DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 5 Oct 2020: Nominations Invited for the 2020 Bhagirath Prayas Samman & Anupam Misra Medal

INDIA RIVERS WEEK 2020 invites Nominations for the Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) and Anupam Misra Medal.BPS was constituted in 2014 with Late Shri Ramaswamy Iyer as the Chair of Jury. BPS aims to recognize the unsung heroes for their outstanding and sustained efforts towards protection and conservation of rivers. Shri Anupam Mishra Memorial Medal (AMM) constituted in 2017 aims to celebrate journalists and media professionals who have established an exceptional body of credible work on various aspects of rivers leading to changes in behaviour, public discourse, law and policy. Based on well defined criteria, the Jury of the BPS & AMM selects the awardees. Nomination forms can be submitted to any of the following e-mail addresses: indiariversweek2014@gmail.com or mpuri@wwfindia.net, with the subject line: BPS/ AMM 2020 Nomination. The last date for the submission of nominations is October 25, 2020. Forms are available at: https://indiariversforum.org/nominations-open-for-bps-amm-awards-india-rivers-week-2020/  

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Hydropower not a very ‘green’ solution A latest study in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on forest land diverted for hydropower projects has revealed that construction activities for hydropower are threatening biodiversity, impacting indigenous people and fragmenting critical wildlife habitats. Himanshu Thakkar, the coordinator of the SANDRP, said the study is a “welcome effort” and “what it concludes for Kinnaur is likely to be true for the rest of the country.”

-“Most compensatory measures proposed for the adverse impacts of development projects provide scandalous results, be if compensatory afforestation, rehabilitation of people, environment flows, catchment area treatment, muck disposal, catchment area treatment, fisheries plan to name a few. This is because both government agencies and developers are least interested. There is no independent oversight or consequences when such compensatory proposals do not get implemented as required. Until and unless we can put in place a credible independent compliance mechanism in place that will involve consequences when compliance is not achieved, there is little hope for improvement,” Thakkar told Mongabay-India.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/09/hydropower-not-a-very-green-solution-in-himachal-pradesh-finds-study/  (29 Sept. 2020)

-The study conducted between 2012 and 2016 by Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective found that only 10 per cent of saplings said to be planted were actually found on the site and the survival rate of saplings in some plots was as low as 3.6 per cent.

-As of March 31, 2014, the total area demarcated for compensatory afforestation was 1,930 ha in lieu of 984 ha of forest land diverted for non-forest activities, including roads, hydro-projects, transmission lines etc.

-Between 2002 and 2014, of the Rs 162.82 crore collected under Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan funds of Kinnaur’s projects, only 36 per cent had been spent till March 31, 2014, says the study. CAT plan funds are budgeted as mitigation measures for hydroelectric power projects. Kinnaur Forest Division received another Rs 11.50 crore between 1980 and 2013 for compensatory afforestation after forest land was diverted for hydropower projects.

-More than 90 per cent of the diversion of forest in Kinnaur takes place for the development of hydropower projects and transmission lines. Himachal Pradesh has the highest installed capacity of hydropower projects of 10,000 MW in the country, and located in Sutlej basin, Kinnaur is the state’s hydropower hub with 53 planned hydropower projects. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/only-10-saplings-planted-on-paper-found-at-site-survival-rate-low-study-6703020/  (05 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand Dams affect the gene flow of golden mahseer

Dams create obstructions across rivers inhibiting the migration of fish and other aquatic species leading to the isolation of habitats, which can affect the genetic structure of populations. Close genetic relationships were seen between golden mahseer populations in Bhagirathi and Ganga rivers while notable genetic differences were observed among Alaknanda and Yamuna populations. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/how-dams-affect-the-gene-flow-of-golden-mahseer-in-the-himalayas/  (01 Oct. 2020)

Singoli-Bhatwari HEP violates norms? There are a number of grey areas here. A Project proponent that completes the project does not have to inform authorities, just commission it. There is also issue of change in norms for which permission has not been taken.

– Meanwhile officials of the MoEF regional office in Dehradun, when contacted about the issue said, “We had received a communication from L&T on August 29, which was dated August 19, wherein they said that they had completed all the works. We are planning to conduct the inspection of the site either in the first or second week of October,” said Krishnendu Mondal from the MoEF office, Dehradun.  https://m.timesofindia.com/city/dehradun/no-flouting-of-environmental-norms-says-construction-firm-helming-singoli-bhatwari-hydel-project/amp_articleshow/78434679.cms  (02 Oct. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir NHPC in the dock over sudden release of water from the hydro projects in J&K.

 https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3857872030907108

Kishanganga HEP: SC dismisses HCC plea against NHPC invoking bank guarantee  The Supreme Court has dismissed Hindustan Construction Company’s (HCC’s) appeal seeking to restrain public sector undertaking National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation (NHPC) from invoking/ encashing its bank guarantees (BGs) worth Rs 214.36 crore. The BGs were furnished as part of its contractual obligation during setting up of the Rs 1925.84-crore Kishanganga hydro-electric power project in Jammu and Kashmir.

-While rejecting HCC’s appeal, a Bench led by Justice R Nariman said, “the contract speaks of final completion” and the company is yet to finish the project.

-The Delhi High Court while rejecting HCC’s plea had noted that the balance works still remained incomplete, despite the fact that the Defect Liability Period will expire only in June 2021. The HC had also held that NHPC was justified in invoking the BGs as it might have to get work completed by some other agency as the project was yet to be completed. HCC had bagged NHPC’s contract to set up the 330-MW hydro-electric power plant in March 2009 and the project was to be completed in 84 months.  https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/kishanganga-hydro-electric-project-sc-dismisses-hcc-plea-against-nhpc-invoking-bank-guarantee/2095391/  (01 Oct. 2020)

850 MW Ratle HEP The Public Investment Board (PIB) has recommended that the 850-MW Ratle hydroelectric power project be developed through a joint venture company of the JK Power Development Corporation and the National Hydroelectric Power Corp. The PIB, in the Union Ministry of Finance, has also recommended project investment approval for Rs 5,281.94 crore, including an infusion of equity of Rs 808.14 crore by NHPC in the JVC. The equity contribution of JKPDC in the company pegged at Rs 776.44 crore will be provided as grant from the Centre.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/decks-cleared-for-850-mw-ratle-hydroelectric-project-in-jk/78439449  (02 Oct. 2020)

NHPC Plans in 2020-21 An MOU was signed by Union Power Secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai and NHPC chairman and managing director A K Singh, under which NHPC hopes to a best case revenue of Rs 8,900 crore and electricity generation of 27,500 million units (MUs) in 2020-21. Operating profit is claimed to be 38% of revenue.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/nhpc-eyes-rs-8900-cr-revenue-from-operations-in-2020-21/78397174  (30 Sept. 2020)

MoEF The Minutes of the River Valley EAC, held on Aug 31 2020. Key decisions:

1. Jangi Thopan Powari HEP (804 MW), Tehsil Moorang, dist Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh by SJVN: ToR APPROVED

2. Satdharu Medium Irrigation Project in District Damoh of Madhya Pradesh For Env Clearance: APPROVED

3. Improvement of drainage path of Kalisindh river near Balinda Ghat for prevention of floods in Jhalawar town, tehsil Jhalrapatan, district Jhalawar, Rajasthan: For applicability of EIA Notification, ToR: Not covered by EIA notification.

4. Shongtong-Karcham HEP in Dist Kinnaur of Himachal Pradesh by HP Power Corp Ltd.- For revalidation of install capacity visà-vis Satluj River Basin Study:  PP should finalize the installed capacity keeping in view the recommendations of Satluj basin study (387 MW and not 402 or 450 MW); apply for amendment of EC accordingly to get scoping for updating EIA study, complete the public consultation process and then come for appraisal. MoEF may take a call whether the PP can continue with construction during the period of study and appraisal.  http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Minutes/01102020W1QIGJVE2ndMoM.pdf

DAMS

Report Govt Illegally Takes Over Land In Wildlife Sanctuaries, Parks India’s laws prohibit construction in sanctuaries & national parks. Yet, over 19 months, a government-controlled committee with no clear authority approved in such areas land more than three times the size of Mumbai’s Nariman Point business district for dams, power lines and roads. https://www.article-14.com/post/govt-illegally-takes-over-land-in-wildlife-sanctuaries-parks  (02 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Gosikhurd dam delayed further, revised deadline 2024 So the Centre does not money even for the project declared as national Project? The deadline for completion of the Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has been revised from 2021 to 2024 due to financial constraints. The project, which had a requirement of Rs 1,500 crore for its timely completion has received an annual allocation of just Rs 500 crore from the state government for the year 2020-21. The reason behind less allocation of funds is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has adversely hit the state financially. Another hurdle to the project, which was given a national status in 2009, is the 50 percent shortage of employees deployed for project work. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/fund-shortage-gosikhurd-dam-delayed-further-revised-deadline-2024-6593773/  (13 Sept. 2020)

Haryana WII nod to irrigation dams within Kalesar forest despite red flags The Haryana government has proposed a dam construction on the seasonal rivulets— Ambwali, Nagli, Darpur, Khelawala — passing through the Kalesar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary to provide irrigation water to Yamunanagar district. However, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, has concluded in its report that almost 90,000 small plants and around 1 lakh fully grown trees will be chopped off for the construction along with affecting the behavioural pattern of the wild animals and destroying their core habitats and breeding areas. Despite the red flag, the State Board for Wildlife (SBW), Haryana has approved the construction of the dam and conveyed that many changes have been made to the proposal and the number of flora and fauna estimated by WII was very high.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/haryana-wildlife-board-nod-to-irrigation-dams-within-kalesar-forest-despite-red-flags-6590266/  (10 Sept. 2020)

Sakshee Rana on FB post comment:- I have worked in the area and the proposed sites are some of the beautiful forest patches which need proper protection and restoration, and not further destruction! There is hardly much surface flow to tap through check dams. And they are talking of supplying also! We need forests for groundwater recharge and they are doing the total reverse. 75000 full grown adult trees is not a small number!

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Karnataka River-linking projects: Jarkiholi Water Resources Minister talks about interlinking of rivers, particularly Bedti Varda and Nethravathy Hemavathy, both have been opposed by Karnataka politicians in the past. Mahanadi Godavari Cauvery is a non starter. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/sep/28/river-linking-projectsin-karnataka-flowing-smoothly-jarkiholi-2202758.html  (28 Sept. 2020)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Krishna-Godavari Interstate Dispute Apex Council meeting on October 6 The second meeting of the Apex Council, to resolve the issues relating to sharing of Krishna and Godavari river waters between the two sibling States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, will be held on October 6.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/sep/29/apex-council-meeting-on-krishnagodavari-river-watersharing-on-october-6-2203176.html  (29 Sept. 2020)

The second meeting of the Apex Council on river water disputes between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh scheduled On Oct 6, 2020 is likely to be stormy with the former demanding operational control of the Srisailam reservoir. After making it clear that his government will take both Andhra Pradesh and the Union government to task during the meeting, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao shot off a letter to Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/water-sharing-row-between-telangana-and-andhra-apex-council-all-set-stormy-meet-134489  (04 Oct. 2020)

KCR writes to Centre as Telangana seeks complete control over dam on Krishna In the 14-page letter, Rao accused the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) constituted for water sharing between the two states of being biased against Telangana and favouring Andhra Pradesh. He said Andhra Pradesh is going ahead with the expansion of the capacity Pothireddypadu head regulator on the Srisailam reservoir to draw 80,000 cusecs of water from the Krishna river to Pennar basin. Rao the regulator was originally meant for drawing only 1,500 cusecs to supply drinking water to Chennai. Andhra Pradesh has finalised tenders for the construction of the Rayalseema Lift Irrigation Scheme to lift 3 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water daily from the Srisailam Reservoir and transport it to the Pennar and adjoining basins. “Though the matter was brought to the notice of KRMB in February itself, it has failed to take any action to stop these illegal projects. The KRMB has also failed to install a telemetry system to measure the largescale illegal withdrawal of water by AP [Andhra Pradesh] from Pothireddypadu regulator. Instead, the board gave instructions to Telangana to stop the release of water from Srisailam Left Bank Power House of Telangana,” said Rao.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kcr-writes-to-centre-as-telangana-seeks-complete-control-over-dam-on-krishna/story-lZAqtNUQTm5lNbm1PjhiBJ.html  (03 Oct. 2020)

Mahadayi River Water Sharing Dispute Javadekar dodges queries on Mollem, Mhadei projects

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar holds a meeting with farming stakeholders at Mapusa in Goa.(PTI)

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Oct. 4 refused to entertain queries concerning 3 projects in Goa that he as chairman of the MoEF’s Wildlife standing committee had approved in April & said that he would ‘study the matter’ if those affected by it submit a memorandum to him. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-goa-prakash-javadekar-dodges-queries-on-mollem-mhadei-projects/story-wbkgDeflGQ5J21FuY1kjLO.html (4 Oct 2020)

IRRIGATION

Tamil Nadu ‘Remove encroachments on Aanaimaduvu dam pathway’ Farmers on Oct. 3 demanded the district administration evict encroachments along the water pathways of Aanaimaduvu dam, stating they were obstructing inflow to the dam. They said the present water level wasn’t enough to meet their irrigation needs. “If there weren’t any encroachments, the dam would have received at least 50ft of water during the rain,” said S Rajagopal, another farmer. The farmers urged the district admin to look into the issue soon & find a solution. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/farmers-remove-encroachments-on-water-pathway-of-aanaimaduvu-dam/articleshow/78469460.cms  (04 Oct. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

Musi, Hyderabad NGT forms panel to clean river Another Committee with mostly wrong people in it. Nothing actually gets accomplished when in service ppl populate such Committees for obvious reasons.  https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/ngt-sets-up-committee-to-clean-hyderabads-musi-river-648189  (27 Sept. 2020)

The historic Osmania General Hospital (right) and the Telangana High Court (left), built on the banks of the Musi river, make for a beautiful setting of Hyderabad’s skyline. By: Yunus Y. Lasania.)

Fury of Musi: 50 years on, people still remember devastation and panicThe 1970 deluge had been arguably the worst calamity after the Sept 28, 1908 catastrophe. The historic water levels are engraved on concrete slabs at Chaderghat police station and the mosque at Petlaburj.  As a student, I saw such signposts in King Kothi also. The Chaderghat PS shows 1970 levels too. The City had witnessed many a deluge subsequently but nothing comparable to the 1970 disaster. It is a sad commentary on the current state of affairs that the city remains waterlogged, grid-locked and plunged in darkness even in the face of modest rain.”  https://www.siasat.com/fury-of-musi-river-fifty-years-on-people-still-remember-devastation-and-panic-1988277/   (01 Oct. 2020)

RIVERS

Yamuna River Downstream of Hathnikund Barrage. Photo by Manoj Misra Aug 2009

SANDRP Blog How a single decision sealed Yamuna’s fate There is a popular saying in Hindi, sau sunar ki aur ek lohar ki (One hit of blacksmith is enough to outperform 100 hits of goldsmith). This is exactly what the Yamuna 1994 MoU amongst upper riparian states has done. While quasi-legislative action in form of EIA Notification 1994, executive action in form of Yamuna Action Plan 1993 (with external aid from Japan) and judicial action in form of PIL in 1992 at the Supreme Court by Commander Sureswar D. Sinha and media cum judicial action in the suo moto AQFM case in 1994 at the Supreme Court were all making attempts to improve the health of the river Yamuna, one single Executive action in form of the 1994 MoU signed amongst the upper Yamuna riparian states put paid to all the other actions. For if the river had already been sucked dry at the barrage at Tajewala / Hathnikund then which river is sought to be rejuvenated or cleaned downstream of it?   https://sandrp.in/2020/10/03/sau-sunar-ki-aur-ek-lohar-ki-how-a-single-decision-sealed-yamunas-fate/  (03 Oct. 2020)

Odisha National River Policy Sought for River Management and Rejuvenation People and Organisations working for conservation and protection of Rivers across the Country came forward in unison to demand National River Policy on the occasion of World Rivers Day held on September 27. While speaking at the virtual event participated by River Activists from across the country Convenor of SANDRP and eminent Scholar Himanshu Thakkar has highlighted on how National Water Policy is trivialised as River Policy, where rivers are indispensable for human life and our biodiversity… Thakkar further added that rivers are being encroached, obstructed and polluted, that’s why many rivers are dying naturally.

River Activist and Pune based prominent Researcher Shrishtee Bajapai in her presentation spoke while de-commissioning of Dams are happening world over, we in India are opting for more Dams thereby damaging ecological character of our rivers. She stressed that the rights of rivers should be ensured. Rivers can’t protect themselves, we need to to protect them. https://orissadiary.com/national-river-policy-sought-for-river-management-and-rejuvenation/  (29 Sept. 2020)

Parineeta Dandekar article (Marathi) on World Rivers Day in Loksatta on Oct 3, 2020: https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-what-makes-world-river-day-a-celebration-abn-97-2291664/  (03 Oct. 2020)

Report River Basin Guide for Medium and Minor Rivers The lack of understanding about river basins has led to misguided approaches to river revival. While some believe in deepening river beds through excavation [resulting in temporary rain fed pools rather than flowing water] others believe in planting a swathe of riparian zone with trees violating the first principle of catchment treatment i.e. from ridge to valley.

-The lack of basin approach has also enabled damaging developmental activity and unwanted interventions to slip through. This lacuna is sought to be addressed by offering this guide to civil society groups to enable them to develop basin plans for medium and minor rivers. Basin planning would not only lead to a more informed citizenry but also to an informed dialogue with the establishment leading to rational perspectives and sensible interventions, both for river revival as well as for developments in the basin.

-This Guidebook has been prepared with the idea of propagating an uncluttered methodology for robust basin planning at the level of medium and minor rivers. The methodology does not aim for precision but aims to create a broad basin water budget adequate for prudent interventions.  https://indiariversforum.org/river-basin-guide-for-medium-and-minor-rivers/ 

Karnataka State to get a river health index Speaking at a webinar organised by BPac on Bengaluru, Rivers and the Water- Energy Waste Nexus; Dr P Somasekar Rao, director, technical, Advanced Centre for Integrated Water Resource Management, on Sept. 25 said, “The water policy is being created and the inputs of all stakeholders and all govt depts have been taken. The policy will soon be placed for cabinet approval and before people for their inputs.” He added that the govt was also working on developing a river health index, where the physical, biological, environmental and economic health of the water body will be checked. All the water bodies will soon be surveyed for the index.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/sep/26/karnataka-to-get-a-river-water-index-2201947.html  (26 Sept. 2020)

Tamil Nadu NGT raps ONGC for recurring oil leaks in Cauvery delta region The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday (Oct. 1) came down heavily on the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for repeated lapses in prevention of oil leakages, which have become a matter of grave concern for farmers in the Cauvery delta region.

The crude oil spilled from a leaking ONGC into a samba paddy field at Eru Kattur village near Tiruvarur. Express Photo

-The green bench comprising judicial member K Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta has taken suo moto cognizance of the latest oil leakage incident from the ONGC pipeline in Erukkattur village in Tiruvarur based on an article published in The New Indian Express dated September 23.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/oct/01/national-green-tribunal-raps-ongc-for-recurring-oil-leaks-in-cauvery-delta-region-2204445.html  (01 Oct. 2020)

Parts of Adiyar river to be widened Officials of the Public Works Dept have proposed to widen parts of Adyar river and its canals in Kancheepuram & Chengalpattu dists by acquiring land wherever need arises. The proposal has been completed and will be put to the concerned Collectors by Sept. 29. However, the proposal does not involve Chennai for now, the official added. In Chennai, work to strengthen bunds will be started & families that have been enumerated to be living along the river will be resettled. The State govt had announced last year that restoration work in Adyar and Cooum rivers will be carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 2,371 crores during 2019-2023.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/sep/30/parts-of-adyar-river-to-be-widened-2203684.html  (30 Sept. 2020)

GANGA Char Dham Project Hill cutting on in full swing: SC panel chief Ravi Chopra, chairperson of the Supreme Court appointed high-powered committee (HPC) has written a letter to the central govt pointing out that construction of the Char Dham road project is proceeding in violation of the apex court order of Sept 8. In the letter addressed to the secretary of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) & secretary of Ministry of Environment on Sept 28, Chopra wrote that “hill cutting and destruction of forests are now in full swing in all ongoing projects in gross violation of the SC’s order”.

rone shots of Gurna temple (ghat pithoragarh road), one can easily see how violations of supreme court decision is going on. Manoj Matwal

On Sept 8, Supreme Court ruled that the width of the road should not exceed the 5.5 m that the Union road transport and highways ministry specified in 2018 for under-construction roads in mountainous terrain. It referred to the fragility of the terrain and impact of the road width on the Himalayan ecosystem while issuing the order. The road being constructed is of width between 7-11 m. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hill-cutting-char-dham-road-on-in-full-swing-sc-panel-chief/story-D8bz73fKAPe7WRcQ4VGD9J.html (3 Oct 2020)

CPCB Water quality of Ganga, 4 other major rivers deteriorated during lockdown Improvement was seen in the river water quality of Brahmani, Brahmaputra, Cauvery, Godavari, Krishna, Tapi and Yamuna during lockdown. Brahmani’s compliance with the bathing criteria increased from 85 to 100 per cent), Brahmaputra’s from 87.5 to 100 per cent, Cauvery from 90.5 to 96.97, Godavari from 65.8 to 78.4 per cent, Krishna from 84.6 to 94.4 per cent, Tapi from 77.8 to 87.5 per cent and Yamuna from 42.8 to 66.67 per cent, the report stated.

– There was deterioration in case of Ganga, Beas, Chambal, Sutlej and Swarnarekha.

– The CPCB said it had asked the SPCBs to assess the water quality of Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Narmada, Beas, Brahmaputra, Baitarani, Brahmani, Cauvery, Chambal, Ghaggar, Mahanadi, Mahi, Pennar, Sabarmati, Sutlej, Swarnarekha and Tapi. Twenty SPCBs participated in the assessment.

– Some of these conclusions are contradictory to earlier reports of CPCB and others. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/water-quality-of-ganga-four-other-major-rivers-deteriorated-during-lockdown-cpcb-report-6607955/  (23 Sept. 2020)

Uttarakhand PM inaugurated 6 projects “The inauguration of 68 MLD Jagjeetpur project also marks the completion of the first sewerage project taken up on hybrid annuity model of PPP. In Rishikesh, a 26 MLD STP at Lakkadghat shall be inaugurated,” read the PMO release.

-“In Muni ki Reti town, the 7.5 MLD STP in Chandreshwar Nagar will be the first 4 storied Sewage Treatment Plant in the country where the limitation of land availability was converted into an opportunity. The STP was constructed in less than 900 SQM area which is about 30 per cent of the usual area requirement for STPs of such capacity,” it said.

-The Prime Minister shall also inaugurate a 5 MLD STP at Chorpani, and two STPs with capacities of 1 MLD and 0.01 MLD at Badrinath.

All 30 projects (100 per cent) have been completed in Uttarakhand for taking care of pollution from 17 Ganga towns near river Ganga, which is a landmark achievement, PMO said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-6-mega-projects-in-uttarakhand-under-namami-gange-today/articleshow/78375587.cms  (29 Sept. 2020)

YAMUNA Delhi NGT denies nod to Delhi Police for construction on floodplains The National Green Tribunal on Sept. 30 junked a plea by the Delhi Police seeking permission to raise construction for accommodation of the trainees in the flood plains of river Yamuna. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the project is located right on the flood plains and thus cannot be allowed.

It refused to agree with the submission of the Delhi police that the Principal Committee, formed to oversee Yamuna rejuvenation, made recommendations in favour of the Delhi Police. “The present project is right on the flood plains and has potential for generating solid waste and sewage, unlike the project which was earlier allowed,” the bench said.

The tribunal said activities which may be beneficial for the rejuvenation of the river like bio-diversity parks, artificial wetlands, afforestation etc. are required not the constructions.  “Idea of semi-permanent or temporary construction for utilization of the Police officials may not be a very germane idea. Such requirement is not temporary. Alternatives for viable permanent constructions may need to be explored,” the bench also comprising Justice S P Wangdi said. The tribunal was hearing an application filed by the Delhi Police for permission to raise construction for accommodation of the Police trainees in the flood plains of river Yamuna. https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/ngt-denies-nod-to-delhi-police-for-construction-on-yamuna-floodplains/story-AsKDvT93wer5BAkzVVocON.html  (30 Sept. 2020)

Haryana Status of storm water drain in Panipat. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3861750833852561

Documentary Not a single family is healthy Documentary on how Hindon rivers pollution have been severely impacted health of villagers in Baghpat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeUDtPsokRQ&feature=youtu.be  (26 Sept. 2020)

RIVER BIODIVERSITY

Catfish Native to Amazon Found in Varanasi The discovery of the Suckermouth Catfish has gotten zoologists at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) extremely worried. As per the report, the fish is considered to be extremely dangerous for the ecology of the river.

-BHU’s zoologist Prof. Bechanlal informed that the zoological name of the fish is Hypostomus plecostomus and it is known as pleco elsewhere in the world. According to the professor, while native fish require specific conditions for breeding, the suckermouth catfish can breed in water under any circumstances and anywhere, making it a threat to the balance of the ecosystem.

-Ganga sentinel Darshan Nishad, who works for the conservation of aquatic life associated with the Indian Wildlife Institute and the Namami Ganga project, said he found the strange fish for the second time in the river. These carnivorous fish neither have food quality nor have any medicinal properties. A Live Hindustan report mentioned that the fish was caught in the nets on September 24 near the Ramna village, south of Kashi.

– This is not the first time that a species of catfish native to the Amazon basin was discovered in India. Back in August, a strange looking fish was discovered in Narsimhulugudem village, Telangana by fishermen.

-According to a report in Telangana Today, Dr Joe K Kizhakudan, a Principal Scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, spoke to the publication and said it is the Amazon Sailfin Catfish which is often confused with the Suckermouth Catfish. The species is native to the Amazon River Basin in Brazil and Peru.  https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/catfish-native-to-amazon-found-in-varanasi-scientists-term-it-dangerous-for-ganges-ecology-2918753.html  (29 Sept. 2020)  

Aenigmachannidae, a new family of snakehead fishes from subterranean waters of South India Abstract:- Pronounced organism-wide morphological stasis in evolution has resulted in taxa with unusually high numbers of primitive characters. These ‘living fossils’ hold a prominent role for our understanding of the diversification of the group in question. Here we provide the first detailed osteological analysis of Aenigmachanna gollum based on high-resolution nano-CT scans and one cleared and stained specimen of this recently described snakehead fish from subterranean waters of Kerala in South India. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73129-6   (30 Sept. 2020)

SAND MINING

Haryana Illegal bund removed With monsoon season coming to an end, illegal mining operations resume in Yamuna river. Haryana:- Advocate Waryam Singh, state president of Haryana Anti Corruption Society said it takes about 10 to 12 days to construct a makeshift passage on a big river like the Yamuna. “Several mining contractors construct illegal makeshift passages on Yamuna river for legal and illegal mining activities on the river bed. In record of papers, the officials are conducting checking on a daily basis but then how did a contractor manage to develop a passage before their eyes?” questioned advocate Waryam Singh.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/illegal-passage-on-yamuna-removed/articleshow/78395031.cms  (30 Sept. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Uttar Pradesh Field work initiated to make a case of Dhanauri as Ramsar site Officials from Wetland International and the state forest department on Monday (Sept. 7) begun ground inspections and terrain analysis to make a case for Dhanauri to be declared as a Ramsar site and a sarus crane sanctuary.

Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance. Once declared Ramsar sites, no other activity can be taken up at the wetland. India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, 1971 in Iran. India has a total of 27 Ramsar sites, including Narora in UP.

The officials, aided by gram panchayat members from neighbouring villages, collected water samples and demarcated the coordinates of the area to draw a ‘habitat map’ of the wetland. Once the habitat map is developed, the forest department will observe the land ownerships falling within the wetland, initiating the process of land acquisition.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/field-work-initiated-to-make-a-case-of-dhanauri-wetland-as-ramsar-site/story-IQTXg0XWbwFwGLylCGM8uI.html  (07 Sept. 2020)

Maharashtra Biodiversity map puts spotlight on Mumbai’s rich flora, fauna

Credit: Rohan Chakravarty and Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic

‘The Biodiversity Map of Mumbai’ teems with an abundance of species, right from the humble mangroves to the wondrous Atlas Moth, one of the biggest and most beautiful insects in the world. Rohan Chakravarty (33) has presented the map as a vibrant document that is rooted in fact and keeps it fun. Among the 90-plus species, a Greater Flamingo swoops past the Sewri Mudflats, while an Asian palm civet scales a palm tree near Vasai Creek.   https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/biodiversity-map-puts-spotlight-on-mumbais-rich-flora-fauna-6625834/  (29 Sept. 2020)

Western Ghats 2 new species of wetland plant discovered Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have discovered two new species of pipeworts, a type of wetland plant, from areas along the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Some of the previously-discovered plant species, belonging to genus Eriocaulon, have proven to have medicinal values and have been in wide use for their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancerous properties. However, the team is yet to trace the hidden medicinal applications of these two species.

-Some 111 species exist in India, most of which are endemic to the Western Ghats and eastern Himalayas. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/two-new-species-of-wetland-plant-discovered-from-western-ghats-6619464/   (28 Sept. 2020)

Winter Migration of birds to Indian subcontinent begins. https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/winter-migration-of-birds-to-the-indian-subcontinent-begins/article32716656.ece 

WATER OPTIONS

Bundelkhand In Jhansi, 325 ponds revived under MGNREGS 325 ponds have been revived in Jhansi district under “One Village, One Pond” initiative launched by the district administration. Jhansi District Magistrate Andra Vamsi said that 11,000 migrant workers, who had returned to the state during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the months of April and May, were employed in the pond-revival work under NREGS. “We are giving finishing touches to the remaining 171 ponds,” said Vamsi. The ponds are spread on one to three hectares of land with the maximum depth being eight metres, and minimum three metres.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bundelkhand-jhansi-one-village-one-pond-initiative-6593174/  (12 Sept. 2020)

Telangana Faecal sludge management to make town clean Sircilla is a first-grade municipality located on the banks of the Manair river in the Rajanna Sircilla sistrict of Telangana. The town of approximately 75,000 people is largely dependent on OSS. Sircilla has been certified as ODF by the Government of India and is moving towards ODF++ through treating the faecal matter in the FSTP. In this process, the output of treated faecal matter is mixed with organic material and converted to high enriched natural manure through the co-composting process. Sircilla got the fifth rank out of 1,113 ULBs in the Swachh Surveskhan result of 2018 for the South zone and fourth in 2019, in the category of cities with a population of less than a lakh.The concept of implementation of FSTP in Sircilla evolved in 2015. This is an example of how Faecal sludge and septage management could be an opportunity to re-consider future strategies regarding treatment of faecal waste. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/how-an-environmental-engineer-used-faecal-sludge-management-to-make-his-telangana-town-clean-73599  (30 Sept. 2020)

Telangana decleared fluoride free The Union govt on Sept 25, 2020 declared Telangana as flouride free state. It had 967 flouride affected villages in June 2014 when AP was bifurcated. It’s suggested that this is due to Mission Bhagirath.  https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/news/india/telangana-declared-fluoride-free-state-as-bhageeratha-takes-safe-drinking-water-to-doorsteps/articleshow/78187276.cms (19 Sep 2020)

Webinar Springshed Management in Himalayan region A National Webinar organized by RRA Network (RRAN) and People’s Science Institute (PSI) on: “Springshed Management in Himalayan region based on Field experiences from Himachal Pradesh: A Way Forward” held on Oct. 9th, 2020 (Friday) from 3:30 – 6:00 PM. https://tinyurl.com/y3wpghfs 

GROUNDWATER

EPW Transition Theory and India’s Groundwater Management Systems A Case Study of Bengaluru  Contemporary India is witnessing rapid urbanisation, and groundwater resources have been overexploited almost to the point of depletion. In addition to urbanisation, the changing trends in agriculture also put additional pressure on groundwater resources. While the model groundwater bill has undergone several iterations to address the issue, a critical look at the work of some non-governmental organisations and a case study of Bengaluru through the lens of transition theory help shed light on community-driven, participatory groundwater management approaches. https://www.epw.in/journal/2020/40/special-articles/transition-theory-and-indias-groundwater.html   (03 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Marathwada not giving up water-guzzling sugarcane Why do farmers continue to cultivate sugarcane despite the looming water crisis? Tandale offers an answer. “If you cultivate sugarcane, you have an assured market,” he said. “The sugar factories pre-book the harvest. All you have to do is work hard for a decent crop and the rest is taken care of. There is no hassle in selling the stock or in getting paid after that. None of the other crops can promise that. You have to struggle like we did with tur. Or you have to sell it to middlemen that procure at a lesser rate than the government-set minimum support price.”

For an acre of sugarcane, farmers invest about Rs 40,000. “You harvest around 60 tonnes per acre and sell it for Rs 2,250 per tonne,” said Shankar. “The probability of making profits is far higher. Also, sugarcane provides a bit of social status in the village.”

More often than not, the crop patterns of the region change according to the market, said senior environmental journalist Atul Deulgaonkar. “The market makes sugarcane attractive,” he said. “If you want to get married, having a sugarcane crop improves your chances. How did sugarcane get that social status? It is because the sugar factories are owned directly or indirectly by people close to politicians from all political parties. The system promotes sugarcane.”

That politicians own sugar factories in Maharashtra is a well known and documented fact. Discouraging sugarcane would conflict with politicians’ interests, Deulgaonkar said. “If water conservation is your genuine worry, then make other crops attractive and lucrative in the market,” he said. “If none of our policies reflect concern for environment or water conservation, then why should destitute farmers worry about the environment and become even more destitute?” https://www.indiaspend.com/nearing-desertification-marathwada-isnt-giving-up-water-guzzling-sugarcane-heres-why/  (30 Sept. 2020)

Telangana Water table rises by 5.9 m in May-Sept due to 50% excess rainfall In several districts in the northern, eastern, and southern parts of Telangana, covering nearly 56 per cent of the total land area, the groundwater is available at less than five metres below ground level (mbgl) as of September 2020. Only 24 per cent land area had groundwater at less than 5 mbgl in the same period, if average depth for the last 10 years is taken into consideration. The latest ground water level report issued by the state government reveals a significant rise in the water table –– 5.9 m between May and October 2020 –– across the state. Of the total 589 mandals, 223 have received “large excess” rainfall of over 60 per cent.

– The average groundwater level in the state in September 2020 was 5.38 mbgl, varying between 1.36 mbgl in Warangal Rural district and 16.10 mbgl in Sangareddy district. When compared to May 2020, the water table has witnessed a net average rise of 5.9m during September 2020. The highest rise is recorded in Medak (10.09m) and the lowest in Wanaparthy district (1.15m). This rise is witnessed in almost all districts except in Adilabad that recorded a negligible fall. All other districts reported a rise of water table between 0.46m (in Mancherial) and 11.68m (in Mahabubnagar district). The state has received 75 to 80 days of rain this season compared to the usual average of 45 days.

– The report looking at a decadal average for September between 2010 and 2019 points out that nearly 14 per cent of land area in the state, mostly in these central Telangana districts, could find water only at more than 15 mbgl. This figure has come down to 5 per cent in the present season. Dr Madhnure calls this a significant achievement. Telangana provides 24-hours free supply of electricity to farmers as a majority of them depend on groundwater for irrigating their fields. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/hyderabad/telangana-water-table-rises-by-5-9-m-in-may-september-thanks-to-50-excess-rainfall-6667270/   (02 Oct. 2020)

Opinion New guideline shuns opportunity to address overall crisis The new policy guidelines is disconnected with the current ground-level realities and offers little hope towards addressing the inflating groundwater concerns.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/mining/jal-shakti-ministry-s-groundwater-guideline-shuns-opportunity-to-address-overall-crisis-73604  (30 Sept. 2020)

Jharkhand Disappearing lakes, depleting groundwater Four decades back, Jharkhand was drained by many rivers and lakes. Recent reports show the poor performance of the state in water management. The lakes that once adorned the state are slowly disappearing and the water table is critically falling due to colossal extraction.  https://www.waterpractitioners.org/post/disappearing-lakes-and-depleting-groundwater-the-plight-of-jharkhand  (01 Oct. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Report Mere infrastructure can’t solve water crisis In the water sector, the focus on fixing demand and supply is taking us away from the real problem: Unnoticed groundwater dependencies in ever-expanding urban India. https://en.gaonconnection.com/where-does-the-water-in-a-well-come-from/  (30 Sept. 2020)

Delhi HC slams SDMC over flooded basements in GK-II The Delhi High Court (HC) has slammed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) over inadequate measures to remove water from flooded basements in Greater Kailash (GK)-II here, saying steps taken by it do not inspire confidence. The HC said the SDMC is the main body to look into the issue, with problem of drainage being their liability and they cannot pass buck on any other body. Justice Najmi Waziri directed the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government along with three members of resident welfare association to clean storm water drains and conduct video recording of the proceedings. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/delhi-high-court-slams-sdmc-over-flooded-basements-in-greater-kailash-ii-896204.html

Fixing a new deadline, the court also ordered PWD to video record the cleaning work using drone photography if needed, and permitted three members of GK-II RWA to monitor the job. The court had earlier noted that residents of the area have been suffering from inundation by water in their basements, for which solution has to be found primarily by the municipal corporation. The court is hearing a plea by local residents aggrieved by water accumulating in the basements of their properties and in the neighbourhood due to lack of drainage through the system installed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/hc-tells-corpn-not-to-pass-the-buck-on-gk-ii-flooding/articleshow/78436788.cms   (02 Oct. 2020)

Find immediate solution to basement flooding in GK-II: HC The HC had earlier directed the SDMC to find an immediate solution keeping in mind the need to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases. “Let it be ensured that the flow of rainwater in the stormwater drains is unhindered by any material. Necessary cleaning, etc. shall be conducted within a week. Compliance affidavit in this regard be filed before the next date,” it said. “Let compliance affidavit, along with photographs be filed by the corporation within two weeks, apropos the measures taken by the installation of underground pipes to drain out water,” the judge said. The high court issued notices to SDMC, DJB and DMRC and posted the matter for next hearing on October 1. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/find-immediate-solution-to-basement-flooding-in-greater-kailashii-hc/1936958  (16 Sept. 2020)

GK seepage: SDMC extracts water from three borewells Residents of GK II finally saw some action on the ground on Friday (Sept. 11) to minimise the problem of water accumulating in their basements, with SDMC starting extraction of water from three borewells at three parks as mentioned by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

The board has suggested extraction from the three parks at E Block Sehgal Market 2, M Block Tokona Park and next to Chandan Market at S Block. “Our pumps are working round the clock, except for an hour’s break. The extracted water is being disposed of in drains,” said an official. The work started after GK-II residents met the deputy commissioner of the South zone on Wednesday (Sept. 9). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/gk-seepage-sdmc-extracts-water-from-three-borewells/articleshowprint/78067796.cms  (12 Sept. 2020)

Govt Asks Central Departments To Pay Pending Water Bills Of ₹ 6,811 Crore “Railways owes ₹ 3,283 crore to the DJB for the services provided by it…the Delhi Police is yet to pay bills worth ₹ 614 crore, while CPWD has to clear dues amounting to ₹ 190 crore,” Mr Raghav Chadha said.

-“The DDA owes ₹ 128 crore, East Delhi Municipal Corporation ₹ 49 crore, North Delhi Municipal Corporation ₹ 2,466 crore and South Delhi Municipal Corporation ₹ 81 crore,” the DJB vice-chairman said.  https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/delhi-jal-board-asks-central-departments-to-pay-pending-water-bills-of-rs-6-811-crore-2302655  (29 Sept. 2020)

Mumbai Dombivli water pipeline burst A water pipeline burst at Desai Gaon in Dombivli late on Oct. 2, affecting water supply to various parts of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mira Bhayander. The damaged pipeline led to flooding and caused traffic congestion near Palava city, Dombivli on the Shil Phata- Badlapur road on Friday evening. Some parts of Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation also did not get water supply for a few hours on Saturday morning. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/dombivli-water-pipeline-burst-hits-supply-in-thane-navi-mumbai/story-DAAoBkvS1zv5uRusdJpzFK.html   (03 Oct. 2020)

WATER POLLUTION

Haryana Departments fail to act against illegal bleaching units in Panipat The Revenue Department, District Town Planning Department and Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam have failed to initiate action against the illegal bleaching units operational in the textile city despite four reminders each given by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB).  Now, S Narayanan, HSPCB member secretary, has raised the issue with the DC and asked him to initiate action against the bleaching units.

It was revealed in an RTI query that all bleaching units in the district were unregistered. As many as 150 bleaching units were scattered in the agricultural fields here. The HSPCB had identified 137 bleaching units operating illegally during a special drive here of which 53 were resealed by the Board, while 23 were found to be new and 61 were dismantled. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/departments-fail-to-act-against-illegal-bleaching-units-in-panipat-151163   (05 Oct. 2020)

WATER POLICY

Opinion How civil society can shape India’s water policy Amazing to see a CWC ideologue, who has always been anti civil society, to now preach Civil Society NOT TO PREACH, giving examples from the past National Water Policy that he himself has contributed to. https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2020/09/28/how-civil-society-can-shape-indias-water-policy/  (28 Sept. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Report Why farmers kill themselves Only about 50% or less of the household income of cultivating farmer comes from farming with the rest made up of wages, off-farm and non-farm work. Therefore, nonfarm sources of income are suggested to be crucial for small farmer families to escape poverty or earn a decent livelihood. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/view-why-do-indias-farmers-kill-themselves-can-market-reforms-help/articleshow/78363485.cms  (28 Sept. 2020)

Farm Bills will help all but the farmers in need The new Bills may initially help some medium and large farmers but will help the private sector even more. The small farmers are outside the reach of the market today and will continue to suffer as before.  https://www.dailyo.in/politics/farm-bills-agrarian-crisis-agricultural-reforms-minimum-support-price/story/1/33668.html  (28 Sept. 2020)

MONSOON

SANDRP Blog Monsoon 2020: District wise rainfall India received 957.6 mm rainfall in Just concluded South West Monsoon 2020, during the scheduled 4 month monsoon from June 1 to Sept 30, 2020. This is 8.74% above normal monsoon rainfall of 880.6 as per India Meteorological Department (IMD). This is considered ABOVE NORMAL rainfall, since rainfall is in the range 4-10% above Normal rainfall. This sounds good at national level, but the situation on ground could be very different, if we see the rainfall across the country. https://sandrp.in/2020/09/30/monsoon-2020-district-wise-rainfall/   (30 Sept. 2020)

FLOOD

SANDRP Blog Rivers That Reached New Highest Flood Level during Monsoon 2020 In 2020, south west monsoon season when rainfall was 8.74% above normal, rivers reached new Highest Flood Levels (HFLs) at least at 37 locations across the country, as per information available to SANDRP. Maximum 13 such instances come from Central and East India, each. Five instances happened in South India, three in North India and two in North East India. This article provides wise details and hydrographs of all these sites.  https://sandrp.in/2020/10/03/rivers-that-reached-new-highest-flood-level-during-monsoon-2020/   (03 Oct. 2020)

Reservoir Operations Fail People in Chalakudy River Basin in Kerala in 2020 In this Guest Article, S P Ravi from Chalakudy Puzha Samarakshan Samiti, Kerala narrates how even in just concluded 2020 monsoon, dams  operation in the Chalakudy river basin were a problem and violated rule curve and created avoidable downstream impacts. He provides detailed narrative to show why this is the case.  https://sandrp.in/2020/10/05/reservoir-operations-fail-people-in-chalakudy-river-basin-in-kerala-in-2020/  (05 Oct. 2020)

Gujarat Sardar Sarovar Dam’s sudden water release flooded parts of Gujarat, suggests analysis  This report by THE HINDUSTAN TIMES (Jayashree Nandi) once again shows that SSNNL, the Sardar Sarovar Dam Operators, have no defence to the analysis that shows they brought avoidable, massive disaster in downstream Gujarat during Aug 29-Sept 2, 2020. If no lessons are learnt, no accountability fixed and no corrections made, we are destined to experience more dam induced disasters.  https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sardar-sarovar-dam-s-sudden-water-release-flooded-parts-of-gujarat-suggests-analysis/story-2jenBfEwRF2Kvlkc835VjJ_amp.html  (29 Sept. 2020)

Assam ABP Live Podcast on Brahamputra floods. SANDRP Coordinator talks with Saheba Khan. It also includes a Brahmaputra poetry in Assasmese, also translated to Hindi.  https://www.abplive.com/podcasts/news/for-your-information-fyi-why-does-assam-drown-in-its-floods-every-year-ep-06-1581642   (29 Sept. 2020)

Bihar ANOTHER EVIDENCE OF FARAKKA EFFECT? For several days now there has been no heavy or even significant rainfall in Bihar or UP or upper catchments, and yet water level of Ganga and Tributaries are going up and up. See the CWC-FF map of this evening with so many locations with SEVERE water levels in CWC-FF lingo. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3848404381853873  (30 Sept. 2020)

बागमती की बगावत की कहानी अनिल प्रकाश की जुबानी https://www.facebook.com/anil.prakash.96780/videos/960898787747628/

Odisha River embankment blown off in Jajpur The embankment of Kelua river in Ramapur area under Dharmasala block was blown off by some miscreants on Saturday (Aug. 29) night. As per an FIR filed with Dharmasala police station by the assistant engineer of Jaraka Irrigation department, Kamadev Das, people residing in the vicinity heard a loud bang at around 10 pm. A few moments after the explosion, floodwater from Kelua river inundated a few villages in the area. In his complaint, Das stated that the embankment, constructed at a cost of Rs 14 crore, was strong enough to withstand heavy flow of floodwater. However, it was blown off by some miscreants using dynamite. The impact of the explosion was such that around 100 ft of the embankment was damaged. Police registered a case in this regard and investigation is on. No arrests have been made. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/aug/31/river-embankment-blown-off-in-jajpur-2190568.html  (31 Aug. 2020)

-“BJD MLA Pranab Balabantaray and his maternal uncle Naren Jena alias Badal Jena, who is a junior engineer, are involved in the act. An amount of Rs 24.42 crore was spent to revamp the 20-feet wide embankment last year so that it can withstand any kind of floods. The embankment was breached to embezzle the money,” alleged the BJP leader. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bjd-lawmaker-blew-off-river-embankment-that-flooded-villages-claims-bjp/story-wul3k0UVLfdcRHIzp8wxZM.html  (01 Sept. 2020)

Webinar -4th webinar ‘Is Climate Change the Only Villain?’ of the series ‘Critical Engagement with Floods in India’ was held on 1st Oct, 1600-1730 hrs (IST). https://twitter.com/water_conflicts/status/1310800682375614465?s=20

Andhra Pradesh Massive losses for ryots as floods damage crops As on Sept. 29 evening, inflows to the Prakasam Barrage stood at 3.5 lakh cusecs and outflows stood at 3.35 lakh cusecs. Since the flood water level is at 3.6 mm (12 ft) over the crest of the barrage, the first warning was withdrawn. Despite the water levels receding, crops like plantain, turmeric, guava, sugarcane and paddy cultivated in thousands of acres on the banks of River Krishna were inundated incurring heavy losses to farmers.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/sep/30/massive-losses-for-ryots-as-floods-damage-crops-in-andhra-pradesh-2203822.html  (30 Sept. 2020)

Chandrababu Naidu told to move out of riverfront Amaravati bungalow For the second consecutive year, the residence of Telugu Desam Party president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on the Krishna riverfront at Vundavalli in Amaravati is facing a submergence threat due to heavy inflow into the river from upstream.

-As a result, the Krishna district administration on Sunday night served a notice to Naidu to move out of the bungalow to a safer place by Monday when the river would receive more water. The authorities pasted the notice on the gates of his residence. Apart from Naidu, 32 others whose residences and properties were located on the banks of the Krishna River were also served notices.

-According to state relief commissioner Kanna Babu, around six lakh cusecs of flood water is expected to reach Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada, which is likely to inundate all the residences along the flood bank located hardly two kilometres away from the barrage. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chandrababu-naidu-told-to-move-out-of-riverfront-amaravati-bungalow-served-notice/story-JYpH54ZsJb87WbDJl1dStM.html  (28 Sept. 2020)

-With River Krishna in spate due to continuous rains in its upper catchment area all major reservoirs in the river basin in AP received massive inflows ranging between 5.5 lakh cusecs and 6.6 lakh cusecs on September 27.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/videos/videos-nation/2020/sep/29/ap-floods-river-krishna-in-spate-central-water-commission-advises-maximum-caution-108975.html  (29 Sept. 2020)

The video shows that houses Shaheen Nagar area has also been flooded.  https://www.siasat.com/hyderabad-shaheen-nagar-houses-floating-in-the-rain-water-1990098/   (03 Oct. 2020)

LANDSLIDES

‘12% Indian Land Prone To Landslides; Accounted For 18% Deaths Worldwide During 2004-16’ -Last year (2019), 264 Indians died in landslides, said a report on accidental deaths and suicides in 2019 by the National Crime Records Bureau. Over 65% of these fatalities happened in the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.

-India was one of the countries most affected by human-triggered fatal landslides in the 2004-16 period, found a study by researchers at Sheffield University, UK. Analysing 5,031 fatal landslides worldwide, the study showed that India registered around 10,900 deaths from 829 landslides, which made up 18% of the total global casualties.

-India accounted for 28% of construction-triggered landslide events, followed by China (9%), and Pakistan (6%). On the other hand, of the total landslides triggered by rainfall, 16% were reported from India. Of these, 77% occurred during the monsoon. India also accounted for maximum landslides triggered by mining, at 12%, followed by Indonesia (11.7%), and China (10%).  https://www.indiaspend.com/12-indian-land-prone-to-landslides-accounted-for-18-deaths-worldwide-during-2004-16/  (02 Oct. 2020)

Not just the recent landslides in Kerala’s Idukki that killed nearly 70 people and destroyed hundreds of households belonging to tea and coffee plantation workers, India has always grappled with the long lasting effects of landslides, a detailed report by IndiaSpend has found. The report cites figures from the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2019 ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’ report, which notes that the Himalayas and Western Ghats are particularly vulnerable, making up about 65% of the landslides that led to the deaths of 264 people. https://science.thewire.in/environment/landslides-death-idukki-seismic-zones/  (04 Oct. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

Book Review Inside story of wildlife reserves This anthology, Wild Treasures, lures readers into another world of heritage sites, of forests, mountains, grasslands and a plethora of wildlife. The editors, Prerna Singh Bindra, Sonali Ghosh and Anuranjan Roy, have put together a series of pieces by a galaxy of writers: wildlife conservationists, scientists, researchers, forest officers, biologists, historians, journalists and even Amitav Ghosh.  https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/books-authors/deep-dive-inside-story-of-wildlife-reserves/   (25 Sept. 2020)

Report Land under forest shrunk between 2011 and 2016, contrary to FSI’s findings The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), under its Natural Resources Census (NRC) project, has produced the land use and land change data sets for 2005-06, 2011-12 and 2015-16. The data sets were utilised by the NSO to conduct an analysis on land use trends for its latest report.

-However, the NSO’s analysis is at odds with the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI) reports that have shown an increase in the country’s forest cover. The FSI’s report had shown last year that the country recorded a 0.56% improvement in its forest cover, as compared to 2017.

-But, the NSO’s land use change matrix showed that forest area declined by 1.09%, as compared to a 0.5% increase in forest area shown in the FSI reports between 2013 and 2015. https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/land-under-forest-shrunk-between-2011-and-2016-contrary-to-fsi-s-findings/story-LaFbckJ6sgORZBmqsOfKWP_amp.html  (01 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand 10,000 trees to be cut for Dehradun airport In order to facilitate the expansion of Doon’s Jolly Grant airport, Uttarakhand forest department has decided to give up 215 acres of land of Shivalik Elephant Reserve, one of the premier elephant reserves in the country. The move will mean not only a further shrink in the area for elephant movement but also lead to cutting of almost 10,000 trees. The move, conservationists say, is going to be “devastating for the fragile ecosystem of Doon valley” since the forest is home to not just elephants but also leopards, cheetal, sambhar and several other wildlife species. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/10000-trees-to-be-cut-for-doon-airport/articleshow/78412489.cms  (01 Oct. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Glacial lakes become more deadly as Himalayan ice melts -New research has found that more glacial lakes in the Himalayas are forming, of which 47 are critically dangerous and could burst, flooding downstream areas in Nepal, China and India.

-“Altogether, 3,624 glacial lakes were mapped in the Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali river basins of Nepal, China and India. “Of these, 1,410 lakes are equal to or larger than 0.02 square kilometres, which are large enough to cause serious damage downstream if they burst.

-“However, 47 are the most dangerous ones that need immediate mitigation action,” said Sudan Bikash Maharjan, one of the authors of the report, which was jointly produced by the International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and United Nations Development Programme in Nepal. Of the 47 lakes, 25 are in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, 21 in Nepal and one in India.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/29/glacial-lakes-become-more-deadly-as-himalayan-ice-melts/  (29 Sept. 2020)

Extreme rainfall events have more than doubled in Himalayas New scientific studies of IIT Bombay & National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) show the chance of sudden, catastrophic river flooding in the western Himalayas has doubled as Climate Change leads to an increase in extreme rainfall events. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/10/studies-show-rise-in-extreme-rain-and-flash-floods-in-himalayas/  (10 Sept. 2020)

Study This is how far the sea is expected to rise by 2100 -It’s predicted that sea levels could rise by up to a foot by 2100, caused by melting glacial and sea ice. In the high emissions scenario, researchers found the Greenland ice sheet would lead to an additional global sea level rise of about 3.5 inches (9 cm) by 2100. Projections show the greatest loss in West Antarctica, responsible for up to 7.1 inches (18 cm) of sea level rise by 2100 in the warmest conditions. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/oceans-sea-levels-glacial-sea-melting  (29 Sept. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Bangladesh Bangladesh turns to China for Teesta Project  “We got an offer from [the Chinese]. Now we need to sit with them to set down the terms and conditions before finalising the deal,” Kabir Bin Anwar, senior secretary in the ministry of water resources, said. Of its 315 km course, a little over 100 km flows through Bangladesh. In that stretch, nearly 21 million people depend on the Teesta for their livelihood and other economic activities. In a letter to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in Bangladesh last July, the Ministry of Water Resources sought a USD 983 million loan from China to implement the ‘Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project’.

– The Bangladesh Water Development Board and Power Construction Corporation of China (Power China), a state-owned enterprise of People’s Republic of China, signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) for this project on September 28, 2016. Since then, Power China has submitted a masterplan and a feasibility study for the project. The summary of the Preliminary Development Project Proposal (PDPP) attached with the letter, describes its scope. The plan is to build over 100 km of embankments along both sides of the river, from upstream of the Teesta barrage near the border with India to the confluence with the Brahmaputra. On top of this, the project will involve dredging and deepening 110 km of the Teesta for inland navigation.

– Most of the 111,000 hectares of irrigable land in the Teesta basin in Bangladesh is uncultivable during this period due to lack of water. In 2013-14 only 35% of the total irrigable area was cultivated. In 1997 water flow of Teesta in Bangladesh was nearly 6,500 cusecs during dry season. But in 2006, its flow fell to 1,348 cusec and in 2016 during the dry period it was only 300 cusecs. The details of the proposed structural interventions and terms of the loans are still unknown and have not been publicly debated. Hence it is unclear how environmentally sustainable the project is.

– After news of Chinese investment in the Teesta management project broke out in the Bangladesh media, New Delhi sent its foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to Dhaka. However, there was no public confirmation whether Shringla had raised the issue during his talks.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/28/to-indias-chagrin-bangladesh-turns-to-china-to-transform-teesta-river/  (28 Sept. 2020)

India Pakistan Time to recast Indus water treaty Review of Indus Water Treaty: India has also failed to fully utilize the waters of Ravi, due to unacceptable delay in the construction of Shahpur Kandi barrage, with the result that much of the waters of this river flow to Pakistan during the monsoons. Moreover the sluice gates on the three Eastern rivers are overdue for repair with water leakages that flow into Pakistan.

– At hundreds of locations in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, where the water current in various rivers/tributaries is very fast, it is possible to make channels and lower turbines into these waters (similar to Persian Wheels, with suitably designed blades and provision for automatic rise and drop in the level of turbines depending on the rise and fall of water level in the stream) to generate electricity. With this electricity on a small scale can be produced at these places to meet the requirement at almost all locations.

– It suggests: Therefore, it (Pakistan) should accept some of the waters of Chenab to be diverted into Beas, thus bringing allocations between Pakistan and India to 70 and 30 percent respectively (from 80.5 to 19.5 now). Some limited quantity of water from Ravi can be made available to Pakistan to irrigate fields in Kartarpur Sahib and Lahore region. Similarly, height of the dam on Neelum river, where its waters have been diverted to Wular lake, can be suitably adjusted so that downstream fields, earlier watered by this river, continue to receive the required quantity of water. https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/19435/Time-to-Recast-the-Indus-Water-Treaty  (30 Sept. 2020)

Bangladesh Rivers turning black “When I was young there were no garment factories here. We used to grow crops and loved to catch different kinds of fish. The atmosphere was very nice,” he said from Savar, just north of Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital. The river beside him is now black like an ink stain. Abdus Salam said waste from nearby garment factories and dye houses has polluted the water. “There are no fish now,” he said. “The water is so polluted that our children and grandchildren cannot have the same experience.”  https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/dyeing-pollution-fashion-intl-hnk-dst-sept/index.html  (29 Sept. 2020)

Nepal Deadly landslides 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. “Between 1972 and 2016 a total of 5,190 people lost their lives in 3,419 landslide events on record,” Basanta Raj Adhikari, an engineering geologist at the Institute of Engineering in Nepal’s Tribhuvan University said.

Landslide in the district of Sindhupalchowk, Nepal (Image: Richard Friedericks)

– Since 2017 (after the time period studied in Adhikari’s research paper), an additional 490 people have been killed by landslides, according to recent government data. This year alone, 243 have died and 51 are missing. This is the second highest of confirmed casualties on record in the past 10 years, and nearly three times higher than 2019.

–  A report by Department of Water Induced Disaster Management – the authority that used be responsible for dealing with landslides which was scrapped in July – supports this claim. The report reads, “Although huge amounts of funds have been invested every year in disaster management, landslides are not treated as one of the important parameters during the planning and designing stage. Even if treated, it is done without detailed study and investigation, which further enhances the problem.”

– According to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization published in 2011, Nepal has one of the highest fatalities from landslides in the world. “Between 1950 and 2009, the frequency of fatal landslides was highest in China, followed by Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Japan, Pakistan and Nepal. These seven countries accounted for 87% of the 17,830 landslide-related fatalities reported during that time period in Asia,” the report said. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/14/why-are-landslides-so-deadly-in-nepal/  (14 Sept. 2020)

Water futures market for the hydrological future of South Asia? On 17 September 2020, both CME Group and NASDAQ announced the plan to launch the NASDAQ Veles California Water Index futures contract by the last quarter of the year, subject to a regulatory review. The proposed derivative contract is designed for California, which has a buoyant water market with a total spot or physical market volume of more than $1.1 billion in 2019-20. Water availability uncertainty negatively affects urban consumers, creates uncertainties for agricultural water users, and dents the bottomlines of firms. The futures market is expected to align the supply side factors and the demand forces, stabilise price risks, and help price discovery. Advocacy fo such market in India is clearly unwarranted. https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/water-futures-market-hydrological-future-south-asia/  (29 Sept. 2020)

CHINA

China struggles to meet basic food demands? The Yangtze River basin, which accounts for 70 percent of China’s rice production, has seen the worst floods since 1939, damaging millions of acres of cropland. According to the China Meteorological Administration, the country has experienced a 20 percent increase in heavy rainfall since 1961, taking the water level of more than 400 rivers above the flood control line, with 33 of them reaching record highs. The heavy rain has ravaged vast swaths of industrial and agricultural land, and experts warn the worst may be yet to come.  https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516607-another-famine-coming-china-struggles-to-meet-basic-food-demands   (17 Sept. 2020)

ASIA

Opinion Asean needs to act on Mekong river The Mekong sub-region is quickly turning into a new battleground for US-China rivalry. Two events happened last month that went largely unnoticed by most of the mainstream media in Southeast Asia. One was the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ Meeting between China and the five Mekong members of Asean — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The other was the inaugural Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting between America and the same Asean countries. At the LMC Leaders’ Meeting, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged to share water management data from its portion of the Mekong River — also known as the Lancang River — for the whole year with the rest of the Mekong countries. This is a welcome change for the downstream Asean countries, particularly after a historic drought crisis in 2019 where the water levels in the Mekong River fell to their lowest in more than 100 years.  https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1994067/asean-needs-to-act-on-mekong-river   (30 Sept. 2020)  

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Rights of rivers International Rivers, the Earth Law Center and the Vance Center are excited to announce the release of a new report Rights of Rivers: A global survey on the rapidly developing Rights of Nature jurisprudence pertaining to rivers.  https://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/reports-and-publications/rights-of-river-report/

Together with the release of the report, we’ve also launched an initiative and global campaign for support and sign-on: the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Rivers. https://www.rightsofrivers.org/?fbclid=IwAR0-OGGZcSipzB9pPnEJ04cU03cH1fYn3qdyE6UjJWNP40yKnA9T576DxdY

USA A Dam Comes Down and Tribes, Cities, Salmon , Orcas Could All Benefit About the long fight to remove the Nooksack Dam near Bellingham, Washington. https://therevelator.org/nooksack-dam-removal/  (14 July 2020)

Uganda Lawmakers reject plan for Murchison Falls hydropower dam Conservationists in Uganda have hailed a bipartisan decision to reject the government’s plan to construct a hydro-power dam at the country’s biggest tourist attraction. Lawmakers unanimously adopted a report by the 28 member parliamentary committee on environment on Thursday, rejecting the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development proposal to build a 360MW at Uhuru Falls on Murchison Falls national park.  https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/sep/25/ugandan-government-rejects-plan-for-murchison-falls-hydropower-dam  (25 Sept. 2020)

UK ‘Total failure’ on English river water quality All of the rivers, lakes and streams in England are polluted, says the Environment Agency. The figures reveal a complete lack of progress towards the target of 100% healthy waters by 2027. The most problematic pollutants are chemical sewage discharge, farming, and industrial chemicals.

In 2016, when figures were last published, 16% of waters were classed as good. In fact, water quality hasn’t deteriorated since then – but it hasn’t improved as promised. The figures appear to have got worse because stricter tests brought in by the EU have shown up levels of long-banned pollutants such as PCB in the tissues of living organisms. The Environment Agency said rivers were in a much better state than in the 1990s when water treatment works often discharged foul water into rivers.  https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54195182  (17 Sept. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 28 Sept. 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 21 Sept. 2020

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

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