DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 19 Oct 2020: India Rivers Week 2020: IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS?

India Rivers Week (IRW) Organising Committee is excited to announce that the theme of the forthcoming annual event IRW 2020 will be: “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?”. As part of IRW-2020, India Rivers Forum is organizing a series of Dialogues (digitally). This includes four regional dialogues focusing on North (Oct 31), South (Nov 7), West (Nov 12) and East (including North East: Nov 21)) India, and the final one (Nov 28) focusing on Sand Mining as a National issue.

Sand mining or mining of River Bed Material (RBM, including sand, gravel, boulders) has a huge impact on Rivers, in multiple ways: physical, ecological, livelihood impacts among others. While sand is also sourced from sources other than rivers, IRW 2020 will focus on sand sourced directly or indirectly from rivers. Sand is by definition, a key ingredient of the rivers. It provides habitat for multiple species of the biodiversity in the river. It provides both sub surface storage space and a mechanism to recharge the groundwater. The sand, along with silt, clay, pebbles and boulders are part of the river and are supposed to reach the deltas and provide a key existential medium in floodplain and deltas. To achieve that, sustaining river connectivities is very important.

There are structural issues involved with sand in the river, including river bed & river banks stability and even the safety of structures like bridges, flyovers, aqueducts and river bank constructions. IRW 2020 aims to bring out a report of the state of river sand mining in India, along with recommendations for future. This exercise has already started in the form of regional report creation and will continue into the dialogues. Our regional dialogues will include two parts: 1. A presentation of the regional report. 2. A panel discussion with representatives from government, law-judiciary, civil society, media, academy-science and user groups.

To join, please register at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfrgNr6Tb5BUbbmrX9BGI8xwXrhBQGsfRH9hK-paCariGyMQg/viewformhttps://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3892565787437732

SAND MINING

Himachal Pradesh FAC allows riverbed mining in Yamuna with conditions – Proposal for use of 54.668 ha. of forest land for extraction of sand, stone and bajri from bed of river Yamuna mining project by Randeep Singh, Mauza and Mohal Bhagani, Dist Sirmour, in Paonta Forest Division: Recommended FC on a number of conditions, including: “Extraction of minor mineral shall be carried out manually. Further, heavy vehicle and heavy machineries shall not be used for extraction and transportation of sand, stone and Bajri from the river bed.” http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/1011121217121111515_1602477057983.pdf 

Uttar Pradesh Mafia’s son among 3 held for illegal mining along Yamuna Three people allegedly involved in illegal sand mining along the Yamuna river were arrested in Greater Noida on Oct. 15, police said. The accused persons worked for mining mafia Sanjay Momnathan and include his son also, the police said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/mafia-s-son-among-three-held-for-illegal-sand-mining-along-yamuna/story-9xoHNlzpprGd2fwzHgO91J.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

Haryana Yamuna facing illegal mining in upper segment The only living river and lifeline of Haryana state has been facing large scale unscientific, mechanized riverbed mineral mining for past three years supported and promoted by government itself. The basin has been rainfall deficit for past two years by 33% in 2019 and by 29% in 2020 southwest monsoon season, thus hampering of replenishments of minerals to great extent. If this keeps going unabated soon there would be severe water crisis as the extensive mining has started lowering the groundwater table in adjoining areas apart from destruction of riverine biodiversity. The government must stop all the mining leases and must conduct a credible impact assessment and replenishment study before allowing riverbed mining.

This is drone shoot video report by Manoj Thakur Yamuna Nagar showing the extent of riverbed mining there.  https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=663954934551040&ref=watch_permalink (2 Oct 2020)

The second part of the report https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=825340658229725  (07 Oct. 2020)

Video report on illegal mining in Yamuna river in Yamuna Nagar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUe-wsBaY18&feature=youtu.be  (14 Oct. 2020)

Second video report on the issue also covers Panipat. It mentions how sand pits are killing children there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9FxT6reLAw&feature=youtu.be  (15 Oct. 2020)

This report says overloading and illegal mining has been damaging the embankment and creating accident threats for locals apart from causing air pollution in the area. The administration has been made aware but actions are lacking.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOl_iO5HqSw&feature=youtu.be  (14 Oct. 2020)

On Oct. 15-16, a NGT team has reportedly visited the mining affected area in Panipat-Shamli following complaints by Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandli.

Villagers flag fresh mining violations across Yamuna Residents of Yamunanagar’s Kanalsi village said that mining contractors are constructing illegal bunds across the Yamuna, in blatant violation of environmental norms, so as to reach the riverbed to carry out sand excavation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/locals-in-haryana-s-kanalsi-village-flag-fresh-mining-violations-across-yamuna/story-IR4R5DsHXxruLrvMw7tx4K.html  (11 Oct. 2020)

To conduct verification of sites of all operational mines in Yamunanagar district, DC Mukul Kumar, on Oct 9, 2020, formed a team in view of the orders dated September 30, 2020, issued by the Appellate Authority Haryana under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/green-activists-flag-over-exploitation-of-yamuna-riverbed/articleshow/78582877.cms  (10 Oct. 2020)

The upper Yamuna basin has been monsoon deficit by -33% in 2019 and by -29% in 2020. The river has been already extensively mined and the exploited reserve has not been replenished. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Yamuna-activists-irked-due-to-alleged-exploitation-of-natural-resources-from-monsoon-deficit-river/articleshow/78572731.cms (9 Oct 2020)

A video report. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/city/chandigarh/exploitation-of-natural-resources-from-yamuna-river-continues-in-haryanas-yamunanagar-complaint-filed/videoshow/78576405.cms  (9 Oct. 2020)

अब यमुना की जलधारा को फिर से प्रभावित किए जाने की सूचनाओं के बाद सिंचाई विभाग के अधिकारियों ने यमुना के इलाकों का दौरा किया। उन्होंने पाया कि माइनिंग कंपनियों के कर्मचारियों ने फिर से यह प्रयास किया है। इस संबंध में सिंचाई विभाग ने एक मुकदमा दर्ज करवाया है। https://www.dainiktribuneonline.com/news/haryana/try-to-change-yamuna39s-stream-again-10372https://haryana.punjabkesari.in/yamunanagar/news/tweeted-to-cm-and-deputy-commissioner-about-illegal-mining-in-yamuna-1257868 (09 Oct. 2020)

Punjab File status report on ‘illegal mining’: HC asks govt Digging deep into the issue of illegal mining in riverbeds, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab to file a status report on preventive steps undertaken. The state counsel, during the course of hearing, submitted that reply to the contentions raised in the petition was ready and would be filed within a week. The case will now come up for further hearing on November 3.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/file-status-report-on-illegal-mining-punjab-and-haryana-high-court-155416  (14 Oct. 2020)

Tamil Nadu Flamingos missing visit to Perungulam tank due to illegal sand mining Rampant illegal mining at Perungulam tank has forced flamingos to move away, say birdwatchers, who counted none during this year’s bird survey. The activists also objected to TANGEDCO’s high tension towers coming up in the middle of the tank stating that it poses a threat to winged visitors.

Perungulam is the last of the 15 tanks fed by the Maruthur East canal (Keezhakal) and is one of the largest tanks in the Thamirabarani system, spread over 883 acres. Pearl City Nature Society Secretary J Thomas Mathibalan said, “Between August and October, the irrigation tanks in the lower riparian of the Thamirabarani river witness low waters which are suitable for the birds to find food.”

“I did not see any flamingos this year. In the last two years, the flamingos stopped coming in August itself as the tank had turned dry much earlier because of the drought and were not recorded in the mid-September surveys. However, the tank had a small quantity of water till now, but still flamingos had not arrived,” Mathibalan said.

Another birdwatcher Sakthi Manickam also said he did not sight any flamingo at Perungulam this year. The birdwatchers suspected illegal sand mining, which has left the tank with a number of pits more than 10 feet deep, made it unsuitable for birds. “The miners had dug deep where river sand and red soil are available,” said activist Manickam of Sivagalai. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/oct/17/flamingos-give-a-miss-to-tns-perungulam-tank-birdwatchers-blame-illegal-sand-mining-2211531.html  (17 Oct. 2020)

Policy meet on M sand in November With rising complaints on the unregulated sale of sub-standard M-sand, the Public Works Department (PWD) will convene a meeting with stakeholders on an M-sand policy in November. The policy, which will have a legal framework for production and sale, is expected to be implemented early next year. The meeting will be held with representatives of government agencies like the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Department of Mining, and manufacturing units and lorry owners’ associations.

-PWD officials said the meeting would discuss various aspects of M-sand production, transport and sales and incorporate more guidelines into the policy under consideration. The decision follows a representation from the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Federation on Wednesday for measures against unauthorised manufacturing units, sale of poor quality M-sand and seizure of vehicles for overloading. On an average, 33,000 loads of M-sand is being transported daily.

-Federation president Sella. Rajamani said 200-300 units were functioning in the State without government approval. There was no check on indiscriminate quarrying and transport of M-sand to other States, and this would lead to the disappearance of hillocks, he said. “Vehicles are overloaded with M-sand and additional units of sand are not billed. But vehicles are seized and fined instead of manufacturing units or clients,” he said.

-The Federation has also sought regulation of the M-sand cost and a separate enforcement wing to curb over-exploitation of mineral resources. At present, 270 M-sand manufacturing units have sought the PWD’s quality approval, and 40 applications are being processed. Nearly 1,070 units have sought consent from the TNPCB to operate across the State.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/policy-meet-on-m-sand-in-november/article32865969.ece  (16 Oct. 2020) 

Protest organised against illegal mining in Tiruvallur The members of the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners’ Federation held a demonstration on Oct. 12 near the Tiruvallur Collectorate seeking measures against illegal sand extraction and transportation in the district. As there were not enough river sand quarries in the neighbouring districts of Chennai, sand was being illegally extracted from waterbodies and waterways and transported for cheaper rates, they said. Though several complaints had been made over the past two years, stringent action was yet to be initiated to control the practice, the members said.

The federation’s president S. Yuvaraj said though M-sand was largely being used for construction projects, demand for river sand continued to be robust. Sand was illegally extracted and also adulterated to be sold for a cheaper rate. On an average, nearly 400-500 loads of sand were illegally transported to the city, he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/protest-organised-against-illegal-sand-mining-in-tiruvallur/article32838866.ece  (13 Oct. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Sikkim Lepcha tribe vows to stall hydropower project in their holy land  People of Sikkim Ready to fight the unviable Teesta IV project on Teesta River with huge disaster potential. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sikkim-s-lepcha-tribe-vows-to-stall-hydropower-project-in-their-holy-land/story-2WI8qE5RbcRNZ4Hdr7FEMP.htm  (15 Oct. 2020)

Arunachal Pradesh Rain Snake: A discovery 15 years in the making  According to Das, the Smithophis arunachalensis is so rare that since its first collection in 1935, only five other specimens have been registered and multiple surveys in Lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh yielded only one sighting. “So little is known of the distribution and natural history of this species that it is currently likely to qualify as ‘Data Deficient’ based on criteria for the Red List of Threatened Species,” he said.

-The discovery also throws up another pertinent point. “The new species is found in Lower Dibang Valley and Changlang Districts in eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The localities are at the downstream of Proposed Etalin Hydropower Project,” said Das. The contentious hydroelectric power project has sparked concerns from environmentalists ever since it was proposed. Veerapan added that such dams have the potential to “submerge the safe haven that many endemic species, including the Smithophis arunachalensis, inhabit.”  https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/arunachal-pradesh/the-arunachal-rain-snake-a-discovery-15-years-in-the-making-6741797/  (16 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand  99Mw Singoli-Bhatwari HEP norms violations: HC gives 3 weeks times to MoEF, Jal Shakti, state govt to reply The PIL alleges that environment clearance, which was issued for ten years and then extended by another three, expired on August 24, 2020, and as such, any construction beyond that was a violation of the norms. “Also, the project had to start its commercial operation in March 2020 but that also didn’t happen. The fish ladders which allow movement of fish were not constructed despite the same being part of the agreement with Uttarakhand government,” Veer Pundir, counsel of the petitioner said.

-The PIL alleged that the hydroelectric project is “being constructed without an environment clearance”, adding, “change in scope (design parameters of the project due to 2013 floods) beyond the approved environment clearance and techno-economic concurrence issued earlier (in 2008 by Central Electricity Authority) with respect to old project which has not been implemented… and now in the garb of earlier environment clearance and techno-economic concurrence, respondents are continuing with the changed project which is not permissible as per law.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/rudraprayag-hydel-project-pil-uttarakhand-hc-issues-notices-to-moef-jal-shakti-state-govt/story-9ndgqPxdIJxUa9i2lUEjfI.html  (13 Oct. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Lt Governors takes meeting with NHPC regarding hydropower projects in J&K.  http://www.knskashmir.com/Lt-Governor-takes-a-comprehensive-review-of-the-various-NHPC-projects-in-JandK-53042  (11 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Notice to Tata Power for failing to jumpstart hydro, thermal plants For Mumbai power failure on Oct 12, Tata power is being blamed for not starting its hydro and thermal power plants quickly. MSETCL says hydro can be restarted in ten minutes, but Tata took  hours. Tata blames MSETCL transmission line failure. An inquiry is on. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/notice-to-tata-power-for-failing-to-jumpstart-hydro-thermal-plants/78713316  (17 Oct. 2020) 

DAMS

Haryana WII red flags irrigation dams in Kalesar forest: ‘will impact biodiversity’ The wildlife institute of India (WII), Dehradun, has recommended relocating two of the six earthen dams proposed to be constructed in Kalesar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (KNP&S) to outside the forest area. The WII also observed that the construction of four other dams would affect flow of water and thereby impact terrestrial as well as aquatic biodiversity of the forest reserve.

The dams, recommended to be shifted out of KNP&S, include Ambawali Dam on Ambawali Khol and Chikan Dam on Chikan Khol. The other four dams include Nagli Dam on Nagli Khol, Darpur Dam on Palasi Khol, Kansli Dam on Kansli Khol, and Khillanwalla Dam on Khillanwalla Khol. Spread over 26,000 acres, KNP&S in Yamunanagar and shares boundaries with Himachal and Uttarakhand.

The Haryana Irrigation and Water Resources Department had proposed construction of the six dams at a cost of Rs 125 crore on the tributaries of Pathrala river, which further meets Somb river before finally merging into Yamuna. The dams, including three big-sized structures, were proposed to help improve the underground water level and providing water for irrigation in the region. The State Board for Wildlife (SBW), headed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, had cleared the proposal in August. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/wii-red-flags-irrigation-dams-in-kalesar-forest-will-impact-biodiversity-6758247/  (17 Oct. 2020)

MoEF FAC meeting on Sept 21, 2020, Minutes now available, key decisions: 275.16 ha (211.06 ha protected forest + 64.10 ha. PLPA area) excluding de-listed area (58.75 ha) out of 333.91 ha of forest land for construction Reservoir of Shahpur Kandi Dam Project in Tehsil – Dhar Kalan under Forest Division and Distt. Pathankot in Punjab. APPROVED.  http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/1011121217121111515_1602477057983.pdf 

Media report on this “Being a national project and considering its high significance, FAC decided to accept the justification of the State Government in identifying few compensatory afforestation (CA) patches each of which is less than 5 hectare,” noted the panel. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/oct/13/centre-relaxes-norms-for-dam-that-will-cut-water-flow-to-pakistan-2209687.html  (13 Oct. 2020)

NBA नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन में अंतिम दम तक लड़ते रहे ‘काका’  यह मौखिक इतिहास का वह पन्ना है, जिससे किसी आंदोलन की जरुरत और उसके सामाजिक नायकों की दिशा पता चलती है।    https://www.downtoearth.org.in/hindistory/river/dam/jagannath-kaka-continued-fighting-till-the-last-mile-in-the-narmada-bachao-andolan-73737  (09 Oct. 2020)

Tamil Nadu Work on restoration of Veedur dam begins The Veedur dam (commissioned in 1959) is located at the confluence point of the Varaha and Thondi Rivers and irrigates about 2,200 acres in Villupuram district and 1,000 acres in Puducherry. The canal system comprises 17.6 km, of which 16.3 km passes through Tamil Nadu and 1.3 km through Puducherry. Rs 43 Cr is sanctioned for the restoration of the dam.

– Dam has 605 Mcft storage capacity, of which preliminary survey said 105 Mcft was silted. Now drone survey is launched to be completed in a week. It would map the gradient, dam profile, contour level, accumulation of silt and the storage capacity of the dam. The desilting work to be completed in 1.5 hrs. The removed silt would be deposited in the foreshore bunds to a distance of 6 km to prevent encroachments and flooding on the other side. The PWD will also be carrying out long-pending improvement work such as repair of shutters, strengthening of bunds and repairing branch channels.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/work-on-restoration-of-veedur-dam-begins/article32832282.ece  (12 Oct. 2020)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Mahadayi dispute Goa accusing Karnataka of clandestinely diverting Mhadei river -Photographs from Surla, the last frontier of Goa located at an elevation of 800 metres on a small plateau atop the Western Ghats site show that Karnataka has completed the digging of trenches and now water that would otherwise flow through the Mhadei now flow eastwards and into the east flowing Malaprabha river in Karnataka rather than westwards into Goa from the point of diversion. “They (Karnataka) have been doing work of building canals earlier too, but water has not been diverted like it has been this year,” Kerkar said.

-Three streams — the Kalasa, Bhandura and Haltara and make up the source of the River Mahadayi in Karnataka that flows into Goa as the River Mandovi meets the sea at the state capital Panaji. The Bhandura stream, the biggest of the three originates at a village in Degaon in Karnataka along with the Kalasa stream and the two along with other smaller streams meet to form the Mahadayi which then flows into Goa. The Haltara also begins in Karnataka but takes another route flowing through Maharashtra and into Goa meeting the river further downstream in Goa. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/why-goa-is-accusing-karnataka-of-clandestinely-diverting-the-mhadei-river/story-MAyRgyTkLAJqskUnGx9aPL.html  (08 Oct. 2020)

Mullaperiyar Dam  Experts urge Kerala govt to approach SC for expediting construction of new dam at Mullaperiyar Former Kerala Water Resources Minister NK Premachandran, a current Member of Parliament, has demanded that the state government frame a case in the Supreme Court on the basis of the floods that occurred in the state in 2018, and utilise the provisions of the The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 to convince the apex court of the safety concerns regarding the Mullaperiyar dam.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/experts-urge-kerala-govt-approach-sc-expediting-construction-new-dam-mullaperiyar-135180  (12 Oct. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

RIVERS

Rajasthan Ravine lands along Chambal river to be revived via NREGA State’s rural development department has decided to revive degraded lands along the 390km stretch of Chambal river, as a part of ravines reclamation project, through MGNREGA. The project will be launched soon in collaboration with forest and other departments. Eight districts — Baran, Bharatpur, Bundi, Dholpur, Karauli, Kota, Sawai Madhopur and Tonk — will be covered under the ravine reclamation project. Around 6.49 lakh hectare land along the Chambal river stretch is degraded.

-A presentation on ravines land reclamation by the rural development and panchayati raj department focuses on ensuring protection of table land along the ravine areas by arresting the process of gully head extension and reclaiming degraded lands to their optimum production levels.

-The project also emphasises on restoring ecological balance aligned with synergistic community, increasing vegetative cover, enhancing subsurface water storage and strengthening livelihood support systems. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/degraded-lands-along-390km-stretch-of-chambal-river-to-be-revived-via-nrega/articleshow/78596430.cms  (11 Oct. 2020)

Odisha Villagers dig Rushikulya river mouth Fed up with the apathy of the administration towards their plight, residents of four coastal villages in Ganjam block on Oct. 14, 2020 dug up the mouth of Rushikulya river near Potagarh to create an outlet for water which caused flooding in the area after rains.

-The locals said the river mouth was not desilted despite repeated reminders to the district administration. With no outlet for release of excess water, flooding had become a regular phenomenon in Purunabandha, Palibandha, Potagarh and Nuagaon villages in the block. The villages had been waterlogged for four days after heavy rains lashed the area recently. The villagers had used a JCB to dig up the river mouth. Rabindra Sahu of Purunabandha said the channel to the river mouth was diverted after cyclone Titli.

-Due to dumping of waste at the river mouth, flow of water to the sea was restricted. He said if the river mouth remains free of blockage, it will help in movement of inland and marine fish and crabs. This will help the fishermen in the area. Locals said the administration must come up with a plan to ensure that the mouth of Rushikulya river is desilted regularly to prevent waterlogging in the area. Earlier, residents of Ramayapatna village in Chikiti block had cleared the mouth of Bahuda river on their own. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/oct/16/villagers-dig-river-mouth-to-release-floodwater-inodisha-2210991.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

Govari river mouth to be dredged for smooth navigation The Drainage division of Department of Water Resources in July 2019 had announced to start dredging of the Govari river mouth in the district at a cost of around Rs 30 crore. The Chief Engineer of Drainage division of Cuttack Manoj Patra along with other officials had inspected the 12 km long Govari river mouth from Jamboo to Hukitola. The move was aimed at sprucing up the river bed and to facilitate movement of fishing vessels and tourist boats to the famous Hukitola island, said Executive Engineer of Drainage division, Marsaghai Tusharkanti Mohapatra. They found that the water level at the river mount was inadequate for operating fishing vessels and tourist boats, said Mohapatra. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2019/jul/02/odishas-govari-river-mouth-to-be-dredged-for-smooth-navigation-1998294.html  (02 July 2019)

GANGA Uttarakhand Chardham panel meets without chairman’s nod Ravi Chopra, chairperson of the HPC on Friday (Oct. 15) wrote to Ravinath Raman, the newly appointed member secretary of the committee stating, “… you cannot call any meeting of the HPC without the concurrence of the Chair… As a Member Secretary, you are accountable for the HPC which is an independent body created by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and answerable to the Hon’ble Court only. You have no authority to impose any other’s directions for its functioning… As you have mentioned in your notice that you are calling this meeting ‘as per the directions of the Chief Secretary’ is highly objectionable and a direct infringement in the functioning of the HPC.” A copy of the letter is with HT.

-The letter further mentions, “As Member Secretary your duty is to carry out the orders of the Supreme Court and not the Chief Secretary. I have not agreed to your calling the meeting tomorrow (October 17, 2020). The said meeting has no locus. It is without any authority. I request you to withdraw the notice forthwith so that the functioning of the HPC can continue as per Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions.”

-On October 15, a letter was issued by Om Prakash, chief secretary of Uttarakhand stating that Raman was appointed as the member secretary of the HPC. The letter mentioned that in the past few months since no meetings were held, the workings of HPC is being hampered and therefore, the newly appointed member secretary should ensure that a meeting of the HPC is conducted within two days. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/char-dham-panel-meets-without-chairman-s-nod/story-2IbRqceCdZJlvTVTo5DbNN.html  (18 Oct. 2020)

Hindi report on, Chief Secy directs calling of meeting, Chair objects, boycotts. Govt is in contempt of court?  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3905822186112092 

The chairman had on Oct. 5 written a letter to the Supreme Court secretary general alleging violation of the SC order and reiterating that the road ministry must build only an intermediate lane (5.5 metre) throughout the stretch.

Chopra had said “intermediate lane of 5.5 metre alone should be followed” throughout the Chardham route and where excess hill cutting has been done mitigation measures like planting trees be done to protect the Himalayan terrain and a footpath be provided for the “padyatris” and the local people as recommended by the HPC. The HPC chairman has also written that the road transport ministry has informed him that suspending hill cutting for the stretch for which works has been awarded could lead to contractual disputes “in the absence of direction from a fully functional HPC”. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Chardham-panel-chiefs-letter-to-SC-puts-road-ministry-and-Uttarakhand-govt-in-a-fix/articleshow/78671165.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

Centre rejects Govt’s plan for use of Rajaji Park for Kumbh Refusing to list it to be taken up for discussion by the FAC members, it pointed out that Rajaji National Park is a tiger reserve with a significant population of tigers and its use for non-forest purposes is in clear violation of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. However, the Ministry returned the proposal. It said that the current laws do not permit such diversion of forest areas for non-forest purposes. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/page1/centre-rejects-u—khand-govt—s-plan-for-use-of-rajaji-park-for-kumbh.html  (19 Oct. 2020)

MoWR claims Ganga is among the top ten cleanest long rivers in the world LOT OF NEWS here. Possibly there were just ten rivers in his list of long rivers of the world? Union Water Resources Minister says: “I can say with pride that from the source to Haridwar, there is not even a drop of sewage discharge into the river. All the 4,600 villages along its path have been declared clean villages that have sewage treatment plants.”  https://www.theweek.in/theweek/cover/2020/10/15/ganga-is-among-the-top-ten-cleanest-long-rivers-in-the-world.html  (15 Oct. 2020)

YAMUNA Haryana Dhuman Singh appointed VC Sarasvati Heritage Development Board In a talk with media, Dhuman said that he will “bring Saraswati river on the surface”, the promise which is being made with the people of this region especially the purohits of Saraswati Tirtha in Pehowa, from the past two decades by the political parties.

If we go in the past of Saraswati river’s revival, apart from BJP government constituting HSHDB vide notification no. 1/13-2015-1PP dated October 12, 2015, even the Congress government during its tenure between 2005 to 2014 had laid pipes to bring water to Saraswati from Bhakhra Canal from Jhansa to Pehowa.

But the purohits still await water at the Saraswati Tirtha Ghat in Pehowa and the water is being supplied to the shrine from Public Health Department’s supply. A purohit requesting anonymity in Pehowa said, “The promises are being made for a long time, but the water at Saraswati Tirtha is still an issue. Moreover, they have developed Saraswati river base at the shrine with concrete while it should be kutcha (raw).”

On February 6, 2019, during the four-day International Saraswati Mahotsava at Pehowa, the then HSHDB vice-chairman Prashant Bhardwaj had said that the board has chalked out about Rs 100 crore project to boost Saraswati tourism.

KDB honorary secretary Madan Mohan Chhabra said, “The Haryana government has worked to identify the source of water into Saraswati river under an integrated plan of HSHDB. The project of laying downpipes from Bhakhra canal in the past government was not feasible as per ground reality as it was not the actual source. With the efforts of the HSHDB, and involvement of the Union government, a dam ‘Adi Badri Dam’ has been approved above Adi Badri in Yamunanagar area on Somb river and an agreement is being done with the Himachal Pradesh (HP) government.”

As per version of HSHDB on its official website, “The ground inspection of dam has been done by NIH (National Institute of Hydrology) Roorkee, GSI (Geology Survey of India) and Central Ground Water Board. NOC (No Objection Certificate) from HP Government and other necessary NOCs including NGT, Forest & Environmental Clearance, has been obtained. The Central Water Commission is working on the designing part of the dam. The storage in the Dam Reservoir in HP will be about 331.31 hectare-meters. After completion of this project the storage capacity of the Sarasvati Reservoir at village Rampur Herian, Rampur Kambian and Chillaur in Haryana area also will be increased from 1000 hectare-meters to 1475 hectare-meters.”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/will-bring-sarasvati-river-on-surface-says-dhuman-after-becoming-vice-chairman-of-haryana-sarasvati-heritage-development-board/articleshow/78732807.cms  (18 Oct. 2020)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Maharashtra New freshwater fish discovered in Sindhudurg Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of the Schistura – a freshwater loach –from the Sahyadris (western ghats) in Maharashtra. The Schistura are tiny and colourful fish species which inhabit streams and water that is rich in oxygen. Species that spend most of their life in either freshwater inland areas or brackish estuaries are known as freshwater fish species.

The fish was named as ‘Schistura hiranyakeshi’ after the river Hiranyakeshi which originates in the Sindhudurg district. “As we collected the specimens from 2017, we found that the fish did not have any official scientific name, and hence we worked on it for providing an official description. We compared our newly-found loach with other species of Schistura from the Indian subcontinent and confirmed it to be new. Hiranykeshi in Sanskrit means ‘golden hair’ which also symbolises the golden yellow fin colour on the fish. This is one of the prettiest loaches ever discovered from India,” said Praveenraj. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/new-freshwater-fish-discovered-from-western-ghats-in-maharashtra-s-sindhudurg-district/story-8LNQx506ylGFaUr3yh7eRJ.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

Commentary Tilapia: How an invasive fish came to dominate our ecology, food and psyche Tilapia are among several fish species belonging to the family Cichlidae, native to Africa and the Middle East. Their ability to adapt to a wide variety of conditions, their omnivorous food habits and their popularity in the aquaculture sector have resulted in tilapias being introduced to several parts of the world.

The Mozambique and the Nile tilapia were introduced into India to boost food security. However, through both accident and intentional release, the species have established themselves through large sections of the country’s waterways, making their way into biodiversity hotspots as well.

Creating a market for an invasive species like the tilapia, if not done with a clear understanding about their threat to local ecosystems and reasons for their eradication, can have serious consequences for natural ecosystems and ecosystem services. On the eve of the World Food Day (October 16), Aaron Savio Lobo examines the complex issues around tilapia in this commentary. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/commentary-tilapia-how-an-invasive-fish-came-to-dominate-our-ecology-food-and-psyche/  (15 Oct. 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Kerala Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, 2010, to be amended The Kerala Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, 2010, will be amended so as to enable conservation of species, scientific breeding, and a sustainable livelihood for the fishing community. The proposed amendments also seek to introduce better control over ornamental fisheries, and fish species introduced into the State. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-inland-fisheries-and-aquaculture-act-2010-to-be-amended/article32854434.ece  (14 Oct. 2020)

West Bengal Swarup Bhattacharyya continues to stun us with his scale models of boats of Bengal.  https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/embedded-posts/ 

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Maharashtra Greens urge govt to declare Panje as bird sanctuary Following recent developments at the bird-rich Panje wetland in Uran, wherein an earth excavator machine was noticed by nature lovers at the site, the city greens have shot an urgent letter to the state authorities seeking to declare Panje as a bird sanctuary and save it from further destruction.

-“Earlier this week, some suspicious activities have been going on at Panje, which threaten to further degrade the 89 hectares of the wetland. Some bird watchers who wanted to do nature photography were stopped from entering inside the site; a huge earth excavator machine was also seen there,” said BN Kumar of NatConnect Foundation.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/greens-urge-maharashtra-govt-to-declare-panje-as-bird-sanctuary/articleshow/78685963.cms   (15 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand Asan Conservation Reserve becomes first Ramsar site -Manju Pandey, joint secretary in the environment ministry, also confirmed the development and said that Asan Conservation Reserve has become Uttarakhand’s first Ramsar site. “Asan Conservation Reserve cleared five out of the nine criteria needed to be declared as a Ramsar site and get identified as a Wetland of International Importance,” said Pandey. It cleared the category on species and ecological communities, one on water-birds and another on fish.

-Deep Chandra Arya, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Chakrata forest division, which is home to Asan Conservation Reserve, said, “The certificate was given on July 21, 2020 by the Secretary General, Convention on Wetlands but it was officially announced by the union environment ministry on Thursday (Oct. 15) as certain queries had been pending and were being fulfilled.”

-Spread across 4.44 sq km area in Dehradun district on the banks of Yamuna river, Asan receives about 40 migratory species, including Rudy Shelduck, Common coot, Gadwall, Kingfisher, Indian cormorant, Baer’s pochard, Northern pintail, Bar-headed goose. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/asan-conservation-reserve-becomes-uttarakhand-s-first-ramsar-site/story-cDnNE6eCzPYTLvbGr3zk7N.html   (15 Oct. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Uttar Pradesh Engineer found his calling in conserving wetlands  As urbanisation and modern structures have taken over Greater Noida, wetlands are being encroached upon and deteriorating. Ramveer Tanwar, an engineer who gave up a cushy job to work on reviving wetlands in his home region, has revived atleast 20 ponds and lakes in Noida and Greater Noida region. His work has brought the spotlight on important wetlands like the Surajpur wetland in rapidly urbanising Gautam Buddha Nagar which has now caught the district administration’s attention too. Reviving wetlands, specially urban wetlands, is an important step towards water security. Drying up of waterbodies can worsen the water crisis and with vanishing wetlands, the allied biodiversity could disappear too.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/how-an-engineer-found-his-calling-in-conserving-wetlands/  (14 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand Barefoot hydro-geologists bringing dying Himalayan springs back to life 

A new approach to replenishing groundwater is addressing reduced water availability and deterioration of water quality in natural Himalayan springs.  https://scroll.in/video/976027/eco-india-meet-the-barefoot-hydro-geologists-bringing-dying-himalayan-springs-back-to-life  (18 Oct. 2020)

GROUNDWATER

NGT notice to Centre on plea for quashing notification on groundwater extraction -The NGT on Tuesday (Oct. 13) issued notice to the Centre and the CPCB on a plea seeking quashing of a notification on groundwater extraction on the grounds that its commercial use was adversely affecting the flow of rivers and availability of drinking water in the country.

-A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) was repeatedly issuing notification liberalising ground water extraction in water scarcity areas in spite of the need for stringent action, contrary to the very purpose for which it was setup. There was no effective mechanism to check violation by recovery of adequate compensation which was laid down by this tribunal based on expert studies, it said.

-“We find that the impugned order is statutorily appealable under Section 16 (g) of the NGT Act, 2010. Thus, instead of an application, proper remedy of the appellant is an appeal. We direct conversion of the application to Appeal. “The Registry may accordingly register the matter as Appeal. We are of the view that there are arguable points which are raised in the appeal which will require reconsideration. The appeal is admitted. Issue notice to the Ministry of Jal Shakti,” said the Bench. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/ngt-notice-to-centre-on-plea-for-quashing-notification-on-groundwater-extraction-155144  (12 Oct. 2020)

Haryana Groundwater levels plunge in southwest With the advent of borewells and pumps, people in southwest Haryana are digging deeper to access water. The region has one of the country’s worst cases of groundwater depletion. https://en.gaonconnection.com/a-sinking-feeling-the-seemingly-endless-supply-of-water-may-soon-end-in-southwest-haryana-as-groundwater-levels-hit-rock-bottom/  (16 Oct. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Chennai City to get fourth desalination plant Chennai Metro Water has started looking for international bidders to build the 400 MLD (million litres a day) capacity sea water reverse osmosis desalination plant at Perur along the East Coast Road in Thiruporur block of Kancheepuram district. Metro Water is also looking to use recycled water for recharging water bodies from where it will be used for drinking water purposes and is awaiting funds from the World Bank. The bids have been called after the state government accorded administrative sanction to establish a 400 MLD desalination plant for Rs 6,078.40 crore.

-A top Chennai Metro Water official told The New Indian Express that the 400 MLD desalination plant which is likely to be operational by 2024 could reduce the water stress immensely. The addition of the newly added areas has increased the demand to an estimated 1100 MLD of piped supply of water but currently Chennai Metro Water is struggling to supply 831 MLD of water to the city. Currently, the newly added areas are totally dependent on overhead tanks supplied by Metro Water as well as the ground water which dries up during the summer.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/oct/14/chennai-to-get-fourth-desalination-plant-city-reservoirs-have-enough-water-to-last-till-summer-2210137.html  (14 Oct. 2020)

Pune Residents claim torment by water tanker mafia Even as it pours outside, as many as 700 residents inside Marvel Fria in Wagholi have ironically been deprived of a necessity as basic as water since Oct. 15. Shockingly, this is after the former water tanker supplier to the society allegedly damaged their pipelines over a tussle with the builder of the complex, Marvel Realtors, concerning non-payment of dues.

The society, comprising 13 buildings, was formed in July and taken over by the residents since. At this point, the society management brought in a new vendor to supply water — but this allegedly did not sit well with previous vendor Satpal Satav Patil, who is reportedly creating trouble over the shift and has been dubbed by many involved as part of the infamous ‘water tanker mafia’.

Residents claimed that Patil not only damaged a pipeline that the society had connected to a nearby well for water supply, but also barred other vendors from providing water to them. They had spent around Rs 7 lakh to build the pipeline after society formation. As a whole, society members typically pay close to Rs 5 lakh per month on tanker water supply for drinking and domestic purposes. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/residents-of-wagholi-soc-claim-torment-by-water-tanker-mafia/articleshow/78708284.cms  (17 Oct. 2020)

Bengaluru Rain filled lake Houdini drained out too soon Residents of Basavanapura, Swatantra Nagar and other nearby areas noticed that about four feet of water had drained out of the lake spread across 28 acres. The residents suspect the negligence of the contractor who must have forgotten to remove or close a concrete pipe which was used to divert sewage water from the lake into a storm water drain. The contractor, they say, developed the pathway around the lake, without either removing the concrete pipe or closing it to prevent lake water going into the storm water drain.

-Expressing shock over the depletion of water from the lake, Thangavelu, a resident of Swatantra Nagar said, “No one inspected the lake when work was going on here. We cannot approach the lake engineer and give him suggestions. The authorities allocate funds but don’t bother to inspect the work to ensure quality,’’ said Thangavelu.

-The Basavanapura Lake was rejuvenated at a cost of Rs 5 crore. It was one of the most neglected lakes in KR Puram Assembly segment with garbage and debris on the lake bund.  Stating that Basavanapura Lake is not the first example of negligence by the BBMP lake engineers, Ramprasad, Co-Founder, Friends of Lakes, said similar incidents took place at Doddabidarakallu and Vidyaran yapura Lakes.  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/video-lake-houdini-the-lake-that-was-for-a-few-hours/articleshow/78629125.cms  (13 Oct. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Data-driven ‘water and agriculture’ planning  If data was better organized and available for download in more ‘user-friendly’ formats, its utilization would improve manifold.  https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/data-driven-water-and-agriculture-planning-big-picture  (15 Oct. 2020)

MONSOON 2020

La Niña Officially Declared In The Pacific La Niña is officially underway in the Pacific, as confirmed by the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). La Niña is expected to last right through to the first quarter of 2021, after which the La Niña in the Pacific region will gradually return to normal.  https://pipap.sprep.org/news/la-nina-officially-declared-pacific  (10 Oct. 2020)

IMD predicts intense cyclones, colder winter this year This year could see frequent and more intense cyclones over the Bay of Bengal during October-November and a relatively higher frequency of cold waves during winter season, India Meteorological Department chief M Mohapatra has said.

“We associate La Nina years with a higher frequency of intense cyclones over Bay of Bengal and colder winters. But many other factors influence the winter. A forecast will be issued in November for the winter months. But if we consider only the impact of La Nina then that is definitely linked to colder winters,” Mohapatra said in response to a query during a webinar organised by National Disaster Management Authority. La Nina conditions have already set in, he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/met-department-predicts-intense-cyclones-colder-winter-this-year/story-95So622pIEnus0b03mokaP.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

FLOOD 2020

Kerala Dam management plan holds the key This TOI report is entirely based on guest article by SP Ravi on SANDRP blog. Great to see this. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/dam-management-plan-holds-the-key/articleshow/78674890.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

Parineeta Dandekar’s article (Marathi) on flood forecasting in India.  https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-where-to-find-flood-forecasts-abn-97-2303735/  (17 Oct. 2020)

Idukki dam: KSEB mulls power sale  “To reduce the water level, KSEB is pondering over the option to sell the power. We can generate 10mu from Moolamattam power plant. But due to low demand, the production is only 4-5 mu per day now. If we get a proper purchase order and variable pay, KSEB will increase the power generation and reduce the water level in Idukki reservoir. The reality is that there is very low demand in the power sell market in the present condition,” said Rajan P, KSEB director (transmission, system operation & REES).

He added that as per the Met department rain predictions, presently there is no need to open the shutters of Idukki dam.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/idukki-dam-kseb-mulls-power-sale/articleshow/78637385.cms  (13 Oct. 2020)

Blue alert sounded at Idukki reservoir The blue alert level for the day as per the new rule curve level fixed by the central water commission was 2, 390.85ft. An orange alert will be issued before October 20 if the water level reaches 2396.85ft and a red alert will be issued if it reaches 2397.85ft. The shutters will be opened when the water level reaches 2398.85ft.

– Earlier, at a high-level meeting held by the KSEB officials on Oct 13, 2020 to discuss the power position, it was decided to increase the power generation at Moolamattam power plant to 10 MU (million Units) per day from current 5 MU to reduce the water level. It was decided to surrender the Central Pool share.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/blue-alert-sounded-at-idukki-reservoir/articleshow/78655863.cms  (14 Oct. 2020)

FLOODS IN TELANGANA, HYDERABAD, ANDHRA  

Dealing with a deluge: On Hyderabad floods The Hindu EDIT on Hyderabad flood and related rainfall event across the peninsular India: The monsoon storm that never became a cyclone, has managed to cross the east (Andhra Pradesh) and west coasts (north Karnataka and Maharashtra) of India. This is rare and a rain-related disaster event that is difficult to plan for… But the extent of the damage and the turmoil show a lack of preparation and disaster mitigation, a problem that plagues most urban centres in the country.

– Much of the damage was due to the overflowing of lakes — in particular, the Hussain Sagar Lake in the middle of the city and the breaching of storm water drains. Construction over lake beds and encroachments of drainage channels have been identified as problems that have exacerbated flooding and inundation in the city in the past (the deluge in August 2000, for example).

– Hyderabad urgently needs to expand and remodel its drainage system. Besides lakes and canals, wetlands and watersheds play a vital role in absorbing excess rainfall, but regrettably, rapid urbanisation in the twin cities has resulted in the loss of a large portion of the wetlands. An analysis in 2016 revealed that 3,245 hectares of water bodies were lost in Hyderabad between 1989 and 2001.  https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/dealing-with-a-deluge-the-hindu-editorial-on-hyderabad-floods/article32865504.ece  (16 Oct. 2020)

Kalwakurthy LIS pump house submerged The pump house of Mahatma Gandhi Kalwakurthy Lift Irrigation Scheme at Yellur village in Nagarkurnool district was submerged in the rising back waters of Srisailam reservoir. It happened within 20 minutes on Friday (Oct. 16) evening after the water gushed into the pump house area from the surge pool.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/kalwakurthy-lis-pump-house-submerged/article32876666.ece  (16 Oct. 2020)

May hit irrigation, drinking water needs The flooding of the pump house is likely to have a huge impact on farmers and people depending on its water for irrigation and drinking water needs.

“The impact of flooding of the pump house could be huge and it is going to be very difficult to resume pumping water from the facility in the immediate months as de-watering, and pumping out of flood water, is expected to take at least 25 days,” a source in the Irrigation department told The Hindu on Saturday (Oct. 17). https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/kalwakurthy-pump-house-flooding-may-hit-irrigation-drinking-water-needs/article32883372.ece  (16 Oct. 2020)

‘Failure of discharging valve joint might be cause..’ A team of higher officials from the Water Resources department and lift irrigation experts are studying the reasons behind the flooding of pump house at Yellur village in Nagarkurnool district on Saturday (Oct. 17). The pump house submerged from the gushing water from the surge pool on Oct 16, 2020 evening within 20 minutes after the pumps were turned on to fulfill the drinking needs under the Mission Bhagiratha Scheme. “The initial suspicion is on the possible failure of the discharging valve joint,” Engineer in Chief Water Resources Cheeti Muralidhar said.  https://telanganatoday.com/failure-of-discharging-valve-joint-might-be-cause-of-mgklis-pump-house-submergence  (17 Oct. 2020)

Officials breach Musi project bund In an unprecedented move, irrigation officials have breached the bund of Musi project near Rudhrapuram in a bid to save the medium irrigation project in Suryapet district. The authorities pressed into service earth moving equipment to effect the breach, as the inflows into the project continued unabated due to incessant rains for the last three days. Thirteen crest gates of the project were already lifted upto 20 feet to let out abouit 1.58 lakh cusecs. The decision to breach the bund was taken after inflows increased to 1.83 lakh cusecs in the early hours of Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020.

– With the intention breaching of the project bund, flood waters reached Tekumatla in Kethepally mandal in the district. Officials were kept on alert to move to 17 villages, which are located in low lying areas to take up required measures, if flood water reached them. Suryapet Collector asked people not go near to Musi river for the next two days. The water being let out through the breach at Rudhrapuram would again flow into the Musi river near Tekumatla by passing through agricultural fields. The officials also alerted the residents of several villages, which were located down area of the project.

– In the 57 years of history of Musi project located at Bopparam village of Kathepally mandal, its bund was first time breached by the officials of irrigation department to save the project in view of record levels of water inflow to the project due to heavy rains. The State government has taken up modernization of Musi project with Rs 65 crore in 2017 and installed new crest and regulatory gates in place of rusted ones in addition to strengthening the bund.  https://telanganatoday.com/officials-breach-musi-project-bund-to-control-heavy-inflow-of-water  (14 Oct. 2020)

Revoking GO on activity in catchment -With torrential rains filling the Himayathsagar and Osmansagar, and flood gates being opened in the former, experts have pointed towards the need to protect catchment of the reservoirs. They say the twin reservoirs are still the beating heart of the city and plans to scrap the GO111 would prove costly.

– There are thousands of encroachments on the catchment of the reservoirs in areas such as Chevella, Shamshabad, Moinabad, Kothuru, Rajendra Nagar and Shankarpalli, say experts. They feel not only do these encroach and pollute the catchment, but are under threat themselves during floods.

-Water expert Narasimha Reddy Dhonti said, “The GO111 is in fact limited and needs to be strengthened. The catchment of the reservoirs is much larger than 10km. The rapid encroachment beyond the ‘protected area’ is what has led to the delayed filling of the reservoirs.” He added that instead of focusing at distant water sources, the government must first protect what is at hand by desilting to ensure their capacity is retained.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/revoking-go-on-activity-in-catchment/articleshow/78669566.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

4 gates of Musi project lifted following heavy inflows With the Musi project getting heavy inflows after the rainfall, the authorities have lifted four gates releasing the water to the downstream. The current inflow of the project is 15,743 cusecs while the outflow is 12,387 cusecs. All the irrigation projects in the state were filled in the full capacity, the officials are diverting the water to the local tanks. Over 50 per cent of 46,000 village tanks are overflowing due to the rainfall. The water from the Jurala project is also being released to the downstream. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-4-gates-of-musi-project-lifted-following-heavy-inflows-651629   (17 Oct. 2020)

13 gates of Himayat Sagar open after a decade; water released into Musi river  The gates of the Himayat Sagar were opened in Hyderabad after the city received incessant rainfall on Wednesday (Oct. 14). The administration took the decision of opening up 13 out of the 17 gates as the water level reached the full reservoir level (FRL) on Wednesday.

-As on Wednesday (Oct. 14) afternoon, the FRL of Himayatsagar was 1763.500 ft. Four of the reservoir’s gates had been opened at midnight after people settled in the low-lying areas were asked to evacuate. Reportedly, the gates were opened after nearly a decade. Water from Himayat Sagar Lake is released into the Musi River.  https://www.timesnownews.com/hyderabad/article/hyderabad-rains-13-gates-of-himayat-sagar-open-after-a-decade-water-released-into-musi-river/667004  (14 Oct. 2020)

Another round of floods in Hyderabad following more rains and lake breach.  https://www.ndtv.com/hyderabad-news/heavy-overnight-rain-in-hyderabad-days-after-deadly-downpour-2311830  (18 Oct. 2020)

Second wave of floods hit parts of Hyderabad as rains return Heavy rains early last week had wreaked havoc in parts of the state, including the city, claiming over 50 lives in incidents such as house collapse and drowning and leaving hundreds of houses in low-lying areas under sheets of water. The state capital bore the brunt as a depression had dumped the heaviest rains (nearly 20 cm) since 1916 for October on Tuesday (Oct. 13) and triggered flash floods.

The rains abated since Wednesday (Oct. 14) with the flood water receding in most parts while the government in a preliminary estimate had pegged the losses at over Rs 5,000 crore. However, since Saturday (Oct. 17) night several parts of the city and neighbouring districts again were battered by torrential rains with Saroornagar in adjoining Rangaraddy district recording the maximum of 16.9 cm while Hyderabad Airport 7.2 cm.

On October 15, the state government had said 50 died due to heavy rains and flash floods. The India Meteorological Department has warned that thunderstorms accompanied by lightning were very likely to occur at isolated places over Telangana and heavy rain is very likely at isolated places from Sunday (Oct. 18) till October 21.  https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/second-wave-of-floods-hit-parts-of-hyderabad-as-rains-return/2108463/  (18 Oct. 2020)

Trapped & ignored, residents Kompally colony begin to migrate Fox Sagar, which overflowed on account of the recent rains, has sent waters into the colony in a deluge. As many as 600 houses have remained marooned in in this Uma Maheshwar Colony in Kompally in Hyderabad.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/oct/17/trapped-and-ignored-residents-of-telanganas-kompally-colony-begin-to-migrate-2211248.html  (17 Oct. 2020)

Huge flood reaching Jurala, Srisailam  This provides information about flows at various dams in Krishna and Bhima basins on Oct 16, 2020 evening.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/huge-flood-reaching-jurala-srisailam/article32876132.ece   (16 Oct. 2020)

-The extent of the calamity that struck Hyderabad can be gauged by the fact that the city recorded its worst rainfall for the month of October in the last 100 years — around 200 mm.  https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/151020/hyderabad-deluge-19-killed-as-heaviest-october-rain-in-a-century-maro.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

“On the single day of October 14, all the 33 districts of Telangana received ‘large excess’ rainfall. And the state recorded a rainfall departure of 2,820 per cent above normal rainfall, as it received 52.6mm rainfall against a normal of 1.8mm.

On the same day, Hyderabad district received 187.2 mm rainfall and recorded a rainfall departure of 6,586 per cent above its normal rainfall. Meanwhile, Malkajgiri, Nalgonda and Warangal Urban districts of Telangana received 8,900 per cent, 4,957 per cent and 7,530 per cent above normal rainfall, respectively. https://en.gaonconnection.com/peninsula-pounded-30-dead-in-heavy-rain-related-incidents-in-telangana-and-andhra-maharashtra-goa-and-karnataka-on-alert/  (15 Oct. 2020)

– Wednesday (Oct. 14) went down as the rainiest day in the history of Greater Hyderabad, as the city received a month’s rain on a single day, bringing life to a crippling halt. The city and its outskirts recorded 324.5 mm rainfall in just 24 hours, according to the Telangana State Development Planning Society.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/heavy-rainfall-leaves-32-dead-in-telangana-hyd-streets-flooded/articleshow/78670603.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

Pictorial report on impact of flood in Musi river on adjoining areas. https://www.siasat.com/musi-river-over-flooded-inundated-houses-1998489/   (14 Oct. 2020)

Excellent from Manoj Misra, also in the context of Hyderabad floods. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/CAxF6WfYV0hDGfR0Xdj6/delhi-messed-up-natural-stormwater-drains-and-cant-fix-it-now—  (14 Oct. 2020)

Record fainfall of 300mm in 24 Hours -With 300mm of rainfall recorded at Hayathnagar in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, the region recorded its highest rainfall in a 24-hour period for the year 2020. This amount of rainfall in a 24-hour period has happened in the Greater Hyderabad region only once before. However, Met officers could not confirm the exact year as heavy rains had disrupted their servers.

-The Hyderabad floods happened just on the day the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the United Nations released a report warning the world about the need to develop early warning systems to cope with climate-related hazards. The WMO report said that between 1970 and 2019, 79% of disasters worldwide involved weather, water and climate-related hazards. https://www.news18.com/news/india/record-rainfall-of-300mm-in-24-hours-caused-flash-floods-in-hyderabad-neighbouring-districts-2962769.html  (14 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Water level in dams at record 95% The bureaucrat said that for the first time, Maharashtra had received equal rainfall across the state. In the past, there was grossly often inadequate rainfall in Marathawada and Amravati regions, resulting in most of the districts in these regions facing massive droughts. “For several years, we had to deploy water tanks in most of the districts in Vidarbha and Marathwada to tackle the need for drinking water. A few years ago, in Latur, the hometown of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, prohibitory orders had to be clamped to tackle the law and order situation. “Following heavy rain and an extended monsoon, no tankers are now deployed in the state. In most of the dams, water stock is ample,” he said.

-The bureaucrat said that in the recent past, most of the ongoing works of irrigation projects have been completed, following which the department has been able to enhance storage capacity. “For completing all the pending projects, we will require at least Rs 80,000 crore. The erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government had drafted a plan for completion of pending projects, and the new government had to rethink about mobilizing sources for irrigation projects,” he said.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/water-level-in-maha-dams-at-record-95/articleshow/78711403.cms   (17 Oct. 2020)

The IMD’s rainfall data shows that in the last week, between October 8 and October 14, Latur, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Beed in Marathwada received 335 per cent, 242 per cent, 453 per cent and 190 per cent above their normal rainfall, respectively. During the same week, Solapur, Sangli and Pune received 256 per cent, 199 per cent and 143 per cent above their normal rainfall, respectively. https://en.gaonconnection.com/after-telangana-heavy-rainfall-batters-maharashtra-at-least-27-dead-major-kharif-crops-lost/  (16 Oct. 2020)

Over 2,300 houses and large-scale crops were damaged in heavy rains and subsequent floods in Western Maharashtra districts, where more than 21,000 people were moved to safer places, said officials on Friday. According to the divisional commissioner’s office here, the death toll in rain-related incidents rose to 28 in the region – half of them in worst-hit Solapur district – with the recovery of one more body. Crops such as sugarcane, soyabean, vegetables, rice, pomegranate and cotton, spread over 57,000 hectares in Pune, Solapur, Satara and Sangli districts, have suffered damage, it said. https://www.news18.com/news/india/floods-damage-homes-crops-in-western-maharashtra-districts-death-toll-climbs-to-28-2971880.html  (16 Oct. 2020)

RTI Reveals Kolhapur Floods Caused by Tampering With Technically Established Flood Lines To Please Builders This is of Aug 2019, but interesting.  https://www.moneylife.in/article/rti-reveals-kolhapur-floods-caused-by-tampering-with-technically-established-flood-lines-to-please-builders/57983.html  (22 August 2019)

Karnataka Flood-like situation in 7 districts after excess water released from dams  As a result of excess water released from upstream dams in Maharashtra and Telangana, seven districts in north Karnataka witnessed floods over the last three days. According to a preliminary report by Manoj Ranjan, Commissioner of Karnataka State Disaster Management, 7,776 people were relocated to 54 relief camps, from Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Bidar, Belagavi, Bagalkot and Vijayapura districts, as of Thursday. The same report said that 799 houses have been partially damaged, and one house was completely damaged.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/flood-situation-7-karnataka-districts-after-excess-water-released-dams-135418  (15 Oct. 2020)

Report on Gulbarga Flood situation: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bhima-river-continues-to-be-in-spate/article32877369.ece  (17 Oct. 2020)

Bihar Embankments fail to mitigate flood impacts According to data from the Water Resources Department, a total of 3,790 km of embankment have so far been constructed on 13 rivers in Bihar – Ganga, Kosi-Adhwara, Boorhi Gandak, Kiul Harohar, Punpun, Mahananda, Son, Bagmati, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Ghaghara and Chandan. According to a report of the Second Bihar State Irrigation Commission, 350 km of embankments were built in the last three decades.

Between 2005 and 2010, around 70 km of embankments came up alongside the Bagmati, Gandak and Kosi rivers. And between 2010 and 2012, 67 km of embankments were erected alongside the Bagmati, Bhutahi Balan and Kamla rivers extended over 67 kilometres, followed by an additional 50 km along the Bagmati, Kamla, Adhwara Chandan, plus some other rivers.

Moreover, there are also 374 Zamindari and Maharaji Dams in Bihar, built by landlords and villagers to protect villages against floods. In 2013, the State Minor Dam Policy was formulated, under which the Water Resources Department was afforded the ownership as well as entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining these dams (since categorised as minor dams). https://thewire.in/environment/floods-bihar-agricultural-land  (15 Oct. 2020)

CLOUD BURSTS

SANDRP Blog Cloud Bursts in Indian Himalayan Region in Pre-monsoon & Monsoon 2020 The Indian Himalayan region has been facing increased cloud burst incidents for past many years. These events are followed by flash floods, landslides causing widespread damages to human lives and properties. However the forecasting, monitoring and management efforts are lagging far behind. This state wise overview attempts to understand the trend and resultant losses from such incidents during the pre-monsoon (Apr-May) southwest monsoon season (June-Sept) 2020. https://sandrp.in/2020/10/18/cloud-bursts-in-indian-himalayan-region-in-pre-monsoon-monsoon-2020/  (18 Oct. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

Centre Government plans ‘disengagement’ from 5 premier environment-related institutions by withdrawing funding An audit of a number of MoEF connected institutes leads to recommendation that WII and IIFM may be made into autonomous Universities. This will clearly not help the cause of environment.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/government-plans-disengagement-from-five-premier-environment-related-institutions-by-withdrawing-funding/articleshow/78724775.cms  (18 Oct. 2020)

Report Biodiversity Register leaving people out  With PBRs being outsourced to NGOs or universities, the role of local people has been restricted to that of helping researchers in data collection https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-peoples-biodiversity-register-meant-to-empower-local-communities-is-leaving-them-out/article32869691.ece  (17 Oct. 2020)

Western Ghats Sacred freshwater swamps helping preserve biodiversity Freshwater swamps in India have a long-standing relationship with tribal and village communities. In the Western Ghats, they are found in wet evergreen forests and are home to some incredibly rare wildlife and plants, as well as remnants of ancient local culture and custom.

-The Western Ghats has three distinctive freshwater swamp types cradled within its fertile lap – Myristica swamps, Elaeocarpus swamps, and hadlus. These ancient swamp forests hold immense ecological and cultural value yet remain largely unexplored and unknown.

-Sacred swamp forests tend to be closer to human habitation, yet studies have found higher biodiversity in these patches than in non-sacred swamps. Thus, sacred swamps have higher conservation value and serve as a fascinating model for community conservation in this biodiversity hotspot.

-Freshwater swamps are some of the Western Ghats’ least studied ecosystems with immense hydrological and ecological value. They provide a perennial water source for irrigation and domestic use, create pockets of cooler temperature, regulate rainfall and their tangled root systems allow for the regular flow of pure water and prevent soil erosion. These incredibly productive and biodiverse systems give rise to life and are custodians of the past.  https://scroll.in/article/972222/how-the-worship-of-sacred-freshwater-swamps-is-helping-preserve-biodiversity-in-the-western-ghats  (15 Oct. 2020)

Remembering saviours of sky islands  The Western Ghats are not only among the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots, but also among the eight “hottest” of the hotspots. They’ve also won another ecological Grammy: the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And the Palani Hills (actually mountains) are one of its stars, a treasure trove like no other. Apart from their rich biodiversity, they also host wildlife corridors to neighbouring mountain ranges, and two ecosystems unique to the south-western reaches of the Ghats. The first of these, ‘sholas’, are cloud forests that nestle in the valleys. With their high endemism, these are biodiversity hubs with knobs on.

The second are the montane grasslands, ecologically as important as sholas: maybe even more so, because their high water retention makes them a major water source for downstream and plains communities. This mountain mosaic, which includes the Kodaikanal plateau, falls into the evocative category of sky islands — isolated mountains surrounded by dramatically different lowland environments. It is an ethereally beautiful place. I went there in ’87 for a short stay, and stayed on for 18 years. The Palani Hills bug had bitten me, good and proper. https://www.firstpost.com/living/the-zai-whitaker-column-remembering-bob-and-tanya-saviours-of-the-western-ghats-sky-islands-8916621.html  (18 Oct. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Glacial lakes become more deadly as Himalayan ice melts There is also an interesting interactive map in the story. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/09/29/glacial-lakes-become-more-deadly-as-himalayan-ice-melts/  (29 Oct. 2020)

Glacier retreat in HKH reveals transboundary Report on retreating glaciers and changing water regime in Hindu Kush Himalayan region.  https://carboncopy.info/glacier-retreat-in-the-hindukush-himalayas-reveals-transboundary-uncertainties/   (14 Oct. 2020)

Study Climate controls on erosion in tectonically active landscapes Abstract:- The ongoing debate about the nature of coupling between climate and tectonics in mountain ranges derives, in part, from an imperfect understanding of how topography, climate, erosion, and rock uplift are interrelated. Here, we demonstrate that erosion rate is nonlinearly related to fluvial relief with a proportionality set by mean annual rainfall. These relationships can be quantified for tectonically active landscapes, and calculations based on them enable estimation of erosion where observations are lacking. Tests of the predictive power of this relationship in the Himalaya, where erosion is well constrained, affirm the value of our approach. Our model allows estimation of erosion rates in fluvial landscapes using readily available datasets, and the underlying relationship between erosion and rainfall offers the promise of a deeper understanding of how climate and tectonic evolution affect erosion and topography in space and time and of the potential influence of climate on tectonics.  https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/42/eaaz3166   (16 Oct. 2020)

Rain really can move mountains Lead author Dr Byron Adams, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at the university’s Cabot Institute for the Environment, said: “It may seem intuitive that more rain can shape mountains by making rivers cut down into rocks faster. But scientists have also believed rain can erode a landscape quickly enough to essentially ‘suck’ the rocks out of the Earth, effectively pulling mountains up very quickly.

The study was based in the central and eastern Himalaya of Bhutan and Nepal, because this region of the world has become one of the most sampled landscapes for erosion rate studies. Dr Adams, together with collaborators from Arizona State University (ASU) and Louisiana State University, used cosmic clocks within sand grains to measure the speed at which rivers erode the rocks beneath them.

-The study findings also carry important implications for land use management, infrastructure maintenance, and hazards in the Himalaya. -In the Himalaya, there is the ever-present risk that high erosion rates can drastically increase sedimentation behind dams, jeopardising critical hydropower projects. The findings also suggest greater rainfall can undermine hillslopes, increasing the risk of debris flows or landslides, some of which may be large enough to dam the river creating a new hazard — lake outburst floods.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201016143049.htm   (16 Oct. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

Climate Channel: South Asian Environment Dialogue : 2  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCSoDXud6oc&feature=youtu.be  (18 Oct. 2020)

Mitigating risk of river flooding in South Asia  More room must be made for rivers in South Asia through land use regulations for floodplains so that they have more space to flood and contribute to ecosystem services.  https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2020/10/09/mitigating-river-flooding-risk-in-south-asia/  (09 Oct. 2020)

Nepal Financial closure of Seti Nadi Hydroelectric Project NMB Bank has executed financial closure of 25 MW Seti Nadi Hydroelectric Project, being developed by Vision Lumbini Urja Company. The project is located at Machhapuchchhre Rural Municipality and Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropolitan City, Kaski, Gandaki Province of Nepal.  https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/financial-closure-of-seti-nadi-hydroelectric-project/  (16 Oct. 2020)

Bangladesh Ilish fishermen turning their backs on profession Depleting Riverine Fisheries have long shadows. Especially for the most vulnerable sections.

“It is my father’s wish that I study in a school so that I can get a job as a teacher and help my family to get out of poverty,” Ibrahim said.

The boy took this correspondent to his home where his father Ratan Chowdhury was scared of the correspondent as he thought the lenders from whom he had taken loan had come to the house. But later he understood the situation and agreed to talk.

“I don’t want my child to do such a stupid thing that I am doing. I am in fishing because I am not educated. Meanwhile, the fish I get from the river is not enough to survive on with the family and we are just hostage to the lenders,” Ratan said.

Another fisherman, Mohammad Saiful of Char Bhoirabi said: “I am working as a fisherman as I am not getting another job during the Covid-19 pandemic. As soon as I get a new job I will leave fishing. I certainly will not allow my children to be involved in fishing.”  https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2020/10/12/ilish-fishermen-turning-their-backs-on-profession  (12 Oct. 2020)

Details of how Google is forecasting floods in India and Bangladesh. https://techwireasia.com/2020/10/google-ai-powered-flood-forecasting-now-covers-all-of-india-bangladesh/  (14 Oct. 2020)

-Bangladesh is no stranger to monsoon flooding, but the flooding this year has been the longest since the floods of 1988. One-third of the country has been submerged.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/monsoon-floods-submerge-a-third-of-bangladesh-affect-around-5-million-people-amid-covid-19/  (04 Aug. 2020)

Pakisitan PM’s dream of a city by the Ravi may be an illusion The Prime Minister of Pakistan is an enthusiastic backer of the Ravi River Urban Development Project, but the plan for a new city makes little economic or ecological sense. It runs along the Ravi River from a northeast to southwest direction. According to the plan, it involves the construction of a 40,000 hectare (1,000 square kilometre) planned city on either side of the river, while also channeling and rehabilitating the river into a perennial freshwater body. Govt plans to divert Chenab water for this.

– India has often released a few thousand cusecs of water into the Ravi in the monsoons when water has been surplus, said the director of WWF Pakistan, Hammad Naqi. According to him, while the IWT did allot the eastern rivers to India, Pakistan, as a, “lower riparian [country also] has rights, not just under a treaty but even because of ecology. If Ravi is run completely dry it should not be acceptable.”

– According to data, floods along the Ravi are big every three to five years – and spread around one kilometre on each side. Once in 20 years, a flood is even bigger, with a spread of two kilometres on each side. The project visualises an embankment area for a one-in-a-100 year flood, building a wall which would be very expensive, one kilometre wide and six kilometres long. But there is no floodplain, so where will all the water go? https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/09/28/pakistans-dream-of-a-city-by-the-ravi-may-be-an-illusion/  (28 Sept. 2020)

Landslide buries bus, 16 killed A landslide in northern Pakistan on Sunday (Oct. 18) buried a minibus under tons of mud and rock, killing all 16 people on board, police said.The bus was pushed into a deep ditch and buried along a mountainous road while traveling to the scenic town of Skardu in the Gilgit Baltistan region from the city of Rawalpindi in Punjab province, local police officer Wakil Khan said.

Road accidents are common in Pakistan, mainly due to insufficient enforcement of safety standards and poor infrastructure, particularly on battered mountain roads. In March, a passenger bus tumbled off a winding mountainous road and into a ravine in northern Pakistan, killing at least 19 people and injuring several others. Landslides after heavy monsoon rain are also common in the country and cause widespread damage mountainous areas.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/landslide-in-northern-pakistan-buries-bus-16-killed/story-2m6HzAjpfRJCZxy00JznZN.html  (18 Oct. 2020)

Myanmar A ‘Dead’ River Runs Through the Mountains

Excellent documentary showing tragic death of rivers in Northern Myanmar mainly due to China and how the people are suffering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3UgaPGNzVc  (10 Sept. 2020)

ASIA

Vietnam MASSIVE LANDSLIDE TRAGEDY AT HYDROPOWER PROJECT The most notable event occurred on Monday at the construction site of the  Rao Trang 3 hydroelectric plant, which located close to Phong uan commune in Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.  Between 10 and 17 people were buried by the landslide, but information is extremely sketchy because of many other landslides in the area.  Reports suggest that the alarm was raised by a local person, who climbed a mountain to make the call.  That person has been out of contact since.

– On Monday (Oct 12, 2020) a rescue team of 21 people was dispatched to the site.  At 11 pm they found that their progress was blocked by landslides on the road, and so they stopped at a rangers station for the night.  Unfortunately, during the night a further landslide occurred, hitting accommodation for 13 of the rescue team.  They have not been seen since.  https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/10/14/rao-trang/  (14 Oct. 2020)

Sketchy report from Rào Trăng 4 Hydropower Plant. “The rescue mission at the plant and the nearby Rào Trăng 3 Hydropower Plant continues, where considerable number of workers still trapped and feared dead”  https://tienphongnews.com/rescue-team-finds-one-body-rescues-18-people-trapped-by-landslides-94661.html  (14 Oct. 2020)

This report of Oct 14 is omnious: Nearly 40 people have died in Vietnam and Cambodia and scores more were missing, including rescuers, due to prolonged heavy rain and flash flooding as tropical storm Nangka edged towards the Vietnamese coast yesterday. The floods are expected to worsen over the coming days, with tropical storm Nangka forecast to dump more rain as it makes landfall in Vietnam on Oct 14. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/39-dead-scores-missing-in-floods-landslides-in-vietnam-cambodia   (14 Oct. 2020)

More details. https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/tragedy-compounded-landslide-buries-13-rescue-team-members-4176129.html  (13 Oct. 2020)

Cambodia Most Severe Flooding in Years Severe flooding that has displaced thousands of Cambodians and killed at least 12 people across Cambodia could be some of the worst floodings the country has experienced in the last decade, said a government official.

The flooding was caused by torrential rainfall from tropical storms, and has killed at least 12 people and affected more than 30,000 households across 17 provinces nationwide, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM). Water Resource Ministry’s Secretary of State Chan Youttha said the flooding was severe but that the flooding was not linked to the Mekong River, as was the case with extreme flooding in the past. https://www.voacambodia.com/a/govt-says-cambodia-facing-most-severe-flooding-in-years/5621010.html  (14 Oct. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Software predicts the rise and fall of every river on Earth “Our tools help directly assess both flood risk and drought risk,” said Nelson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at BYU and principal investigator with the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team. “Most communities around the world live around rivers, so having advanced notice becomes really important. We are providing the information so local governments and agencies can make intelligent, informed decisions.”

SERVIR is up and running in more than 30 countries and includes more than 40 custom tools for local agencies to use in decision making. Web-based satellite imagery, decision-support tools and interactive visualization capabilities previously inaccessible across many regions now enable stakeholders to combat floods, wildfires, superstorms and other calamities.

Nelson describes it as a portal system that operates similar to apps on a smart phone—just as you open one app to check the weather and another to check messages, the portal has several different tools that can be accessed: one provides rainfall info, another groundwater levels and yet another forecasts streamflow. Local agencies can customize the applications and get the data they want to make the most informed decisions.  https://phys.org/news/2020-10-software-fall-river-earth.html  (08 Oct. 2020)

New Zealand River’s Lizard Tail: Braiding Indigenous Knowledges with Geomorphology “The Waitepuru Stream flows from its headwaters in the Mokaingarara Hills, down to the Rangitaiki Plains, and through the tiny community of Matatā as it makes its way to New Zealand’s wide Bay of Plenty.

For generations, local Māori have conceptualized the stream as a taniwha (water monster) in the form of a lizard. The river’s headwaters are the taniwha’s head, the main channel is its sinuous body, tributaries form its legs, and where the river leaves the hills and flows onto the plain, that’s its flicking tail.

And flick it does. Large flood events periodically cause the lower part of the channel to overrun its banks and change course, moving back and forth across the plain over centuries.

“Through time it behaves just like the flicking tail of a lizard,” said Dan Hikuroa, an Earth systems scientist and senior lecturer in Māori studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The taniwha story, however, is so much more than myth, Hikuroa said. It’s a pūrākau—a traditional form of Māori narrative codified in story form. (Matatā elders gave Hikuroa permission to share it.)

The lizard shape describes the geomorphology of the stream, and the presence of the taniwha conveys a warning: “Not only does it tell you what to expect—that the tail will flick from side to side—but because it’s codifying it as a taniwha, it effectively becomes a disaster risk reduction strategy at the same time. It’s the evidence, and it’s the policy,” Hikuroa explained.

In 2005, flash floods sent debris flows roaring down the Waitepuru and a neighboring stream. The Waitepuru shifted course by a few meters. And while dozens of buildings were rendered uninhabitable, none of Matatā’s three marae—Māori communal meeting houses—were affected. “To me, that’s not by chance,” Hikuroa said. “You don’t build your critical infrastructure where the tail flicks.”

“If you do things right and with an open heart and open mind…your understanding of how the world operates and how geomorphology operates will be much greater because you’re able to draw from a much richer knowledge base. When we bring together these two bodies of knowledge, we can imagine things that neither could deliver in isolation.” https://eos.org/features/the-rivers-lizard-tail-braiding-indigenous-knowledges-with-geomorphology  (14 Sept. 2020)

USA Fatal Cleveland Dam disaster blamed on human error  -One week after the malfunction at the Cleveland Dam left a North Vancouver man dead and his son missing, Metro Vancouver says human error was to blame. Multiple people were rescued and two were swept into the Capilano River when the dam’s spillway suddenly opened on Oct. 1, deluging the riverbanks where anglers were out enjoying salmon season.

-“While the review continues, we can now confirm that the clearest contributing factor was human error related to programming of the control system for the spillway gate at the Cleveland Dam,” said Metro Vancouver CAO Jerry Dobrovolny in a statement released Thursday morning. “Metro Vancouver takes responsibility for this mistake and our deepest sympathies go out to those affected by the tragic loss of life.”

-In the statement, Metro says it is now committed to ensuring another similar accident never happens again. Senior management is calling on expert advisers to assess current practices and give independent advice on how to strengthen the dam’s operations and maintenance systems.

-Following a similar disaster in in 2002, WorksafeBC ordered Metro Vancouver to “swiftly” develop, implement and enforce a written “lockout policy” that would stop the dam’s spillway from opening accidentally and conduct a risk assessment study to protect the health and safety of the public and workers.  https://www.nsnews.com/news/fatal-cleveland-dam-disaster-blamed-on-human-error-1.24217410  (08 Oct. 2020)

Cross border fights over water erupts in Mexico Farmers in Mexico armed with sticks, rocks and homemade shields ambushed soldiers and seized La Boquilla Dam, above, to stop water payments to the United States. The farmers said the Mexican government was sending water — their water — to Texas, leaving them next to nothing for their crops. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/world/americas/mexico-water-boquilla-dam.html  (14 Oct. 2020)  

UK Rivers across England face pollution crisis Data gathered from lakes, rivers and streams all across England over three years up paint a grim picture nationwide.

Only 14 percent of rivers were found to have a “good ecological status” and none proved to be entirely pollution free. The report says population growth, land use and climate change are all contributing to the problem. 

“Obviously there is a widespread and endemic problem with pollution in our rivers,” says Mark Lloyd, CEO of the Rivers Trust, an umbrella organization that works to protect UK rivers.

“And really that’s from two sources, principally – from sewage pollution and from agriculture. There’s also a problem with urban pollution and run-off from roads. We have solved some of those gross pollution issues from the past, but we have new threats, we have new emerging chemicals, things like flame retardants and PCBs and things that are very persistent in the environment.”

Water companies were also criticized in a separate recent government report by the Environment Agency. Four out of nine companies failed to meet pollution standards. Many are struggling with outdated infrastructure, that no longer has the capacity for a growing population and more frequent extreme weather events.  https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-13/Rivers-across-England-face-pollution-crisis-UxpHHC0U0w/index.html  (13 Oct. 2020)

Brazil World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change. Like a vast tub, the wetland swells with water during the rainy season and empties out during the dry months. Fittingly, this rhythm has a name that evokes a beating heart: the flood pulse.

– The wetland, which is larger than Greece and stretches over parts of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, also offers unseen gifts to a vast swath of South America by regulating the water cycle upon which life depends. Its countless swamps, lagoons and tributaries purify water and help prevent floods and droughts. They also store untold amounts of carbon, helping to stabilize the climate. This year, drought worsened by climate change turned the wetlands into a tinderbox and the fires raged out of control.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/13/climate/pantanal-brazil-fires.html  (13 Oct. 2020)

Report Annual plastic water pollution could reach 53 million tonnes by 2030 As much as 53 million tonnes of plastic could end up in rivers, lakes and oceans every year by the end of the decade, even if global commitments to reduce plastic pollution are met, experts have warned. In a new modelling study published in the journal Science, ecologists monitoring pollution in aquatic ecosystems have voiced their concern, saying more needs to be done to reduce emissions. https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/annual-plastic-water-pollution-could-reach-53-million-tonnes-by-2030/  (18 Sept. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 12 Oct. 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 05 Oct. 2020

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

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