Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 14 Sep 2020: How should we define a Normal Monsoon?

IMD is happy to declare a monsoon as normal as long as total quantum of rainfall at national scale is within 4% of what is defined as normal monsoon rainfall during June 1 to Sept 30. Even if this means there is spatially or temporally or both spatially & temporally, the total rainfall or its distribution is abnormal in large parts of the country. It was good to see a national newspaper, asking question if the monsoon is normal even though it’s not temporally normal as was the case in large parts of the country this year.

The IMD normal only assures meteorological normal of national monsoon rainfall within given period. It does not assure hydrologic normal nationally or in different parts of the country, nor agricultural normal rainfall nationally or in different parts: sub divisions, states, river basins, districts, talukas/ tehsils or villages and wards. We clearly need much more realistic and nuanced definition of even meteorological Normal monsoon rainfall, which IMD needs to work on. But as far hydrological or agricultural normal rainfall is concerned, both temporally and spatially, those concerned outside IMD will need to work on.

MONSOON 2020

Editorial Monsoon twist Great to see a National Paper Edit discussing monsoon even as it is yet to be over. It makes right point that the monsoon is far from Normal due to temporal distribution problem. How do we define a normal monsoon? https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/southwest-monsoon-kharif-crops-india-farmers-6591231/   (11 Sept. 2020)

Study Extreme rainfall events have more than doubled in Himalayas In the first scientific analysis of observed data, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) found that between 1980-91 and 1992-2003, extreme rainfall events in the Sutlej river basin in Himachal Pradesh and the Ganga headwaters in Uttarakhand have more than doubled. The deluges were inevitably followed by “extreme stream flow” and flooding in the foothills and plains, said the study, which was published in July. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020GL087815

https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/10/studies-show-rise-in-extreme-rain-and-flash-floods-in-himalayas/  (10 Sept. 2020)

Warmer Arabian Sea led to intense rain in August Coupled with the consecutive low pressure areas of Bay of Bengal that put the monsoon in its “active” to “vigorous” phase, the warmer waters in the Arabian Sea further compounded the climatology that triggered heavy rain in several parts of the country.

– “Arabian Sea has been warming rapidly in recent decades. This makes the air above warmer, humid and unstable. As a result, the monsoon winds are exhibiting more fluctuations than earlier. So occasionally there are episodes where huge amount of moisture is dumped along the west coast of India in a few days’ time. This year again, the northern Arabian Sea was up to 2-3°C warmer than usual in August, and we saw several spurts of monsoon rains across the west coast,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/warmer-arabian-sea-led-to-intense-rain-in-august/story-6F3mJu23c49NZ6Ay4KOZnI.html   (06 Sept. 2020)

Study Monsoon linked to climate change likely led to fall of Indus Valley Civilisation Shifting monsoon patterns linked to climate change likely caused the rise and fall of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, according to a study by an Indian-origin scientist which analysed data from North India covering the past 5,700 years. The analysis by Nishant Malik from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the US used a new mathematical method to study ancient climate patterns in North India over time, providing insights about past climates using indirect observations. The research, published in Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/monsoon-linked-to-climate-change-likely-led-to-fall-of-indus-valley-civilisation/story-cjsT6vAK3XrC0Gtu9VSwaP.html   (04 Sept. 2020)

Monsoon to stay longer in Delhi Monsoon is likely to stay longer in the national capital and start withdrawing only in the “initial days of October”, an India Meteorological Department official said on Thursday (Sept. 10). The wind system had reached Delhi on June 25, two days earlier than normal. “According to the extended range forecast, monsoon rains will continue until September end. The withdrawal is likely to happen in the initial days of October,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre.

-The national capital has recorded just 20.9 mm rainfall against the normal of 62.6 mm — a deficiency of 67 percent — in September so far. Overall, it has recorded 576.5 mm precipitation against the normal of 586.4 mm since June 1, when the monsoon season starts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/monsoon-to-stay-longer-in-delhi-withdrawal-in-oct-1st-week-imd/articleshow/78035496.cms  (10 Sept. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Study Mitigation or Myth? Impacts of Hydropower Development and Compensatory Afforestation on forest ecosystems in the high Himalayas

Great to see this study by Mansi Asher and Prakash Bhandari

• This study conducted in the remote Kinnaur Division of Himachal Pradesh in the Western Himalayas, between 2012 to 2016 found that hydropower proliferation in the name of ‘clean energy’ has brought rapid land-use changes adversely impacting local terrestrial ecosystems and communities inhabiting them.

• We found that of the area of ‘forest land’ diverted to non-forest activities between 1980 and 2014, 90% was transferred for hydro-electric projects (HEP) and transmission lines (TL), leading to change in land-use, fragmentation of forests and loss of biodiversity in the Kinnaur region, already considered as vulnerable from the point of view of its ecology, geology and climatic changes.

• We found that the ‘compensatory afforestation’, carried out as a ‘mitigation’ measure for loss of forests and a mandatory condition for forest clearance for forest diversion has not been able to fulfil its stated objective and further, maybe leading to change in composition of forests. While plantation work was undertaken only in 12% of the proposed area this was ridden with issues like abysmally low presence of surviving saplings (upto 10%) interspecies conflict, infringement on local land usage, and vulnerability to disasters.

• We discuss the structural problems in the forest governance regime and the global ‘green growth’ policy with its neoliberal ideological underpinnings, as key factors driving these ecosystems’ transformations.

• We advocate for an independent, holistic and multidisciplinary inquiry into the impacts of these interventions and highlight the need to confront the current notion of ‘mitigation’, the costs of which are being transferred to vulnerable ecosystems and people dependent on them.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837719315819

Manipur Revoke Power Purchasing Agreement on proposed 66MW Loktak Downstream HEP The Centre for Research and Advocacy Manipur (CRA) expressed our concern with the Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) signed between the Government of Manipur and Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Corporation Limited, a joint venture of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) and Manipur Government to construct the 66 MW Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Project on 1st September 2020. NHPC envisaged to utilize water discharged from the Loktak Project from its Leimatak Power Station for Loktak Downstream project.

– CRA would like to express that the NHPC’s push for the Loktak Downstream project constitute a disrespect and rejection of the prolonged demands of the indigenous peoples of Manipur to review and decommission the Ithai Barrage of 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (Loktak project). http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=news_section.Press_Release.Press_Release_2020.Revoke_Power_Purchasing_Agreement_on_proposed_66_MW_Loktak_Downstream_Project_20200906   (05 Sept. 2020)

Sikkim Primitive Lepcha tribe opposes hydro projects near UNESCO heritage site Speaking exclusively to this correspondent, Sonam Gyatso once again reiterated his strong objection to the project. “ Development has to be sustainable, this large dam will destroy the heritage and sanctity of Dzongu, the cradle of Lepcha religion, culture, and  tradition, already we have Teesta III and Teesta V we do not need to stop the last free flowing stretch of our Teesta, we need to be united and strong in seeing this to the end, otherwise vested interest will gain”, Sonam Gyatso warned. http://theasianchronicle.com/primitive-lepcha-tribe-opposes-hydro-power-projects-near-unesco-heritage-site/   (11 Sept. 2020)

Karnataka Sharavathi HEP: HC issues notice to govt High Court on Thursday (Sept. 8) issued notices to the state government and other agencies while hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) filed against the ongoing survey and geotechnical investigation for the Sharavathi Valley hydropower project in Shivamogga district.  The petitioner, Edward Santosh Martin, has opposed the project stating that the project should not be allowed to proceed as it violates multiple environmental laws and poses an imminent threat to the endangered Lion-tailed Macaque.

-“It is submitted that there is an imminent threat to its existing population and habitat from the ongoing ‘Survey and Geotechnical Investigation’ entailing drilling 12 boreholes (2×2 inches diameter) inside the Sharavathi Valley LTM (Lion-Tailed Macaque) Sanctuary during the heavy monsoon month of August, which also is the breeding season for the species. The survey work is being undertaken by the Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (user agency), which will ultimately lead to the establishment of 2,000 mega-watts pump storage hydro-electric project, affecting 877.57 hectares of the forest of the Sharavathi Valley LTM Sanctuary,” the petition said.

The petitioner submitted that the establishment of the hydro-electric project is a prohibited activity in the Eco-Sensitive Zone of any National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and that such a project is not allowed inside a Wildlife Sanctuary mentioned under section 29 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

-These forests are also known for Myristica swamps, an ancient evergreen forest system. These freshwater swamp forests are home to a range of species of reptiles, birds and amphibians. Other than Sharavathi Valley, these swamps are only found in just two areas in India — Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district and in southern Kerala.

-Further objections were raised with the timing of the ongoing survey in monsoon. Incidentally, one of the conditions for the survey process laid down by the Forest Department is that the drilling had to be halted during the south-west monsoon. Ecologists consider the monsoon period as the rejuvenation time for the swamps and the drilling work, especially at this time, could upset the ecological balance of the forest area. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sharavathi-hydel-power-plant-karnataka-hc-issues-notice-state-govt-132760   (10 Sept. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Bids Invited for Detailed Report to Set Up 6.3 GW of Pumped Storage Hydro Projects The New and Renewable Energy Development Corp of Andhra Pradesh Limited (NREDCAP) has invited bids for a pre-feasibility report and a detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed 6.3 GW pumped storage hydroelectric projects at various locations. The last date for the submission of bids is Sept 14, 2020. The projects are to be completed in 30 months.

– To take part in the bidding process, the bidder should have at least ten years of experience in providing consultancy for the planning and design of power projects. The bidder should have provided consultancy services for at least three hydro projects, among which the capacity of at least one such project should be more than 100 MW. The bidder should also have experience in the preparation of a feasibility report and detailed engineering design for at least one pumped storage hydro project and one hydro project in India with a head not less than 100m.

– Last year, NREDCAP had floated a tender for reports on the techno-commercial feasibility of pumped storage power projects at 30 tentative locations in the state. The scope of work included conducting studies to verify the feasibility of setting up the projects on and off-rivers at the 30 identified sites across the state.

– In June this year, the Government of Andhra Pradesh approved the establishment of an integrated renewable energy project at Pinnapuram village in Kurnool district by Greenko Energies Private Limited. As part of the project, Greenko will set up a 1 GW solar project, 550 MW of wind project, and 1.2 GW of standalone pumped storage capacity. https://mercomindia.com/andhra-bids-invited-for-detailed-report/   (10 Sept. 2020)

DAMS

Polavaram Project Purushottapatnam, Pattiseema, Chintalapudi not part of Polavaram: NGT The Delhi principal bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) declared on Wednesday (Sept 9, 2020) that Purushottapatnam, Pattiseema and Chintalapudi lift irrigation projects are not part of the overall Polavaram project. The three-judge bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel, SP Vangdi and Nagin Nanda made it clear that all these projects would require separate environmental clearances. The orders were based on the reports submitted by the Union water resources ministry and the court-appointed expert committee.

– The tribunal also ordered a committee to study the environmental damage caused by the construction of these lift irrigation projects and provide an estimate of a penalty to be imposed on the state government. The bench sought this report to be submitted after six months. The committee would involve officials from Union environmental ministry, both the Godavari district collectors and officials from both central and state pollution control boards. The bench stated that the committee would also be responsible for collecting the penalty and would have to submit an ‘action taken report’ to the NGT by April 12, 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/purushottapatnam-pattiseema-chintalapudi-not-part-of-polavaram-ngt/articleshow/78029487.cms   (10 Sept. 2020)

Tamil Nadu Nod to route Srivaikuntam dam water for industries The regional empowered committee of the Union Environment Ministry (MoEF) on Thursday approved the proposal from the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) to release water from Srivaikuntam dam to industries for 25 years. The committee has asked the Environment and Forests Department to revoke the Government Order (GO), dated March 17, 2008, which permits TWAD to supply the dam water for drinking purposes only. The decision was taken during the 42nd meeting of the committee at its regional office in Chennai on August 14.

– “It is unfortunate that the committee gave clearance to an illegal project.” An NGT order, dated November 21, 2018, had held that water under the scheme can only be used for drinking purposes. However, the order was challenged before the Supreme Court, which in turn, gave the Collector the power to take a call on releasing surplus water to industries. On June 21 this year, the NGT directed both the State government and the MoEF, to dispose of the proposal within two months. The case will come up for hearing on Friday. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/sep/11/nod-to-route-dam-water-for-industries-2195224.html  (11 Sept. 2020)

MoEF Minutes of the FAC meeting held on Aug 18, 2020, just uploaded. Key relevant decisions:

1. Diversion of 72.00 ha. of Forest Land for Patpadi Tank Project of WRD, Dewas Dist, MP: Deferred. More info sought.

2. Diversion of 409.53 Ha (387.13 ha Horizontal area as per ETS & DGPS Survey) of forest land in Keshavapur RF, Medchal- Malkajgiri District for construction of 10 TMC reservoir at Keshavapuram with associated components under Godavari river source for drinking water requirements to Hyderabad City in favour of HMWS&SB: APPROVED. http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/9119124012171MinutesofthemeetingofFACheldon18Aug2020.pdf

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Andhra Pradesh-Telangana Talks soon to solve Gundrevula dam issues The water resources officials of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will soon convene a meeting to discuss the construction of the Gundrevula dam across Tungabhadra river. The issues raised by Karnataka are also likely to be addressed as the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) has asked the AP officials to furnish the detailed project report to the neighbouring State ahead of the next Southern Zonal Council meeting likely to be held later this month. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/sep/05/andhra-pradesh-telangana-talks-soon-to-solve-gundrevula-dam-issues–2192801.html  (05 Sept. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

Maharashtra After SC raps state, MPCB admits rampant illegal activities polluting Ulhas, Waldhuni rivers The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has accepted that illegal discharge of effluents by industrial units and absence of proper vigilance, which allowed violations to continue, are the main reasons behind the high pollution levels at the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Petitioner Vanashakti told the Supreme Court that Ulhas river turned turquoise after an industrial unit discharged textile-finishing dye into the water body. (Vanashakti)

“There are two specific issues: first, industries may have permission to discharge effluents, but are carrying out illegal activities [discharging effluents without treating them or beyond permissible limits. The second issue is units are functioning illegally without any consent,” said a senior MPCB official.

The admission comes after the Supreme Court (SC) earlier this week highlighted the failure of state bodies to discharge their duties in improving the water quality of the rivers, despite repeated orders by the Apex court. “The material which has been produced on record demonstrates that the situation warrants urgent and immediate remedial steps. There has been a failure of statutory bodies to discharge their responsibilities under the law,” read the SC order published on Thursday (Sept. 10).

SC directed CPCB and NEERI to file a report within three weeks (from Sept 7) after inspecting both the rivers to identify the units which are causing pollution and then formulate recommendations and steps that need to be taken by the municipal corporations concerned (which will include Ulhasnagar, Kalyan Dombivli, Kulgaon Badlapur and Ambernath), regulatory bodies and units to remedy the situation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/after-supreme-court-raps-state-maharashtra-pollution-control-body-admits-rampant-illegal-activities-are-polluting-ulhas-waldhuni-rivers/story-hiy5h9fyJRcWSNRvcwXG0M.html  (12 Sept. 2020)

Rispana, Dehradun Rampant dumping of waste To avoid paying garbage collection fees levied by Dehradun Municipal Corp (DMC), many people living in areas near Rispana and Bindal rivers are simply dumping their household waste into the rivers, cocking a snook at plans by the state govt to rejuvenate them. The waste eventually goes on to pollute the Ganga too, since the two Doon rivers merge into the Saung which further ahead merges into the Ganga. Pollution of the riverbeds, already severe through the year, has become worse in monsoon. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/what-rejuvenation-rampant-dumping-of-waste-by-locals-in-rispana-bindal/articleshow/77696399.cms   (23 Aug. 2020)

Musi, Hyderabad Lot of useful information about Musi River passing through Hyderabad, its past, present and possible future. https://www.siasat.com/historic-osman-sagar-is-in-great-danger-ts-should-wakeup-to-save-it-1969517/   (09 Sept. 2020)

Gomti, Lucknow Negotiating Life – A River on Hope (Part 1): A documentary on River Gomti made by Venkatesh Dutta https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS4bmlrxcIE&feature=youtu.be  (12 Sept. 2020)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Demystifying rivers health Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan makes some very interesting, path breaking propositions as to how we need to see and understand rivers and river health.

This article is in two parts. This part I attempts a new names and definition. Misra modestly says: “It is more in nature of loud thinking… humans and their unscientific propensity to view a stream as being little more than a carrier of utilizable water.” But this is bound to raise a lot. Arguments, Questions and even hackles? https://sandrp.in/2020/09/08/demystifying-river-health-1/   (09 Sept. 2020)

Demystifying River Health-2 In this part-2 he describes key components of the river stream, which he calls FLUMEN and suggests a way forward. Certainly thought provoking and more. https://sandrp.in/2020/09/09/demystifying-river-health-2/   (09 Sept. 2020)

River Stories, Walking Across India – II

Siddharth Agarwal shares some great pictures from his Walk East with Paul Salopek on the OUT OF EDEN WALK. This is  part-2 of photo blog for SANDRP, covering 400 km walk spread over 18 days in Bihar between Bodh Gaya and Purnea. https://sandrp.in/2020/09/10/river-stories-walking-across-india-ii/   (10 Sept. 2020)

Rajasthan Story of an asteroid that hit Rajasthan millions of years ago

“The sedimentary rock of the area was found to be of the Mesoproterozoic age of about 1,600 to 1,000 million years ago. The impact event might have occurred into the palaeo-channel of the Parvati River, possibly into a shallow water environment during the Mesozoic Era, approximately about 165 million years ago. However, future radiometric age dating is needed for precise estimation of the impact event,” says Dr. Dwijesh Ray from the Planetary Sciences Division of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. He is the corresponding author of the paper recently published in the Journal of Earth System Science. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/story-of-an-asteroid-that-hit-rajasthan-millions-of-years-ago/article32588607.ece  (12 Sept. 2020)

Karnataka HC stops tree-cutting for Byramangala project The Karnataka High Court stopped tree cutting for the Byramangala project & issued notices to the Centre & state govts on a PIL saying that the Rs 110-cr project intending to change the path of the Vrishabhavathi river may result in impact on the environment. It has been filed by the Bangalore Environment Trust and others seeking quashing of the govt order on the project, restoration of the area of the Byramangala reservoir as it was prior to the construction of the diversion weir and other prayers, including a scientific study.

– The petition submitted that the govt order sanctioning Rs 110 cr for ‘Construction of Diversion Weir and Channel for Byramangala Reservoir of Ramanagara Taluk’ (Byramangala Diversion Project) was issued on Nov 23, 2018. The project intends to divert the flow of the Vrishabhavathi river avoiding its entry into the Byramangala Tank. The decision to divert the river was taken without any scientific study, it says. It contended that the project threatens to dry up the tank and reduce its area. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/karnataka-hc-stops-tree-cutting-for-byramangala-project-882653.html   (5 Sept. 2020)

GANGA Char Dham Road Project IMPORTANT SUPREME COURT ORDER “Today SC has come out for the rescue of Himalayas and has categorically pointed out that MoRTH had to follow their own circular of 2018 through and through as the project is continuous which has caused severe devastation to the hills. The HPC report submitted by Chairman  has been recorded and accepted by the Court. After pointing out that a set of 14 people voted for 2012 circular whereas 5 (including Chairman) voted for 2018, Court  has also approved the 2018 circular which calls for intermediate road width and specifically recorded pg 91, 92, 93 of the report which is Chairman’s view and minority view the conclusion and recommendations on these pages have been recorded and approved as well. Rest of the directions with regards to monitoring by HPC will continue. Petitioners lawyer – Sr. Advocate Sanjay Parikh categorically said that the 2012 circular has been applied by MoRTH as a result of which illegal hill cutting has been done leading to severe devastation and all areas intermediate road width should be applied and on excess areas (due to excessive hill cutting) plantation can be done. The same has been recorded by the Court.” Malika Bhanot of Ganga Ahvahan. (8 Sept. 2020)

The Supreme Court has intervened to reduce the damage wrought by the project. But it remains silent on the illegality at its heart. https://scroll.in/article/972616/special-report-modi-governments-highway-project-in-himalayas-is-built-on-lies-and-legal-violations  (11 Sep 2020)

In its order published on Sep 9, the apex court rejected Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s suggestion that the 2018 circular on road width was prospective in nature and not meant for projects under construction. “Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General, persisted with his arguments that the 2018 circular is only prospective in nature. We are well aware of the distinction between something which is retrospective in the sense that it applies for the first time to projects which are already completed as opposed to ongoing projects, where it is necessary to take stock of the current situation and then move forward,” the court said.

-“Having taken stock of the current situation and of the fragility generally of the ecosystem in mountain terrain, we are of the view that this argument has no legs to stand on,” the order read. It also says that plantations should be taken up in stretches affected by landslides and construction activity.

– “The SC has clearly said that in the Char Dham project’s intermediate lane configuration with road width of 5.5 metres has to be followed, as per the MoRTH’s circular of 2018 meant for hilly and mountainous regions. The Centre’s plan of building a seven-metre wide highway will not be considered. I have highlighted that a lot of damage has been done to the fragile ecology of the Himalayas. Now, the damages have to be mitigated,” said the advocate, Sanjay Parikh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sc-resolves-char-dham-road-width-issue-order-awaited/story-1gdFTnHZQNa9fv6canQUjL.html   (09 Sept. 2020)

पिथौरागढ़-घाट सड़क मार्ग: ऑल वेदर रोड परियोजना का दुष्प्रभाव

सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेश का पर्यावरणविदों से स्वागत किया है पर यह आदेश बहुत से महत्वपूर्ण सवाल भी छोड़ गया है जैसे कि जिन स्थानों में 70 प्रतिशत से भी अधिक काम हो चुका है वहां क्या होगा? क्या यहां 5.5 मीटर के बाद के हिस्से में डामरीकरण होगा या उसे खुदा हुआ ही छोड़ दिया जाएगा. क्या हो चुके नुकसान की भरपाई के लिये कुछ किया जायेगा? https://www.kafaltree.com/impact-of-all-weather-road-project-on-environment-pithoragarh-ghat-road/  (12 Sept. 2020)

Amar Ujala Edit on SC order on Chardham Highway.

The state govt could file a review plea in SC. https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-chardham-project-uttarakhand-government-will-present-favor-in-front-of-center-on-all-weather-road-jagran-special-20740770.html  (12 Sept. 2020)

पुस्तक समीक्षा माटी मानुष चून : क्या गंगा एक मानव निर्मित नदी नेटवर्क बनने वाली है ?

स्थापित पत्रकार, लेखक, और पर्यावरणविद, अभय मिश्रा की किताब “माटी मानुष चून” गंगा के आने वाले दुर्भाग्य की एक तस्वीर खींचती है। एक भयावह तस्वीर। जो पिछले २०० सालों से हमारे हुक्मरानों के लिए हुए अनाप-शनाप फैसलों की तस्दीक करता है।

-ये एक महान नदी के तिल तिल मरने की कहानी हैं। वह नदी जिसे  इस देश के करोड़ों लोग अपनी माँ कहते हैं। वह नदी जो एक पूरी भाषा, एक पूरी संस्कृति की जननी है, क्या आप मान सकते हैं कि मर रही है? ये किताब उस लम्हे को बयान करने की कोशिश है कि जब गंगाजल सिर्फ गंगोत्री में बचेगा, बनारस में नहीं। बाकी जगह सिर्फ पानी होगा, गंगाजल नहीं, जिसके बारे में कहावत थी कि गंगाजल कभी सड़ता नहीं।

-आप कह सकते हैं कि ये कल्पना है। पर पिछले 200 सालों में गंगा पर बने बांधों ने, बैराजों ने और गंगा किनारे रहते लोगों के बहते खून के फव्वारे ने आज की वह स्थिति पैदा की है जिसमें अब ठीक होने की क्षमता न के बराबर है। हम अपने नीति निर्धारकों के झूठों के महल पर निर्भर हैं। ठीक वैसे ही जैसे नर्मदा को मारा गया, साबरमती को मारा गया, हम आज गंगा को मरता देख रहे हैं।

-अभय मिश्रा, गंगा की कैसी गहरी समझ रखते हैं, किताब में बखूबी निकल कर  आता है। गोमुख से गंगासागर तक आपने कई बार परिक्रमा की है। और इसी का फल है यह किताब। अब गंगा के बेटों को कितनी समझ आती है ये किताब, इसे देखना है। https://bit.ly/32anSIL

Study Ganga water became fit for a dip, aquatic life in lockdown According to a study by the IIT-led Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga), the water quality of the Ganga river and its major tributaries in some of the polluted stretches in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have shown improvement during the Covid-19 lockdown. This improvement is being attributed to restricted industrial and tourism activities, closure of hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments and restrictions on bathing and washing clothes in the river during the lockdown period. The major findings of the study are that the critical dissolved oxygen (CDO) level in the main stem of Ganga river was good enough to support aquatic flora and fauna in most of the locations when compared to the pre-lockdown period and the total coliform count on the main stem was also fairly conducive for daily bathing. https://theprint.in/india/ganga-water-became-fit-for-a-dip-aquatic-life-at-many-places-in-lockdown-iit-study-finds/491933/   (31 Aug. 2020)

Uttarakhand  Govt to revive one himalayan river in every district: CM Rawat “The goal is to revive one river in every dist. A successful effort is being made to recharge over 400 water bodies in the catchment area of Garuda Ganga river in Bageshwar district. Many works in the area such as plantation of broad leaf, trenches, check dams are being done,” tweeted CM Rawat. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/uttarakhand-to-revive-one-himalayan-river-in-every-district-cm-rawat/story-KjQQZsY6l63AsLG4zFRV3J.html  (8 Sep 2020)

Around 5,000 Himalayan streams in Uttarakhand will be rejuvenated this year through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) projects, carried out with local level committees monitoring their progress, informed officials.

Mohammad Aslam, state coordinator for MGNREGA said, “As migrant workers started returning to the state, we tried to expand avenues to give them jobs. We found work for them by converging areas of different departments. Following the same method, this project will be undertaken using the help of forest, labour and drinking water departments.”

“A detailed project report has already been submitted to the state govt and an order is soon to be released. Every stream or water recharge point will need a different kind of treatment depending on its location, and we would be engaging field experts who would help us understand what approach will yield the best results. Works like making trenches, ponds, plantation, rejuvenating catchment area will be carried out as part of the project,” said Aslam.

A report by the Irrigation Research Institute, Roorkee states, “The Central Ground Water Board has inventoried many springs in different parts of the state, but it has to be mentioned that a staggering number of 12,000 natural springs in Uttarakhand are speculated to be completely parched.”  https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/5-000-himalayan-streams-to-be-rejuvenated-under-mgnrega-in-uttarakhand/story-HDPQlqe19mso58UdubJo0H.html   (12 Sept. 2020)

YAMUNA Delhi Biodiversity park in 3 months? The recent road widening work of NH 24 has destroyed to natural floodwater bodies. Against NGT order Forest Department has also conducted compensatory plantation around the location. But now biodiversity park would develop artificial wetlands.

“In Sept last year, a National Green Tribunal bench had directed, “DDA may undertake physical demarcation of the entire floodplain within three months, and thereafter, after taking re-possession within next three months, fence such areas and convert them into biodiversity parks as per the action plan proposed by them.” The order added, “DDA will be liable to pay a sum of Rs 5 lakh per month till compliance of this direction from April 1, 2020, which may be recovered from the erring officers and deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board for restoration of the environment. The Monitoring Committee will look into the compliance.”” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/in-3-months-yamuna-floodplains-to-sport-a-biodiversity-park-6584785/   (06 Sept. 2020)

This article bats for more bridges on River Yamuna citing incorrect examples of some rivers flowing through cities across the globe without realizing that Indian rivers are quite different, monsoon fed and Yamuna is already having about 23 bridges, three on going & 2 planned in a stretch of 22 km. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/aug/31/lohe-ka-pul-and-more-a-history-of-bridges-in-delhi-2190559.html  (31 Aug. 2020)

Fields Have Been Underwater for the Last Two Decades The alteration of the Sahibi’s flow and a few other factors are slowly shrinking the size of the jheel. “There is an immense jump in Gurugram’s population, resulting in a lot of construction on Haryana’s side of the lake,” says Paras Tyagi, the co-founder of the NGO Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment. The construction is impacting the surrounding groundwater levels too, accelerating the drying of the lake. 

“But the strangest part of all this,” says Paras, “is that in the list of water bodies in the city compiled by the Delhi Govt, Najafgarh jheel does not make it to the list!” While the Haryana Govt accepted the lake as a “water body” in 2017, the Delhi Govt began considering declaring the jheel as a notified wetland last August. Indeed, the jheel seems to be facing an existential crisis, which is impacting its governance gravely.   https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/in-southwest-delhi-fields-have-been-underwater-for-the-last-two-decades/   (08 Sept. 2020)

Yamuna.. A wake-up call to nurture our rivers,  the life force that sustains us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BSBULuZW28&feature=youtu.be  (28 Aug. 2020)

Rise in Hindon river pollution amid monsoon Monsoon is only time when most of rivers flow freely, function fully however entire upper Yamuna basin hs faced huge rainfall deficit this yr. Here after brief respite Hindon river in G Noida getting sullied again by drain, effluents. Video by Hukum 13 Sept. 2020. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3793503354010643

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Study Ganga’s riverine communities in troubled waters A study ‘Livelihood and health challenges of riverine communities of the River Ganga’ by the National Council of Applied Economic Research supported by the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago and Water-to-Cloud attempts to examine the quality of the Ganga river’s water at selected stretches of the river during the year 2019-20. It seeks to assess the inter-linkages between pollution in the Ganga water & the livelihood of users of the river by analysing their socio-economic profile.

It was observed that the fisherfolk are socially and economically fragmented. There is a need to formally recognise the communities settled on the river banks as part of the riverine ecosystem. It claimed need to synchronise their local ecological knowledge with scientific knowledge for implementing better water monitoring techniques. Need to formalise the traditional occupation of riverine fishing by providing proper licensing facilities to allow for targeted policies for the community in order to mitigate the livelihood challenges. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/gangas-riverine-communities-troubled-waters (1 Sep 2020)

NMCG to now work on hilsa to improve its numbers Concerned over the dwindling numbers of the fish in Ganga, the government-run National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has embarked on an ambitious, technology-aided project to help conserve and increase the natural stock of hilsa in the river. The NMCG has collaborated with the Barrackpore-based Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) for Hilsa Improvement Programme, which has been approved for a three-year period to see the visible impact of the initiatives.

The programme will seek to establish the current migration pattern of the fish upstream of Farakka Barrage in West Bengal by tagging the fish with Floy T-bar anchor tags — an external tag put between the fish bones — and other advanced technologies like sensor-based tagging. “The idea is to identify the breeding location of the hilsa and declare them conservation sites. The project is aimed at establishing the natural biodiversity of the Ganga,” NMCG director general Rajiv Ranjan Mishra told ThePrint over the phone. https://theprint.in/india/ganga-mission-to-now-work-on-hilsa-to-improve-its-numbers-project-to-ranch-and-tag-the-fish/501650/   (13 Sept. 2020)

SAND MINING

Punjab No mining close to national, state highways:HC Taking serious note of the illegal mining in Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has prohibited mining activities 1 km from the National Highways and half km from State Highways in Punjab. The court has also directed DCs and SSPs of three Punjab districts to constitute special flying squads to check illegal mining in the state within two weeks and submit a status report on or before September 30.

The directions were issued by the division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu on Friday (Sept. 11) while hearing a civil writ petition filed by Bakshish Singh, who pointed out before HC that large scale illegal mining activities were being carried out in villages and on bed of river Sutlej. Singh’s counsel, Advocate Lakhwinder Singh Mann, submitted that heavy mining has changed the course of the river at few places resulting in flooding. He added that heavy machinery was deployed to excavate sand from the river bed, and authorities had not taken any action on the representations made by the petitioner to check illegal mining.

After listening to the submissions, the High Court bench directed the SSPs of Nawanshahr, Jalandhar and Ludhiana to ensure that no illegal mining takes place in their jurisdiction. The HC also prohibited the deployment of heavy machinery like JCB etc. for extraction of sand and gravel from river beds, and restricting mining depth up to three meters in river beds. The court also directed the Punjab government to take stern action against erring officials who have failed to check illegal mining.

Apart from this, the HC also directed the DCs and SSPs to constitute special flying squads in order to check the illegal mining activities in the state within two weeks which should comprise of officials from mining department, revenue as well as police department. The HC bench ordered that the state machinery should also use drones to check the illegal mining and also carry out river audit including replenishment study within six months. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/no-sand-mining-within-1-km-of-national-highways-half-km-of-state-highways-in-punjab-hc-6593287/  (12 Sept. 2020)

Officials of the Amritsar rural police on Monday (Sept. 7) appealed to the people to inform them in case illegal mining of sand is carried out in their areas. Information about such acts can be given to the police on the control room number 8054104837, said a statement issued by the police authorities here. Names of informers would be kept secret, it said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/police-launch-number-for-info-on-illegal-sand-mining-138149   (08 Sept. 2020)

Sand, gravel prices go up 50% in a month  The mining mafia seems to be ruling the roost yet again as the prices of mined construction material have gone through the roof. In the past one month, the prices of sand and gravel have gone up by almost 50 per cent. Till mid-August, the price of sand was Rs 22-25 per cubic foot, which has now gone up to Rs 30-33 per cubic foot. Similarly, the price of gravel has witnessed a steep rise from Rs 18-20 to Rs 28-30 per cubic foot. The prices started increasing dramatically after mid-August as the owners started hoarding material on the pretext of a ban on mining sites by the court. In the past one week alone, the prices have witnessed around 25 per cent hike.

A large number of owners and builders have slowed down the pace of construction work as they are waiting for the prices to reduce. Baljinder Singh, owner of BS Construction Company, said they were left with no option but to slow down the pace of work. “Otherwise, it will increase the cost of construction,” he said. Experts said if the current scenario continued, it may hit the skilled and unskilled labourers hard. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sand-gravel-prices-go-up-50-in-a-month-140384  (13 Sept. 2020)

Despite monsoon ban, sand mined illegally in Dera Bassi’s Kakrali village Even though the Punjab government has banned sand mining operations on riverbeds during the monsoon, till September 15, illegal mining is continuing in the Ghaggar near Kakrali village in Dera Bassi. People with mining contracts in the area have alleged that some unscrupulous elements were digging up sand on Sunday. They fled when they were spotted by men working for a contractor.

In the past three years 50 FIRs have been lodged to cope with the problem, but no one has been convicted as yet. About 17 cases were registered in 2018; 21 in 2019 and 12 in 2020, police records state. Around 50% cases in the past three years were registered in Mubarakpur, Dera Bassi. https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/despite-monsoon-ban-sand-mined-illegally-in-dera-bassi-s-kakrali-village/story-keQuZDW6m39P1zZawDNZjN.html  (06 Sept. 2020)

Haryana Govt exploring feasibility of making more mining zones Despite large number of mining cases registered and suspension of a contract of a mining firm for causing environment damage in Yamuna river area, the Haryana government is exploring feasibility of making two more mining zones at the available land of Lapra village in Jagadhri block and Nandgarh village in Bilaspur block of Yamunanagar district. The state government has sought a status report from the district administration about the possibilities of making mining zones at the said villages settled on Yamuna river bank. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/haryana-government-exploring-feasibility-of-making-a-mining-zone-in-lapra-village-on-yamuna-bank-activists-fume/articleshow/77932950.cms   (04 Sept. 2020)

Kerala Alappad Mining: NGT raps PCB over black sand mining The NGT has rapped Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) over its “incompetence” to decide environmental impact of sand mining in a coastal village in Kollam district. The NGT said the KSPCB is entrusted with the statutory obligation to enforce the environmental norms which include application of ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

“We are surprised that the Board should express its incompetence to decide the issue. If the Board has any difficulty in determining any particular question, it can always take the assistance of any department, including the mining department and expert body, such as the CPCB, NEERI etc,” the NGT said. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the board to consult the matter with concerned departments or experts and file a further report before February 10, 2021 by e-mail. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/alappad-mining-ngt-raps-kerala-pollution-control-board-over-black-sand-mining-132870  (11 Sept. 2020)

Goa Rampant illegal sand mining threatens Khandepar river The Khandepar river, the main source of raw water for the Opa water treatment plant supplying potable water to Tiswadi and Ponda talukas, is presently under threat due to rampant and illegal sand mining in Collem, which is part of the eco sensitive area of the western ghats. The directorate of mines and geology has banned sand mining, but the illegal activity continues with the alleged involvement of locals. Along with sand, pebbles are also excavated. Pebbles are in high demand in the construction industry, sources said.

The combined activity of sand and pebble mining has not only affected a 3km stretch of the river and its course, but has also threatened the vasant bandhara constructed by the water resources department. The bandharas serve to augment raw water storage for the summer months. The Khandepar river, which originates in Karnataka, is called the Dudhsagar river in Dharbandora taluka. Extended mining, deforestation and sand extraction has now caused the Goa-part of the river to run dry by February every year, a phenomenon that has been steadily worsening every year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/rampant-illegal-sand-mining-threatens-khandepar-river/articleshow/78006198.cms  (09 Sept. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Cidco opposes bid to declare Navi Mumbai flamingo havens as conservation reserves Cidco plans to develop a golf course and 17 buildings with 1,564 flats and 20 offices in the area. Environmentalists and residents have opposed the proposed constructions and the Bombay high has also stayed them. The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court.

-The State Mangrove Cell in April proposed protection of five sites–NRI (21.9 ha), TSC (14 ha) in Navi Mumbai, and Panje (124 ha), Bhendkhal (8 ha) and Belpada (30 ha) in Uran–as conservation reserves based on a Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) report. It sought comments from the Raigad district administration and landowners–Cidco, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and some private companies–under the Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ). JNPT and NMSEZ have also rejected the proposed protection.

-Cidco called BNHS’s report incorrect and highlighted the latter’s another 2014 report that recommended making areas, including TSC and NRI, near the Navi Mumbai International Airport unattractive for birds to avoid the risk of bird hits. It added the BNHS’s 2019 report overlooked this aspect of flight safety while recommending conservation reserves.

-The Mangrove Cell has asked BNHS to respond to Cidco’s submissions. “Our proposal was based on BNHS’ study, and we have also marked these sites as satellite wetlands in the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary Management Plan. There can be further clarity on this only after BNHS responds to [Cidco] submissions…,” said additional principal chief conservator of forests (Mangrove Cell), Virendra Tiwari.

-BNHS’s Deepak Apte said the suggestions made in the 2014 interim report were specific to a proposed mangrove park adjacent to NMIA’s runway. “It was not at all in the context of NRI, TSC, and the other three wetlands in Uran. Our view is consistent right from the beginning that all these five wetlands need to be protected.”

-BNHS secretary Debi Goenka said it is common knowledge that a final report will subsume any interim report. “In any case, the National Wetland Atlas Maharashtra, prepared by the Indian Space Research Organisation, already shows these areas as wetlands.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cidco-opposes-bid-to-declare-navi-mumbai-flamingo-havens-as-conservation-reserves/story-ThGrWHgNGmbunUXD2x9Y7L.html   (08 Sept. 2020)

Gujarat Another Flamingo city 35 km from flamingo city in Kutch identified 70 yrs ago by Salim Ali and 30 km from Pak border, a new flamingo city has been identified this season with close to 4 lakh greater or lesser (majority) flamingos. 2 lakh chicks are expected at the new city in addition to 1.2 at the existing flamingo city. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-another-flamingo-city-in-the-making/articleshow/77956689.cms   (06 Sept. 2020)

Rajasthan NGT raps govt for inadequate measures in Sambhar lake  The NGT has rapped the state government for inadequate remedial measures in Sambhar lake where thousands of birds died last year and has ordered the chief secretary to furnish a report of monitoring the water body before the next date of hearing on January 22.

-“Since Sambhar Lake is said to be a Ramsar site of international significance, and remedial action taken is not adequate even after sufficiently long time, we direct the chief secretary to monitor further remedial steps in the matter, at least once every month, and furnish a report of such monitoring to this tribunal before the next date of hearing,” said the NGT order by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel and judicial member SP Wangdi.

-The government received a copy of the order on Monday (Sept. 7) after it had been passed on August 27. During a hearing on March 17, the NGT ordered the state government, among other things, to prepare a comprehensive management plan.

-The State Wetland Authority (SWA) told the NGT on June 23 that a comprehensive environment management plan had been prepared by the environment department but was yet to be approved by the authority. “Due to Covid emergency, the meeting of wetland authority could not be held which will be held shortly and the plan will be submitted thereafter. Delineation of core and buffer area has been included in the comprehensive management plan and compliance will be submitted along with the management plan,” the SWA report said.

-Meanwhile, chief secretary Rajeeva Swarup will interact with collectors on September 11 through video conference and the SWA meeting has been scheduled on September 15, officials said. The chief secretary earlier reviewed progress with departments on August 4 and a meeting of the Standing Committee on Management of Sambhar Lake was held on August 6. The NGT noted in the August 27 order that the problem of management of waste and sewage, removal of encroachment and disposal of sodium sulphate waste/ sludge generated from salt refining units still remain to be fully tackled. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ngt-raps-rajasthan-on-the-knuckles-for-inadequate-measures-in-sambhar-lake/story-KFrY5gaPcFZKtGvdwPzVeK.html   (09 Sept. 2020)

Assam After several futile efforts to plug the leak, Oil India Ltd has decided to try a different tack. It plans to “partially produce” natural gas from the well once again. https://scroll.in/article/971839/failing-to-plug-leak-oil-india-plans-to-start-production-from-baghjan-well-that-caught-fire  (1 Sep 2020)

As per latest report, the flame atop the Baghjan Well No 5 has been tamed, 110 days after the well had a disastrous blowout. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assam-baghjan-well-fire-tamed-110-days-after-blowout/article32592901.ece  (13 Sept. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Bihar Man Carves Out 3-Km Long Canal In 30 Years To Irrigate Parched Fields A man has carved out a three-km long canal to take rainwater coming down from nearby hills to fields of his village, Kothilawa in Lahthua area of Gaya in Bihar.

“It took me 30 years to dig this canal which takes the water to a pond in the village,” said Laungi Bhuiyan who has dug out the canal single-handedly in Gaya. “For the last 30 years, I would go to the nearby jungle to tend my cattle and dig out the canal. No one joined me in this endeavour… Villagers are going to cities to earn a livelihood but I decided to stay back,” he added. Kothilwa village is surrounded by dense forest and mountains, about 80 km away from Gaya dist headquarters. This village is marked as a refuge for Maoists. The main means of livelihood for the people in Gaya are farming and animal husbandry. During the rainy season, the water falling from the mountains used to flow into the river which used to bother Bhuiyan following which he thought of carving out a canal. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bihar-man-carves-out-3-km-long-canal-in-30-years-to-irrigate-parched-fields-2294556  (13 Sep 2020)

GROUNDWATER

Groundwater: Centre has no will to act? Of the 6,584 groundwater units in India, 1,034 are ‘overexploited’; 253 are ‘critical’; and 681 are ‘semi-critical’ – making up 1,968 OCS (Over-exploited, Critical, Semi-critical) units in all. Around 80,000 industrial units run in these OCS areas. Most of them are in the Delhi-NCR region.

-But despite the categorisation of groundwater-unit areas, the amount of extraction from OCS areas has been increasing continuously. Since 2015, the NGT has issued several orders directing the Centre to assess the water-carrying capacity of each groundwater unit in OCS areas, and draft a unit-wise plan describing how the authorities will increase the groundwater levels in areas with heavy industrial activity. NGT also asked the CGWA to assign industries running in OCS areas with replenishment targets and revoke their NOCs if they don’t replenish the groundwater through rainwater harvesting and other measures.

However, the Centre hasn’t provided any reports to the NGT substantiating its efforts to control industrial extractions nor a roadmap explaining how the Centre plans to check and neutralise dropping groundwater levels. https://science.thewire.in/environment/india-groundwater-extraction-replenishment-ngt-cgwa-industrial-growth-sustainability/ (8 Sep 2020)

New industries in ‘over-exploited’ areas won’t get NOC to extract groundwater? The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has proposed new guidelines that ban the grant of no-objection certificates for extracting groundwater to all new industries coming up in ‘over-exploited’ areas, including parts of Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.

According to the draft revised guidelines to regulate groundwater extraction finalised by the Jal Shakti ministry NOCs in such areas will only be granted to micro, small and medium enterprises. However, NOCs will not be granted to new packaged water industries in over-exploited areas, even if they belong to the MSME category.

The draft guidelines also propose hefty penalties for non-compliance to various conditions that need to be met to get an NOC. The maximum penalty proposed on project proponents is Rs 10 lakh, for injection of treated/untreated water into the aquifer system. https://theprint.in/india/governance/new-industries-in-over-exploited-areas-wont-get-noc-to-extract-groundwater-govt-proposes/498643/   (09 Sept. 2020)

Goa 11-member committee to assess groundwater utilisation, renewability The water resources department has formed a state-level committee to assess groundwater resources and prepare a report within six months. The 11-member committee will have to estimate the annual replenishable groundwater resources and identify the utilisation of groundwater.

An analysis by the CGWB in 2017 found that Goa utilises only 34% of its groundwater and continues to be in the safe zone in terms of groundwater utilisation. There are concerns that Goa may exploit groundwater resources due to tourism and population growth, but the WRD sticks to the CGWB’s 2017 findings that Goa only extracts 60,000 ha-m annually.

The govt plans to conduct a fresh study and had constituted the committee on March 31 with the secretary for water resources serving as the chairman. The regional director of the CGWB will serve as the member secretary. The other members of the committee are the WRD chief engineer, PWD chief engineer for water supply and sanitation, agriculture director, industries director, planning, statistics & evaluation director, NABARD general manager and three other officials from WRD, including a senior hydrogeologist.

Many of the industries in Goa are located on narrow plateaus. Groundwater resources are becoming stretched due to industrial and population growth and there are concerns amongst villagers and farmers in the surrounding plains that local wells, springs and tanks are being affected by this industrial pumping.

A committee headed by the chief engineer meets every month to scrutinise requests for such extraction of groundwater by industries for new construction and by individuals for sale by tankers. According to WRD chief engineer Shrikant Patil, the committee can also co-opt other members or experts.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/11-member-committee-to-assess-goas-groundwater-utilisation-renewability/articleshow/78095824.cms  (14 Sept. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Delhi Cultural complex planned on dried up water bodies Residents of Budhela village in Vikaspuri have alleged that Delhi government has issued a tender for the construction of a cultural complex for Sahitya Kala Parishad on land where a waterbody once stood.

-Local residents said that their calls to revive the johad had yielded no results over the last two years and the government had not provided them with any assistance in this regard. A letter written by an NGO and the residents’ welfare association (RWA) claimed that the one-acre waterbody dried up around the year 2000 after being filled up with sand by the local MLA. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/cultural-complex-planned-on-a-dried-up-waterbody/articleshow/77879758.cms   (02 Sept. 2020)

‘Ranney wells to be used to augment raw water supply’ The DJB vice-chairman was speaking on the subject “Augmentation of water supply: Safety and security” at an event organised by Confederation of Indian Industry. Improvising the ranney wells infrastructure will help in augmenting the raw water resources of DJB, he said. “We can extract groundwater from ranney wells in Burari and Wazirabad where groundwater level is high and the contamination can be removed with new technology. The utilised space can be recharged by treated water thereby promoting the reuse of treated water,” he added.

-Chadha further said: “Rejuvenation of waterbodies will help in storing rainwater and reusing the treated water.” Chadha said that among other plans towards water sustainability, DJB will augment the treatment capacities by installation of new decentralised treatment plants. “The Yamuna river rejuvenation plan through in situ treatment of drains will be carried out in the catchment of Najafgarh areas,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-ranney-wells-to-be-used-to-augment-raw-water-supply/articleshow/78012890.cms  (09 Sept. 2020)

Bhopal Development plan draft triggers eco concern over Upper Lake The draft of Bhopal Development Plan (BDP) 2031, put in public domain for seeking objections and suggestions, has raised serious concerns over environment and ecological balance in the city, especially in context of the historic Upper Lake and tiger habitat around the Kerwa and Kaliyasot reservoirs.

-The Bhopal Citizens’ Forum – a body of prominent residents of the capital city – has challenged the legality of the process of publishing the draft plan and seeking objections and suggestions from the citizens in the MP High Court. https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/09/03/bhopal-development-plan-draft-triggers-eco-concern-upper-lake-tiger-habitat.html  (03 Sept. 2020)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

11

Maharashtra Rs 9,674 crore spent, Jalyukt Shivar scheme had little impact CAG report raises several irregularities in implementation and concerns over efficacy  of Jalyukta Shiver scheme:- In a report tabled at the state legislature on Tuesday (Sept. 8), the CAG stated that “despite spending Rs 9633.75 crore, the Abhiyan (mission) had little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing ground water level”. The report added that there was “lack of transparency” in the execution of works and inadequate monitoring by the state water conservation department. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/rs-9674-crore-spent-jalyukt-shivar-scheme-had-little-impact-cag/  (09 Sept. 2020)

Video report क्या महाराष्‍ट्र में जलयुक्त शिवर अभियान फ़ेल है? https://www.ndtv.com/video/news/news/jalyukt-shivar-yojana-failed-in-maharashtra-517705  (06 June 2019)

Uttarakhand Amid govt planning to revive a river in each district & 5000 water sources across state, villagers of Bheta Badoli in Dhoula Devi block, Almora request admin to protect their traditional water source ‘Naula’ from a local road project. Villagers say huge part of about 2 km long local road being funded by MLA passes through village Van (forest) Panchayat land which would bury the Naula a perennial water source apart from affecting tree cover & topography. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3793448817349430

WATER

SANDRP Blog Janta Parliament discussion on the state of water in India We are publishing this as the Indian Parliament meets from tomorrow for the first time after Covid19 pandemic started in India in March 2020. It includes the water sector discussion and resolutions during Janta Parliament’s Environment Session on Aug 18, 2020.  https://sandrp.in/2020/09/13/janta-parliament-discussion-on-the-state-of-water-in-india/   (13 Sept. 2020)

Water governance: India’s unsung success?  This seems like Sarkari propaganda. There is nothing to show for this. No evidence. Ganga is much worse situation at most places. Groundwater and river pollution everywhere are worse. SBM sustainability is in serious doubt. AIBP cannot show any success. Dam operations are getting worse every year. Where is the success they are they claiming? https://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2020/09/02/water-governance-indias-unsung-success-442261/   (02 Sept. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Government to align agriculture with changing climate and rainfall patterns Union Agriculture Commissioner S K Malhotra said the govt had divided entire country into 20 Agro- Ecological Regions in 1992 by including soil and length of growing period for scientific planning and development of agriculture and allied sectors. “Now these 20 regions are compressed into seven zones for better coordination and implementation of central schemes. We are charting out zone wise crop plan for a scientific farming,” he said.

“In last few years, there has been significant changes in monsoon pattern. Arid states like Rajasthan are receiving more than normal rains and retreat of monsoon too has been delayed. Our plans should be in sync with contemporary changes in climate and demands at global market. It should also have a futuristic vision,” said another senior officer. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/government-to-align-agriculture-with-changing-climate-and-rainfall-patterns/articleshow/77977409.cms  (07 Sept. 2020)

Report On a tardy trail: State of organic farming in India. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/agriculture/on-a-tardy-trail-state-of-organic-farming-in-india-73269  (08 Sept. 2020)

FLOOD 2020

SANDRP Blog How SSNNL violated its own Flood Memorandum 2020 during recent SSD induced floods In the process of creating an avoidable flood disaster in downstream villages, the Sardar Sarovar Dam authorities, namely SSNNL, also violated its own Flood Memorandum of 2020 in multiple ways.

The FM-2020, incidentally shows that SSNNL alone is responsible for SSD flood management and gate operation, but it has elaborate information and forecasting system available on daily basis from multiple sources. The analysis shows how SSNNL failed in using all that. It seems SSNNL also created a flood disaster in Bharuch in 2019, but got away without criticism, which possibly emboldened it to create an even bigger disaster. Its listing of flood vulnerable villages of Gujarat is also cruelly shoddy. And it may have released a flood of magnitude closer to 15 lakh cusecs. A clearer case of dam induced floods may not be easy to find. https://sandrp.in/2020/09/13/how-ssnnl-violated-its-own-flood-memorandum-2020-during-recent-ssd-induced-floods/   (13 Sept. 2020)

Counterview carries part of this: https://www.counterview.net/2020/09/avoidable-gujarat-floods-flood-manual.html  (14 Sept. 2020)

Narmada flood has led to massive soil erosion Counterview carries issues raised in SANDRP blog. https://www.counterview.net/2020/09/narmada-flood-has-led-to-massive-soil.html   (08 Sept. 2020)

Gujarat’s media coverage of SSD induced floods have been generally pathetic. Take this example. It says SSP level is 135 m and dam is 97.25% full. At 135 m, the storage is 4586 MCM, which is 79.6% full. How can they get some preliminary information so wrong? They are of course not interested in going into depth or analysis. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sardar-sarovar-dam-closes-13-gates-villages-relieved-6581893/  (04 Sept. 2020)

In the process of sudden spilling of over 10 lakh cusecs water from Aug 29-Sept 2, SSD operators also drained away at least Rs 85 Crores that could have been earned if some of that water was used to generate power over the previous ten days. Its also a big mystery why the SSP power units took almost eight days to come to the full load, when it should have happened within an hour. https://www.counterview.net/2020/09/bharuch-floods-narmada-waters-could.html   (09 Sept. 2020)

A top Gujarat government insider, who has worked for umpteen number of years in the state’s huge Narmada and water resources establishment, believes that the recent controversy surrounding the “extraordinary” flooding of Bharuch district of South Gujarat from August 29 to September 2 Gujarat, fails to take into account a major factor.

Giving a new twist to the controversy, this insider, who has wished to remain anonymous, told Counterview that the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) operators – or for that matter the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), a Gujarat government agency responsible for the mammoth dam on the Narmada river – have “no say” in the release of the waters, which may have allegedly caused flooding of Narmada in Bharuch. https://www.counterview.net/2020/09/central-narmada-authority-not-ssnnl.html  (11 Sept. 2020)

Dozens of homes, 3000 bigha land and the primary health centre (PHC) in Sardhar, a village 29 km east of Rajkot, have remained flooded for the past two weeks as water is overflowing from the historic Siddharaj Jaysinh Lake and gushing through the main square of the village following very heavy rain in its catchment area in the last week of August. Residents of Sardhar say that Siddharj Jaysinh, the 11th century ruler of Gujarat, had the lake dug in a ridge around a 1,000 years ago. It doesn’t have any spillway structure to discharge floodwaters.

– Residents say inflow of water was unprecedented on August 24-25. “No one in the village today has memory of this lake having got so much water ever. We are told that in recent history, it had got its quota only once in 1979, the year of Machhu dam disaster. But this year, that record was broken as water started overflowing from a depression in the ridge two weeks ago and it continues till the date,” Nilesh Virani, member of Rajkot district panchayat from Sardhar constituency. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-sardhar-lake-overflows-floods-houses-in-village-6588657/   (09 Sept. 2020)

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/narmada-dam-inching-towards-its-full-capacity-6588647/  (09 Sept. 2020)

West Bengal Ganga erosion destroys homes Murshidabad, displaces hundreds Fresh erosion along the banks of the Ganga has washed away more than 50 houses, two temples and acres of agricultural land in the Shamsergang area of Murshidabad district since Friday night (Sept. 11). Fresh erosion at Dhusuripara has become a cause for concern for the administration and local people.

Most people of the affected Dhusuripara village have left home with their belongings to settle down elsewhere. The erosion in the Shamserganj area started with the destruction at Dhanghara village around a month ago. With the river in spate because of heavy rainfall in north India, the second village to face nature’s wrath was Natun Shibpur. Large tracts of agricultural land, bamboo groves and mango orchards were also washed away. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ganga-erosion-destroys-homes-temples-in-bengal-s-murshidabad-displaces-hundreds/story-3UGn03LkNm2cGeHyisCRVL.html  (13 Sept. 2020)

BDO Joydeep Chakrabarty said: “The enormity of erosion at Hiranandapur village is unimaginable. The entire village is facing the threat of being wiped out. The administration is trying to do its best to help the displaced residents. We had informed the irrigation department about the situation. An engineer from the irrigation department visited the spot today (Friday) and said temporary measures to stem the erosion would be undertaken.”

A senior engineer of the irrigation department said the river was 40-50ft deep at the moment. “In such a situation, it is difficult to carry out work to permanently protect the banks from further erosion. Such protection work can begin only after the monsoon when the water level will go down. For now, we are using bamboo to shield the area temporarily,” the engineer added. https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/ganga-gobbles-up-70-houses-in-a-few-hours/cid/1791002  (05 Sept. 2020)

A large tract of land along the banks of the Ganga and a portion of a key embankment have been washed away by erosion in Malda district, officials said on Sunday (Sept. 13). The local authorities are working on a war-footing to plug the breach in the embankment in Bhutni Char (sandbar) area, they said.

The breach along the embankment caused concern among around one lakh people living in Hiranandapur, Keshabpur and Koshighat. At least 55 houses were washed away due to erosion in the river Ganga in another area of Malda district late last month.  https://www.news18.com/news/india/large-tract-of-land-washed-away-due-to-erosion-by-ganga-in-malda-2874299.html  (14 Sept. 2020)

Maharashtra East Vidarbha floods man-made, govt’s failure: Devendra Fadnavis  Alleging that the floods are a result of the “government’s failure”, Devendra Fadnavis after a three-day tour in flood-ravaged Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Nagpur districts said: “The floods are man-made and not a natural calamity… What is more surprising is even now, there is no presence of government officials in the affected districts.” “Water released from Rajivsagar dam in Madhya Pradesh and Gosikhurd dam in Bhandara caused the havoc. In both cases, had the government planned ahead, such a situation could have been avoided,” said the BJP leader. “Instead, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is blaming Madhya Pradesh for water discharge from Rajivsagar dam. But who should be held accountable for the water release from Gosikhurd dam in Bhandara?” https://indianexpress.com/article/india/east-vidarbha-floods-man-made-govts-failure-devendra-fadnavis-6583639/lite/   (05 Sept. 2020)

Water release from four outlets of Jayakwadi There has been four-way release of water from Jayakwadi major irrigation project after its reservoir was filled to the designed capacity. Sandip Rathod, in-charge of Jayakwadi dam, said the water release from the major irrigation project would be regulated as per inflow and rainfall in the catchment areas. “The dam has been filled to the designed capacity relatively earlier as compared to such occasions in the recent past. With still a month to go for monsoon, followed by the withdrawal phase, the water release from the dam is bound to vary in future,” he said.

The overflowing Jayakwadi dam has relieved both the farming community as well as the local industries as their demand for water can be easily met after setting aside the quantum for meeting drinking water needs. Besides supplying 120 MLD to 160 MLD water for meeting the drinking water needs of Aurangabad, Jayakwadi dam also supplies water to the industrial areas in Aurangabad and Jalna, which together draw around 75 MLD water. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/water-release-from-four-outlets-of-jayakwadi/articleshow/77965595.cms  (07 Sept. 2020)

Karnataka Better dam control helps reduce deluge damage? This article makes a number of claims, though there is no mention of rule curves, if they were adhered to. They were not adhered to in Karnataka, for sure, this year. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/better-dam-control-helps-karnataka-reduce-deluge-damage/articleshow/77988165.cms  (08 Sept. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir 6 years on, flood mitigation plan stuck in red tape Post-2014, as many as 10 flood warnings have been issued by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department in Kashmir. Even the government’s flood mitigation plan, which was announced soon after the 2014 deluge, is yet to be completed.

-The plan, which focused on increasing the carrying capacity of river Jhelum and its tributaries at an estimated cost of Rs 1623 crore, is still in its first phase. The second phase is stuck in the red tape. The project awaits clearance from union ministries of Water Resources, and Finance. https://www.thekashmirmonitor.net/the-great-2014-deluge-six-years-on-flood-mitigation-plan-stuck-in-red-tape/   (05 Sept. 2020)

Assam Issues of Land use and titles in flood prone Assam. https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/features/17042-land-rights-in-india-s-flood-prone-assam-hill-settlers-hold-out-hope-for-titles   (08 Sept. 2020)

Opinion The need for critical engagement with floods This year’s monsoon has brought floods to several states of the country. Each region has a different typology of floods and to better respond to them, there is a need to understand the nature of floods. https://en.gaonconnection.com/floods-2020-the-need-for-critical-engagement-with-floods-in-india/   (10 Sept. 2020)

URBAN FLOODS

SANDRP Blog बाढ़, शहर और नियोजन !  Guest Article by अभिलाष खांडेकर कईं वर्ष पूर्व अमेरिका दूसरी बार जाना हुआ। किंतु उस यात्रा में उन पूराने शहर जहाँ मैं पहले जा चुका था, जाना नहीं था, इसलिए मैं ख़ुश था। नए-नए शहर देखना, उनकी बसाहट और इतिहास जानना व उस शहर के किसी भी संग्रहालय को भेंट देना मेरा शौक़ रहा हैं। तो शिकागो शहर जाना हुआ।  शहर का इतिहास जाना तो पता लगा की कैसे एक बार उस शहर का काफ़ी बड़ा हिस्सा जल जाने के बाद नगर नियोजको (अर्बन प्लानर) ने शहर वासियों की मदत से फिर से शिकागो को बनाया। शिकागो नदी के किनारे के इस शहर को नए सिरे से बसाने में नगर-नियोजक डैनीअल बर्नहम की महती भूमिका रही। उन्होंने ही १९०९ में जो विकास योजना बनाईं उसे नगर-नियोजन के वैश्विक इतिहास में स्वर्णाक्षरों में लिखा गया हैं।

Bhopal Lake and Raja Bhoj statue Photo by Abhilash Khandekar

‘द प्लान ऑफ़ शिकागो’ नाम से एक सुंदर पुस्तक कॉर्ल स्मिथ नामक लेखक ने उस योजना के लागू होने व शिकागो शहर ने अच्छी नगर-नियोजन प्रणालियों के चलते प्रगति और नाम हांसिल करने के लगभग १०० वर्ष बाद लिखी। उक्त पुस्तक पढ़ने के बाद मेरी दिलचस्पी नगर-नियोजन विषय मैं और अधिक बढ़ी। इंदौर का रहने वाला होने से मैंने स्कॉटिश नगर-नियोजक सर पैट्रिक गेडेज़ के बारे में काफ़ी पढ़-सुन रखा था। गेडेज़ साहब ने ही होलकर महाराज के निमंत्रण पर इंदौर का पहला प्लान १९१४-१९१६ के मध्य बनाया था। गेडेज़ ने इंदौर के अलावा देश के ५०-५५ शहरों की विकास योजनाए बनाईं थीं, जो एक दुर्लभ कीर्तिमान हैं। किंतु यह दुर्भाग्य ही है की उन्हें आज की पीढ़ी कम ही जानती हैं। इंदौर का वह प्लान भी अपने ज़माने का शहरी नियोजन का उमदा दस्तावेज़ हैं जिसमें नदियों का महत्व १०० साल पहले उन विदेशी नियोजक ने रेखांकित किया था। https://bit.ly/3isRqa7  (14 Sept. 2020)

Mumbai City records second highest 24-hour Aug rain in 10 years  The Mumbai city and suburbs witnessed the most intense showers of the season between Monday night (Aug. 3) and Tuesday morning (Aug. 4), making it the second highest 24-hour August rain in 10 years at 268.6mm, and also taking Mumbai’s rain tally past the 2,000-mm mark, with almost two months of the monsoon still remaining. The highest 24-hour August rain for the decade was recorded on July 30, 2017 at 331.4mm, while the all-time high was on July 23, 1997 at 346.2mm. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-records-second-highest-24-hour-august-rain-in-10-years/story-8yimpwnqCvkzDEdLDZArkN.html   (04 Aug. 2020)

Mapping floods: is Mumbai at the risk of being submerged? Nirmohi Kathrecha, a graduate from the School of Environment and Architecture (SEA), is concerned about Mumbai’s outfall levels – points where the city’s drains or sewers empty into the Arabian Sea. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a sea-level rise of 0.5 metres by 2051. “This means that Mumbai’s outfall points will be below the sea level or the high-tide line,” Kathrecha says. “A backflow of water from the sea could submerge us.” The information is alarming. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/mapping-floods-is-mumbai-at-the-risk-of-being-submerged-20506   (08 Sept. 2020)

Jaipur First-century rainfall of season, overshoots monthly normal Very heavy rains have lashed Jaipur today (Aug. 14) and over 100 mm rainfall has been recorded in just 6 hours. It rained extremely heavy between 9 am and 1 pm clocking 81 mm rainfall in just 3 hours. More rains are in store for the pink city.

-July and August are the rainiest months for Jaipur with normal rainfall of 180 mm and 190 mm respectively. The month of July was a dampener for Jaipur and daily rainfall could not even cross double-digit. However August has been compensating for July and rains have visited Jaipur on most days.

-In the last 13 days, Jaipur recorded 154 mm of rainfall and now exceeds its normal with the total amounting to 257 mm. Today’s (Aug. 14) rainfall over Jaipur happens to be second-highest of 24 hours in the last 10 years. https://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/jaipur-scores-first-century-rainfall-of-the-season-overshoots-monthly-normal/   (14 Aug. 2020)

Delhi Single day rain turn capital to normal from deficient The national capital got choked with heavy rains between August 12th night and 13th morning and continued even thereafter. Delhi was struggling with deficient rains in many pockets, the poorest being Northwest Delhi with a scanty figure of -70%, and close behind was Central Delhi at -66%.

-On 13th August, the Safdarjung observatory recorded 68.2mm of rain which happens to be the highest 24-hour rainfall in the last 5 years. The same day, base station Palam measured 93.6mm rain, the second-highest in the last 10 years. Few other locations nearly scored a century.

-Before this deluge, out of 9 districts of Delhi, 4 were scanty (deficiency > 50%), 2 were deficient (deficiency > 20%) and only 3 were within normal range ( +/- 19%). This heavy spell has changed the configuration phenomenally and 2 districts have turned excess (>50%) and only 2 have remained deficit now. The overall deficiency of 33% has now been reduced to meager 10%. https://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/delhi-monsoon-single-day-rain-turn-delhi-to-normal-from-deficient-more-showers-ahead/  (15 Aug. 2020)

Guwahati Experimental Flood Warning System Early Floods Warning System (EFWS) has been designed in a way that it can be replicated to predict urban floods in any part of the country. “The main challenge of developing such a system is the availability of required datasets. Most of the river tributaries of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati do not have a gauge for discharge and level measurement. Similar challenges lie ahead in any location of future development, specifically for urban areas,” said Singh.

-Earlier in June, a similar system was launched in Mumbai. According to the Indian Express, Mumbai is the second city in the country after Chennai to get this system, and similar systems are being developed for Bengaluru and Kolkata. https://science.thewire.in/environment/guwahati-assam-flood-warning-system/   (10 Sept. 2020)

ENERGY

IEX’s day-ahead market traded at Rs 2.43 per unit in August; registers 27% y-o-y decline in price The Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) traded 5,467 million units (MU) in August 2020, a one per cent increase over volume traded in the same period previous year, it said in a press release on Friday, Sept 4, 2020. “The day-ahead market traded 4,484 MU during the month with an average market clearing price at Rs 2.43 per unit. The price saw a significant 27 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) decline over Rs 3.32 in August 2019,” said the press release. IEX said that the national peak demand in the same period saw a 6 per cent y-o-y decline while the energy consumption declined 2 per cent in August this year. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/iexs-day-ahead-market-traded-at-rs-2-43-per-unit-in-august-registers-27-y-o-y-decline-in-price/77932604   (04 Sept. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

WWF Report 68% of biodiversity lost in 5 decades Of every 10 biodiversity species population, the planet lost seven in the past five decades. The brunt of it was borne by freshwater species, whose population went down by a staggering 84%. And even with increased conservation efforts, an improvement seems unlikely before 2050, said the latest bi-annual ‘Living Planet Report’ released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). “In India, over 12% wild mammals and 3% bird species face the threat of extinction, while 19% amphibians are threatened or critically endangered.” said Seja Worah of WWF-India.

– “Almost one in three freshwater are threatened with extinction,” the report said. In the Indian context, Worah said, the situation is dire. “By 2030, water demand will be twice the availability, with 14 of 20 river basins already stressed. We are in a very critical situation,” she added. One-third of India’s wetlands have already been lost in the past four decades. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/68-of-biodiversity-lost-in-5-decades-wwf-report/articleshow/78031490.cms   (10 Sept. 2020)

EIA Draft 2020 “If Students and Civil Groups Can Translate, So Can MoEF”– Citing “translation and interpretation issues”, the ministry stated it was not required by law to publish its notifications in any language apart from Hindi and English. As the news emerged, citizens took to social media to highlight how translation plays a significant role in facilitating greater public participation, while also calling out the ministry for offering “excuses” in order to avoid translating the draft. Over the past few months, several student and civil groups have also taken the initiative to translate key points of the EIA 2020 themselves, working towards bridging the language barriers that disenfranchise people belonging to different linguistic groups from participating in the decision-making process. https://www.thecitizen.in//index.php/en/newsdetail/index/13/19335/eia-2020-if-students-and-civil-groups-can-translate-so-can-the-environment-ministry-    (09 Sept. 2020)

The union environment ministry ignored its own expert committee’s recommendations when they contrasted with specific requests made by industry lobby groups for the draft EIA 2020, claims a PIL filed in the Karnataka High Court by the Bangalore Environment Trust. https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/eia-2020-environment-narendra-modi-lobby-groups_in_5f5bebdec5b62874bc1cfb0f  (14 Sept. 2020)

The grand design of the Western Ghats The forest becomes a wonderland in botanical artist Nirupa Rao’s drawings of ancient trees and wild flowers. https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/the-grand-design-of-the-western-ghats-11599810365140.html  (13 Sept. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study J&K glaciers melting at significant rate The study was carried over the Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh region, including areas across the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC. In all, 12,243 glaciers were studied for thickness and mass changes. “In general, it was observed that the glaciers in the Pir Panjal range are melting at the higher rate — more than one metre per year — while as the glaciers in the Karakoram range are melting relatively at a slower rate, around 10 cms per year,” said Professor Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, corresponding author of the study.

– “Some glaciers are even advancing or stable in the Karakoram range. In other mountain ranges like the Greater Himalayan range, Zanaskar range, Shamabari range, Leh ranges, the glaciers are undoubtedly melting but the rate of melting is variable,” said Romshoo, Dean of Research at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. The team noted that during one decade of observation in this study, the region has lost about 70.32 gigatonne of glacier mass, which is “quite significant.” The latest study was conducted as part of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) research project “Centre of Excellence for glacial research in the western Himalaya. https://www.dnaindia.com/science/report-jammu-and-kashmir-glaciers-melting-at-significant-rate-could-impact-food-water-security-study-2841824   (08 Sept. 2020)

Climate change may cause 26% habitat loss for snow trout in Himalayan rivers Snow trout, the iconic cold-water fish species found in Himalayan rivers, would lose their habitat by 16 per cent in the next 30 years and by over 26 per cent by 2070, a new climate change study by the government’s Wildlife Institute of India has found.   The study — ‘Is There Always Space at The Top’– was published in the ‘Ecological Indicators’, a journal of high international repute based at the Netherlands, on September 6. The study indicates that most of the lower altitude streams across the Himalayas would be rendered unsuitable for the existence of snow trout with the rise in temperatures.

“The high-altitude areas would act as only saviours, provided suitable habitat connectivity is offered,” senior scientist Kuppusamy Sivakumar said. “As it stands, the snow trout faces serious threats due to river valley modifications, destructive fishing practices and exotic salmonid introductions,” it says. They also flagged the “rampant” damming of the rivers across the Himalayas, saying the presence of dams would definitely obstruct the fish mode of movements to safer havens, ultimately risking their very survival. It also recommends reducing “unsustainable harnessing of rivers for hydropower development projects and energy efficiency by improving green energy potential”. They said there was a dire need for inter-governmental policy measures — involving India, Nepal and Bhutan — to sustain the biodiversity of these rivers. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/climate-change-may-cause-26-habitat-loss-for-snow-trout-in-himalayan-rivers-study-138718   (09 Sept. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh-Nepal Energy cooperation; the horizon of new possibilities The authors here rightly sing praise for the regional electricity trade in the context of Nepal exporting hydroelectricity to Bangladesh, but strangely, though understandably does not mention the cost of power, since it does not help their cause. https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/bangladesh-nepal-energy-cooperation-the-horizon-of-new-possibilities/  (07 Sept. 2020)

Nepal 11 killed in landslide – The landslide early Sunday (Sept. 13) swept three villages before the slide stopped at a river. Continuous rainfall had made it difficult for rescuers on Sunday. Homes and people were swept away in Bahrabise, 100km (62 miles) east of capital Kathmandu near the border with the Tibet region of China, Nepalese government official Murari Wasti said.

-The village and the surrounding area were among the regions worst hit by Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake and reconstruction work had been continuing when the landslide struck. The torrential rain, which caused a foothill to collapse, destroyed more than 100 houses in Bahrabise. At least 111 people remain missing and 160 have been injured, Wasti said. The latest fatalities took the death toll from landslides and flash floods in the June-September monsoon season to 314. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/dead-missing-landslides-nepal-200913161520649.html  (14 Sept. 2020)

Despite having the highest fatality rate in the world relative to population, Nepal’s authorities have failed to face up to landslide risks, with haphazard road building and climate change making things worse. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/14/why-are-landslides-so-deadly-in-nepal/  (14 Sept. 2020)

Kpowernet bags contract for Hongu Khola HEP Kumpulan Powernet Bhd has secured a contract worth USD 46.2 million for a hydropower project at Mahakulung VDC in Nepal. Its wholly owned subsidiary KPower International Ltd received a letter of award from Apex Makalu Hydro Power Pvt Ltd for the 22MW Mid Hongu Khola A hydropower project in Nepal. https://steelguru.com/power/kpowernet-bags-contract-for-hongu-khola-a-hydropower-project-in-nepal/562983

Bangladesh Where have the Hilsa gone? -Most of the Hilsa caught this season have been found in the sea. This has led experts to opine that increasing siltation at river-mouths has blocked the fish’s migration routes. The Hilsa needs river-mouths to be around 12-metres deep in order to move upstream. It also needs fresh water. While the strong monsoon flow flushes out most of the pollutants from the rivers, it cannot completely eliminate out the very heavy pollution load from cities such as Dhaka. The capital of Bangladesh is on the banks of the Buriganga, which flows into the Meghna via the Dhaleshwari.

-Some observers blame the increased movement of ships for the Hilsa shortage, while others allege that the authorities did not enforce the last fishing ban effectively. And there are commentators who say a shortage every few years is part of the natural cycle. Dams and barrages also obstruct the upriver migration of the fish, though this problem is more common in India than in Bangladesh.

-Anisur Rahman, senior scientific officer of the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, told The Third Pole that the shortage was due to a combination of siltation and pollution. He pointed out that the further upriver the Hilsa swim, the more polluted the water, forcing the fish to stay away.

-Kazi Ahsan Habib, chairman of the Department of Fisheries Biology and Genetics at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, said, “If the water quality of the river is conducive and the current is right, Hilsa is produced. Water flow and optimum water quality, oxygen level, salinity level, these are the big factors. Hilsa start coming upstream when they find a suitable environment. Disruption in their natural breeding environment may impact their migration.”

– Hilsa stocks have been rejuvenated by the fishing bans, but the repeated bans are crippling for most of the fishers, who are totally dependent on their daily catch. Abdul Jalil Hawlader, president of the Pirojpur District Small Fishermen’s Association, said fishing in coastal areas stopped for much of this year. And when it was allowed, lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic meant there were no storage or shipping facilities.

-Amrit Jaladash – from a traditional fishing community of about 600,000 people in Chittagong district – said, “We could not go fishing for six months this year. We don’t have any other income. We are in extreme crisis. Our debt burden has increased.” Coast Trust, a Dhaka-based NGO, carried out a recent survey in Cox’s Bazar, Lakshmipur, Bhola, Patuakhali, Khulna and Bagerhat districts. It found that the ban had left about 80% of the fishers without any means of earning a livelihood. The survey showed around half the fisher families were unable to afford three meals a day. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/03/bangladesh-fishers-cannot-find-hilsa-in-peak-season/  (03 Sept. 2020)

CHINA

Floods cause over US$29bn in direct economic losses China has paid a heavy cost of at least $29bn after the country faced the worst floods since 1998. The floods have affected nearly 70m Chinese citizens across 28 provinces. He said all around 751 rivers in China passed their “warning levels” and the situation with some major rivers, including the Yangtze River, Yellow River, and Taihu Lake had led to floods. “It is the first time that three major river basins experienced a regional or above-average flood since 1998,” said Mr Li, who warned of recurring potential floods in the autumn.

– The Yangtze witnessed its largest floods since 1981 due to the incessant downpour, with floods forcing authorities to evacuate more than 100,000 of the region’s residents. Zhou Xuewen, another Chinese official from the ministry, said the number of deaths due to the floods was lower this year, adding that 271 people were killed or missing due to disasters — 49.8% lower than the average for the same period in the last five years. The official noted that nearly 4.7m people were relocated to safer places during the flood season, the highest number in recent years. https://www.asiainsurancereview.com/News/View-NewsLetter-Article/id/73566/Type/eDaily/China-Floods-cause-over-US-29bn-in-direct-economic-losses  (11 Sept. 2020)

ASIA

MEKONG The shrinking Tonle Sap, the river’s “beating heart,” is the latest wake-up call of the damage wrought by dams. https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/the-last-farewell-to-the-mighty-mekong/  (02 Sept. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Japan Govt to compensate for dam water release into prefectural rivers Interesting: Japan has a system of compensating the dams for advance release of water in view of expectation of floods. Both for power generation dams and for water use dams. Both for 99 Class A rivers managed by the central govt and now 2700 class B rivers managed by prefectural govts. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/09/06/national/japan-compensate-dam-water-release-rivers/   (06 Sept. 2020)

UK Whaley Bridge dam spillway to be decommissioned and replaced A dam spillway whose partial collapse led to a town being evacuated last year is set to be decommissioned. The Canal and River Trust said proposals to restore Toddbrook Reservoir would see the overflow replaced by a grassy slope. About 1,500 people were evacuated from Whaley Bridge in August 2019 over fears the Derbyshire town would be flooded. A consultation process has started on two alternative locations for the spillway. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-derbyshire-54064795   (09 Sept. 2020)

Georgia Billion dollar dam violates international standards After more than two years of investigation, Georgia’s billion dollar Nenskra dam found non-compliant with the standards of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and European Investment Bank! The project does not meet the banks’ requirements in many areas of human rights and environmental protection!

“EIB Complaints Mechanism confirmed our allegations that this project simply violates the rights of the impacted community of Svans who risk their livelihood and culture being swept by the Nenskra project. (…) Withdrawing public financing for this project is the only right way in this case.”, said Anna Roggenbuck. https://bankwatch.org/press_release/georgia-s-billion-dollar-dam-violates-international-standards  (09 Sept. 2020)

Brazil New bill tightens safety rules for upstream mining dams Brazil’s Senate has passed a new bill that introduces tighter rules regulating the safety and inspection of dams in the mining industry across the country. The bill sets fines of up to R$1bn ($187m) if the mining companies fail to comply with it. Senator Antonio Anastasia said: “Dams of this type will have until February 2022 to be de-commissioned and changed under a security and demobilisation plan.” The latest bill also prohibits the construction of any tailings dams close to communities within 10km distance or a 30-minute drive below the tailings dam. In July, the Ecuadorian Government introduced new and tighter rules regulating the construction and operation of mining waste dams to avoid disasters similar to the one in Brazil in January last year at a Vale-operated site. https://www.mining-technology.com/mining-safety/brazil-new-bill-tightens-safety-rules-mining-dams  (04 Sept. 2020)

USA One solution to America’s dam-safety problem: Remove them When something has outlived its usefulness, sometimes the best solution is to simply take it out. That’s what many U.S. officials are learning when faced with a deteriorating infrastructure of dams and reservoirs. “We see the problem getting worse and worse,” says Larry Larson, adviser to the Association of State Floodplain Managers, a nonprofit that he co-founded. “The dams are getting older, we’re seeing more intense rainfall events, and people are building more in failure areas.”

– “We’ve seen a lot more,” says Mark Ogden, a technical expert at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. “Dam owners are more aware of their liability and the potential cost of repairs.” Last year, dams were removed in 26 states, the largest number of states that has ever had dams removed in a single year.  https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2020/0908/One-solution-to-America-s-dam-safety-problem-Remove-them   (08 Sept. 2020)

Colombia could retender US$4bn Hidroituango project Colombia’s Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) could be forced to hold a new tender to complete construction work on its troubled Hidroituango mega-dam, according to Medellín mayor and company chairman Daniel Quintero. Last month, EPM announced plans for legal proceedings to claim damages of 9.9tn pesos (US$2.7bn) for alleged errors and negligence by builders, designers and auditors. Such a scenario, which could be avoided through arbitration, would leave the company with no option but to sever ties with Consorcio Generación Ituango (Integral Ingeniería de Consulta and Investigaciones Geotécnicas Solingral), the CCC Ituango consortium ( Construções e Comércio Camargo Corrêa, Conconcreto and Coninsa Ramón H) and the Ingetec and Sedic Consortium, Quintero said. Initially budgeted at around 11.4tn pesos, the cost of Colombia’s largest infrastructure project is now estimated at 16.2tn (US$4.3bn) in a best-case scenario, representing a cost overrun of at least US$1.2bn. https://www.bnamericas.com/en/news/colombia-could-retender-us4bn-hidroituango-project  (10 Sept. 2020)

AMOZAN Incredible View of the Majestic Amazon River From Space This image, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, shows the Amazon River meandering through one of the most vital ecosystems in the world – the Amazon rainforest in South America.

This image has been processed in a way that shows water bodies, such as the Amazon River, in blue. The Amazon river begins its journey in the Andes and makes its way east through six South American countries before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean on the northeast coast of Brazil. The river has a length of around 6400 km – the equivalent of the distance from New York City to Rome.

The Amazon is considered the widest river in the world with a width of between 1.6 and 10 km, but expands during the wet season to around 50 km. With more than 1000 tributaries, the Amazon River is the largest drainage system in the world in terms of the volume of its flow and the area of its basin. As a consequence of its ever-changing flow, older riverbeds can be seen as thin lines around the main river at the top of the image.

One of its tributaries, the Javari River, or Yavari River, is visible as a thinner blue line weaving through the tropical rainforest. The river flows for 870 km, forming the border between Brazil and Peru, before joining the Amazon River. This image was acquired on March 3, 2019. https://scitechdaily.com/incredible-view-of-the-majestic-amazon-river-from-space/  (11 Sept. 2020)

The great flood of 1955 Amazing historic photos of Aug 1955 floods in New England in USA. https://www.telegram.com/photogallery/WT/20200907/NEWS/907009999/PH/1

NILE Highest Nile waters for a century swamp Sudan The Blue Nile flood levels this year are higher than the highest recorded since record keeping started a century ago including the 1998 floods. (AFP story) https://citizen.co.za/news/news-africa/2354019/highest-nile-waters-for-a-century-swamp-sudan/   (04 Sept. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 07 Sept. 2020  & DRP News Bulletin 31 August 2020  

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

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