providing compensation to them and Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) had proposed to earn revenue after auctioning. The farmers threatened to stage protests at the UDH minister’s residence, collectorate and JDA headquarters on Monday (Aug. 10).

-Ashok Mehta, a member of Dravyavati Nadi Kisan Sangrash Samiti said, “We have revenue records of our land, still JDA has termed us as encroachers of the nullah. On February 7, 2018, the court directed the JDA to deposit the records of 1955 . However, even after two years, land records have not been submitted.”

-The JDA has proposed to Rs 32,000 crore after reclaiming 85 hectares from Dravyavati river. For the same, several auctions were organised to sell the land. “Earlier, the JDA had fixed a base price of Rs 20,000 per square metre. However, it was not providing compensation to private farmers whose land had been acquired. The JDA should provide compensation as per Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. We would intensify our protest if government fails to meet our demands,” said another farmer. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/affected-farmers-of-dravyavati-project-threaten-to-protest/articleshow/77452838.cms  (10 Aug. 2020)

The Hindi media report raises questions over quality of RFD work as there have been repeated river bank collapse, damages to adjoining roads. https://www.patrika.com/jaipur-news/the-river-drains-open-due-to-rain-collapsed-road-6324814/  (07 Aug. 2020)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog O Majhi Re, Apna Kinara Nadiya ki Dhaara Hai! Rivers & Love are magical, transcendental. One has always been fascinated by the old love songs from Bollywood, some of the lyrics actually include rivers. The normal word used for river in Hindi is Nadi, but there is another beautiful word used for rivers in Hindi, Dhaara. Once I heard a song that used both the words Nadi and Dhaara in the same line: “Tu Dhaar hai Nadiyaa ki, mai tera Kinaara hu”. It led to a series of lovely accidents. https://sandrp.in/2020/08/15/o-majhir-re-apna-kinara-nadiya-ki-dhaara-hai/   (15 Aug. 2020)

GODAVARI Maharashtra 88 offences registered for polluting river In the past six months, as many as 88 offenses have been registered against those polluting the Godavari river, a report said here on Wednesday (Aug. 12), citing the details of a recent virtual meet of the Godavari Pollution Control Committee. According to latest data, a total of 3,856 such crimes have been registered from 2016 till date while fine totalling up to Rs 82,500 have been levied on the violators.  http://www.uniindia.com/nashik-88-offenses-registered-in-recent-past-for-polluting-godavari-river/west/news/2118913.html  (12 Aug. 2020)

SUTLEJ Punjab Excise dept dumps lakhs of litres of seized ‘lahan’ in already polluted river Sutlej Excise and taxation department is disposing lakhs of litres of lahan (kachhi daaru or the raw material that is used for distilling country-made liquor) into the Sutlej, the river which is already under watch of a NGT appointed monitoring committee. The river has already been carrying the burden of the toxic waste that the Buddha Nullah stream of Ludhiana dumps into it everyday.

-From August 1 to 3, following the hooch tragedy that killed at least 121 persons in Majha region, the excise and police officials in a crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing, seized at least 2.5 lakh litres of lahan in Ludhiana. An official press communication from the office of Ludhiana deputy commissioner, issued on August 3, read: “Acting on the orders of Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana, the excise department has destroyed more than 2.5 lakh litres of lahan by throwing it in Sutlej river at village Bholewal Jadid and Rajapur of the district. Such raids would continue in the coming days as well and no person would be allowed to prepare illicit liquor”.

aquatic life, Sutlej river, Punjab excise official, Chandigarh news, indian express news
Image Source: The Indian Express 

-The disposal of lahan in the river not only leads to the pollution but also leads to high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), posing threat to life in water. The greater the BOD, the more rapidly dissolved oxygen depletes in the water, said an expert from Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). With high BOD levels in water, aquatic organisms become stressed, suffocate, and die.

– Dr Amandeep Aggarwal, Sangrur-based environmentalist and a petitioner against Punjab govt in several cases in the NGT, said, “Lahan is highly toxic because it contains several by-products, which are produced after water and jaggery mixture is fermented using yeast etc. It might also contain high levels of ethanol and methanol, depending on the procedure adopted for fermentation. Before the distillation, which is done to refine the lahan, it remains a poisonous mixture which is harmful to not only human but also aquatic life.”

-A former excise department commissioner-rank official, said, “Lahan is produced by fermenting a mixture of water, jaggery, dry fruits and other ingredients but once it ferments, it contains alcohol and several other by-products which are impure and poisonous. Even the jaggery and its related products, such as molasses, are highly harmful for aquatic life. There are no proper rules on how lahan should be destroyed and hence officials dump it in water, which otherwise is wrong and should stop immediately.”

-Rajpal Singh Khaira, deputy commissioner excise, Patiala zone (incharge Ludhiana), however, claimed that ‘lahan’ is not ‘toxic’ and is only a ‘simple mixture of water and jaggery’. Asked if there are any rules framed for disposing of lahan, Khaira said, “I am not aware of any such rules specified or any other way to dispose of lahan.”

-Sub-inspector Davinder Singh, SHO Ladhowal police station, where FIRs were registered for recovery of 2.5 lakh litres of lahan said, “Though seized lahan is our case property, it is not easy to transport or bring such huge quantity to police station. So it was destroyed by excise officials by throwing it in the river.”

-Section 13-A of the Punjab Excise Act, says: ‘Lahan means any solution made from any kind of gur or molasses or both, to which a fermentation agent has been added to promote fermentation; or which has undergone the process of fermentation; and from which spirit can be obtain by distillation”.

-On the disposal of the seized intoxicants, liquor etc, the Section 59 of the Act empowers the Financial Commissioner of the state to make rules. The section 59 states that “the Financial Commission may, by notification, make rules” for . “sub section (h) providing for the destruction or other disposal of any intoxicant deemed to be unfit for use”.

-Meanwhile, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has remained mum, despite the fact that in 2018 the NGT had slapped a fine of Rs 50 crore on Punjab government for failing to control pollution in Sutlej and Beas rivers.

-Gulshan Rai, chief environmental engineer (CEE), Ludhiana, PPCB said that disposal of lahan in rivers is strictly not allowed and is extremely harmful for aquatic life. “Even if it is not fermented, lahan or jaggery/high sugar solution is highly harmful. It leads to an increase in the BOD in the water, which further deteriorates the natural oxygen levels required for survival of flora and fauna,” said Rai. “And after fermentation, lahan is even more harmful with toxic by-products and alcohol content”. Asked if PPCB has initiated any action against the excise department, he said, “We will be issuing a showcause notice to them. They cannot dispose an alcoholic product in the river.” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/what-kills-humans-can-kill-aquatic-life-too-punjab-excise-top-official-doesnt-think-so-6546642/  (09 Aug. 2020)

GANGA Photo Essay “But all is not well with the Ganges. Pollution has left large sections of it dangerous to drink. Criminal gangs illegally mine sand from its banks to feed India’s relentless appetite for concrete. Hydroelectric dams along the river’s tributaries, needed to power India’s growing economy, have infuriated some Hindus, who say the sanctity of the river has been compromised.” https://apnews.com/0a2dfe48fd4c9bbe48981f5b9a191e68?utm_campaign  (11 Aug. 2020)

YAMUNA Delhi DDA fined 40 lakh for not clearing debris This has some details of how adversely Yamuna riverbed has been affected by debris dumping. SANDRP has been pursuing the issue since Feb. 2020. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/dda-fined-rs-40l-for-not-clearing-yamuna-debris/articleshow/77494538.cms   (12 Aug. 2020)

While debris buried in Yamuna riverbed at Nizamuddin bridge being dug up, its removal not happening consistently as seen today which is imp as situation may turn worse once flood takes over which is quite possible in coming days. So requested concerned agencies to ensure removal of these debris heaps on urgent basis otherwise flood waters may undo efforts made so far & make post flood restoration efforts even more difficult. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3679621945398785  (12 Aug. 2020)

 

DMRC to cross Yamuna fifth time – At 560-metre-long, this will be DMRC’s fourth longest bridge over the river. The other four Delhi Metro bridges are the Blue Line (Dwarka-Vaishali/Noida) bridge at Yamuna Bank (698.8 metres), Pink Line (Shiv Vihar-Majlis Park) bridge at Nizamuddin (602.8 metres), Magenta Line (Botanical Garden-Janakpuri West) bridge at Kalindi Kunj (574 metres) and its oldest and shortest at Shastri Park (553 metres) on the Red Line (Rithala-Shaheed Sthal).

-The bridge will connect Soorghat and Sonia Vihar metro stations of the Majlis Park – Maujpur corridor. Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), DMRC said, “After carrying out a geotechnical investigation at the location of proposed piers, the activity of casting of test piles is in progress”.

-“To utilise available time during this monsoon season, a cofferdam away from active course of Yamuna has been constructed by raising the level of the ground by filling of earth by sand from a nearby area with protection of its slope through bamboo, jute netting and sandbags,” he added. “The level of cofferdam has been kept same as the level of adjacent road to ensure supply of requisite construction material like steel reinforcement, metal liner, ready mix concrete, etc.,” he added.

-This bridge will come up between two existing bridges on Yamuna-Wazirabad Bridge and the Signature Bridge. The executive director said, “This will be the first-ever metro bridge over the Yamuna to be built using the cantilever construction method. A cantilever is a rigid structural element which extends horizontally and is supported at only one end”.

-The bridge will have eight ‘spans’, which will rest on nine pillars on the riverbed. This bridge crosses the Yamuna at about 385 metres downward of old Wazirabad Bridge and 213 metres upstream of existing Signature Bridge,” he further added.

-Dayal said, “All mandatory approvals from the concerned agencies have been obtained for the construction of the bridge. DMRC is committed to fulfil the conditions given by Principal Committee on the Yamuna for construction of the bridge”.

-“The DMRC is taking various eco-friendly measures during construction to ensure all construction activities are being carried out with minimum effect on the floodplains and there will be a restoration of the floodplain that may be impacted by the construction of bridge alignment in the Yamuna flood plain/pillars, he said, adding, the muck and debris generated would be disposed of scientifically and no dumping shall be allowed on the floodplains. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-metro-to-cross-yamuna-river-for-fifth-time-preliminary-work-begins/articleshow/77571285.cms  (17 Aug. 2020)

Haryana Rising Level Throws up Plastic Bottles of Liquor This is second such incident in past five months, this year.  Some residents of Radaur town in Yamunanagar district jumped into the river to lay their hands on plastic bottles of country-made liquor floating in it. Police officials said that a large number of liquor bottles were found floating in the river. As the news spread in the area, a large number of people gathered there. A few of them jumped into the river to take out some of the bottles. “Someone might have dumped the bottles in the river. We are investigating the case,” a police official said. https://www.news18.com/news/india/tipplers-of-haryana-town-make-merry-as-yamunas-rising-level-throw-up-surprise-in-form-of-liquor-bottles-2774375.html  (10 Aug. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh Adequate steps not taken against waste dumping in Yamuna at Vrindavan: NGT Noting the recommendations of an oversight committee headed by a former high court judge, the NGT on Aug. 5 said the failure to take appropriate action will result in levy if fine. “It is clear that the steps taken so far are not adequate. The committee has found that arrangement for leachate collection has not been made, leachate drain was found choked, processing capacity is just enough to cater to the day to day processing and is unable to tackle the legacy waste,” the bench said.

-It said the recommendations of the committee that bio waste remediation must start, failing which compensation will be liable to be paid, establishment of proper functioning of decentralized plants, organic waste to compost plants, material recovery plants, use of bio-degradable cutlery are appropriate and need to be accepted and followed by the State authorities.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/aug/05/adequate-steps-not-taken-against-waste-dumping-in-yamuna-at-vrindavan-ngt-2179441.html  (05 Aug. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh Hindon Just four of 107 UP villages hit by groundwater pollution got piped supply in a year: NGT panel NGT oversight committee has pulled up the Jal Nigam for failing to provide piped water supply to villages in western UP affected by groundwater contamination due to the toxic Hindon river and its tributaries.

-In its report submitted to the NGT on July 30, the panel said that of the 148 affected villages in Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Saharanpur and Ghaziabad, only 41 have been provided piped water supply till July 2019. Expressing surprise, the committee said only four of the remaining 107 villages had been connected with the supply network since then.

-“Despite repeated directions by Hon’ble NGT and this committee, the UP Jal Nigam has not ensured piped water supply in [all] 148 affected villages. Till date, piped water supply has been ensured only in 45 villages. In July 2019, this figure was 41 villages. Thus only four villages have been provided piped water in one year’s time,” the panel said. Its observations were part of an NGT order passed on Friday (Aug. 8).

-The committee, headed by former High Court judge SVS Rathore, criticised the UP chief secretary for not fulfilling his promise to supply water to the villages through tankers as an interim measure.

“Not a single village has been provided water through tankers till now despite written assurance to NGT by Chief Secretary on 20.10.19,” the committee said in the report dated July 30.

-On the installation of 3 STPs, the panel said, “There has been no physical progress in installation of any of three STPs proposed in the last one year. No action has been taken against any negligent officer despite directions of Hon’ble NGT. Performance Guarantee of Rs 5 Crore directed by Hon’ble NGT on 15.3.19 has yet to be deposited…”

-The green tribunal asked the chief secretary to comply with the committee’s recommendations and ensure coordination among various departments for the restoration of Hindon river and its tributaries. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Doaba Paryavaran Samiti in 2014. The matter will be next heard on February 2, 2021. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/just-four-of-107-up-villages-hit-by-groundwater-pollution-got-piped-supply-in-a-year-ngt-panel-6549208/   (10 Aug. 2020)

Betwa Walk -Very informative recording of “Along the Betwa” webinar held on August 12, 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sbR2LLcUwI&feature=youtu.be

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Chennai Fish kill at Ennore Creek worries fishermen As hundreds of fish were found dead in Ennore Creek, a thick stench hung in the air near Nettukuppam in north Chennai on Friday (Aug. 14). Fishermen said it was due to hot water discharge from a neighbouring thermal power station. A. Mathi, president of the Nettukuppam Fishermen Cooperative Society, said that at least one tonne of fish died overnight. “There is no other immediate reason for the deaths. The water is really hot. It has chemicals,” he alleged. The Fisheries department has collected samples for testing, said an official.

Fish found dead at Ennore creek on Friday.
Image Source: The Hindu 

-Advocate T.K. Ramkumar, who deals with environmental matters, said it was not a one-off occurrence. “Several years ago we had been to the spot to check the water and it was hot enough to have a bath. The death of the fish only meant that the water’s temperature is not within the permissible limits as otherwise fish wouldn’t die in large numbers. The thermal station should either cool the water before letting it into the creek or let it deep into the sea. But that is not happening. The creek’s natural ecosystem has been damaged over the years, with the discharge of fly ash and hot water,” he said.

-In a case pertaining to the Ennore creek now before the NGT, a expert committee of experts comprising ecologist Sultan Ahmed Ismail, Balaji Narasimhan of IIT Madras and D. Narasimhan, former professor of Botany, Madras Christian College, had submitted a report according to which the leach of heavy metals, including mercury from the fly ash discharge from the thermal stations was found everywhere in the locality, including in fish and plants. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/fish-kill-at-ennore-creek-worries-fishermen/article32359826.ece   (15 Aug. 2020)

SAND MINING

Haryana One year on, families of two kids who drowned in deep pits wait for justice and relief  After more than one year, the families of two kids identified as Sainty and Sunil Kumar (aged 15) of Kanalsi village are still waiting for justice and relief from the government’s side, as their children had drowned in 25-30 feet deep pits left by the miners in Somb river (tributary of Yamuna) area in Kanalsi village of Yamunanagar district on July 7, 2019. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/haryana-one-year-on-families-of-two-kids-who-drowned-in-deep-pits-wait-for-justice-and-relief/articleshow/77467247.cms   (10 Aug. 2020)

Punjab Rupnagar CJM to HC: ‘Illegal nakas collecting royalty from mining trucks’ A report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court by a judicial officer has revealed that illegal checkpoints are rampant and exist in Rupnagar district for collection of ‘royalty’ from trucks carrying mining material. The report has been prepared by Harsimranjit Singh, chief judicial magistrate-cum-secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Rupnagar.

-During hearing of a petition on illegal mining issue on February 19, the government had told court that there are no illegal check points/barriers near the mining sites in Rupnagar. As counsel for petitioner had controverted the statement, the high court had sought a report from secretary, DLSA. https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/rupnagar-cjm-to-high-court-illegal-nakas-collecting-royalty-from-mining-trucks/story-eA0d83wKseEjqiLiZy7UYL.html   (12 Aug. 2020)

Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh dullo have welcomed the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, ordering a preliminary inquiry by the CBI into the existence of the illegal checkpoints (nakas), near mining sites in Ropar district. They said it has been made abundantly clear that the State Department of Mines & Geology and the State Home Department “have failed in their responsibility in curbing illegal mining and the sand mafia in Punjab”.

To prevent further damage to the environment and erosion of public trust with the institutions that govern the State, an independent and fair inquiry must be ordered into the operations of the sand mafia in Punjab, the duo said. “Furthermore, the NGT on July 10 had ordered the Punjab State Pollution Control Board to recover Rs 632 crore from three illegal mining sites in Ropar. Can the Chief Minister shed some light on the recovery proceedings against the contractors operating on those sites? The recovery of these funds would go a long way in helping the exchequer, since the Government is trying to save every penny and shilling,” the duo said.

“The actions of the sand mafia not only cause an economic loss to the exchequer but also have massive negative consequences for the environment. In September 2019 for example, over 4,000 hectares of crops in six districts of Punjab was destroyed due to the flooding of the Sutlej river. Ropar, was the worst affected of all the districts, with nearly 1,715 hectares were completely destroyed. Illegal sand mining is one of the chief causes of flooding in the district. As long as illegal sand mining continues unabated in the State, our farmers and law abiding civilians are the ones who face the consequences,” they added. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/cong-mps-bajwa-dullo-seek-independent-probe-into-sand-mafia-operation-in-punjab-126966  (15 Aug. 2020)

Rajasthan NGT expresses concern over mowing down of forest home guard in Sariska NGT on Aug. 11 expressed concern over mowing down of a forest home guard by alleged mining mafia in Sariska tiger reserve and directed the Centre and the Rajasthan government to ensure ban on the excavation of minor minerals.

-The green panel noted that mining is taking place inside the tiger reserve in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and mining norms laid down under the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016 by Central Pollution Control Board under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

-It said that there appears to be a failure of the oversight regulatory mechanism in the enforcement of the provision of the Wildlife Act as well as Sustainable Mining Guidelines.

-“While this Tribunal is not directly concerned with the enforcement of criminal law, the same being incidental to the enforcement of environmental norms, we cannot refrain from expressing our concern at such incidents in eco-sensitive areas and the defiance of environmental laws remaining unchecked.

-“We do hope the State of Rajasthan will monitor the enforcement of law in this direction at appropriate higher level and the Union Environment Ministry will coordinate with the concerned authorities,” the NGT said adding that illegal mining must be strictly dealt with. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ngt-expresses-concern-over-mowing-down-of-forest-home-guard-in-sariska-asks-for-ban-on-mining/articleshow/77483061.cms   (11 Aug. 2020)

Kerala Vigilance to probe into sand mining on Ramesh Chennithala’s plea The vigilance special court here accepted a petition by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala seeking a probe by vigilance and anti-corruption bureau against sand-mining in Pamba-Thriveni. The petition alleges that the government tried to sell of the sand that was accumulated in the floods of 2018 to a private company under the cover of a PSU. The petition said that there is a huge corruption and misuse of power behind the move. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/kerala-vigilance-to-probe-into-sand-mining-on-ramesh-chennithalas-plea/articleshow/77386259.cms  (06 Aug. 2020)

Karnataka Udupi: Temporary illegal mining monitoring check posts lying unused  In the summer of 2019, 2,200 metric tonnes of sand, which was extracted from the Baje dam of Swarna river, was kept as stock in the temporary storage centre on Bommarabettu gram panchayat grounds. These check posts were installed after spending thousands of rupees to prevent illegal mining and transportation of sand. But now the check posts are lying vacant as sand mining in the district has completely stopped. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=736937   (02 Aug. 2020)

Telangana Stone crushing unit owner thrashes 15-year-old boy  Nizamabad district police on Wednesday (Aug. 12) filed a criminal case against a 55-year old man for allegedly tying the limbs of a 15-year-old child labourer with a rope and beating him up indiscriminately for not coming to work at his stone crushing unit. The video of the man dragging the boy on the street with his limbs tied with a rope and beating him with a stick went viral in the social media and was telecast in local television channels. The incident happened at Malkapur (A) village of Nizamabad Rural block on Wednesday morning.

– According to Nizamabad (Rural) police inspector Srinivasa Reddy, the 15-year old boy, who was studying Class 8, had been employed by Muddangula Balaiah in stone crushing work during the lockdown period. The boy’s father, a close relative of Balaiah, was also a stone cutter, but he had fallen sick in the recent past and so he had been sending his son for work in Balaiah’s stone crushing unit for the last couple of months. For the last few days, the boy had not showed up for work. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/stone-crushing-unit-owner-in-telangana-ties-15-year-old-boy-thrashes-him-for-skipping-work/story-Kw9AaZfCEtr38U9oXwbEvM.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Kerala Solar ferry boat on Vembanad An internal impact study produced in January by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) showed the ferry generates close to zero polluting emissions and is at least 30 times cheaper to run than its diesel counterparts. The solar powered Aditya costs about Rs 5,900 per month to run, compared to the Rs 214,500 the state spends on each of the three diesel ferries operating the same route. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/indian-solar-ferry-flies-flag-for-cleaner-cheaper-water-transport/articleshow/77520146.cms  (13 Aug. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

GROUNDWATER 

URBAN WATER

Delhi -Based on SANDRP’s work this small Hindi news report highlights how Delhi’s potable water in drain no. 8 is being contaminated by industrial effluents discharged in drain no. 6 flowing parallel.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moGIFZWTj0M&feature=youtu.be  (14 Aug. 2020)

Drain 8 is also infamous for running alongside another drain carrying industrial waste and sewage in certain stretches of Sonepat district. In some areas here, sandbags are used to prevent the two drains from mixing. However, on days of heavy rain, both the drains overflow, according to residents in the area and experts from the SANDRP.  https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/high-levels-of-ammonia-in-yamuna-water-6527247/  (31 July 2020)

Gurugram Wildlife department writes to MCG over spilling of leachate into the Aravallis The district wildlife department earlier this week wrote to the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram(MCG), warning against spillage of leachate from the Bandhwari landfill into the surrounding Aravalli forests. The department’s notice to the MCG — dated August 11, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times — urges the civic body and Ecogreen Energy, its concessionaire for waste management, to rectify the issue, failing which prosecution may be initiated as per the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

-The notice also warns that the wildlife department’s no objection certificate (NOC), which had been granted for setting up a waste management plant at the site, also stands to be revoked in case of continued violations. Signed by R Dangi, district wildlife officer, Gurugram, the notice says, that the area is a well-known wildlife habitat, which is the home to leopards, hyenas, hedgehogs, monitor lizards, black partridges, peafowls, cobras, jackals and mongoose. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/wildlife-department-writes-to-mcg-over-spilling-of-leachate-into-the-aravallis/story-9qIH8MHItk3jq0lHZfbicL.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

Panipat

G Noida Ganga water by Sept for residents, 50 villages to get STPs “The planning department has been directed to complete the civil work on the 85 cu sec Ganga water project by this September,” a GNIDA official said, adding the authority is hoping to ensure supply of Ganga water to the residents at the earliest. The Ganga water project was envisioned almost 10 years ago at an estimated cost of around Rs 290 crore, according to the official. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/ganga-water-soon-for-greater-noida-residents-50-villages-to-get-stps/1914703   (12 Aug. 2020)

Coimbatore Untreated sewage flowing into water bodies Activists have demanded the city corporation, which has been spending crores of rupees on beautifying lakes in its limits, to take necessary steps to prevent both household and industrial sewage from entering the waterbodies.

S P Thiyagarajan, an activist, says, “All the lakes in the city limits are filled with domestic sewage, industrial effluent and solid waste. Most of the residents are letting household sewage into storm water drains that are connected directly to the nearest lake. In certain cases, they are letting sewage directly into the canals or the Noyyal itself.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/untreated-sewage-flowing-into-lakes/articleshow/77452459.cms   (10 Aug. 2020)

Bengaluru SC asks NGT to reconsider Godrej Reflections’ case The Supreme Court Tuesday (Aug. 11) set aside a NGT order quashing the environmental clearance granted to a high-rise luxury project by Godrej Properties Limited and Wonder Projects Development Private Limited in Bengaluru. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked the NGT to reconsider the matter and said no construction shall be put up in the meanwhile.

– The green panel had ruled that the construction would fall within the buffer zone of the Kaikondrahalli lake and therefore is violative of the zoning laws. The NGT had said no environmental clearance (EC) can be granted for a construction that would violate the buffer zone of a lake. https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/sc-asks-ngt-to-reconsider-godrej-reflections-case/77497301   (12 Aug. 2020)

Set up STPs before Sept 30, or pay Rs 10L fine NGT has ruled out the extension of timelines for executing STPs and laying of sewerage network beyond September 30, 2020 as part of the restoration of Bellandur, Varthur and Agara Lakes. The NGT Principal Bench, in an order, stated that if work remains incomplete even after the deadline (September 30, 2020), compensation would be liable to be paid at Rs 10 lakh for every STP, per month. “The amount may be liable to be recovered from the erring officers, apart from adverse entries in their service records and other adverse action,’’ the NGT said. The NGT has taken up the application (125/2017) for hearing on August 4 and uploaded its order on August 13.

It has stated that Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) must ensure that no sewage/effluent is discharged into the lakes and till setting up STPs, interim remediation must be done forthwith. “Any default in this regard will result in a requirement to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh per month per inlet into the lakes from February 1, 2020,’’ the NGT said. The NGT has stated that the BWSSB may further ensure that treated water is 8/17/2020 Set up STPs before Sept 30, or pay Rs 10L fine not discharged into the UGD network.

“Action may be taken against persons responsible for having allowed this to be done earlier resulting into loss of Rs 2 lakh per day ie Rs 60 lakh per month and more than Rs 7 crore per year without any justification whatsoever,’’ it said. The green bench has also directed the BWSSB to take measures for de-silting, de-weeding.

Meanwhile, lake activists are not happy with the delay in completing the construction of the STP. “The BWSSB engineers have been indulging in delay tactics all these years. Now, they have to stick to the deadlines. If not, they have to pay a huge penalty for not completing the work on time,’’ said Jagadeesh Reddy, a member of Varthur Rising.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/set-up-stps-before-sept-30-or-pay-rs-10l-fine/articleshow/77555418.cms  (15 Aug. 2020) 

WATER POLLUTION

Study Water fleas can warn of pollution Water fleas are small crustaceans widely found in varied aquatic habitats. They are very sensitive to changes in the water quality of water bodies such as rivers and streams that they inhabit. Dr Sameer Padhye, a freshwater biologist, talks on his study titled ‘Seasonal variation in functional composition and diversity of cladoceran zooplankton of a lotic eutrophic habitat from India’ published in the journal Annales de Limnologie – International Journal of Limnology that explores how these microscopic animals can greatly help in monitoring pollution levels and improving river health.

– He says there isn’t enough information available for many freshwater plant and animal groups to give a generalised account. The environmental data does show the impact of urbanisation contributing to the degradation of water quality. Additional information on factors such as invasive species, habitat modification and its effect on the biodiversity needs to be explored in much detail.

– Biological communities or species living in the water also respond to changes in the local environment and hence monitoring changes in such species/ communities can also help in detecting disturbances in the aquatic systems. Studying these changes is cheaper and faster in many instances and provides information on how organisms react to pollution. A holistic understanding of the damage caused by pollution can be obtained using a combination of physical, chemical and biological methods to assess changes to the habitats and the species affected by it. The paper is available here: https://www.limnology-journal.org/articles/limn/full_html/2020/01/limn200010/limn200010.html

https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/water-fleas-can-warn-water-pollution   (02 July 2020)

WATER

ORF Three stressors of inter-state water conflicts in India The Very first stressor is misleading, World Bank advocacy for greater centralisation of Water Sector. “In this essay, I assert the existence of three prime stressors causing interstate water conflicts in India. These three stressors are: a) the federal structure of the nation, where water has been made part of the State list; b) wrong delineation of the food security policy leading to dominance of high water-consuming crops like rice and wheat in production and procurement; and c) lack of an integrated ecosystems approach in understanding the land-water-food nexus in the water policy of the nation. All three factors point to lack of holism in water governance paradigm. Let me explain each point one by one.” https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/three-stressors-of-inter-state-water-conflicts-in-india/  (13 Aug. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Organic matter in soil crucial Indian-American soil scientist Dr Rattan Lal said in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh soils are degraded and depleted because ‘organic matter’ is quite below (.5-.2 per cent). https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-organic-matter-in-soil-is-crucial-for-a-state-like-punjab-6553513/  (14 Aug. 2020)

MONSOON 2020

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State, Sub-division, River Basin wise cumulative rainfall maps from 01 June – 17 Aug. 2020 by IMD.

Maharashtra Water in reservoirs depletes to 49 % as compared to 57% in 2019 Dams in the Konkan division are filled up to 66.49 per cent of their capacity as against 86.32 per cent on August 9last year, the official said. On the contrary, dams in the Aurangabad division, where many areas remain perennially dry, have 43.35 per cent water stock compared to 23.46 per cent last year, he said. Besides, reservoirs in the Nagpur division have 54.49 per cent water stock as against 31.91 per cent last year. Nashik division has 42.46 per cent water stock as against 57.6 per cent last year, while the Pune division has 52.31 per cent stock compared to 83.38 per cent in 2019, he added. https://www.news18.com/news/india/water-in-maharashtra-reservoirs-depletes-to-49-as-compared-to-57-last-year-2772683.html  (10 Aug. 2020)

Water stock in major reservoirs in Pune has been rising steadily, with all dams currently storing over 50 per cent of their total capacities. For the first time this season, water from Khadakwasla could be released on Wednesday (Agu. 12). As per the latest dam status report issued by the Irrigation department, Khadakwasla was 96 per cent full on Tuesday (Aug. 11). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-khadakwasla-dam-water-6550712/   (11 Aug. 2020)

Delhi The weather department has predicted ‘generally cloudy sky with heavy rain’ in the national capital today (Aug. 13). Till Wednesday (Aug. 12) evening, the city had recorded 72 per cent less rainfall than normal in August so far, the lowest in 10 years, according to the IMD. The national capital has recorded 35 per cent less rains in the monsoon season so far. https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/rain-lashes-parts-of-delhi-waterlogging-reported-in-underpass-in-dwarka-2278649  (13 Aug. 2020)

-Till August 5, Delhi’s total monsoon rainfall this year was 32% less than the Long Period Average (LPA). While this figure can change – rainfall until 30 September is counted as monsoon rainfall – it is not very surprising.

-An HT analysis of India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) daily rainfall database shows that total rainfall has been declining over the past decade in Delhi. Each grid in this database is a box covering 0.25-degree latitude and longitude and Delhi is approximated by two such grids. Not only has Delhi’s total rainfall been coming down, the share of heavy rainfall in total rainfall has also come down.

-National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines for urban flooding mandate one rainfall measurement station every four square kilometers in Class I, II and III cities. Based on these guidelines, issued in 2010, Delhi would need 371 stations. IMD is in the process of setting up these stations in the next two years, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of meteorology at IMD. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/not-just-monsoon-poor-data-behind-delhi-s-rain-chaos/story-86xrRb5qaaRP1IkUJVdyBK.html   (08 Aug. 2020) 

FLOOD 2020

CWC बाढ़राहत और बचाव Some good discussion on flood management. Good to see CWC FF Director Shri Sharad Chandra highlighting that reservoir management is a challenge in India and that embankment breaches are majorly responsible for flood damages and need to maintain embankments.

– NDMA Member Shri Kamal Kishore also made a number of important points, including need to make the infrastructure in the flood prone area sensitive and resilient to floods, to ensure that early warnings are timely, useful (specific) and in simple language.

– Both claimed that there was improvement in flood forecasting. While there is some improvement, there is HUGE scope for further improvement and real test would be independent evaluation.

– Mr Salman, a journalist from Bihar pointed out that Darbhanga (20 lakh population is vulnerable out of 39 of the district), Muzaffarpur (14 lakh vulnerable to floods) and the Samastipur dist between the two are major flood prone area within the state.

– Very imp point was made that infrastructure built (OR ANY OTHER ACTIVITY) in the flood prone area should not increase the flood vulnerability. The proper construction of bridges, roads, rail lines etc is so imp, similarly drainage inn Urban areas. Char Dham Highway should not have been even built.

– CWC Director mentioned how Gandhi Sagar dam was in distress condition last year, which had impact right upto Farakka and beyond.

– Welcome discussion for a change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx-_fPXy0bM   (10 Aug. 2020)

‘States must be intimated before dam water release’ INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT: Consistent with the directions by the Karnataka High court, the Union Government on Monday (Aug. 10) has ordered that when a decision is taken by a state government, union territory or dam authority to release water from a dam/reservoir, within its limits, it will have to immediately intimate the adjacent/downstream state/UT, so as to mitigate flood damage.

– The Union Government placed a copy of the directions issued on August 9 before the division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi, in compliance of the order passed by the court in relation to PIL filed by A Mallikarjuna from Tumakuru.

On July 24, 2020, the bench had directed the National Executive Committee of the National Disaster Management Authority to consider the powers under Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act and issue directions to state governments mandating them to intimate neighbouring states when the need arises.

The directions read, “Whenever a decision is taken by a state, union territory or authority to release water from reservoirs or dams within its limits, an immediate intimation has to be issued to concerned authorities of the neighbouring state/UT.” The Ministry of Jal Shakti also made it clear that the said-decision should be communicated sufficiently in advance. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/aug/11/states-must-be-intimated-before-dam-water-release-2181695.html   (11 Aug. 2020)

Haryana Yamuna water level, inflow and outflow rising possibly first time this monsoon at Hathnikund Barrage. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3672701352757511  (10 Aug. 2020)

In this video member of Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandli Kuldeep Tomar shares information on rising level of Yamuna in Katapathar, Dehradun. He says this is first flood spell in monsoon season 2020. See how native people use traditional knowledge to guess whether river water level rising or falling and how much the river will rise if it continues to rain.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3673382942689352   (11 Aug. 2020)

Karnataka 30 villages flooded in Mandya Around thirty villages, including the historical Paschima Vahini and Muthathi and tourist spot Mahadevapura have been declared as flood-affected villages in Mandya district.

Following the heavy discharge of water from KRS dam, upstream, the Paschima Vahini on the banks of the Cauvery River in Srirangapatna taluk, where funerals are performed, has been flooded. Even the tourist spots and places where film shootings take place, like Ganjam in Kasaba GP and Mahadevapura in Srirangapatna and Muthathi in Malavalli taluk, were flooded. The district administration which conducted a survey of the places in the district, identified 30 villages as affected by floods. While the heavy discharge of water from KRS Dam has flooded the villages in Malavalli and Srirangapatna taluks, the release of Hemavathi water has affected villages in KR Pet taluk. Srirangapatna taluk has been badly affected due to rain, and 19 villages have been submerged here, nine villages were declared flood-affected in Malavalli taluk. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysuru/30-villages-flooded-in-mandya/articleshow/77450669.cms   (10 Aug. 2020)

With Karnataka receiving abundant rain over the past 10 days, all 13 major reservoirs have filled up earlier than usual. Normally, they reach the brim only in September, when monsoon season in the state nears its end.

– The current water level in Narayanpura reservoir is 29 tmc ft, just 4 tmc ft below its total capacity. Ghataprabha and Malaprabha dams in Belagavi, which had a major role to play in worsening the flood situation last year, are also nearly full. KSNDMC officials said they are monitoring the situation at all major reservoirs. An official from Karnataka Power Corporation said: “For now, major dams like Linganamakki and Supa are almost full; we will observe the situation.

– Strange statement: “It’s a good sign for the state’s agriculture and drinking water needs,” said Manoj Rajan, commissioner, KSNDMC. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/karnataka-all-13-reservoirs-fill-up-faster-hemavathi-kabini-reach-brim/articleshow/77497698.cms  (12 Aug. 2020)

“As per the initial assessment, Rs 4,000 crore loss has occurred. It is a preliminary estimate because rains are continuing. A proper survey has to be done,” Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said. Speaking to reporters after attending the virtual meeting chaired by the PM with six states to review the flood situation in the country, he said Karnataka had suffered huge damage in the 2019 floods, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/karnataka-seeks-rs-4000-crore-special-assistance-centre-tackle-floods-130482   (11 Aug. 2020)

Tamil Nadu Erode collector issues flood warning as Bhavanisagar dam is nearing full capacity  I hope this reporting is correct. It is such a mindless thing for the collector to say: Ask PWD to release water from the dam once the dam is full. What else the PWD can do once the dam is full? The Dam water should in fact be released when downstream river is not in floods, as soon as possible, since the monsoon is barely halfway through.

– Erode district collector C Kathiravan on Monday (Aug 10) issued a flood alert to people living on banks of the Bhavani river. He said the Bhavanisagar dam will reach its full capacity of 102 feet in a few days. The water in the dam stood at 100.55 feet on Monday, adding that he had directed PWD officials to release water from the dam once it reaches the full capacity. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/erode/erode-collector-issues-flood-warning-as-bhavanisagar-dam-is-nearing-full-capacity/articleshow/77466431.cms  (10 Aug. 2020)

Inflow into the Mettur Dam in TN reached 1.3 lakh cusecs on Sunday (Aug 9) evening, highest so far in the season (the peak inflow in 2019 monsoon was 2.5 l cusecs), up from 60 000 cusecs on Sat evening. This is likely to reduce on Monday morning as by Sunday evening, releases from KRS and Kabini had decreased to 70000 and 16000 cusecs respectively. The Mettur level that was at 71 ft on Sat evening reached 81.1 ft by Sun evening, full level is 120 ft, authorities expect to reach 100 ft by Wednesday (Aug. 12). The outflow was kept at 1000 cusecs s down stream river was full due to local rainfall.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/salem/1-3-lakh-cusec-water-gushes-in-mettur-dam-level-rises-by-10-feet/articleshow/77456315.cms   (10 Aug. 2020)

Hogenakkal has witnessed a sharp rise in its water level, with rain continuing to lash in the catchments of Cauvery in Karnataka and Kerala for the past few days. On Saturday (Aug. 9), Revenue officials said that water level in Hogenakkal has reached 1.50 lakh cusec.

-Considering the current situation, farmers have requested the district administration officials to hasten the implementation of Hogenakkal Surplus Water Scheme. President of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam S A Chinnasamy told The New Indian Express that they have been urging the government to formulate the scheme for the past three years.

-“The project aims to connect 60 PWD controlled lakes, and construct a pumping station in Kenedenkuttai lake at Pennagaram. Water from Kendenkottai lake will be shared via canals to two other lakes. This will help recharge the groundwater level and ensure that district does not face drought.” Chinnasamy added that Dharmapuri requires only three TMC of water to completely recharge the groundwater table.

-Senior officials told The New Indian Express that they have sent a project proposal to the State government. “Works will be started once the fund is allocated. Besides, the Central government has also been requested to provide funds under the Jal Jeevan Scheme for the same project,” they added. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/aug/10/hogenakkal-dam-in-full-spate-but-farmers-fate-in-a-limbo-2181526.html  (10 Aug. 2020)

GODAVARI FLOODS The Godavari is receiving copious amounts of floodwaters from the Indravathi and nearly six lakh cusecs of water was released into the sea at the Sir Arthur Cotton Barriage till Thursday (Aug 13, 2020) Night, causing concern over the safety of villages in Polavaram (West Godavari) and Devipatnam mandal (East Godavari). Road connectivity to 52 villages — 19 in Polavaram mandal and 33 in Devipatnam mandal — has been cut off. The Kothur causeway in Polavaram mandal was inundated and officials arranged a boat for the people. Project chief engineer B. Sudhakar Babu said six lakh cusecs of water was flowing at the Polavaram project and there will be no problem till it reaches the seven lakh mark. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/140820/godavari-in-spate-road-links-to-19-villages-cut-off.html  (14 Aug. 2020)

Over the past year, while CM Jagan Mohan Reddy and Water Resources Minister Anil Kumar Yadav have repeatedly talked about expediting the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) works for those affected by the Polavaram project, these are yet to be completed in several villages. 

Venkata Rao, CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) Polavaram Division Secretary said that while the government had claimed that R&R works would be completed in flood-prone areas by August this year, the process is stuck for many families who find their proposed resettlement packages to be unfair. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/godavari-spate-ap-officials-prepare-evacuate-polavaram-project-villages-130820  (15 Aug. 2020)

Telangana Reservoirs in state brim with inflows Srisailam project, which was filled up to 63 per cent on Saturday evening (Aug. 15), is expected to get heavy inflows in the ensuing days. Besides, with the arrival of 70,800 cusecs of discharge from Narayanpur, the Tungabhadra dam is also expected to brim. As against its storage capacity of 100.86 tmcft, the Tungabhadra’s current level is 96.38 tmcft.

The Tungabhadra gates are likely to be lifted on Sunday (Aug. 15). However, the outflows from Tungabhadra are just 9,143 cusecs. But, the inflows into Tungabhadra were recorded at 29,379 cusecs. In the meantime, the Almatti dam recorded outflows and inflows at 82,000 cusecs and 1.22 lakh cusecs respectively. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/aug/16/telangana-rains-reservoirs-in-state-brim-with-inflows-2183954.html  (16 Aug. 2020)

Several tanks and canals were overflowing on Saturday (Aug. 15) due to the heavy rains lashing the state. Parts of Warangal town were inundated due to incessant rain. 14 farmers were rescued by a helicopter of the Indian Air Force in Jayashankar Bhupalapally district. The farmers were stuck in floodwater in Kundanpally village when they were on their fields to pump out excess water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/alert-sounded-in-telangana-as-heavy-rains-trigger-flood-situation/articleshow/77573194.cms  (16 Aug. 2020)

https://www.ndtv.com/video/embed-player/?site=classic&id=557690&autostart=false&autoplay=0&pWidth=420&pHeight=315&category=embed

Several areas in Hyderabad and rural areas have been flooded with non-stop rains over the last three days. The weather office has predicted more rains in the next three days and a high alert has been sounded in many areas of Telangana. Over 600 buildings have been declared vulnerable in Hyderabad.  https://www.ndtv.com/telangana-news/telangana-several-areas-in-hyderabad-flooded-after-heavy-rains-2280150  (17 Aug. 2020)

Some useful info about flood situation here. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/aug/16/telangana-rains-reservoirs-in-state-brim-with-inflows-2183954.html  (16 Aug. 2020)

Bihar Along the Koshi, flooded in Nepal, ignored by India This is the first story in a three-part series on flooding in the Kosi-Ganga-Padma river basin across three countries, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

Under the Koshi Agreement, signed between the governments of Nepal and India in 1954, the Indian state of Bihar is responsible for preventing floods in the area affected by the Koshi Project, roughly 150 kilometres of embankments built along the river in India and Nepal to prevent floods.

-Before the June-September monsoon every year, the Bihar government sends officials to Nepal to install “cement porcupines” – concrete poles joined with nuts and bolts – and pile up nylon bags on the riverbank to slow down the flow of the water. However, by and large, it has failed to inspire local trust because Indian engineers do not consult them or their representatives. Nepali officials claim this has resulted in short-sighted solutions, and means the task has to be repeated almost every monsoon. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/13/along-the-koshi-flooded-in-nepal-ignored-by-india/  (13 Aug. 2020)

– Second story. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/14/flooded-by-corruption-every-year-in-bihar/  (14 Aug. 2020)

– Last story in 3-part series. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/14/bangladesh-floods-displace-most-vulnerable-along-the-padma/  (14 Aug. 2020)

Proposal to recharge groundwater using flood waters in Bihar and other Ganga basin states. Need to be assessed for feasibility. https://www.patnadaily.com/index.php/news/14814-alternate-ways-to-control-flood-and-to-reuse-stored-flood-water.html   (14 Aug. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh 11 anti-flood projects stalled by Nepal, UP CM to PM Modi? This has some shocking Anti Nepal Rhetoric. Can Nepal alone be blamed for this? 11 new flood prevention projects worth ₹53.64 crore could not be executed before the current flood season on the Indo-Nepal border as the neighbouring country did not provide permission for implementation in its geographical area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Uttar Pradesh govt said on Monday (Aug 10, 2020). The statement comes as 582 villages in 19-20 districts of UP remained affected by floods, with 303 of them marooned despite a 15% below normal rainfall so far, as per the State Relief Commissioner. Till Monday, 1.04 lakh families (5.75 lakh persons), in 19 districts, 76,623 animals and 38, 248 ha farmland were affected by the UP floods.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/11-anti-flood-projects-stalled-by-nepal-yogi-tells-pm-modi/article32318433.ece (10 Aug 2020)

URBAN FLOODS

DAM FLOODS IN SURAT: As SANDRP had feared and warned even before the monsoon started, Ukai dam releases creates flood in Surat. H R Mahakal, superintendent engineer, Ukai reservoir told TOI, “We decreased the release of water from 84,000 cusecs (2379 cumecs) to 70,000 cusecs (1982 cumecs) at 5 pm. We may increase the outflow from the dam in case there is a rise in water inflow late on Friday night.” The water level at Ukai reservoir was at 332.50 feet against the rule level of 335 feet with the inflow of 1.36 lakh cusecs.

– Surat residents are reeling under fear. Surat district collector Dhaval Patel has asked citizens not to panic as the water was being released gradually. The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has advised the residents in the low-lying areas to remain alert. The low-level weir-cum-causeway bridge connecting Rander and Singanpore was closed for vehicular traffic after it got flooded with the water level touching 8 m.

– Municipal commissioner, Banchhanidhi Pani said, “The civic officials and teams have been put on alert. The people in the low-lying areas close to the Tapi embankment must move to safer places. Otherwise, there is no need to panic for the residents in the city.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/water-released-from-ukai-but-no-need-to-panic/articleshow/77551842.cms   (15 Aug. 2020)

Sources in the flood control department said that in addition to increasing water level in Tapi river, out of five creeks in Surat, water level in four had risen above the danger level. The water level in Kakra creek is 6.60 metre (danger level 6.50 metre), Bhedwad creek 7 metre (6.75 metre), Mithi creek 8.90 metre (7.50 metre), Bhatena creek 7 metre (7.70 metre) and Simdada creek 5.50 metre (5.40 metre). So even as downstream creeks were flowing over the danger mark, Ukai Dam was releasing upto 84000 cusecs water. This is because Ukai was NOT releasing any water earlier.

– Expecting rainfall to reduce from Friday afternoon onwards, Surat Municipal Commissioner B N Pani said from Saturday morning onwards over 1.36 lakh cusecs of water will be discharged from Ukai dam to Tapi river basin. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-2-persons-die-1750-people-evacuated-225-roads-closed-6555262/lite/  (15 Aug. 2020)

However, the figures given in this news report do not match with the figures in CWC hydrograph.

Dehradun

Video on SM shows residential, commercial, educational facilities in Dehradun facing flash floods. This happens whn urban dvlpmnt disregards or interferes with drainage system. Natural streams, channels hv bn chocked, diverted, trained there at will leading to this.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3679635995397380

Delhi In morning hours of Aug. 13, Drain No. 6 breach in Khampur area in Alipur North Delhi flooding farm lands and village area. Villagers say recently earth in huge amount from adjoining lands was taken away by govt despite objection & fear of beach, but they were not listened to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01ch8PzQyKQ&feature=youtu.be  (13 Aug. 2020)

DISASTERS

Karnataka 2 years, 2 floods, govt got no solutions yet Environmentalists pointed out that in August 2019, Brahmagiri Hills at Talacauvery first reported a big crack in the earth that extended from the sacred Cauvery ‘Kundike’, which is the birth point of the river, to the top of the hills. The district administration sought a report from the Geological Survey of India (GSI), which stated, “A surface crack has developed near the mid-slope of Brahmagiri Hill near Talacauvery Temple and one active earth slide is present at the upslope of the crown part of the active slide.

-Multiple contour trenches are made by the Department of Forest at the mid-slope for conservation of water. These trenches are aligned parallel to the crack, which have allowed infiltration into the overburdened material. Slope cut for road expansion are left unsupported.” It suggested filling up the crack with impervious materials to reduce chances of water infiltration. But no such measures were taken, instead the cracks were filled with sand in September 2019.

– The short history of the disaster goes back to 2014-15 when Cauvery water at the ‘Kundike’ depleted. Some social activists suggested that a rainwater harvesting unit be set up on Brahmagiri Hills to increase the outflows. “An expert was called in from Puttur, and after many letters to Chief Minister B S Yeddiyurappa and central government, funds were released for the unit. Earthmovers were deployed and the forest department oversaw the project that was completed in 2016.

-Water flow at the Kundike increased, even during summer, and Archaka Narayan Achar too was happy,” said Sampath Kumar, a retired executive officer of the Coorg Temple Funds Committee. In another ecological disaster, hundreds of trees were chopped and the land was levelled using earthmovers near the Talacauvery Viewpoint to make way for a resort. By then, many minor landslides had been noticed across Talacauvery, Sampath said.

-Also, a number of unscientific road and cable works were taken up, said Thammu Poovaiah of Kodagu Ekikarana Samithi. “In one of the videos from the landslide site, you can spot unscientifically laid cables, installed by a private mobile network. Government officials have allowed unscientific works, deployed heavy earthmovers, sanctioned funds for new projects and looted tax-payers’ money. But no one takes the blame for the disaster,” he said.

-The Kasthurirangan report had mentioned several areas as being eco-sensitive in the district, and these very same spots are bearing the brunt of natural disasters, environmentalists pointed out, saying the report needs a second look. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/aug/10/two-years-two-floods-karnataka-got-no-solutions-yet-2181319.html  (10 Aug. 2020)

LANDSLIDES

Kerala Rajmala: a deadly landslide This is the largest landslide in India so far in the 2020 monsoon, although there are several weeks of rain to come yet.  Large landslides in Kerala have happened previously.  On the same day in 2019 a large landslide occurred at Kavalaparra in Kerala, killing 59 people. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/08/10/rajmala-landslide-1/  (10 Aug. 2020)

Dave Petley on Kerala landslide provides some details of the source of the landslide, some Kms upstream. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/08/14/pettimudi-landslide/   (14 Aug. 2020)

In an email interview with The Wire Science, Gadgil – reacting to the human death toll reaching 49 (now 55) after landslides at Pettimudi, near Munnar – said the landslides have been “disasters waiting … to happen”.

-In 2011, WGEEP had designated this part of Kerala a region of highest ecological sensitivity, or ecologically sensitive zone 1 (ESZ1). “In Kerala, rainfall increases steeply with elevation,” Gadgil said. “High rainfall and steep slopes render localities susceptible to landslides, so ESZ1 areas are susceptible to landslides.”

-“We strongly recommended avoiding … the construction of buildings and roads, quarrying or mining, replacement of natural vegetation by plantations or levelling of the land using heavy machinery. Therefore, we expect that in ESZ1 areas, such disturbance … would mean greater danger of landslides.”

-“Unfortunately, not only have our recommendations to bring such disturbing activities to a halt been ignored – the pace at which these disturbances are taking place has increased over the last nine years.” https://science.thewire.in/environment/landslides-may-have-been-less-intense-if-kerala-had-heeded-report-madhav-gadgil/   (11 Aug. 2020)

A cloudburst on the night of August 6 could have set off the deadly landslide in Pettimudi in Kerala’s Idukki district which claimed nearly 70 lives of tea plantation workers and their families, said a top official. “I think a cloudburst may have taken place because I was looking at the rainfall data. On Aug 5, 31 cm rainfall was recorded. On Aug 6, 62 cms of rainfall was recorded, double the previous day’s amount. It was raining non-stop on Aug 4, 5 and 6. It was the same in Munnar. We never thought it (Pettimudi) was a susceptible zone. So a landslip would have taken place and debris flow is seen as the initial reason, accompanied by heavy rain.”

As per Prem Krishnan, the sub-collector in-charge of Devikulam taluk that encompasses Pettimudi, said, “A preliminary investigation is going on with the help of geologists. On August 12, forest officials had gone up to the site believed to be the origin of the landslide. They are saying a major landslip has taken place there. A lot of debris snowballed and came down.”

According to rainfall statistics put out by Pradeep John, a popular weather blogger from Tamil Nadu, the Pettimudi station received 1842.7 mm (184 cms) rainfall from August 2-7, the highest rainfall in that period in Idukki district. On August 7 alone, the region got 616.2 mm rainfall in a 24-hour period, the same morning the landslide was reported. This was reportedly the heaviest rainfall in that region in four decades. In fact, the four-day rainfall record in Pettimudi this year, he said, could be the second-highest 96-hours event of all time in Kerala, after the big deluge in 1924. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/cloudburst-could-have-set-off-deadly-landslide-in-kerala-says-official-6557434/  (16 Aug. 2020)

Uttarakhand NDTV Hindi Prime Time on Draft EIA 2020 and large scale impact of Char Dham Highway project in Uttarakhand.

https://khabar.ndtv.com/video/show/prime-time/prime-time-how-long-did-the-destruction-take-in-the-name-of-development-557127  (10 Aug. 2020)

-Experts blame road widening projects and hill cutting works for causing widespread landslides in the state, as villages are cut-off and standing crops destroyed. “These landslides are an outcome of road widening projects and deforestation in hills for the ambitious all-weather roads,” SP Sati told Gaon Connection. He is the associate professor of environmental science with Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Uttarakhand University of Horticulture and Forestry, Tehri Garhwal.

-Road cutting and widening is expected to trigger landslides, but the number of new landslide incidents is far more than was assessed. “In Bhatwari block of Uttarkashi district, which is a sink zone, we had installed a GPS in Raithal, a small village, perched on the hilltop to see the ratio of crust deposition for earthquake prediction. But when the displacement was recorded, we found the entire village was drifting at the rate of 10 feet per year,” said Sati.

-Similarly, in Mandakini Valley, there are five zones that are sinking. And the sinking process is expected to accelerate due to the on-going road widening activities in the region. Other areas in Pathi Tangri, Pursari, Maithana, Kameda in Chamoli district are also sinking due to road widening works, he added. https://en.gaonconnection.com/heavy-rainfall-triggers-flash-floods-and-landslides-in-uttarakhand-red-alert-in-9-districts/  (16 Aug. 2020)

Shekhar Pathak of PAHAD on adverse impacts of Char Dham All Weather Road Project: -दुर्भाग्य से केंद्रीय सड़क और राजमार्ग मंत्रालय ने अपने 2012 के सर्कुलर में नाजुक हिमालय में भी सड़क की चौड़ाई का मानक मैदानी क्षेत्रों का जैसा बनाया। यानी पहाड़ों के लिए मान्य 5.5 या छह मीटर (कुल चौड़ाई आठ मी. तक जाती है) के स्थान पर आठ या 8.5 मी. (कुल चौड़ाई 12 मी. तक) चौड़ी सड़क का निर्माण। यह हिमालय के पर्यावरण को देखते हुए बहुत विध्वंसक और समस्यापूर्ण था। हर जगह कुछ न कुछ विचारवान लोग होते हैं। सड़क मंत्रालय में भी थे। उनकी समझदारी ने 23 मार्च 2018 के नए सर्कुलर में पहाड़ों के लिए सड़क चौड़ाई पांच-सात मी. को ही मान्यता दी और डीएलपीएस यानी डबल लेन विद पेव्ड शोल्डर को अमान्य कर दिया। पर यह सर्कुलर चर्चा में नहीं आ पाया। https://www.amarujala.com/columns/opinion/the-standard-of-mountain-roads-cannot-be-like-a-plain   (09 Aug. 2020)

Meanwhile, -CM Trivendra Singh Rawat on Friday (Aug. 14) held a review meeting to track the progress of the ambitious All Weather Road Project on the Char Dham route. The CM directed state authorities to contact the officials of Union government for the required clearances, which were pending. Rawat also told the officials to hold regular meetings and interactions to ensure that all departmental works were solved at the earliest. Rawat added that the Environment Impact Assessment for road construction under the Bhagirathi Eco Sensitive Zone should be ready within a period of 15 days. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/speed-up-work-on-all-weather-road-project-interact-with-central-officials-for-clearances-cm/articleshow/77551353.cms  (15 Aug. 2020)

Landslide in Chamoli damaged several shops and blocked the Badrinath NH on Tuesday (Aug. 11). A police post was also damaged. No one has been injured. The hill state is seeing heavy rainfall since last night. Many trees have been uprooted and electricity poles were also broken leading to power outages in the area.

-According to the IMD, very heavy rainfall is likely at isolated places in Uttarakhand for the next three days. The River Bhagirathi at Deoprayag in Tehri Garhwal district is flowing above the danger level and the situation is “severe” today, according to the Central Water Commission.

-Flooding was reported in many places after heavy rain. Floodwaters entered Dehradun’s Tapkeshwar Temple and the water level of Tamsa river, flowing along with the temple, has also increased, authorities said.

– Huge boulders blocked the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra route in Dharchula at two locations. Traffic movement was stopped for a while due to incessant rain and landslides. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/monsoon-2020-in-uttarakhands-chamoli-landslide-heavy-rain-damage-shops-block-road-2277773  (11 Aug. 2020)

Heavy and incessant rainfall in the state, coupled with landslides, led to the temporary closure of the Gangotri National Highway. The key highway has been closed for nearly 30 hours now. A local resident said livelihoods have been impacted due to the closure of the highway. Even areas near the China border are disconnected after the heavy rainfall. Districts across the state have been affected by torrential rainfall, landslides while rivers are in spate.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/flash-floods-landslides-and-swelling-rivers-heavy-rainfall-batters-uttarakhand/story-6SM7FrgeTojjdpBsfyqhwN.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) official Praveen Alok said, “Just in the month of July, 2020, 45 people died and 127 were injured in rain-related incidents while 61 rescue operations were conducted.” In July 2019, thirty six people had died in similar incidents and 71 people were injured in 46 rescue operations. With continuous heavy rainfall, landslides and flash flood incidents have been reported from many parts of the state. The downpour has resulted in rising water levels of various rivers as well.

-Piyoosh Rautela, executive director of Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in Uttarakhand, said, “In the hills, the catchment area of even small streams is very large. These streams can be seasonal also, but during monsoons with heavy rainfall the water spills. This heavy rainfall leads to flash floods or rain-induced disasters.” He also said that due to the topographical conditions, the likelihood of cloudbursts or flash floods happening in the hills is more compared to plains.

-“The physiography or geomorphic conditions of the mountains is such that the wind gets a sudden upward thrust which leads to cloud formation. But due to the topography of mountains or valleys, in particular, the winds rise to form clouds and then rainfall occurs in a small area or the clouds get trapped in a valley amid mountains as the monsoon winds are not able to cross the topographic barriers (mountains). Due to this, the rainfall recorded in those areas is high leading to disasters,” said Rautela. https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/over-45-dead-127-injured-in-uttarakhand-in-rain-related-incidents-in-july/story-U192lbNPPIYnq9mYewEQSN.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

Himachal Pradesh मंगलवार रात (Aug. 11) को किन्नौर में ही मूरंग तहसील के तहत रिस्पा गांव में अचानक चेरंग खड्ढ (River) में का जलस्तर बढ़ गया था और कुछ ही सेकेंड में खड्ढ में बाढ़ (Flood) ने भयंकर रूप धारण कर लिया. इससे पुल (Bridge) बह गया था.

https://hindi.news18.com/amp/news/himachal-pradesh/reckong-peo-landslide-in-kinnaur-national-highway-kaza-road-closed-see-video-hpvk-3202872.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

CLOUD BURSTS

Uttarakhand Cloudburst Damages Houses, Roads Several houses were washed away and roads damaged due to cloudburst at Rudraprayag. The state saw heavy rain and thunderstorms on Monday (Aug. 10). There have been reports of power cuts after trees fell on electrical wires at several locations in the hill state. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttarakhand-cloudburst-damages-houses-roads-in-rudraprayag-see-pics-2277209   (10 Aug. 2020)

A cloudburst was reported today from Sirwadi village in Rudraprayag, causing damage to several houses and roads. In Chamoli district, a panchayat official dies while 4 others were injured when rocks tumbled down the hills on their cars following heavy rain fell in two separate incidents.

-Heavy rainfall was also reported from capital Dehradun as well. A news agency released pictures of water entering Dehradun’s Tapkeshwar Temple. The water level of Tamsa river, which flows along the temple, has also risen following heavy rainfall. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/uttarakhand-rains-houses-roads-damaged-in-rudraprayag-cloudburst-yatra-routes-blocked-pics-video/634664  (10 Aug. 2020)

Cloudburst and heavy rains wreaked havoc in Kansari village in the Kedarnath valley on Friday (July 17). Cloudburst was reported at around 3am, said superintendent of police (SP) of Rudraprayag, Navneet Bhullar. The cloudburst caused damage to crops, the SP said as debris entered at various places in the village. Roads were also blocked after heavy rainfall. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/cloudburst-in-uttarakhand-village-crops-damaged/articleshow/77014916.cms   (17 July 2020)

According to the state disaster control room, three cloudburst incidents have been reported so far this year since June 15 in Pithoragarh district. Officials from the control room said that 33 people have died due to cloudbursts and flash floods due to heavy rain and 11 have died due to landslides across Uttarakhand. Around 18 people have been injured due to landslides, flash floods and cloudbursts, while four are missing.

– Bikram Singh, director of Regional Meteorological Centre said, “This year, as per rainfall records, 100 mm rainfall has not been witnessed at any particular location. In 2017, around 9 4mm rainfall was recorded in Dehradun, which was considered as a cloudburst.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rain-and-topography-triggering-flash-floods-landslides-in-uttarakhand-hills-say-experts/story-iuWn6XrQOkTWusynjkLYDP.html   (10 Aug. 2020)

Impact of cloud burst on Sirwadi and Pujargaon in Rudraprayag district. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Jdpe8FMS0&feature=youtu.be  (13 Aug. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Two cloudbursts leave one dead, four injured Two cloud bursts have been reported in Kashmir today (Aug. 9). A cloud burst hit the Kullan area in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Another cloud burst took place in Pulwama’s Branpatri Tral leaving one dead and four injured. According to sources, several residential houses suffered minor damage. The Srinagar-Leh highway has been closed temporarily after the incident took place. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/cloud-burst-hits-kashmir-s-ganderbal-district-several-houses-damaged-1709453-2020-08-09   (09 Aug. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

Gujarat EAC pulls up NHAI for EIA report Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry has said the EIA report for the construction of the Ahmedabad– Dholera Expressway in Gujarat, filed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is ‘peppered with errors’.

The proposed Rs 3,300 crore greenfield highway project is a four-lane expressway with a length of 109.019 km, under the Centre’s  Bharatmala scheme.

In the minutes of its July 29-30 meeting, the committee observed that the consultant for the project, M/s Enviro Infra Solutions, had done ‘very poor quality studies on biodiversity and ecology’. This, it said, reflects poorly not only on the accreditation process of the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET), but also on the NHAI ‘for appointing such poor quality consultants’. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/gujarat-expressway-project-environment-ministry-panel-pulls-up-nhai-for-eia-report-peppered-with-errors-5705361.html  (14 Aug. 2020)

Delhi EIA must before construction of commercial complex above Bhikaji Cama Place metro station: NGT  The plea, filed through advocate Saliq Shafique, said the area, which is spread over approximately a hectare, is designated as a park as per the Delhi Master Plan, 2021, and located on Sudhir Tyagi Marg in Netaji Nagar here. According to the plea, the DMRC in 2012 proposed construction of an underground metro station at Bhikaji Cama Place for expansion of its Phase III of MRTS (Majhlis Park to Shiv Vihar) Project. The metro station was proposed to be built underground. It was designed to be constructed under the district park and the first parcel of land was transferred on temporary basis for easing the construction of the metro station, it said. https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/real-estate/eia-must-before-construction-of-commercial-complex-above-bhikaji-cama-place-metro-station-ngt-5696011.html  (13 Aug. 2020)

3 injured after portion of Bhalswa landfill collapses Three people were injured and over 10 jhuggis damaged after a portion of the Bhalswa landfill collapsed following heavy rain on Thursday (Aug 13). Director of the Press and Information of North MCD, which manages the landfill, said three ragpickers who were buried under the debris were rescued: “They were taken to the hospital, two have been discharged.”

-The landfill, which is 53 metres high, receives 2,100 metric tonnes of waste every day from North and Outer Delhi areas. Despite reaching its capacity in 2006, it continues to be in use due to lack of alternate sites. In July, the North MCD had said the height of the landfill was reduced by 12 metres — from 65 metres — in the last eight months by deploying trommel screening machines to treat the waste. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-three-injured-after-portion-of-bhalswa-landfill-collapses-during-heavy-rain/  (14 Aug. 2020)

GOVERNANCE

Independence Day 2020  Clipped, choked and cordoned off The Ganga is India’s mother river, the longest, the holiest. Her purity washes away our sins, and as we leave the Earth, our ashes are immersed in her for our souls to gain salvation. She once flowed fast and furious, cascading from the Bhagirathi, which in turn gushed out of Gaumukh — the ice cave now retreating and melting — to spread across the vast Gangetic basin, nurturing and nourishing millions.

Today, in large tracts, the Ganga has mutated into a filthy trickle, shackled by hundreds of dams — about 600 in operation or proposed, and a thousand if one counts her tributaries. The dams have stilled her waters so much that there is no Ganga — what is a river, after all, without its water or flow — for eight months in a year. As dams and embankments rein in the river, the aquatic life it nurtures shrinks.

The endangered Gangetic river dolphin, once found across the Ganga and its tributaries, now occupies only a fraction of its original range; the golden mahseer, a fish so majestic it is called the ‘tiger of the river’, is dwindling rapidly as barrages block its passage to the spawning grounds. Some such as the gharial, an ancient crocodilian species, have all but vanished from the river. We may worship the Ganga and yet, denied the freedom to flow, she stands diminished — a shadow of her mighty, mystical self.

In humanity’s hubristic rampage to subjugate and bend nature to our narrow, selfish interests — to conquer mountains and train rivers, mine the earth and the sea, exploit and destroy forests, imprison and consume wildlife — Homo sapiens forget that we are part of nature too. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/cover/clipped-choked-and-cordoned-off/article32351647.ece  (14 Aug. 2020)

Fill up vacancies in NGT expeditiously: SC to panel The Supreme Court has asked for speeding up the process of filling up vacancies in the NGT to address the “piquant situation” created due to reduced working strength of the green panel. The apex court was informed that as on July 23, 2020, there were seven vacant posts of judicial members and six vacant posts of expert members in the NGT. “In addition, it is reported that one expert member had tendered resignation on July 17, 2020 and one expert member superannuated on July 30 but is continuing in office in terms of the order, the apex court noted. The top court was told that the government had already published advertisement for filling up nine vacancies for judicial members vide notification dated July 31, 2020 and the process of filling up of six vacant posts of expert members is at an advance stage. http://www.millenniumpost.in/nation/fill-up-vacancies-in-ngt-expeditiously-sc-to-panel-415610  (16 Aug. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Odisha Young activist aims to bring tribal wisdom to the climate fight Archna Soreng, 24, a member of the Kharia tribe from the remote village of Bihabandh, in late July was selected as one of seven youth advisors on climate action to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

-In an interview, Soreng said indigenous communities were already among those hardest hit by worsening climate-related threats and problems, from extreme weather to deforestation. Since she was young, she said, strong cyclones have repeatedly hit her state, with families losing their homes and assets. By the time they recover, she said, another storm comes along. “Why do the least-polluting tribal communities have to pay such a heavy price?” she asked. https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/young-activist-aims-to-bring-indias-tribal-wisdom-to-the-climate-fight-1.73146680  (12 Aug. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

IWT Pak wants meeting at Wagah on Indus Treaty, India prefers video-conference India has suggested to Pakistan that the talks over Indus Water Treaty (IWT) be held through video-conferencing in view of the coronavirus pandemic, but Islamabad has been insisting that the parleys be conducted at the Attari check post in Wagah. Work on Ratle stands abandoned since 2014 due to a contractual dispute between the Jammu and Kashmir government and the contractor.

– In November 2019, after a meeting of the Indian delegation headed by Jal Shakti Ministry Secretary with the World Bank to explore a way forward, it was agreed that the matter may be discussed by the two commissioners as per the Treaty provisions to decide the mode of resolution — by the CoA or a neutral expert. https://kashmirreader.com/2020/08/10/pak-wants-meeting-at-wagah-on-indus-treaty-india-prefers-video-conference/  (10 Aug. 2020) 

India-Bangladesh China Lending Bangladesh Almost $1 BN For Teesta River Project A lot of alarm bells should ring here:- Bangladesh is to receive a loan of nearly U.S. $1 billion from China for a project to maintain levels in the Teesta River during the drought season after efforts to approve a water-sharing deal with India failed. In May the Ministry of Finance asked for $853 million to implement the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project in the greater Rangpur region. The Chinese loan marks the first time that China will be involved in a river management project in Bangladesh. “A massive project funded by China has been adopted for the management of the Teesta River and China has agreed to fund it. Hopefully, we can start the project by Dec,” Jyoti Prosad Ghosh, an additional chief engineer at the Water Development Board, which falls under the Ministry of Water Resources, said.

– The Teesta project, which is estimated to cost $983 million, is one of nine projects where officials in Dhaka have sought $6 billion from China on top of a previous $22 billion in loans from the superpower, as Beijing expands its footprint in the South Asian nation largely through the construction of infrastructure works. “The Teesta River’s width varies between one kilometer and five kilometers at different places. So, we will narrow the width of the river to one kilometer all along and enhance the depth of the river to at least 10 meters so it can hold more water,” Ghosh said.

– The flood plains of the Teesta span 2,750 square km in Bangladesh. Teesta is the fourth largest transboundary river in Bangladesh. It flows through the five northern districts of Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, and Rangpur.

– “The Teesta carries a huge volume of silt from upstream. During the rainy season, the bulk water would carry huge amounts, so within three years, the river would be silted up and cause flooding again,” Ainun Nishat told BenarNews. “The way the Water Development Board is going to reduce the width of the river would cause harm to the river and its fishing resources,” said Nishat, a water resource and climate change specialist who is a professor emeritus at Bangladesh’s BRAC University. Nishat also expressed concern for fish and wildlife linked to the river. “The Teesta River provides a sardine-type sweet piyali fish. What would happen to the fish if the depth is increased through dredging? What would happen to the turtles and other aquatic species,” he asked. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lending-08132020161136.html   (13 Aug. 2020)

Pakistan WAPDA seeks report on damages to Nai Gaj dam project Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain on Friday (Aug 14, 2020) sought a report from the project management of Nai Gaj Dam on recent damages to the main construction site due to floods.

– Thousands of people were marooned by the flood triggered by breaches in the Nai Gaj Dam dykes last week. The deluge had breached the flood protective dyke (FP Bund) of the dam at seven places causing huge flooding in the region and sweeping away around 500 villages. The entire region was cut off from the rest of Sindh. The Nai Gaj Dam project is being constructed on Gaj river, 65 km North-West of Dadu. Iit would have a gross storage capacity of 0.3 MAF, 28,800 acres command area. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2259569/wapda-seeks-report-on-damages-to-nai-gaj-dam-project  (14 Aug. 2020)

NEPAL The explosion during the tunnel construction under the 26 MW Balefi-A Hydro Project has loosened earth here. In the application submitted to the committee, it is mentioned that over 500 houses at Nampha, Sanchagaun, Lidi, Jhulke, Nimlung and Baigang are at risk of landslide. https://nepal24hours.com/lidi-nepal-landslide-four-injured-rescued-to-kathmandu-on-helicopter/   (14 Aug. 2020)

Myanmar suspends Manipur hydro project -Myanmar has suspended a 380-megawatt hydropower project at the Manipur River in Chin State due to high risks, U Tun Naing, Deputy Minister for Electricity and Energy, told the Hluttaw last week. https://www.mmtimes.com/news/myanmar-suspends-manipur-hydro-project-chin-state.html  (11 Aug. 2020)

CHINA

Poor have to pay the price This summer, Mengwa, a region in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, became one of the worst-hit areas during China’s record flooding, not because of the abundant rainfall but because it is one of the country’s biggest flood diversion zones. For decades, whenever floods threaten the industrial zones and key transportation hubs downstream, this region becomes submerged when officials release the Wangjia dam upstream.  For the authorities, it makes sense to flood a vast rural area that contributes less to the country’s GDP. 

– Last month, the dam released 375 million cubic meters of water to Mengwa to ease flooding elsewhere. Dozens of villages were underwater and thousands of hectares of crops were impacted. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-10/inequality-gap-widens-in-china-after-flood-waters-diverted-green-insight  (10 Aug. 2020)

Three Gorges Dam has great potential to control floods This is lobbyist analysis: the pondage factor, ratio of reservoir capacity to river runoff, is a key indicator of a country’s modernization. While the ratio is more than 0.9 in most European countries and 0.66 in the US, it is only 0.3 in China. As for the Yangtze River, which has the highest flow of water in China, the pondage factor is even lower-only 0.13. The US Hoover Dam’s storage capacity has doubled the annual runoff, but the Three Gorges Dam can merely handle 5 percent of the total volume. https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202008/12/WS5f332ae8a31083481725fb28.html  (12 Aug. 2020)

ASIA

MEKONG Chinese dams and drought The latest reports from the Lower Mekong Basin are cause for growing concern that another period of drought will succeed that of 2019, affecting Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Expected rainfall from late May through June and July has not arrived, and the level of water flowing in the river is so low that the “normal” reversal of the Tonle Sap tributary at Phnom Penh, resulting in its flowing back up into the Great Lake, has not occurred. In the Great Lake itself, the low levels of water have had a negative impact on fish catches, with fishers reporting some of the lowest catches in years.

The prospect of another crippling drought comes with the publication of evidence that the 2019 drought took place while China was holding back water in some of its dams on the Mekong River. This disturbing situation has been exacerbated by the reduction in the flow of sediment down the river, sediment retained by China’s 11 Mekong dams. And there is consistent, if anecdotal, evidence that fish stocks have been declining in circumstances in which fish provides the vital contribution of animal protein to the diet of populations in the region.

– More surprising has been the quick reaction of the Mekong River Commission to call into question the validity of data released by Eyes on Earth, basically arguing that there is need for further study before any conclusions are reached. This seem an odd reaction from a body dedicated to the Mekong’s wellbeing. The silence from the governments of the Lower Mekong Basin countries is surprising. Perhaps Laos and Cambodia are now so aligned with China that their voices are stilled, but it would seem reasonable to expect that Vietnam and Thailand might join in the chorus of concern that has emanated from civil society groups. https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/chinese-dams-and-mekong-drought  (11 Aug. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

US Colombia’s EPM looks to recover $2.63 bln from dam contractors Colombian public services holding company Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) has started talks with contractors working on its Hidroituango dam project in a bid to recover $2.63 billion in costs resulting from delays and technical problems. Construction of the 2,400 MW project began in 2010, but in April 2018 part of the infrastructure collapsed, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and delaying the project’s completion. A consortia of designers, builders and auditors knew there were issues with the project during the construction phase, EPM said in a statement late on Monday (Aug 10, 2020).

– The compensation sought corresponds to damaged machinery, payments on loans and interest, compensation to the 4,000 people affected, and lost profits caused by the delay, EPM said. The project was forecast to cost $3 billion and was expected to be brought online in 2018. It is now projected to be operational in 2022. https://news.trust.org/item/20200811170918-p7sp4/   (11 Aug. 2020)

A valley blocking landslide on a tributary of PEACE river in Canada. https://www.energeticcity.ca/2020/08/landslide-reported-on-the-sukunka-river/   (12 Aug. 2020)

UK Watery grave Fantastic report by George Monbiot on state of Rivers in Britain and its regulatory system. It sounds alarming. But Indian rivers are in much worse condition. https://www.monbiot.com/2020/08/14/watery-grave/  (14 Aug. 2020) 

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 10 August 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 03 August 2020

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

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