DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 7 Sep 2020: On Himalaya Diwas, will Supreme Court stop destruction of Himalaya by Char Dham Road?

The people and state government of Uttarakhand would be celebrating Himalayan Diwas on September 9; the Supreme Court of India would be hearing the issues related to the controversial Char Dham Road project a day before it on September 08. During the last hearing on August 31, the apex court has rescheduled the case by extending the hearing date by a week amid concerns of recurring landslides raised by the petitioners.

The ongoing adverse impacts on forests, rivers, streams, soil covers, hills and people continue to concerns scientists, geologist who are alarmed by the scale of destruction and shocked by the brazen manner the state and central governments have been marching ahead without bothering to assess the impacts or address the genuine issues being raised by all concerned.

Multiple reports have been showing that the deliberate dilution of environmental rules and violations of already weakened norms applied by none other than governments themselves to avoid scientific scrutiny and push the project through climatically and ecologically sensitive mountains is proving to be a Himalaya blunder. There is still time to pause, ponder, review the project, assess the impacts, reduce road width and prepare an action plan to restore the damages and pay heed to scientific suggestions before the blunder leads to another inevitable disaster of Kedarnath or larger scale. Hope the apex court would not fail Himalayas.  

Uttarakhand  Wider roads for pilgrims mean more landslides in Himalayas -As massive Char Dham road-widening project continues to roll through the Indian state of Uttarakhand, residents battle landslides, and the future of the environment is murky.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/01/wider-roads-for-pilgrims-mean-more-landslides-in-himalayas/  (01 Sept. 2020)

Himalayan Blunder In fact, an all-weather road in a terrain like the Himalaya is fundamentally a misnomer. This proposed eight-metre-wide freeway will not withstand landslides, floods and earthquakes set to happen in future. The government must first refer to its own guidelines prepared years ago for building roads in the Himalayan terrain. Two experts of the committee formed by the Supreme Court have also submitted a critical rejoinder on the Char Dham Project and defined this road construction work as an act of irresponsibility and disregard towards a highly fragile ecology.

-While despairing about the military infrastructure built in fragile parts of the Himalaya, which includes tens of thousands of kilometres of roads, Maharaj K. Pandit, a prominent Himalayan ecologist, recently wrote, “I dream instead of the Himalayan highlands transformed into a peaceful nature reserve, and that the huge public funds squandered on managing conflict are invested instead in infrastructure for health care, education, conservation and welfare.” https://science.thewire.in/environment/the-char-dham-road-project-poses-a-grave-threat-to-himalayan-ecosystems/  (02 Sept. 2020)

Himalayas fragile ecology in danger -One of the reasons being given in support of wider road is facilitation of faster movement of troops, given the imminent Chinese threat at the border. However, landslides will become frequent due to the project itself and thus defeat its very purpose. The manner in which members of the HPC are furthering an agenda completely contrary to the public interest is condemnable and undermines the authority of the Supreme Court in the matter. https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/chardham-project-will-destroy-fragile-ecology-of-the-himalayas-881288.html  (02 Sept. 2020)

Editorial Review Char Dham project While there has been criticism of the project on environmental grounds (recent landslides in the state prove once again that it is risky to build in the ecologically-fragile zone), its plan of action illustrates how the Indian State has flouted procedures to push the project through. One, the government used a legal loophole to avoid conducting the mandatory EIA, including public hearings, to fast-track the project. Two, official agencies refused to abide by SC orders on stoppage of work. And, three, it suppressed a MoRTH’s revised circular on the contentious issue of road standards in hilly and mountainous terrains to go ahead with its road-widening plans. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/review-the-char-dham-project/story-8GPqxU3OI1qjQaUKVLyZDM.html  (03 Sept. 2020)

15% of Mussoorie susceptible to landslides A study by the scientists at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) has found that 15 per cent of Mussoorie hill station and its surrounding area is highly susceptible to landslides, a statement said on Monday (Aug. 31).

-It found that the dominant part of the area falling under the very high and high landslide susceptible zone lies in the settlement area — Bhataghat, George Everest, Kempty fall, Khattapani, Library road, Galogidhar, and Hathipaon — and is covered by highly fractured Krol limestone exhibiting slope more than 60 degrees. Like most hill townships, Mussoorie, the popular hill station, has witnessed several landslides, probably resulting from an increased spate of developmental activities, as per the study. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/study-reveals-that-15-of-dehraduns-mussoorie-susceptible-to-landslides/645448  (31 Aug. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Green Humur cartoon on dams in North East https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3755273797833599

Uttarakhand निरीक्षण के दौरान सूर्यधार बांध सूर्यधार झील की लागत बढ़ने पर नाराज हुए पर्यटन मंत्री सतपाल महाराज…बोले अधिकारियों कि कमी और होमवर्क का दिखा इस योजना में अभाव | बोले मंत्री लागत बढ़ने की होगी जांच | पहले 50 करोड़ में बनने थी योजना लेकिन अब लागत आयी 64 करोड़  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3759594284068217

DAMS

Polavaram Dam Project Andhra govt seeks centre help for rehab package Government has requested the Centre to release funds for Polavaram project and rehabilitation work. With floods inundating many colonies, officials said people from at least 19 villages should be rehabilitated at the earliest.

-The irrigation department has requested the government to release Rs.2500cr for the first phase of rehabilitation work to be completed by September. Although works on the project is going ahead, the revenue and irrigation officials could not take up rehabilitation works effectively due to shortage of funds.

-According to sources, the finance department is yet to respond to the irrigation department’s request made in August seeking release of funds on a weekly basis to implement the rehabilitation package, construction of houses for the oustees and acquisition of land under R&R package. Meanwhile, the entire project area, including 15 villages identified to be part of the first phase, was submerged due to the flood in the Godavari. The Godavari witnessed nearly 22 lakh cusecs per day flood flow for almost a week resulting in evacuation of the oustees to safer locations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/ap-seeks-centres-help-to-pay-for-polavaram-rehab-package/articleshow/77839100.cms  (31 Aug. 2020)

Sardar Sarovar Dam बांध प्रभावितों का संघर्ष : दांव पर सुप्रीमकोर्ट की साख

पिछले तीन दशकों की बरसात में शायद ही कोई साल रहा हो जब ‘सरदार सरोवर’ प्रभावितों ने अपने जीने-मरने के कानूनी हकों के लिए संघर्ष न किया हो। पिछले साल आंदोलन की मुखिया मेधा पाटकर के आमरण अनशन के बाद कुछ आस बंधी थी, लेकिन इस साल वे फिर जहां-के-तहां और मैदान में हैं। क्‍या हैं, उनकी समस्‍याएं और उनके हल में खड़ी रुकावटें?  https://www.spsmedia.in/dam-and-displacement/conflict-of-dam-affected-credit-of-supreme-court-at-stake/  (07 Sept. 2020)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

1st vessel to arrive in Tripura from Bangladesh via Indo-Bangla waterways route The Sonamura (Tripura)-Daudkandi (Bangladesh) route was included in the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes signed by Indian high commissioner in Bangladesh, Riva Ganguly Das, and Bangladesh shipping secretary, Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, at Dhaka this May.

-According to a survey conducted by the Bangladesh authorities, 89.5 kilometres out of the 90 kms of the Sonamura-Daudkandi protocol route falls in Bangladesh and the remaining 500 metres falls in India. Since 2018, a series of expert visits from the inland waterways authority of India and the land port authority of India were carried out to check the feasibility of using river Gomati, the longest river of the state, for the waterways connectivity route.

– According to the plan, dredging of the Gomati riverbed would be done enabling small boats and ships’ movement from Sonamura to Bangladesh’s Ashuganj port. Construction of a terminal building was also part of the plan to check the imported goods. According to an economic expert, 150 times higher volume of goods are imported through roadways via Akhaura Integrated Check Post (ICP) compared to the 50 metric tonnes of goods that could come through the project jetty. The expert also said that the potential of the project for local employment generation might not be so high. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/1st-vessel-to-arrive-in-tripura-from-bangladesh-using-indo-bangla-inland-waterways-route/story-nxzljSKXWe0MBiZyfoM8tN.html  (05 Sept. 2020)

Now, the forthcoming Agartala-Akhaura rail project, Indo-Bangla bridge over River Feni and a second Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Sabroom are also aimed at taking up the quantum of trade between the two sides.

-Not everyone is optimistic about the prospects of the project. “Akhaura Integrated Check Post alone imports 150 times more than Sonamura jetty’s trade volume — the state has six other land crossings. Since the waterway project’s trade volume would be low, there isn’t massive local employment to count upon either. Most importantly, the river route would not stay operational throughout the year,” reasoned Economist and Assistant Professor of Tripura University Dr. Selim Shah. However, he said, the low low transportation can create new opportunities.

-A river needs at least 4-5 feet depth for goods carriers to navigate on a regular basis. Gomati riverbed remains navigable for less than four months a year, that too only during monsoon days. For rest of the year, scanty rainfall in the hills results in low volume while accumulating sediments raise the average riverbed, rendering Gomati even shallower. In comparison, the inland waterway route with Bangladesh at Karimganj in Assam operates small ships to large boats for nearly six months a year.

-“Dredging is a way to tackle the shallow riverbed but it will take far more in the actual project route. They should consider dredging till Maharani barrage where the sedimentation issue starts,” explained river-expert and Associate Professor Nibedita Das Pan from Tripura University. As an alternate and long-term solution, she suggested planting water-resistant vetiver grass and bamboo along its banks to prevent erosion along with small check-dams and some regulated dredging. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-the-opening-of-waterway-with-bangladesh-means-for-tripura-6584061/  (06 Sept. 2020)

IRRIGATION

Himachal Pradesh 20 spots identified for check dams A joint inspection team, comprising officials and experts from various government departments, has identified 20 locations in 15 gram panchayats in the Nurpur development block for the construction of check dams. The check dams have been proposed to tap natural water resources and to ensure rainwater harvesting round the year.

As per the official information, the Nurpur area comprises over 100 streams, ‘khuds’ and water bodies that overflow during the monsoon and their water gets wasted. Following an initiative by Forest, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rakesh Pathania, a proposal for the check-dam project is being mooted to check the wastage of water from overflowing water bodies. Notable, the underground water level in the neighbouring Indora development block depleted drastically in the past decade and the state government had launched an awareness drive to improve the situation. Under the proposal, each check dam will benefit at least five villages and cover 25 hectares. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/20-spots-identified-for-check-dams-136475  (05 Sept. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

Swarna-Netravati; Udupi 5 types of antibiotics found in rivers Netravati, Swarna This information is contained in a report prepared by a team of experts from the Manipal Institute of Technology, Christ Engineering College Irinjalakuda Kerala, Waterloo University Canada and Japan National Institute after conducting a study about the quality of water of these rivers during the last six to seven years. It has been found that water from these rivers contain trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, cloranfenicol, septiaone and neprain, which are harmful for human beings in the long run.

-Water samples from Swarna river were collected at six spots from Baje dam till the river reaches the sea. In Netravati river, water samples were collected at six places between Thumbe dam and Bolar. Compared to Swarna river, antibiotic content is higher in Netravati river.

-Antibiotics could have got mixed with the river water on account of urine of people consuming antibiotics, some soaps, hand washes, insecticides, and untreated effluents of some factories would have given rise to this phenomenon. As compared to monsoon months, these traces are found more during the summer months. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=745786   (29 Aug. 2020)

Adyar; Chennai Rebuttal to ‘Years of collective effort pay off as Chennai’s Adyar river comes back to life’ article published in Scroll on Aug. 26.

Urban Rivers; Chennai:- It would have been worthwhile if the article did not merely echo the claims of Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust but looked a little closer at the issues involved – wetland restoration, obstruction of water flow into the river, garbage dumping and pollution through sewage, biomedical and industrial waste, dumping of construction material, a more nuanced understanding of rivers and riverine systems especially in the context of rising sea levels and new understandings in the current pandemic situation.

-Several thousand crores of rupees have, in the last 15 years, been put into these river projects, which includes the Adyar. How this money has translated into environmental success benefitting the city is a key question that needs to be asked. The entire article is primarily based on information from Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust regarding the success of the wetland restoration or the improved quality of water. There is no independent assessment by domain experts that would validate these claims. https://scroll.in/article/972229/readers-comments-claims-of-chennais-adyar-river-coming-back-to-life-are-overstated  (05 Sept. 2020)

Periyar; Kochi  NGT orders urgent action against Periyar pollution The Southern Bench of the NGT has directed the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Environment, to come up with a proper action plan to prevent activities resulting in the pollution of the Periyar river. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/ngt-orders-urgent-action-against-periyar-pollution/article32459655.ece  (27 Aug. 2020)

Bhavani; Coimbatore Activists blame govt of river pollution– Electricity Board in Erode had set up two barrages – one at Samayapuram and the other at Omapalayam – to generate electricity in 2001. While drinking water for Tirupur and Mettupalayam areas is drawn near the first barrage, that for Avinashi, Annur, Sulur and Sirumugai is collected near the second barrage. According to activists, the municipality is letting waste into the river between the two barrages.

-T T Rangasamy, president, Bhavani River Water and Groundwater Protection Committee, said, “We have been protesting to draw the government’s attention to the issue for the past 25 years. The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) had in 2015 and the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD) in 2016 said the river water was polluted and unfit for consumption. In spite of that, nothing has changed on the ground. On the contrary, pollution levels have gone up.”

-D Satheesh Kumar, former chairman of Mettupalayam municipality, said one of the steps that the state government had taken to prevent sewage water from entering the river was implementation of underground drainage (UGD) project in the municipality area. “While the municipality has completed about 80% of work, it is yet to start giving household connections. Since it’s an undulating area, it would be extremely difficult for sewage water to reach the treatment plant, unless it is designed and constructed properly. Even if the UGD project is completed, the success rate of reducing pollution level in the river is less.”

-R Shanthamurthy, one of the trustees of Save Bhavani Trust, blamed the government for its failure to prevent industrial effluents from entering the river. “Whenever we file a complaint with the pollution control board, officials would inspect the industrial units. After a few days, they will start discharging effluents in the river.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/bhavani-river-pollution-activists-blame-govt-apathy/articleshow/77623027.cms  (19 Aug. 2020)

Adiganga; Kolkata शहर के फैलाव ने आदिगंगा नदी को नाले में कर दिया तब्दील असल में दो सौ साल पहले तक आदिगंगा हुगली की एक सहायक धारा थी, हालांकि इसका इतिहास थोड़ा और पुराना है. अठारहवीं सदी में जब यह अपना स्वरूप खो रही थी तब 1772 से 1777 के बीच विलियम टॉली ने इसका पुनरोद्धार करवाकर इसको नहर और परिवहन की धारा के रूप में इस्तेमाल करवाना शुरू कर दिया था.

-गंगा की यह धारा कोलकाता में बढ़ती आबादी, बढ़ते लालच और बढ़ते शहरीकरण के स्वाभाविक नतीजों का बाद में शिकार हो गई. नदी मर गई. अब यह घरों के सीवेज ढोती हुई नाले में बदल गई है. मरी हुई नदी की बदबू मारती लाश नाले के रूप में अपने इतिहास का स्मृतिचिन्ह है.

-अंग्रेजों के जमाने में इस नहर को बाकायदे दुरुस्त रखा जाता था क्योंकि उस समय नदियों की परिवहन में खासी भूमिका होती थी, लेकिन आजादी के बाद इसको भी बाकी विरासतों की तरह बिसरा दिया गया. न तो इसमें पानी के बहाव की देखरेख की गई, न ही उसे बचाए रखने की कोई जरूरत महसूस की गई.

-तब ज्वार के समय हुगली का पानी इसमें काफी मात्रा में आता था और अपने साथ काफी गाद भी लेकर आता था. नतीजतन, यह नदी गाद से भरती गई. इस नदी की तली ऊंची होती गई.

-शहर बड़ा हुआ तो कोलकाता म्युनिसिपल कॉरपोरेशन के नाले इसमें बेरोकटोक गिरते रहे. निगम के पास ज्वार और भाटे के वक्त इस नाले में आऩे वाले पानी को नियंत्रित करने के लिए कोई तंत्र नहीं था.

-कभी 75 किलोमीटर लंबी रही यह आदिगंगा आज की तारीख में कई जगहों से लुप्त हो चुकी है. मीडिया रिपोर्ट्स के मुताबिक इसको पुनर्जीवित करने की भी कोशिशें हुईं और 1990 के बाद इसको फिर से जिलाने की गतिविधियों में करीब 200 करोड़ रुपये खर्च किए जा चुके हैं. https://www.newslaundry.com/2020/08/24/adiganga-river-kolkata-turn-into-drain-becuase-of-urbanization  (24 Aug. 2020)

RIVERS

Gujarat Centre pulls up Gujarat over ‘inordinate delay’ in river pollution works While the project on the Sabarmati river is “yet to be completed” six years after funds were sanctioned in 2014, there has been “practically no progress on the ground till date” in the Tapi project nearly 16 months after Central funds were released, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat pointed out in a letter to the CM dated August 4.

-The projects were sanctioned for the Sabarmati and Tapi as part of the National River Conservation Plan, under which the Central government provides funds for checking pollution in rivers outside the Ganga basin.

-The pollution abatement project on the Sabarmati river is in phase 2, and was sanctioned Rs 444 crore in 2014. Pointing this out, Shekhawat wrote, “My Ministry had to extend the completion date of the project… from September 2018 to March 2020, and now again to March 2021… Such an inordinate delay in completion and commissioning of the project is depriving the state of its intended benefits.”

-Sources in the ministry said that for the Tapi river, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 971.25 crore, releasing the first Rs 13 crore in March 2019. Under the project — to be funded by the Centre and state in a 60: 40 ratio — 37 sewage treatment plants with a total capacity of 250 million litres per day are to be built.

-The first instalment was meant to be transferred to the Surat Municipal Corporation, sources said. According to Shekhawat’s letter, “I am given to understand that only part of the Central funds amounting to Rs 8 crore were transferred by the state government to Surat Municipal Corporation in November 2019, after a delay of nearly eight months. The balance Rs 5 crore of Central funds are still to be released by the state government…even though 16 months have elapsed.”

-“In addition, there has been practically no progress on ground till date,” his letter stated. The minister pointed out that even tenders for a majority of these works had not been issued as land had not been made available for the STPs. “You would agree that (a) project of this size and magnitude requires close monitoring and steady pace of progress, along with cash flow, to obviate time and cost overruns,” he wrote.

-This is not the first time the ministry has criticised the Gujarat government over the progress of works. Earlier, the Jal Jeevan Mission had questioned the state’s planning of tap water connections for the current financial year, saying this showed its “apathy towards weaker sections”. At a meeting on June 8 with senior state officials, the Mission authorities had asked Gujarat to review its proposal to cover only 5.84% of the 10.62 lakh SC/ST households in the state without tap water connections in the current year. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/centre-pulls-up-gujarat-over-inordinate-delay-in-river-pollution-works-6561860/   (20 Aug. 2020)

Rs 235 crore to clean up 3 rivers ‘go waste’ Central govt may have allocated Rs 235 crore since 2016-17 for cleaning up three of Gujarat’s major rivers, Sabarmati, which flows through Ahmedabad, and Mindola and Tapi, both South Gujarat rivers. However, Mahesh Pandya, director, Paryavaran Mitra, has alleged that despite the allocation, things have failed to improve, with Sabarmati, especially in the downstream, remaining as polluted as before.

-In an email alert, the top Gujarat environmental NGO, citing official GoI figures, said, this suggests that the state government “lacks seriousness” in tackling pollution, pointing out that main reasons for this include lack of effluent disposal network, especially in the urban areas of the state. https://www.counterview.net/2020/08/sabarmati-pollution-gois-rs-235-crore.html  (22 Aug. 2020)

GANGA Uttarakhand Matri Sadan Seer ends fast A letter of assurance by NMCG director general was handed out to Swami Shivanand Saraswati by the representatives of Ganga Vichar Manch, who arrived at Matri Sadan ashram premises on Wednesday late evening, following which the Ganga activist ended his fast.

-Swami Shivanand Saraswati said he has been assured by the minister that his demands– scrapping of hydro power electric projects being built on Ganga and its sub tributaries, prohibition on quarrying activities and shifting of stone crushers from Ganga river-bed by at least 5km, speedy enactment of Ganga Act and inclusion of pro-Ganga activists and seers in the draft panel committee—will be considered. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ganga-activist-swami-shivanand-ends-fast-after-centre-s-assurance-to-consider-demands/story-DEr0GKmzl3UnXTevO8gpII.html    (03 Sept. 2020)

Demanding scrapping of ongoing and planned dams on Ganga river, Swami Shivanand Saraswati 75 years old seer of Matri Sadan Haridwar is on indefinite fast since Aug 03, but the state and central govts have remained unresponsive so far. 

– Veteran environmentalist Professor GD Agarwal succumbed to poor health on October 11, 2018, after fasting for the same cause as Swami Sanand for a full 111 days before life gave up on him.

-Two younger monks from the Matri Sadan, Swami Atmabodhanand and Padmavati, have carried the baton demanding a comprehensive law covering the Ganga since Professor Agarwal’s death, as they sat on their own individual fasts last year and this year.

-Swami Atmabodhanand ended his 194-day hunger strike on May 4 last year after a written assurance from the Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga Rajiv Ranjan Mishra that the government would look into the complaints of ‘illegal mining’ among others. The letter was addressed to Swami Sivanand.

-However, a woman seer Padmavat sat on a month-long fast in December last year after it was found that the assurances made in the letter weren’t honoured. Padmavat’s hunger strike was disrupted by authorities and she was forced fed in order to break her fast in January.

-While the Supreme Court had on August 13 ordered a stay on any more clearances to hydel power projects in Uttarakhand, Ganga activists are demanding that the 40 projects presently under construction should also be immediately suspended. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/swami-sivanands-health-worsens-as-fast-unto-death-for-ganga-enters-fifth-week  (31 Aug. 2020)

NGT tells States to monitor Ganga rejuvenation The NGT has directed Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal to periodically monitor the rejuvenation of the Ganga, while observing that it was a “pity” that pollutants were still being discharged into the river despite several directions of various courts.

A Bench headed by NGT chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “We also feel that there should be periodic joint meetings of Chief Secretaries of the States concerned to consider vital issues like pooling of human resources and sharing best practices for rejuvenation of Ganga, particularly preventing discharge of sewage and other pollutants therein directly or in its tributaries or drains connected thereto.”

Stating that a holistic approach for rejuvenation of the river was required, the Bench said, “It is a pity that even after constant monitoring by the Supreme Court for 34 years and by this Tribunal for six years, 46 years after enactment of the Water Act – making discharge of pollutants in waterbodies a criminal offence – pollutants continue to be discharged in the most holy river.”

“Pollution-free environment is the constitutional right of every citizen and constitutional obligation of States. To this extent, the States are certainly failing in discharging their constitutional obligation. This unsatisfactory state of affairs calls for rigorous planning action at the highest level monitoring for meaning enforcement of the rule of law for protection of environment and public health and also rejuvenation of Ganga river,” the bench said. Earlier, the green panel had constituted a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches in the country pollution-free. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-tells-states-to-monitor-ganga-rejuvenation/article32379167.ece  (17 Aug. 2020)

As per Rajiv Ranjan Misra, DG, NMCG “Forty percent projects along the main stem of the Ganga in 97 towns (about 45 of the 113 projects) have been completed or near completion. We are very hopeful to bring in bathing water quality across the entire main stem of the Ganga within two years,” Mishra said. “In Uttarakhand, up to Haridwar, our water quality already meets the prescribed bathing quality standards,” he added.

The Centre has estimated that nearly 100% of the project work has been completed in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, while it is 50%-60% in Uttar Pradesh and about 30%-40% in West Bengal and 25%-30% in Bihar. Since 2015-16, when funds were released for the mission, the NMCG has spent `9,500 crore on the project. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ganga-to-be-safe-for-bathing-in-97-towns-in-2-yrs-nmcg-chief/articleshow/77966924.cms  (07 Sept. 2020)  

YAMUNA Delhi Is compensatory afforestation on Yamuna floodplain ‘unscientific’? Instead of asking DDA, DMRC on impacts of plantation on floodplain, monitoring committee should consult experts and scientists on this. https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/is-compensatory-afforestation-on-yamuna-floodplain-unscientific-green-panel-to-find-out/2047376/  (06 Aug. 2020)

Biodiversity park in 3 months The Delhi Development Authority is developing a 247-acre biodiversity park on the Yamuna floodplains near Mayur Vihar as per directions of the NGT. The park will have four water bodies, a walking track, and trees and plants of indigenous variety. It is expected to be completed in around three months, a DDA official said. “The project is being monitored by the L-G and the Yamuna Monitoring Committee. The L-G reviewed the progress of the project on August 21,” the official said.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/in-3-months-yamuna-floodplains-to-sport-a-biodiversity-park-6584785/  (06 Sept. 2020)

Haryana 2 more Industrial Township planned in Sonipat This belt is part of one of the most fertile farming land in the country. The industrial units already functioning here have been polluting air, surface water, land, groundwater adversely:

The Haryana government is planning to develop two new industrial model townships in Sonipat district. The townships will be developed over 5,600 acres in Gohana and Gannaur. With Gurugram and Faridabad already crowded, the government has zoomed in on Sonipat as an alternative for setting up industrial hubs, as it has ample availability of land and boasts of connectivity to Delhi-NCR through the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/state-government-to-set-up-two-more-industrial-townships-in-sonipat/articleshow/77861495.cms  (01 Sept. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh It is around 130 gm of stool and approximately 1 liter of urine which amongst other things has 15 gm of utilizable urea. If we could ignore the disagreeable gases (hydrogen sulfide in particular) and a psychological aversion to our own excreta, both urine and stool make for useful enhancer of agricultural produce.

Conservatively speaking we as a nation of 1 billion (discounting kids, old and sick in estimated 1.30 billion) are producing some 130 billion gm (130,000 tonnes) of stool and 15 billion gm (15,000 tonnes) of urea per day. Instead of utilizing it we are letting it all go down the drain as untreated or partially treated sewage into our rivers and water bodies polluting them no end. In addition, we spend a fortune in importing inorganic urea and in laying sewerage systems and constructing STPs which more often than not fail to deliver as desired. https://turnslow.com/river-stories-the-submerged-legacies-of-rivers-also-carry-our-waste/

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Saving Gangetic dolphins There was a time when Gangetic dolphins could be spotted in the Ganga at several places, from its delta in the Bay of Bengal to upstream in the Himalayan foothills. It was also found in the Ganga’s tributaries. Some experts have reported that during the 19th century, dolphins were seen in the Yamuna up to as far as Delhi. However, the construction of dams and barrages, and increasing pollution have led to a decline in the population of aquatic animals in the rivers in general and of dolphins in particular.

-Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems. As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/project-dolphin-why-it-is-important-to-save-a-declining-river-species-6583544/  (06 Sept. 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Self-reliant after Covid  Currently, the ray of hope is the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector – which has grown by 3.4% even in this situation! Article (Marathi) by Parineeta Dandekar on Sept 5, 2020: https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-self-reliant-development-after-covid-abn-97-2267317/

SAND MINING

Maharashtra Ravages of Sand-Mining Writ Large Excellent piece illustrating the impact of indiscriminate sand mining in a Western Ghats village on Terekhol river in Sindhudurg district on Maharashtra-Goa border and also discussing science of sand in the river. https://science.thewire.in/environment/terekhol-river-sand-mining-aquifer-groundwater-hyporheic-zone-water-shortage/  (04 Sept. 2020)

Illegal mining operation busted in Dombivli Kalyan tehsil administration cracked down on illegal sand mining activity at Kumbharkhanpada along Dombivli Creek. Officials have seized seven brass of sand, and lodged a complaint with Vishnunagar police. The action was taken following a letter by Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation’s (KDMC) standing committee chairman Vikas Mhatre to Kalyan tehsil office about the increased illegal sand mining activity at Dombivli creek during lockdown. Mhatre said, “Illegal mining of sand has led to flood-like situation in the premises during rains, and it will also affect farm lands. Sand mining activities have increased during lockdown. There is a jogging track along the creek which is being obstructed by illegal mining operations.”  https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/illegal-sand-mining-operation-busted-in-dombivli/story-ozT2t4cDyB1b3z4zYMOjqN.html  (05 Sept. 2020)

Jammu and Kashmir Political change is pushing up the price of sand For the first time, non-locals have acquired riverbed mining rights. Many of them are yet to apply for clearances under a new environmental regime. https://scroll.in/article/972385/how-political-change-is-pushing-up-the-price-of-sand-in-jammu-and-kashmir  (07 Sept. 2020)

Haryana Illegal mining happening during monsoon. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2703521086642830&id=114470276916386?sfnsn=wiwspwa&extid=CeMuZctXAT7Nx54P&d=w&vh=e

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

NGT asks Nat Wetland Com to compile compliance status The green panel said the state pollution control boards and State Wetland Authorities in India may give the status of management of wetlands in their areas to the Secretary of the Union Environment Ministry within three months. “On that basis a joint Committee of the Secretary and Chairman CPCB may give a consolidated report to this Tribunal before the next date by e-mail,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Girl said.

-The NGT said that Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 contain elaborate provisions for protection of Wetlands and National and State Wetland Authorities have been set up. However, the fact remain that the wetlands are facing serious challenge of conservation as shown by the present case and other cases which are the Tribunal dealing with from time to time,” the bench said.

-It said that the Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests heads the National Wetlands Committee with 18 other Members for integrated management of wetlands, monitoring implementation of the Rules and other allied functions. Inspite of high level authorities in place, there are widespread grievances of failure to manage some of the important wetlands, as in the present case and another matter dealt with today relating to Sambhar Lake in Jaipur, the NGT said.

-The tribunal”s direction came while hearing a plea filed by Jammu and Kashmir resident Raja Muzaffar Bhat seeking directions for prevention of unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment of Hokersar Wetland, Wular Lake and Kreentchoo-Chandhara Wetland in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The applicant also annexed photographs showing unscientific dumping of garbage. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/ngt-directs-nat-wetland-committee-to-compile-data-about-compliance-status-of-envn-norms/1924699  (28 Aug. 2020)

Maharashtra CM asks forest dept to look into Panje wetland mangroves chopping Following multiple complaints regarding the illegal hacking of mangroves at the Panje wetland in Uran, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has directed the state forest department to look into this issue. The revenue department officials will also be inquiring into the matter, along with the forest department. The greens have welcomed the move and urged the authorities to effectively stop further degradation of nature.

-Environmentalist Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust (CAT) said: “It is shocking that the mangroves at Panje are being illegally cut despite several complaints lodged with the state authorities in the last few days. This shows that certain vested interests are hellbent on grabbing the land. The forest department and the Bombay high court mangroves protection panel must take tough measures in this case.”

-Activist and advocate Siddh Vidya indicated in her email to the authorities that it is likely that some of the government officials may be mixed up with the `vested interests’ to illegally take over the Panje wetland. “I have no hesitation in saying that such fearless approach of offenders clearly depict that authorities are either hand in gloves or highly incompetent/ irresponsible. Hoping for strict and prompt action this time,” said Vidya. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/maharashtra-cm-asks-forest-department-to-look-into-panje-wetland-mangroves-chopping/articleshow/77838351.cms  (30 Aug. 2020)

‘70% wetland loss key reason behind monsoon flooding’ “Mumbai’s shoreline itself, which has a 6-metre depth, is also termed as a wetland. Reclamation there has made the city vulnerable. Moreover, river floodplains and catchment areas have already been built upon. This is the reason why maximum flooding takes place. There is no water absorption anymore,” said Ahmad, co-author of the Centre’s guidelines for Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.

-Ahmad’s assessments were in line with a study by Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) that showed Mumbai had lost 71% wetlands from 1970 to 2014, followed by Ahmedabad (57%), Bengaluru (56%), Hyderabad (55%), Delhi and National Capital Region (38%), and Pune (37%).

-“Comprehensive wetland inventories are not yet available, but some datasets indicate Mumbai witnessed very high wetland loss through reclamation but so have other major cities. Post 1970s when cities started expanding, they started eating into the wetlands,” said Ritesh Kumar, director, WISA.

-According to the National Wetlands Atlas, published by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2010, the Konkan region of Maharashtra has 4,799 wetlands. However, experts said they are at threat across the state due to natural factors. “Owing to low organic matter, there are limitations in the form of soil, mostly of basaltic origin and lateritic soil, along the Konkan region. Due to this, they have poor water-holding capacity while seasonal river systems have small length. The soil explodes in the form of springs during heavy rain events. Wetlands in such areas are indispensable and deserve top priority,” said Dr Ahmad. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/70-wetland-loss-key-reason-behind-monsoon-flooding/story-cvSIRYCvDI3fmJyVnkVJaM.html  (15 Aug. 2020)

GROUNDWATER

CGWA Wasting groundwater may invite penalty “The concerned civic bodies dealing with water supply network in the states/Union Territories, whether called as Jal Board, Jal Nigam, water works department, municipal corporation, municipal council, Development Authority, Panchayat or by any other name, shall ensure that there shall be no wastage or misuse of potable water tapped from underground and evolve compliance mechanism with coercive measures for violations,” said the directive prepared by the ministry’s Central Ground Water Authority. https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2020/aug/30/wasting-ground-water-in-the-country-may-soon-invite-penalty-2190014.html  (30 Aug. 2020)

Punjab Farmers say only they are blamed, Punjab-Haryana HC seek states’ reply The Punjab and Haryana high court has asked both the states to address contention that only farmers are being blamed for exploitation of groundwater but not the soft drink plants and distilleries. The high court has sought a reply from Punjab and Haryana after hearing a plea with regard to the over-exploitation of water in Punjab. It had clubbed similar petitions related to Haryana with this case.

-The main plea of the counsel appearing for farmers was that the entire onus of over-exploitation of ground water had been laid on the shoulders of the farmers who were at least producing an essential item whereas in other areas there was huge wastage of water, for instance in soft drink plants and distilleries, which did not produce anything essential and rather produced harmful products. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/groundwater-farmers-say-only-they-are-blamed-punjab-and-haryana-hc-seeks-states-reply/articleshow/77956983.cms   (06 Sept. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Will parks solve lakes’ silt problems? Eight biodiversity parks are all set to come up in the City’s two biggest lakes, provided the National Green Tribunal (NGT) agrees to suggestions by the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), in-charge of rejuvenating Bellandur and Varthur lakes. Officials have proposed “tree parks” as they believe transporting loads of silt 30-kms away is a challenge. The biodiversity parks require about 68.84 acres of lake land.

-Official documents reveal that the BDA has suggested an area of 52.24 acres at Bellandur lake and 16.6 acres at Varthur lake for biodiversity parks. The park is proposed in places near the main let (6.9 acres), Siddapura West side (2.46 acres) and near Balagere (7.24 acres) (Bellandur lake) as well as east of bund (5.8 acres), near Sun City (13.85 acres), near Y Junction Mantri side (5.87 acres), near Y-Junction (north West Corner 11.77 acres and Ambedkar Nagar and nearby area 14.87 acres) (Varthur lake).

-This is a fresh proposal submitted to the green tribunal. The NGT had already agreed for the creation of four biodiversity parks, which are not as big as the new ones, in Bellandur and Varthur lakes, in the previous orders. Work on the biodiversity parks, approved by the NGT, is currently being undertaken near Suncity and Yamlur waste weir in Bellandur lake and near Belagere and Siddapura in Varthur lake. The suggested areas for the proposed parks, officials said, are also out of the periphery of the lakes.

-It’s estimated that both the lakes have around 10 lakh trucks of silt and the transportation work could go on for a year even if the contractors deploy hundreds of trucks. Residents were also of the view that the frequent movement of trucks could worsen the condition of the road and add to dust pollution.

-Many however wondered how a biodiversity park would help in rejuvenating the lake. “There is no sacrosanct element in a biodiversity park which makes it worthy of sacrificing lake land. The BDA is free to do anything outside the lake. The focus should be on creating a wetland which should be 15 per cent of the lake area,” Nagesh Urs, a resident living near Bellandur lake said. He also urged authorities to share the detailed project reports on the public domain.

-Jagadeesh Reddy, a resident of Varthur too felt the focus should be on the wetland and ensuring the sewage does not flow into the lakes. “What is the point of dumping the silt on the edges of the lake to create biodiversity parks when the silt was considered toxic and poisonous? The authorities are not sticking to the rejuvenation plan. The water holding capacity is being reduced. While the biodiversity park may receive approval from many, it does not fit into the standard of ecology,” he said. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/oh-silt-tree-parks-planned-to-solve-silt-problem-at-lakes/articleshow/77860293.cms   (01 Sept. 2020)

Peenya has most polluted lakes Toxic effluents discharged into lakes near Peenya Industrial Area has left the Nelagadaranahalli Lake contaminated with high-levels of non-biodegradable chemicals, as well as heavy metals. It is no exaggeration to say that Nelagadaranahalli Lake is the most polluted lake in the city. Nelagadaranahalli Lake too, falls under the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). However, all the money spent by the BDA for the ‘development’ of the lake has served no purpose.

-The BDA has spent money to construct toilets, security room and fence on the lake bund, to prevent encroachment. However, with no security guards, miscreants have even stolen the window frames from the security room. Liquor sachets and bottles line the length of the lake bund. “What is the use of constructing a security room if the BDA has no resources to recruit security guards for this lake?’’ asked Sonne Gowda, a resident of the area. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/watch-peenya-has-the-most-polluted-lake-in-bengaluru/articleshow/77920179.cms  (04 Sept. 2020)

Chennai Andhra to release Krishna water The Andhra Pradesh government has agreed to release Krishna water to the city between September 10 and 14. At a meeting in Andhra Pradesh a few days ago, officials of the Tamil Nadu public works department (PWD) told their counterparts of the neighbouring state that they would like water from the Krishna to be released like last year.

-Officials of the AP government said water from the Kandaleru reservoir would be released to Tamil Nadu once the storage level reached 30tmcft (thousand million cubic feet). Currently, the storage level in the reservoir was 23tmcft and it was getting an inflow from the Somasila reservoir, they said. They also wanted the TN authorities to pay the canal maintenance charges without any dues.

– A Metrowater official said that initially the AP government had agreed to release 4tmcft and depending on the rainfall after September, another 4tmcft could be released. Since signing a memorandum of understanding ( MoU) for the release of Krishna water, Andhra Pradesh during the previous water year, from June 2019 to July 2020, released 8tmcft, the highest quantum water received in a water year by Tamil Nadu, said a PWD official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/ap-gives-its-nod-krishna-water-set-to-flow-into-chennai-this-month/articleshow/77864747.cms  (01 Sept. 2020)

Research Stubborn microplastics in water from Chennai’s trash The study of water from the Red Hills reservoir — drinking water source for the city — found the lake had an average concentration of microplastics of 5.9n/m3 (0.6g/litre). The microplastics were mostly in the form of high density- polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene, which are all used for packaging meat, sweets and snacks, for plastic cutleries, toys, bottles and spare parts for the automotive industry. This points to garbage and untreated sewage dumped along the water body to be major source of pollutants.

– Researchers found an average six pieces of plastic in every 1litre of water and an average 27 particles in every 1kg of sediment in the lake. These tiny pieces of plastics that are not visible to the naked eye mostly come from garbage and sewage let out from the nearby residential area into the lake and from fishing nets. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/stubborn-microplastics-in-your-water-is-citys-trash-researchers/articleshow/77899253.cms  (03 Sept. 2020)

Delhi DMRC construction behind flooding in GK-2 basements: Study An interim report from the CGWB, submitted on Monday (Aug. 31), and another from an independent scientist have found “obstructions” in the groundwater flow due to several man-made structures and the construction of Delhi Metro tunnels. A team of scientists from the CGWB had conducted a field study of the area between August 19 and 28 to table the interim report.

-GK-2 residents’ welfare association had also roped in a Ranchi-based geologist to conduct a study using remote-sensing technology. Findings of both reports are similar. Sanjay Rana, president, GK-2 RWA, said, “The reports have come and now we hope to get a solution to this problem soon. We fear that the foundation of these houses may get damaged due to the constant inundation.”

-“The groundwater movement from South (Jahanpanah city forest) to Northwest (Savitri flyover) affected. The construction of Metro tunnels and basements (more than 4 metres deep) has obstructed groundwater flow line in the study area,” the CGWB report stated. The Metro structures had come up in early 2018. “The rise in water level has gone unnoticed that year and in 2019 because till then, groundwater had not entered basements,” the report said.

-The report highlights that the area reported good rainfall on August 22-23 with which the water level in the area rose by an average of 0.5 metres on August 24. “The water level on August 19 ranged between 2.5-6.5 metres below ground level (bgl). The maximum depth of basements facing seepage problem is 6 metres bgl,” the report said.

-The report by geologist Akhilesh Singh said, “The construction of big commercial units and construction of Metro networks towards north and northwest side of the GK-2 area might have influenced the aquifer connectivity. Restricted flow of water towards northern side together with high recharge due to heavy rainfall from the southern side, might have caused the rise in groundwater and inundation.” “It is a localised groundwater problem, “ Singh told HT over phone. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/gk-2-basements-flooded-study-finds-groundwater-flow-obstructed-by-metro-tunnels-other-structures/story-tpJgBD3A0fUnG9SYBZXcYI.html  (01 Sept. 2020)

Rajokari lake revived Lying at the Delhi-Gurugram border, the area spread over 9,446 square metres, has been transformed into a water body of 2,000 square metres. For the revitalisation of the water body, the authorities, including the Flood and Irrigation Department with the Delhi Jal Board, introduced a technologyically advanced scientific wetland system with activated bio-digestion.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/aug/31/rajokri-lake-revived-by-delhi-government-wins-jal-shakti-ministry-award-2190558.html  (31 Aug. 2020)

The Rajokri natural treatment plant has a capacity to naturally clear 600 kilolitres per day of sewage water with BOD levels of 150ppm to less than 20ppm.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/why-this-rs-90l-project-will-be-a-template-for-revival-of-over-150-waterbodies-in-city/articleshow/67279275.cms  (28 Dec. 2018)

Delhi and Gurugram ruined their second-largest waterbody The Najafgarh jheel is the second largest water body in Delhi NCR after the Yamuna. But due to encroachment, sewage, canals, and negligence, it has shrunk from 220 km2 to just 7 km2. https://theprint.in/opinion/najafgarh-jheel-to-nala-how-delhi-gurugram-ruined-second-largest-waterbody/496091/  (06 Sept. 2020)

Noida Several high-rises without STPs – Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), which had last week inspected about 20 high-rise societies in the city, said it found only seven residential societies following environmental norms while the rest either did not have a sewage treatment plant (STP) installed or were not operating it.

-While most high-rise societies inspected — from sectors 75, 76, 78 and 137 – have had residents since at least five years or more, millions of litres of untreated sewage has been flowing from these buildings and into flood drains, making it to Yamuna or Hindon rivers.

-Recently, HT had reported that residents of areas living near the Kondli drain had complained of stench emanating from the floodwater drain due to effluents being released into it by nearby high-rise societies, which carries sewerage from at least 30 smaller drains.The estimated sewage generation in Noida is around 210 million litres a day (MLD). According to officials, the city has the capacity to treat 230 MLD of sewage through its six STPs. However, untreated sewer from high-rises often reaches up to Yamuna and Hindon rivers through flood drains.

-According to environmentalists, untreated sewage making it to flood drains has an adverse effect on the local ecology. “The reason that the conditions of our rivers like Hindon and Yamuna is so bad is because millions of litres of untreated sewage flow through it. A recent UPPCB report even showed how even the groundwater of villages near Hindon river was contaminated. It affects the local ecology as well. The city authorities must make a system to ensure that none of the high-rise societies release excess water without treatment,” said Vikrant Tongad, Noida-based environmentalist. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/in-noida-several-high-rises-running-without-stps-releasing-untreated-sewage-finds-uppcb/story-ganT6ZYN3DpEBBxiA9bwfI.html  (02 Sept. 2020)

Patiala MC to install sewer pipelines Municipal Corporation will now install plastic pipes for discharge of sewage through uneven sewer lines in the city. The body has decided to cover the drains. The MC will install the pipes for 30-km sewerage stretch in the city for Rs3.50 crore. Having assigned the work for the same, the MC expects to complete the task by March 2021.

-However, dairy farmers in the city have not been shifted to the new site in Ablowal village. The MC has repeatedly termed the dairy farmers as one of the reasons for accumulation of water in the drains. The MC had identified over 200 dairy farmers and decided to shift 120 of those in the first phase that was to be completed by June 30. Municipal Engineer Sham Lal Gupta said for the time being, the work for installing the new pipes would not be carried out in the areas where dairy farmers were functioning. “The dairy farmers may jeopardise the whole project. Therefore, the work in such areas will be started later.”

-“The MC will close all drains in the walled city area where the discharge from kitchens and bathrooms will be connected to the drainage pipe system,” he said. An official said the MC was also facing issues with the implementation of the work due to Covid-19 as some workers has been affected by the virus. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/patiala/mc-to-soon-install-sewer-pipes-in-patiala-133947   (31 Aug. 2020)

Opinion Make Water Security a Cornerstone of Future Indian Smart Cities A quick review of seminars, conferences and interactions over the last few months, all online and web-based, indicate that the discourse in India largely focusses on the ‘smart’ aspects of future cities. Key elements usually include pollution, housing, mobility, use of technology to advance, the need for more green spaces and re-imagining how we work and conduct business.

While these aspects of creating better, smarter, more liveable cities are undeniably important, the lack of better water and sanitation management systems as part of the discussion is glaring. Without a concerted integrated effort to bring water policies into the wider context and mainstream conversations, and increased engagement with stakeholders at different sectors, the future of our cities will never be truly smart. https://thewire.in/urban/water-security-indian-smart-cities  (29 Aug. 2020)

WATER POLLUTION

Tamil Nadu SC refuses to provide interim relief to Sterlite Copper The SC bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee refused to grant interim relief to Vedanta group, and asked the lawyers to argue for the stay of the High Court’s decision in the next hearing, which has been scheduled after four weeks.

Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Limited moved to Supreme Court on August 26 after the Madras High Court refused to allow the reopening of the plant. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/supreme-court-refuses-provide-interim-relief-sterlite-copper-131976  (31 Aug. 2020)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Centre Govt to seek collaboration from scientists and institutions in private sector The government’s initiative to rope in private players is based on challenges it faced in the last one year in JJM’s implementation across different geographical regions. “Given the challenges and the knowledge gaps being faced while implementing the JJM with speed and scale along with the future of rural water security, there is a pressing need for significant research and innovation in the water supply sector,” Jal Shakti Ministry officials said.

-The rural drinking water supply is a complex subject with various social, environmental and technical challenges like geo-genic and anthropogenic water quality issues. Long-term potable water supply in harsh edapho-climatic conditions and disaster-prone areas along with monitoring it on sustained basis is no easy task.

– The challenge, particularly in rugged mountainous terrain in parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and snow-capped habitations and hamlets in Arunachal Pradesh is huge. The challenges also include treatment of grey water generated in the households and its reuse, especially with toilets provided in households under the Swachh Bharat campaign.

-The applications of those, including scientists and R&D institutions, start-ups and innovators willing to join hands with the government, will be processed by the Ministry and referred to the office of Scientific Advisor to the Government of India for approval. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/centre-to-seek-collaboration-from-scientists-and-institutions-in-private-sector-to-make-implementation-of-jjm-cost-effective-and-efficient-136253  (04 Sept. 2020)

Gujarat Govt regularising illegal water connections There are 170 urban local bodies in Gujarat which have areas that do not have tap water connection. In such areas of small and big towns, residents have illegally punctured the main pipeline supplying water to residents of an area and are stealthy withdrawing water. These are those residents who have not made a formal application to their urban local body for a water connection, says Rajkumar Beniwal, commissioner of municipalities in Gujarat. The scheme is being undertaken as per the “Nal se Jal” scheme of the Union government where Gujarat has targeted to provide tap water connections to all households in the state by 2022.

-The Gujarat Domestic Water Supply (Protection) Bill, 2019 that was passed in the state legislature in July last year, safeguards the bulk water pipelines that carry water from Central and South Gujarat regions to water-scarce North Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra regions of the state. Under this law, punishments for damaging, destroying and defacing public water distribution system will invite a fine as high as Rs 1 lakh or equivalent to the damage caused. There is also a provision of imprisonment of up to two years.

-Drinking water sourced from river Narmada is supplied to a total of 165 towns and cities in Gujarat. This is a revenue generator for the government. For every 1,000 litres of Narmada water supplied, the Gujarat government charges Rs 3.14 from each residential consumer. For the same quantum of water Rs 25.95 is charged from the industries. Farmers getting Narmada waters for irrigation have to pay Rs 328 per hectare every irrigation cycle. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/simply-put-why-is-gujarat-govt-regularising-illegal-water-connections-6575458/  (30 Aug. 2020)

Rs 85 fine per 1,000 litres of water stolen The Act, passed in 2019, said domestic water users could face imprisonment of up to two years for water theft, but the rules under it have no mention of imprisonment. Civic authorities, however, can ask for installation of water meters and take punitive action against those who illegally draw water.

-The Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpasar department (Water Supply) recently notified the rules and the state government has given powers to municipal corporations and municipalities to appoint nodal officers who will check and act against water theft in their jurisdictions. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-rs-85-fine-per-1000-litres-of-water-stolen/articleshow/77922598.cms  (04 Sept. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Gujarat Former chief secy claims focus shifted to surface water irrigation Former Chief Secretary of Gujarat Dr J N Singh, while addressing a web lecture of the Department of Political Science of the MS University of Vadodara, claimed there is shift from ground water pumping to surface water irrigation. The lecture was on “Farmers as an Interest Group in Gujarat and the Issue of Water”. “The rural economy gets boosted by 1.8624 lakh crore annually from agriculture and allied sectors. This importance of agriculture is also reflected in the number of elected representatives in the Gujarat Assembly, where 56 seats are urban but 126 predominantly rural.” Singh said. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-former-chief-secy-throws-light-on-how-focus-shifted-to-surface-water-irrigation-6576811/  (31 Aug. 2020)

MONSOON 2020

SANDRP Blog District wise rainfall in June-Aug 2020 in India In the ongoing South West Monsoon, India received 44 year old high surplus rainfall of 327 mm in just concluded Aug 2020, 26.6% above normal rainfall of 258.2 mm. This helped the total June-Aug 2020 rainfall to achieve 10% surplus, with actual rainfall 780.3 mm, 69.9 mm higher than normal rainfall of 710.4 mm. In June the country received 18% above normal rainfall and in July it received 9.9% below normal rainfall, the rainfall at the end of June was just 1.1 mm above normal. https://sandrp.in/2020/08/31/district-wise-rainfall-in-june-aug-2020-in-india/   (31 Aug. 2020)

Rainfall pattern changing significantly In the last decade (2020 has been excluded to see the pattern over the entire monsoon season), 50% of the rainfall over the 122-day monsoon was seen on an average of 40.4 days. This was the fastest in the 12 decades since 1901. To be sure, the corresponding time for 75% of rainfall and 90% was only the fourth highest (70.6 days and 94.3 days respectively), although the long-term trend for those higher shares of rainfall is also the same: it takes fewer days now. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/number-theory-how-rainfall-pattern-is-changing-significantly/story-up9eTfw4P3G8Na9r2gk2zH.html  (31 Aug. 2020)

Warmer Arabian Sea led to intense rain in August There are several scientific papers that have concluded that the Arabian Sea is becoming warmer as a result of climate change. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) report titled “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region” which has analyses and data from 1901-2018 and is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment reports, said increased variability of low-level monsoon westerlies and warming of north Arabian sea lead to increased moisture supply and thus enhance extremely heavy rain events.

-“Rapid warming in the Arabian Sea has resulted in a rise in widespread extreme rains over Western Ghats and central India, since warming induces increased fluctuations in the monsoon winds, with ensuing episodes of enhanced moisture transport from the Arabian Sea towards the Indian subcontinent. Indian Ocean warming is also found to reduce rainfall over India during the onset phase and increase it during the withdrawal phase,” the report states. Models also indicate that there will be higher SST warming over Arabian Sea compared to Bay of Bengal. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/warmer-arabian-sea-led-to-intense-rain-in-august/story-6F3mJu23c49NZ6Ay4KOZnI.html  (06 Sept. 2020)

Karnataka Rainfall in parts of state has reduced? North Interior Karnataka and the state’s coastal region have witnessed a reduction in the amount of annual rainfall since 1960. Studies and activists attribute loss of forest cover for changing the rainfall pattern owing to changes in heat and weather processes. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/09/rainfall-in-parts-of-karnataka-reduced-over-decades/  (02 Sept. 2020)

IMD Monsoon withdrawal from second week of Sep The IMD said development of features for monsoon withdrawal from western parts Rajasthan is likely during the week from September 10-16. Monsoon starts withdrawing from western Rajasthan first. “Conditions are favourable for withdrawal of monsoon in the second week of September,” IMD Director General Mrutunjay Mohaptra said.

-Until last year, the normal withdrawal date for monsoon was September 15. However, it has been revised from this year to September 17 with a standard deviation of plus or minus seven days, Mohapatra added. The IMD also added that above-normal rainfall activity is likely over the northeastern states, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala during September 10-16. https://www.news18.com/news/india/conditions-favourable-for-withdrawal-of-monsoon-from-second-week-of-sept-says-imd-2851023.html  (04 Sept. 2020)

Study Monsoon pattern may see rapid shift The pattern of monsoon rainfall in India may see a major shift by the end of this century with southern India likely to register the most increase in extreme rainfall, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, in West Bengal, have found.

-The researchers also expect rainfall to increase in the Arabian Sea and south-Asian countries, including Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. “In the worst-case scenario of climate change, rainfall could increase by 2.7 mm per day in north India with the Himalayan foothills expected to receive the heaviest rain. In south India, rainfall could increase by 18.5 mm per day with the Western Ghats expected to be affected the most,” said Rajib Maity, a professor of civil engineering at IIT Kharagpur, who led the study.

-The scenario could play out towards the end of the century, between 2071 and 2100. The researchers analysed data of Indian Summer Monsoon precipitation for close to five decades (1971 – 2017), considering the period between 1930 and 1970 as the base.

-In meteorological terms, fifty years, the time it will take for the change to manifest itself, isn’t much. And the change itself, could have a significant bearing on cropping patterns in a country where much of the agriculture is still rain-fed. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/monsoon-pattern-may-see-rapid-shift/story-tJxHAoP7jegxIkVsDQIjBM.html  (04 Sept. 2020)

Punjab, Himachal Water level in dams below normal The availability of water in dams is 24 per cent below normal in Punjab and 10 per cent below normal in Himachal Pradesh. This is not only noticeably below last year’s levels but also less than the average storage of the past 10 years. The total storage capacity in Punjab is 2.34 billion cubic meters (BCM) out of which the present storage is 1.36 BCM, revealed the data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on Thursday (Sept. 3). Himachal has a storage capacity of 12.48 BCM with the present storage being 9.32 BCM.

-According to the India Meteorological Department, rain in Himachal Pradesh till September 3 has been 17 per cent below the long period average during the current monsoon season that began on June 1. In Punjab and Haryana, the shortfall is seven per cent and five per cent respectively for this period. Deviation up to 19 per cent from the average is considered as normal.

-The water level in Bhakra Dam that lies on the Sutlej river in Himachal was recorded at 505.40 meters on Thursday (Sept. 3) against the maximum level of 512.04 meters. This translates to the current storage being 74 per cent compared to 88 per cent at this time last year and an average of 84 per cent over the past 10 years.

-At Pong Dam on the Beas river in Himachal, the water level was 418.98 meters against the upper limit of 423.67 meters. At present it is holding 75 per cent of its total water capacity as compared to 89 per cent last year and the 10-year average of 83 per cent. Both these dams are controlled by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

– Following unprecedented inflows into the reservoirs last year due to freak weather events which led to heavy release of excess water, BBMB sources said that this year the water levels were being deliberately kept low so as to create a buffer to cater to any such events.

-Thein Dam, which is located on the Ravi in Punjab, had water reaching up to 514.25 meters against the maximum limit of 527.91 meters. Storage at this dam at present is just 58 per cent compared to 87 per cent last year and the average of 76 per cent over the past 10 years. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/as-monsoon-nears-end-water-level-in-punjab-himachal-dams-remains-below-normal-136255  (04 Sept. 2020)

Parts of North Kerala, South Coastal and Interior Karnataka to receive Very Heavy Rainfall early hours on Monday ,Sept 7, that may extend upto 9-12 hours. The near full dams in Cauvery, Tungabhadra and other nearby basins may take advance water release action urgently.  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3765485760145736

FLOOD 2020

SANDRP Blog Sardar Sarovar Creates avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) operators are operating the dam callously, almost cruelly, without consideration of the impact of the operation in the downstream area. Sudden release of massive quantities of water for 3.5 days starting on Aug 29 created huge flood disaster in downstream area and now they have shut the spillway cock, so no water release to the river from spillways. In stead of such thoughtless, disaster creating operation, the article shows that a much better alternative existed, and there was sufficient information to peruse that course, that would have the river, people and ecosystem downstream. Plz Read, Share and help spread the word.  https://sandrp.in/2020/09/02/sardar-sarovar-creates-avoidable-flood-disaster-in-bharuch/  (02 Sept. 2020)

The Gujarati version of the blog can be seen here. સરદાર સરોવર ડૅમ (SSD)ના સંચાલકો જરાય વિચાર કર્યા વિના, અને કહી શકો કે, ક્રૂરતાથી, પાણી કેટલું છોડવું, ક્યારે છોડવું તેના નિર્ણયો લે છે. એમના નિર્ણયની અસર હેઠવાસમાં શું થશે તેના પર તો જરાય ધ્યાન નથી આપતા. કંઈ નહીં તો, ૨૬મી ઑગસ્ટ ૨૦૨૦થી જ એમને સત્તાવાર માહિતી મળી ગઈ હતી કે ભારે વરસાદને કારણે નર્મદાના ઉપરવાસમાં પાણી વધવા લાગ્યું છે. આ માહિતી પર એ કામ કરી શક્યા હોત તેમ છતાં ૨૯મી ઑગસ્ટ, શનિવારની વહેલી સવાર સુધી એમણે ડેમનાં સ્પિલ-વે ગેટ્સમાંથી પાણી ન છોડ્યું. https://bit.ly/3byg06C  (04 Sept. 2020)

SSD induced Bharuch Flood disaster: Reality behind SSNNL claims that it saved Bharuch  We showed on Sept 2, 2020 using official information that Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) created an avoidable flood disaster in Bharuch, downstream of SSD starting on Aug 29, due to sudden, adhoc release of massive quantities water upto 10.72 lakh cusecs. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), official agency responsible for operation of the SSD is yet to provide any clear, coherent and fact based response. https://sandrp.in/2020/09/06/ssd-induced-bharuch-flood-disaster-ssnnl-claims-it-saved-bharuch/  (06 Sept. 2020)

The follow up article on Sardar Sarovar Dam creating floods in Bharuch has been translated in Gujarati also and can be seen here. https://tinyurl.com/y5cmsw76

Behind ‘avoidable’ flood disaster in Narmada Himanshu Thakkar, who is with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has alleged that the Sardar Sarovar Dam authorities failed to foresee that massive rainfall in the upstream areas in Madhya Pradesh, which led to an “avoidable flood disaster” in Bharuch in South Gujarat between August 29 and September 1.

In a detailed analysis based on official data, Thakkar, who is a well-known environmentalist, says that the authorities had “sufficient information” to take advance action and start releasing water from the dam starting on August 26 evening, if not earlier. If they had gradually started water releases and continued release moderate quantity for 10 days starting on August 26, floods could have been avoided. https://www.counterview.net/2020/09/behind-avoidable-flood-disaster-in.html  (03 Sept. 2020)

First India, a newspaper that comes out from Ahmedabad, highlights what we wrote in top story on back page, about SSD creating floods in Bharuch. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3759136580780654

-“It’s a dangerous situation. Any dam that reaches full reservoir level when monsoon is still underway can be disastrous for districts downstream. The dam operators should have released water gradually and not when it’s already 100%. Naramada, Mahanadi and Godavari basins are affected. CWC and dam operators should have been aware of the likely inflow and planned release accordingly,” said Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP.

-Excess rains could ensure soil moisture for months. “There are different ways of harvesting water. But the most important source of water for agriculture is groundwater, more than both dams and rivers. So the focus should be on local storage and local recharge systems. We have to store rainwater where it falls and avoid runoff,” added Thakkar. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/excess-rain-overflowing-dams-flood-central-india/story-YUUni3yQk0eMQwxa9ce48M.html  (31 Aug. 2020)

Ahmed Patel Alleges ‘Mismanagement’ in Water Release from Narmada Dam  The extraordinary surge of water downstream of the dam was “entirely avoidable,” as there was sufficient information about heavy rainfall and the CWC had warned about the impending rise in the river’s level, the Congress leader said.

The “SSD operators chose to act on an unplanned and ad hoc basis and released a large amount of water in a short period”, Patel alleged. It caused loss of life, damage to property and also wasted water, he said, requesting Rupani to ensure accountability for this “man-made crisis” and “take adequate steps to bring in transparency and openness on how advance warning and data is handled at SSNNL.” https://www.news18.com/news/politics/ahmed-patel-alleges-mismanagement-in-water-release-from-narmada-dam-after-flood-in-bharuch-district-2852533.html  (05 Sept. 2020)

Gujarat  9,000 shifted as Narmada river continues to swell The Narmda river continued to hover around the danger mark near Bharuch town on Tuesday (Sept. 1) following release of 9 lakh cusec of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Over 9,000 people have been shifted to safer places in Bharuch, Narmada and Vadodara districts over the past couple of days, said state government officials. While the rains subsided, the Narmada river continued to swell. The water level reached 35.05 feet near Golden Bridge on Tuesday evening (Sept. 1).

-At least 52 villages along the bank on Narmada river were put on alert on Tuesday. Over the last three days, rain-related accidents claimed 12 lives in the state, said Commissioner of Relief Harshad Patel. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/gujarat-9000-shifted-as-narmada-river-continues-to-swell/articleshow/77882150.cms  (02 Sept. 2020)

Heavy discharge causes deluge in Narmada Following heavy rainfall in the dam’s upstream areas in Madhya Pradesh, nearly 11.43 lakh cusec water is being released into the Sardar Sarovar dam from Indira Sagar dam in MP. As a result, nearly 10.21 lakh cusec water is being released into the downstream, Narmada canal and powerhouse by the dam authorities. The flood waters left several fields heavily waterlogged.

-Twenty three gates have been opened up to 7.56 m and water level in the dam was 132.88 m on Monday evening (Aug. 31), said PC Vyas, director, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL). Bharuch collector Dr. MD Modiya said, “The water level at Golden Bridge crossed 34 foot, 10 foot above the danger level of 24 foot. After many years, Narmada is flowing bank to bank.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/heavy-discharge-causes-deluge-in-narmada/articleshow/77858703.cms  (01 Sept. 2020)

Water released from Ukai dam Heavy inflow of water into Ukai was witnessed in the last two days from the upper catchment areas lying in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra which received heavy rainfall. The water level in the dam measured on Monday (Aug. 31) was 335.53 feet. To maintain the water level in the dam, the officials started discharging 1.91 lakh cusecs of water directly into the Tapi river on Monday morning. In the evening, the discharge was reduced to 50,900 cusecs. Eleven flood gates of the dam have been opened to discharge water. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-as-rain-lashes-upper-catchment-areas-water-released-from-ukai-dam-6578159/  (01 Sept. 2020)

Govt records destroyed in Jamnagar floods Not just residential areas but flood water gushed inside even government offices near Lakhota pond, Park colony, government colony, Patrakar colony, Gurudwara society, Shanti society and Limbada line.

-“Several records kept at the taluka panchayat, district panchayat, PF office, court compound and JMC office sank in flood water,” sources said. “Several areas of the city had witnessed water logging on Sunday (Aug. 30) due to heavy rains but water has receded now,” said municipal commissioner Satish Patel.

-“We have witnessed rains since the last two weeks. Sunday (Aug. 30) too witnessed rains. Rivers and dams are full. Because of full moon and high tide in the sea, water did not go to the sea. But water has receded on Monday and there is no waterlogging now,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/govt-records-destroyed-in-jamnagar-floods/articleshow/77858853.cms  (01 Sept. 2020)

Maharashtra Floods hit 55,000 in Vidarbha, Wainganga breaches banks As it stopped raining in Madhya Pradesh, the flow of water from the Chaurai dam that had caused the deluge in Maharashtra, reduced by 90% to 400 cubic metres per second (cumecs). With this, the flow from downstream Totladoh and Kamptee Khairi dams on the Maharashtra side of Pench river reduced to 4,000 cumecs as against 6,600 cumecs a day ago. However, the impact on Gosikhurd reservoir continued. The flow of water released from here increased to 28,000 from 21,000 cumecs on Friday (Aug. 28).

-According to a note shared by the district collector Sandeep Kadam, 67 villages in six talukas – Bhandara, Pavni, Tumsar Mohadi, Sakoli, Kalhni and Lakhandur— have been affected. The floods have disrupted 2,600 families. This translates to around 8,000 to 10,000 persons. Water from Totladoh on Pench and Sanjay Sarovar dam on Bag Nadi in Madhya Pradesh has resulted in Wainganga breaching its banks. This has led to an unprecedented situation. Boats have been deployed to rescue persons. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/floods-hit-55000-in-vidarbha-wainganga-breaches-banks/articleshow/77841575.cms  (31 Aug. 2020)

Can JEE be deferred for students from flood-hit areas, asks HC HC took suo motu cognizance of a letter by a student from Bhandara Nitesh Bawankar, who highlighted problems being faced by students from Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gondia and Gadchiroli districts that are severely hit by incessant rains and floods since last few days.

-Many urban and rural areas in these districts were inundated due to release of waters from dams, including Gosikhurd in the last couple of days, while rescue and relief operations continued by the government. HC also added collectors of all five districts as respondents along with Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) commissioner and asked them to file replies by Tuesday.

-“It is informed to us that under the Disaster Management Act, the collector in an area, which is not a municipal corporation, can take a decision for holding or postponing of examination at a particular centre. If the area is covered by municipal corporation, then authority under the Act is civic chief,” the bench noted. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/can-jee-be-deferred-for-students-from-flood-hit-areas-asks-hc/articleshow/77861076.cms  (01 Sept. 2020)

Flood situation in Vidarbha grim due to lack of coordination with MP govt: Devendra Fadnavis  “Whenever water discharge begins in Rajiv Sagar dam, it takes 36 hours to reach Vidarbha. Despite having 36 hours in hand nothing was done by the state government. That is why the floods did heavy damage to crops and houses. Several houses in Bhandara District, Chandrapur District have been damaged. Crops were damaged too,” the BJP leader said. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/flood-situation-in-vidarbha-grim-due-to-lack-of-coordination-with-madhya-pradesh-govt-devendra-fadnavis/645714  (01 Sept. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Godavari in spate for the third time in 15 days At Bhadrachalam, a flood level of 41.6 feet was recorded at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 2). The Central Water Commission indicated that the flood was rising as there were huge inflows into the river from upstream, and asked officials of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to be alert. The water level was rising at Kunavaram, Kukunur, Coffer dam, Polavaram, V.R. Puram, Chintur and other mandals in the Agency areas in West and East Godavari districts. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/godavari-floods-officials-asked-to-stay-alert/article32508281.ece  (02 Sept. 2020)

Odisha 12 dead, over four lakh affected– After heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of the Mahanadi in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, over 6.9 lakh cusec water is now entering the Hirakud reservoir while 4.11 lakh cusec is being discharged through 40 sluice gates of the dam, the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), PK Jena, said.

-The water level at Hirakud Dam stands at 625.58 feet as against the full reservoir level of 630 feet, he said. Excess water is being discharged from the reservoir due to the huge inflow, Mr Jena said. As the inflow at Hirakud Dam is likely to increase up to 8 lakh cusec shortly, the authorities are expected to raise the volume of discharge to over 6 lakh cusec from the reservoir, Mr Jena said.

-As a result, 10 to 10.5 lakh cusec of water is likely to flow through Munduli near Cuttack on Saturday (Aug. 29) where 7.04 lakh cusec of water is now flowing and it may lead to a medium level flood in the Mahanadi delta region, he said.

-When the water flow is above 10 lakh cusec, it is categorised as medium to major flood, chief engineer of water resources department, Jyotirmaya Rath said. It will take more than 24 hours for the water from Hirakud Dam to reach Munduli to increase the flow from 10 to 10.5 lakh cusec there, he said.

-The government is fully prepared to deal with the situation, the SRC said adding that the state has in the past faced huge flow of up to 16 lakh cusec in the Mahanadi, the largest river in the coastal state. Collectors of all the districts in the Mahanadi delta region have been alerted to deal with the situation, he said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/12-dead-4-lakh-affected-after-heavy-rain-flood-like-situation-in-odisha-2287115  (29 Aug. 2020)

Despite water levels reducing, misery remains for flood-affected people Even as the water level of major rivers in Odisha including Mahanadi has started receding, there has been no respite for flood-affected people due to the delay in release of flood water to the sea under the impact of the full moon. Because of the high tides in the sea which push the rivers back, it can be said that flood waters will be released after the full moon day from September 2 onwards, engineer-in-chief of the Water Resources department Jyotirmay Rath told mediapersons. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/sep/02/despite-water-levels-reducing-misery-remains-for-flood-affected-people-in-odisha-2191425.html  (02 Sept. 2020)

No deluge relief for Luna-Karandia river island Due to non-construction of the 17 km embankment from Satholi to Balaramapur, floodwater easily enters villages of the island. There is no respite from the flood situation in Luna-Karandia river island under Marsaghai  block as all the five panchayats of Bangalpur, Indalo, Jalapok, Aitipur and Basapur continue to remain under water.

– Relief is also yet to reach villagers of Balarampur, Balisingh, Nanakar, Dutipur, Kanibanka, Pakhibata, Dihajalapoka, Salara, Sisua, Sathilo and Purusottampur. They have now exhausted their ration stock. “The Government is yet to provide help to people who need it the most now. The Government is doing nothing to save us and our children from starvation,” rued Bhaskar Sahoo of Jalapoka village.

– Sources said that over 80,000 people reside in areas near Luna, Karandia and Chitrotola rivers. They live an uncertain life due to frequent flooding in these river island villages. As many as 15 villages were submerged on Monday after floodwater was released from Hirakud dam. Nearly 55,000 people have been shifted to higher ground. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/sep/02/odisha-floods-no-deluge-relief-for-luna-karandia-river-island-2191428.html   (02 Sept. 2020)

Bihar, West Bengal FARAKKA EFFECT? In whole country, in CWC’s Flood forecasting map, the water level is nowhere in orange colour, that is above danger level EXCEPT along Ganga and some tributaries upstream of Farakka. Farakka effect? https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3759356674091978

Bihar Kosi Project’s Promise of Flood-Free Prosperity Remains a Distant Dream  The Kosi Project and the construction activities that have taken place since it began in 1954 have not only affected the ecology of the river basin, but also agricultural activity in the region and thus the livelihood of farmers. Migration from the region has escalated over the years.

-Flooding and waterlogging in the areas around the embankments have rendered hundreds of acres of land unsuitable for farming. For the villages around the Kosi, access to basic necessities such as education, health, drinking water, electricity and transport still seems like a distant dream. The villages lying between the embankments are the worst-affected: the river is silted on a huge scale. But their woes remain unheard.

-Before the dikes were constructed, the river had a wider span. But the embankments restricted the flow of the river stream. Silt deposits have caused the land at the base of the embankments to visibly rise. The inner side of the embankment bulges more than the outer side, which has further increased the risk of flooding in the areas between the embankments. https://thewire.in/rights/bihar-kosi-project-flood  (05 Sept. 2020)

West Bengal 55 Houses Washed Away After Ganga Bank Erosion In Malda At least 55 houses were washed away due to erosion of the the banks of Ganga river in Malda district, an official said on Monday (Aug. 31). A sudden fall in the water level of Ganga caused severe erosion at China Bazar in the district on Sunday, Block Development Officer of Kaliachak, Gautam Dutta said.

-The District Magistrate of Malda, Rajarshee Mitra talked to the Farakka Barrage authorities and advised them to discharge water through lock gates in a controlled way so that the rate of erosion could be minimised, Mr Dutta said. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/west-bengal-news-55-houses-washed-away-after-ganga-river-bank-erosion-in-west-bengals-malda-2288085  (31 Aug. 2020)

Haryana Kaushalya dam touches danger mark The water in the dam as per officials, has risen slowly without any sudden swell as Himachal Pradesh has been recording continuous showers. To stop the dam from overflowing, the authorities released about 30 cusecs of water continuously for 2.5 hours on Wednesday (Sept. 02). https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/kaushalya-dam-touches-danger-mark-begins-releasing-water-6581019/  (03 Sept. 2020)

Webinar Series– ‘Critical Engagement with Floods in India’ from 10 Sep – 8 Oct, 2020 at 1600 – 1730 hrs (IST). To register please visit: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeKL5xdpwgif7lqMOtNr0z0Mh0z1dbPg9jUS03k34q0l74bYA/viewform

URBAN FLOODING

Bhopal Late monsoon surge fills Bhopal to brim Incessant rain in the capital and surrounding areas affected normal life here on Saturday (Aug. 29). For the second time this monsoon season, all 11 gates of Bhadbhada dam were opened. Water released from Bhadbhada increased the water level of the Kaliasot dam, leading to opening all 13 gates of Kaliasot dam too. More than 50 slums in Kalkar’s Damkheda B sector were submerged, once again due to rising water level of Kaliasot river. The area evacuated after heavy rains on August 22.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/sluice-gates-open-a-flood-of-woes-for-low-lying-areas/articleshow/77827553.cms  (30 Aug. 2020)

Mathura In the evening hours of September 04, 2020, Mathura received heavy rainfall for couple of hours leading to water logging and flash floods in the religious town. The water deluge in Swami Ghat washed away a car reportedly belonging to a police personnel into Yamuna. The police man was involved in rescue work and was persuaded hard to leave the vehicle in the nick of time.

Local people also share that  about half a dozen vehicles were also washed away in the river by strong water current sweeping through Chowk Bazar market area. The vehicles have been recovered later. Notably this is not the first time that the town has seen severe flash flooding. Such incidents have also taken place in 2019, 2018 and 2016.  https://youtu.be/M0LO88FaS2Q  (07 Sept. 2020)

More details in Hindi are given here. https://www.ttinews.in/dailynews/4194cd657d5935bf15a4e06fcda0c182  (04 Sept. 2020)

LANDSLIDES

Himachal Pradesh The Chandigarh-Manali highway has been blocked for traffic movement near Dwada in Mandi district on Saturday morning (Sept. 05) as massive landslide was reported in the region. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/chandigarh-manali-highway-blocked-following-landslide-in-mandi-136721  (05 Sept. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

EIA Draft 2020 Karnataka HC extends stay on publication of final EIA notification till further orders The Karnataka High Court on Monday (Sept. 7) extended the stay on the publication of the Final Notification based on the Draft EIA 2020 by the MoEF&CC until further orders. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka extended the interim order passed on August 5, after the Centre did not file its response today. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/draft-eia-2020-karnataka-hc-extends-stay-on-publication-of-final-notification-until-further-orders-162513 Sept 7, 2020

Translating draft EIA into local languages will lead to translation issues: MoEF Objecting to publishing the draft EIA in languages other than Hindi and English, the Centre told Delhi High Court on Friday (Sept. 04) that doing so would lead to “translation and interpretation issues”, resulting in the “obfuscation” of the words used in the draft. The Ministry of Environment also contended that the law does not require notifications to be published in local languages. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/translating-draft-eia-local-languages-will-lead-translation-issues-centre-132424  (06 Sept. 2020)

Scientists, scholars write open letter to MoEF A group of over 500 academics, scientists and researchers from across various educational institutes in India have written an open letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change listing their concerns with the Draft Notification of the ‘Environmental Impact Assessment 2020.

-The signatories come from over 130 research institutes and universities, including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

-The letter notes that the Draft Notification, in its current form, is likely to seriously threaten the country’s ecological and environmental security. It adds that the “Draft Notification neither adheres to the fundamental objectives of its parent legislation, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, nor does it align with our country’s commitments under various international agreements and conventions.” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/eia-2020-scientists-scholars-write-open-letter-to-the-ministry-of-environment-forest-and-climate-change/article32501360.ece  (02 Sept. 2020)

“Overall, we have come to the conclusion that the Draft Notification, in its current form, is likely to seriously threaten our country’s ecological and environmental security. The Draft Notification neither adheres to the fundamental objectives of its parent legislation, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1983 nor does it align with our country’s commitments under various international agreements and conventions,” the letter said.

-The letter highlighted flaws in the draft saying it legitimises ex post facto environmental clearances and thereby encourages industries, with no prior clearance, to commence operations. It added the draft reclassifies many potentially ecosystem-damaging and even some highly polluting Red Category industries as ‘ B2’ category thereby exempting them from public consultation and scoping. The letter said the draft allows only project proponents and government authorities to officially report cognisance of violations. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/500-experts-write-to-environment-ministry-seek-withdrawal-of-draft-eia/story-ew6WWTOxuFiwoQUtFShsiI.html  (02 Sept. 2020)

The recent judgement in the Sterlite Copper case highlights two serious flaws with the draft EIA Notification. One, it allows ex post facto clearances to industrial units that violate environmental laws. Two, it expects the violators themselves to report the wrongs they have done, or government authorities to file complaints. People’s objections may not make any difference. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/prime/environment/how-eia-thumbs-its-nose-at-environment-pollute-now-will-forgive-later-public-protests-ignore-/primearticleshow/77841738.cms  (31 Aug. 2020)

Bullet Train Project faces 5-year delay: High costs, Japan firms not so keen According to the original feasibility study, work was supposed to have started by December 2017. But currently, only about 100 hectares of the required 430 hectares have been acquired in Maharashtra. In Gujarat, owing to active support of the state government, the process to acquire close to 1,000 hectares will be complete by the year-end.

-Besides, in many of the 11 tenders originally meant to be executed by Japanese companies, the prices quoted were up to 90 per cent higher than estimates indicated by the project consultants. India has refused to accept the huge escalation, it is learnt.

-The construction of the 21-km stretch alone would require large, advanced boring machines that would employ a special technical method to safeguard a flamingo sanctuary nearby in Maharashtra — this would require over 60 months to complete, as per latest assessments. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bullet-train-delay-japanese-investment-6583678/  (06 Sept. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

NASA Tracking 3 Decades of Dramatic Glacial Lake Growth In the largest-ever study of glacial lakes, researchers using a 30-year satellite data record have found that the volume of these lakes worldwide has increased by about 50% since 1990 as glaciers melt and retreat due to climate change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvRCKgw2B8k  (31 Aug. 2020)

-The images show the number of glacial lakes rose by 53% between 1990 and 2018, expanding the amount of the Earth the lakes cover by about 51%. According to the survey, 14,394 glacial lakes spread over nearly 9,000 square km of the planet’s surface. Based on the figures, the researchers estimate the volume of the world’s glacial lakes grew by 48% over the same period and now hold 156.5 cubic km of water. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/31/satellite-images-show-rapid-growth-glacial-lakes  (31 Aug. 2020)

-The team ultimately analysed more than 250,000 scenes from the Landsat satellite missions, a joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey programme. A decade ago it would not have been possible to process and analyse this volume of data. The team looked at the data in five time-steps beginning with 1990 to examine all the glaciated regions of the world except Antarctica and analyse how glacial lakes changed over that period. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/04/global-survey-using-nasa-data-shows-dramatic-growth-of-glacial-lakes/  (04 Sept. 2020)

-According to the Central Water Commission of Ministry of Jal Shakti, there are 2028 glacial lakes and water bodies in the Himalayan region catchment which contributes to rivers flowing across the country. While the Brahmaputra river has the maximum number of glacial lakes, the Ganga river forms 178 such lakes in its course. The devastating 2013 Kedarnath floods in Uttarakhand were results of glacial lake outbursts in the region triggered by heavy rains. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/50-jump-in-lakes-from-melting-ice-threat-of-kedarnath-like-tragedy-rises-120090300689_1.html  (03 Sept. 2020)

High altitude will decide Himalayan communities’ survival Three new studies show that people in the middle ranges of the Indian Himalayas are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/08/31/how-altitude-will-decide-himalayan-communities-survival/  (31 Aug. 2020)

6 Portuguese youths have sued 33 countries In the latest example of a wave of climate litigation across the world, six young people this week filed a case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, asking for accountability around the climate crisis. In what is being described as an unprecedented climate case, four children and two young adults from Portugal have filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against 33 industrialized countries.

-The young people, supported by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), allege the countries — which include Germany, the UK, Russia and Portugal — have failed to enact the emission cuts needed to protect their futures. The case focuses on countries whose policies lawyers argue are too weak to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius Paris Agreement goal. They cite the country ratings of the Climate Action Tracker. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/portugal-climate-change-court-case-6583208/  (05 Sept. 2020) 

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan Poor planning, governance, monitoring reasons behind Karachi flooding Substitute the names of the rivers, drains and political parties, and the same story is repeated in varying degrees across all the cities of South Asia – Rawalpindi, Mumbai, Delhi, Patna, Kolkata, Dhaka and on and on. For years, residents have been resigned to the mess and vented their ire on social media. Now they have started coming out on the streets – it happened in Kolkata after weeklong power failures in some suburbs following Cyclone Amphan; and it is happening in Karachi now. Perhaps the fact that the hardships have now spread from slums to tony neighbourhoods has something to do with it. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/31/poor-planning-poor-governance-poor-monitoring-flood-karachi/   (31 Aug. 2020)

ASIA

Laos HYDRO loans lead Laos to debt trap The poor, small Southeast Asian country of Laos is set to cede majority control of its electric grid to a Chinese company, as it struggles to stave off a potential debt default, people with direct knowledge of the agreement said. The deal comes at a time when critics accuse Beijing of “debt trap diplomacy” to gain strategic advantage in countries struggling to repay loans. https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN25V14C  (04 Sept. 2020)

Lebanon People saved the Bisri Valley The World Bank said it had cancelled $244 million in undisbursed funds for the Bisri Dam project in Lebanon. In a statement, the World Bank said it had notified the Lebanese government about its decision, which takes effect immediately. It said it has also repeatedly underscored the need for “an open, transparent and inclusive consultative process.”  The World Bank committed $474 million to fund the project, of which $244 million have not yet been disbursed. As usual the World Bank failed to identify major environmental and social risks associated with the project and for years was reluctant to listen to citizen activists protesting the dam construction.

– Initially approved by Lebanon’s government in 2015 at a total cost of $617 million, the dam had long sparked criticism from environmental activists, who also claimed that many cheaper and less destructive ways to supply water to Beirut have not been assessed by dam proponents. Concerns about large infrastructure projects have spiked since the massive port explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4 that killed more than 190 people. http://www.transrivers.org/2020/3151/   (05 Sept. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Involve local groups in protecting biodiversity, conservationists urge -The “Edinburgh declaration”, published on Monday (Aug. 31), urges leaders to work more closely with sub-national governments, indigenous peoples, national parks, local councils and wider society in meeting 20 biodiversity goals set out in the Aichi accord, signed in Nagoya, Japan, 10 years ago. Those targets were due to have been met by 2020. None of them were, leaving global biodiversity in a parlous state, the statement says.

-“The current approach is bust,” said Prof Des Thompson, principal science adviser at NatureScot, Scotland’s conservation agency, which contributed to the declaration process run by the Scottish government. “What we need to do is work with local communities, local governments and local communities – that’s how we’re going to meet those targets.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/31/involve-local-groups-in-protecting-biodiversity-conservationists-urge  (31 Aug. 2020)

Rivers without Boundaries Hydropower does not come cheap!!!  International Renewable Energy Agency published RE costs data for 2019:- Hydropower’s share of global renewable energy capacity fell from 76% (925 GW) in 2010 to just under 47% in 2019. Global installed hydropower capacity (excluding pumped hydro) was 1 189 GW at the end of 2019. It is the only widespread non-fossil energy source for which both cost of construction and cost of electricity (LCOE) increased over past decade.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) shows the sharpest cost decline over 2010-2019 at 82%, followed by concentrating solar power (CSP) at 47%, onshore wind at 40% and offshore wind at 29%.

At the same time hydropower shows 27% steady increase from 2010 costs up to 0,047 USD/kWh which makes it very close to 2019 cost for on-shore wind (0,053 USD/kWh).

Between 2010 and 2019, the global weighted-average total installed cost of new hydropower rose from USD 1 254/kW to USD 1 704/kW. And just from 2018 construction costs of hydropower increased 20% (this is according to conservative IRENA, while many other contemporary sources estimate hydropower construction costs much higher – 3000 USD/kW and beyond). IRENA attributes increase in hydropower costs to the fact that hydropower is being built in more remote undeveloped regions, which requires additional costs for conquering wilderness…

In 2019 the construction costs for on-shore wind decreased to 1450 USD/kW, while those for solar photovoltaic fell sharply to 995 USD/kW. http://www.transrivers.org/2020/3146/

Source: https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019    (02 Sept. 2020)

Renewable energy may increase mining threats to biodiversity The world is set for a gradual transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to slow down climate change. But building wind turbines, solar panels, and other infrastructure requires mining for materials, which could damage many species and ecosystems if not done responsibly, according to a new study. https://www.zmescience.com/science/renewable-energy-mining-resources-25346345/  (03 Sept. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 31 August 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 24 August 2020

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

2 thoughts on “DRP NB 7 Sep 2020: On Himalaya Diwas, will Supreme Court stop destruction of Himalaya by Char Dham Road?

  1. SC has ruled that Uttarakhand roads will be 5.5 mtrs wide at maximum and not 12 mtrs as suggested by govt. Hope they won’t go against the SC order. Bcos if they do, it will only bring in more damage to the already existing ones.

    Like

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