DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?

Or may be it is a major issue at a number of places. Like in Kishanganj district along Mahananda river in North East Bihar, as the report here mentions. We hope it is. Since floods and how they are managed affect so fundamentally and in so many different ways so many people, it should be an election issue. Particularly when the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting to be voted in after being the Chief Minister of the state for 15 years since Nov 2005 (except brief ten month period in 2014-15).

15 years is long enough time to have been able to make at least some dent in flood management. On ground, the situation seems to have only gone worse. It was in this 15 year period that the unprecedented Kosi floods happened after the Kusaha breach in 2008. But the word unprecedented has been used for several more floods in these 15 years, including by Nitish Kumar. He also raised a number of pertinent issues in this period, including impact of Farakka barrage on Bihar floods, need for its decommissioning, Bihar’s right to get Ganga water from the headwaters in Uttarakhand [currently it gets none except during monsoon]. He is currently silent on these issues, but voters and media do not have to be silent.  

When Bihar was stuck by unprecedented floods in 2016, he talked about impact of Farakka located down stream from Bihar, but remained silent about the role of Bansagar Dam in the upstream. Even in 2020 floods, rivers crossed the Highest Flood Level at no less than nine places, including Gandak, Bagmati, Burhi Gandak, Kosi and Mahananda basins. What the MoWR organisation GFCC has been doing about flood management with the head office in Patna is one of the best kept state secrets!

As far as management of floods is concerned, including in 2020, the Bihar government’s performance leaves a lot to be desired. In fact it is shocking that on the eve of the elections, Bihar government has quietly pushed the Bagamati embankment project, much against the Bagmati people. Bagmati people are now on Bagawat, says Anil Prakash of Ganga Mukti Andolan. In Mahananda his govt continues to push the same failed embankment technology. Clearly Bihar government has a lot to answer for in these elections as far flood management is concerned.

Bihar Who is talking about the floods? Great to see floods is an election issue in Kishanganj (Mahananda basin) in NE Bihar. According to an August 27 bulletin released by the state Water Resources Department, 83.62 lakh people were affected in 16 districts of the state in the floods, including Kishanganj.

– “Floods have increased in these parts after 2016 (Which barrage is he talking about?) when a barrage on the Teesta river was built. The Farakka barrage in neighbouring West Bengal also contributes, while siltation has reduced the depth of the river, increasing chances of floods,” says Haji Abdus Subhan, the RJD MLA from Baisi seat.

– Sanjay Jha, Bihar Minister for Water Resources, says the total area affected by annual floods in the Seemanchal region is 5.20 lakh hectares. “Every year, heavy rains in Nepal and West Bengal innundate the lowland of Seemanchal. The rainwater flows down through various tributaries like Balson, Chenga, Mechi, Donk, Kankai, Noona, Bakra, Khadam, Kisley, Burhi, Rajai and Lohendra,” says Jha. In 2010, CM Nitish Kumar had inaugurated the Mahananda Basin Project at Paranpur in Katihar district, another region in Seemanchal affected by floods. The river and other rivulets criss-cross the district. Fortification of the Mahananda was the focus of the project, and Jha says this will help contain the floods. “The work of the Mahananda river flood management scheme will be completed in five phases. The first phase work initiated by the CM was started in the year 2010 and completed in 2013. The land acquisition is in progress for the second phase,” Jha says.

– However, Congress MLA Mastan, who argues that floods also help enrich the soil and improve crop yield, says they won’t let the project be implemented in the region. Accusing the government of having “no plan at all”, Mastan adds, “The Mahananda project proposes to build the embankment 1 km from the riverbank. It will uproot at least 50 villages and approximately 1 lakh people.”  https://indianexpress.com/elections/bihar-elections-kishanganj-who-is-talking-about-the-floods-6796346/  (20 Oct. 2020)

Engineering attempts to ‘tame the Kosi’ have only added to human misery Even as 3,500 km of levees have been built in Bihar for flood protection, the flood-prone area has quadrupled to 6.8 million hectares. Even though the original plan was to protect 214,000 ha from annual floods, approximately 426,000 ha has been lost to waterlogging due to the Kosi embankments alone. Says the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, “The real crisis of Northeast Bihar is not floods but drainage.”

In a 2006 paper titled Kosi: A Review of Flood Genesis and Attempts to Solve this Problem, officials of India’s Central Water Commission AK Jha and DP Mathuria stated: “The engineering approach has proved to be far too insufficient in its objectives … and soon the embankments would be ineffective to control the Kosi floods. It would thus be naïve to embark upon finding of this menace through structural measures.” The attempt at “taming the Kosi” was nothing more than playing dangerously with nature and adding to human misery. https://scroll.in/article/976754/river-in-disequilibrium-how-engineering-attempts-to-tame-the-kosi-have-only-added-to-human-misery   (26 Oct. 2020)

Embankments: Inapt and futile defence against floods Embankments in Bihar have failed miserably against flood protection. Take a look on these frequently asked questions (FAQs) on why they failed and what are the possible solutions to floods in Bihar? https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/embankments-bihar-inapt-and-futile-defence-against-floods  (19 Oct. 2020)

FLOOD 2020

SANDRP Blog Krishna-Bhima basin floods in Oct 2020 breaks 56-year-old record Krishna River basin is again facing unprecedented floods, for the second straight year. Unprecedented is a bit of overused word these days, but consider the facts: At no less than ten locations, the Highest Flood Levels (HFL) ever recorded at those locations in the Krishna basin were surpassed (nine locations) or equaled (one location). Some of the HFLs surpassed this year were amazing 56, 51 and 44-year-old records! The sites are spread across three states: Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The narrative recommends that NDMA should appoint a team of independent persons to prepare a report of the episode, to understand what lessons we need to learn for future such events that are sure to come with increasing frequency and intensity.  https://sandrp.in/2020/10/23/krishna-bhima-basin-floods-in-oct-2020-breaks-56-year-old-record/  (23 Oct. 2020)

Telangana Srisailam releases record water in a decade For the first time this decade, Srisailam reservoir officials released over seven lakh cusecs of water in a 24-hour period by lifting 10 crest gates to the height of 33 feet. The dam has seen huge flood water coming into it in the past three days as torrential rains in Maharashtra and upper reaches of Krishna river filled up Narayanapur dam in Karnataka and Jurala project in Telangana state to the brim.

Srisailam dam opened 10 spillway gates to a height of 20 feet on Sunday and 5,10,597 cusecs of water. The reservoir level is 884.60 feet against the total height of 885 feet. The present storage at the dam is 213.4011 tmc.

A retired engineer, who worked at Srisailam, found fault with the authorities for holding so much water in the reservoir. He raised concern that it is against flood management and would have a devastating impact on the structural stability of the dam. The water release from the Srisailam dam left several residential houses in Lingala Gattu village of Kurnool district inundated. People were shifted to relief homes in Sunnipenta. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/191020/srisailam-releases-record-water-in-a-decade.html  (19 Oct. 2020)

Recent floods continue to test Musi Project Musi project in Nalgonda continues to face one of the biggest tests of flood in its 57 years of service, as torrential rain in upstream Hyderabad threaten to continue heavy inflows. The project can hold 4.46 tmc ft water at full reservoir level (FRL) of 645 feet, it has set new records this season. Not only has the impounded water crossed the FRL by up to three feet, but also the outflow, on October 14 alone, was an unprecedented 16 tmc ft, 3.58 times the project’s gross capacity. The total discharge for two successive days was 25 tmc ft.

– The recent bout of heavy rains is is also one of the rarest times when officials breached a section of the dam to let out up to 25,000 cusecs of water. The dam was breached near the abutting Ratnapuram village in “an emergency move”.

– According to records at the project office, the 1983 flood saw the maximum inflows of about 2.28 lakh cusecs, in comparison the project received nearly 2.5 lakh cusecs in the past few days. The maximum flood capacity of the project is 4 lakh cusecs. In 2005 and 2013, water levels rose up to the embankment, however, related figures of inflows and outflows were unavailable. District Minister and Energy Minister G. Jagadish Reddy said: “This is an unprecedented flood, from Hyderabad and Bikkeru Vagu, receiving more than 2 lakh cusecs. We breached a section of the dam and officials are monitoring the levels.”

– Maintenance of the project was in question in October 2019, when a regulatory gate got washed away, and more than 4 tmc ft impounded water, at 643 feet, drained in a few days. This brought into focus the maintenance as all the gates had been replaced with new ones at an estimated cost of ₹18 crore in 2015.

– The recent rains too tested the maintenance of the project. On October 14, when 13 gates (of the total 12 crest gates and eight regulatory gates) were operated to a height of 10 feet, crest gate no. 9 failed to open as its counterweight had snapped in August this year. Fortunately, the 35-ton beam did not break the gate, but fell away. The gate is not working well, the officials agree.

– On Tuesday (Oct 20), when this correspondent visited the site, workers and welders were busy patching up the foot of regulatory gate no. 2. Other gates also show leakages, or throw up problems at closing and opening, officials said. It is not just the gates, the nearly six-decade-old dam is also visibly old, with the meagre staff that is ready for retirement, and the decrepit stairs and cracked structures. The border railings of the earth dam and the gate columns, braced with sticks and wires like bandages, welcome officials and visitors alike. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/recent-floods-continue-to-test-musi-project/article32902841.ece  (20 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Koli community rescuers step up to every river challenge Salutes to Koli (boatpeople, fisherpeople) of Pandharpur in Solapur district who rescued literally thousands of people during floods along Chandrabhaga river around Oct 14, 2020. https://m.hindustantimes.com/cities/hooked-on-to-saving-lives-koli-community-rescuers-step-up-to-every-river-challenge-in-pandharpur/story-XbiKpQwvPNwDCPzPq6V9cM_amp.html  (21 Oct. 2020)

Odisha Lokayukta notices on destruction of embankment Lokayukta issued notices to Jajpur District Collector, Chief Engineer of Department of Works, MLA Mr. Balabantaray, Mr. Jena, junior engineer and execute engineer, and his deputy of Roads and Building division of Panikoili. It listed the matter on December 3.

An RTI activist, Sarbeswar Beura, filed a petition with the Lokayukta alleging that some people, who were involved in substandard construction of an irrigation embankment in Jajpur district, had deliberately blown away the embankment using dynamites in order to give an impression that swirling floodwaters had caused the breach.

According to Mr. Beura, the incident had taken place on night of August 28 where there was flood water in Keura River under Dharmasala block of Jajpur district. The embankment between Gokarneswar and Budhalinga Majhipada Road was damaged, causing the loss of paddy in 4,000 hectares.

As per the petition, the project was sanctioned at an estimate of ₹21.99 crore to one Balakrushna Mohanty in 2016. The work was to be completed by April 30, 2018. However, the contractor faced problem due to political interference. The project got delayed for which project cost was escalated to ₹ 24.47 crore. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/lokayukta-notices-to-odisha-mla-engineers-for-alleged-destruction-of-embankment/article32916536.ece  (22 Oct. 2020)

URBAN FLOODS

Hyderabad 53 lakes damaged, others may breach too As many as 53 lakes out of a total of 185 have been left damaged or left in a vulnerable condition due to incessant rains. Irrigation officials monitoring the city lakes said all tanks were brimming with huge inflows after the city received a record 30 cm of rainfall this week, said state secretary, irrigation, Rajat Kumar.

The state govt had earmarked Rs. 10 crore for temporary restoration of tanks. The officials said the department sought another Rs. 40 crore funds to take up repairs on a permanent basis. Kumar said the department was currently not focussing on lake’s encroachments since most of them in FTL had completed their mutation process as per official records. He said action will be initiated against encroachers after the emergency situation ends.

Commenting on incidents of lake breaches, the irrigation secretary claimed that breach of Appa Cheruvu was not a human error, he claimed. He conceded that three persons lost their lives near Palle Cheruvu. People were not allowed to visit tanks and lakes until water levels receded, he said. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/221020/hyderabad-rains-aftermath-53-lakes-damaged-others-may-breach-too.html  (22 Oct. 2020)

Why city flooded Hyderabad of the early 1900s was wiser than the Hyderabad of today. In 1908, devastation caused by a cloud burst and the flooding of Musi claimed 15,000 lives and rendered 80,000 homeless. But there were amends made after that. Sir Visvesvaraya was commissioned to conduct a study and suggest measures to manage the impact of floods on the city. That’s how two reservoirs — Osmansagar and Himayatsagar — came up to act as flood control centres. A modern system of drainage was also built.

– In August 2000, the rains wreaked havoc again. The city recorded a total of 469 mm rain, leading to one of the worst floods we’ve seen since 1908. As many as 90 residential areas in the city were under water. Of course, committees were formed, reports were submitted and review meetings were held.

– We need to understand that Hyderabad is a system of catchments. The western edge is in the Godavari River basin (from Kukatpally, Ramchandrapuram, to Gachibowli). To the east, it’s in the Krishna River basin. Also, Hyderabad is in the Deccan region, which has a chaotic drainage pattern — water here does not flow in a single direction as the slope is in multiple directions. These tanks served agrarian purposes and the areas surrounding them were ‘protected local catchment areas’. In the last 40 years, we’ve gone and built a complete city on top of this agrarian imprint. We’ve built roads, which are rigid boundaries, around the ‘fluid’ water bodies, without any buffer areas. Our Necklace Road is a spectacular example of that. Both in the command area and in the foreshore of tanks, we have developed real estate. Having said that, there are a lot of things that can still be done to reverse the effects. We must begin to take stock of the entire drainage system, not just the nalas. We must see the whole city as a catchment area and begin to clear critical areas of encroachments. It sounds like a lot but it is actually only a matter of intelligent readjustment and it can be done at a low cost. For all this to be implemented, we need an executive and ‘ecological’ body like a “Lakes and Parks Authority”, which can draw upon and coordinate the relevant parts of the functions at HMDA, GHMC and departments like revenue, irrigation, roads and buildings. (Anant Maringanti, Urban geographer and director of Hyderabad Urban Labs)

– ‘We have been feeding our lakes a diet of garbage, sewage and making them sick’. Off the record, officials will also admit that we should reduce the FTL by half, since the rest is filled with silt. In its 2016 report titled ‘State of India’s urban Water Bodies’, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had estimated that in the last 12 years, Hyderabad has lost 3,245 ha of its wet lands.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/why-floods-occur-in-hyderabad/articleshow/78656057.cms  (19 Oct. 2020)

Deluge of August 2000 was warning Hyderabad chose to ignore In Aug 2000 Hyderabad faced massive floods, they were captured in a documentary aptly named “…And Nature Replied. A Statement on the Flooding of Hyderabad”. Its producer and city-based social activists Mazher Hussain, who is the executive director of COVA (confederation of voluntary organisations) Peace Network, uploaded the film on YouTube on October 16, 2020. “It is so unfortunate that today we have a situation similar to 20 years ago and what people told us back then is so relevant even today.” The film, co-produced by Kakarla Sajaya, discussed rapid urbanisation in Hyderabad, encroachments, the lack of respect for nature, and the plight of the victims of the disaster.

– Sajaya, after visiting the flood victims in Hyderabad’s Shaheen Nagar, one of the worst affected localities now, says over 500 houses are inundated even four days after the downpour of October 13, many houses damaged, and people complained of allergies and infections post floods. “These localities had been inundated in September after the adjoining Osmannagar lake breached following heavy rains. Water had entered several houses. Even before the residents could recover, they have lost their houses again,” she said. Last week, reminding the city once again of the deluge of August 2000, the IMD’s observatory recorded 19.2 cm rainfall for October 13. The previous all-time highest rainfall recorded by IMD in October in Hyderabad was 9.8 cm.

– The Telangana State Development Planning Society, with a network of 1044 automated weather stations (AWS) for the state, recorded the highest rainfall of 32.5 cm in Ghatkesar in adjoining Medchal Malkajgiri district and a 29 cm rainfall in Hayathnagar, part of Greater Hyderabad. About 309 of the 1044 AWS, according to TSDPS, recorded over 10cm rainfall that night. The sudden ‘heavy to very heavy rains’ was triggered by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal that hit the Andhra Pradesh coast and moved towards Telangana while weakening into a depression.

– The IMD’s director in-charge of Hyderabad, Dr. K Nagarathna suggested that water bodies were filled beyond their capacities and the disaster is man-made. Telangana had already received excess rainfall of 50 per cent during the south-west monsoon between June and October, filling these water bodies, and most localities suffered as lake bunds breached.

– Senior hydrogeologist BV Subba Rao said the failure to understand the functional aspects of a city’s water bodies and looking at them for ornamental and recreational purposes is as good as ‘placing a wreath on a dead body’. “The master plan should be integrated with our natural drainage system, and also the network of stormwater drains and sewage drains. We don’t have a water infrastructure map incorporated in the master plan yet,” said Subba Rao.

– Meanwhile, Marri Shashidhar Reddy, the former vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), wondered why there was not a single meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) conducted in the last six years. “In Hyderabad, the surface runoff is 95 per cent. So the entire rains go into Musi. No one knows or talks about the ridge boundaries of these 13 watersheds. You need to plan a stormwater drainage system based on the watersheds and not according to administrative boundaries,” he said, adding: “All these guidelines remain merely on paper… When rainfall is predicted based on watersheds, we can pinpoint areas that might face flooding.” Citing the NDMA guidelines, he added that automated rain gauges that can communicate rainfall on a real-time basis are required at every ward. These machines can intimate the administration if rainfall exceeds 10mm in 15 minutes, which could result in a flood.

– Adding to the need for strengthening local self-governance, city-based lake activist Dr. Lubna Sarwath alleged that the state has diluted the WALTA (Water, Land and Trees Act) authority. “There has not been a single meeting of the WALTA authority at State, District, or Mandal level in the last six years. It mandates for public participation in decision making. People would have raised the issues if the meeting were ever held,” she said.

– A public commission should take a complete assessment of the hydrological systems of Hyderabad and other cities, they said. “It should not be done as a study by an expert committee. It has to have politicians as well as technical experts. The HMDA (Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority) has that function available on paper. The Government should mandate the HMDA to make a complete inventory of the problems in the city. And come up with a solution that we can politically live with,” Dr. Mariganti concludes. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-rains-floods-waterlogging-urbanisation-6798417/  (20 Oct. 2020)

Dr Lubna Sarwath rightly says in this  video that it is the destruction of the lakes and tanks that is majorly responsible for the flood disaster in Hyderabad this monsoon.  https://youtu.be/tbfZ75K8dxY   (16 Oct. 2020)

The revenge of the lakes From one lakh, the water bodies have drastically come down to 185 within the Greater Hyderabad capital region, and to 3,132 within the limits of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) as enumerated by its Lake Protection Committee till date. Of the 185 lakes in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), for 75, the surplus weirs and courses are completely closed.

According to a report on the disappearing water bodies of Hyderabad, by the Society for Participatory Development, submitted to the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, in 2017, the city had lost 3,245 hectares of water bodies in the previous 12 years. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/the-revenge-of-the-lakes-in-hyderabad/article32932513.ece  (24 Oct. 2020)

Why 2,800 lakes could not prevent a flood? In less than a century, the city has expanded from 55 sq.km to 625 sq.km under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). The jurisdiction of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) spreads over 7,257 sq.km covering parts of a few neighbouring districts as well, and had 2,800 lakes as per as 2017 estimate.

The water bodies were created for drinking water and irrigation purposes at a time when water management was considered crucial in this otherwise arid region for centuries. This network of man-made water bodies, interconnected by several natural waterways, ultimately led to the River Musi in most cases. Along with these small lakes, in the aftermath of the 1908 floods in Hyderabad, the Nizam government commissioned two big reservoirs, Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar, on the periphery of the city to regulate the water flow from Musi and its tributary Esa.

But the rivers have since vanished. Discharge of sewage and industrial effluents, encroachments by government and private individuals, and decades of neglect had everyone thinking the river would never flow again. Most of the former waterways are open sewers now. But, on October 13, the river was in spate once again after a record downpour. Low-lying localities and colonies that were built on the lake beds and nullahs were submerged in no time. Many days later, hundreds of these colonies were still under water. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-hyderabad-floods-2020-lakes-6821184/  (21 Oct. 2020)

Lake encroachments, official inaction led to floods Strangely, the APPA Cheruvu, which was the reason behind the flooding of Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway, is not even notified by the HMDA despite its discovery way back in 2014 by NGO Save Our Urban Lakes. Google’s historic imagery shows that the lake was encroached only recently between 2018 and 2020.

The Lake Protection Committee under HMDA has so far identified a total of 3,132 lakes in its purview, but issued preliminary notification for only about 2,000 of them. Final notification has been issued only for 224.

Urban planners who should obtain information about the significance of any area’s natural terrain and the land use from the Revenue department, actually get only the information about cadastral survey of properties. Mr. Maringanti suggests establishment of a Land Commission through HMDA, which will pore deeply over the current status, and arrive at long lasting solutions for turning the urban agglomeration into a ‘sponge city’. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/eyes-wide-shut-to-rise-in-lake-encroachments/article32887879.ece  (18 Oct. 2020)

Encroached lakes unleash flood fury A big lesson Mother Nature taught Hyderabad on October 14 is that water will furiously reclaim its lost ground, drowning urban sprawls in its flow. After unprecedented rain, the lakes of Hyderabad, whose storage capacity eroded over the years, breached their bunds and flooded residential colonies.

Although orders directing authorities to evict squatters had been issued by courts and NGT, encroachments have continued unabated with political support. Activists say of 190 lakes in GHMC limits, all of them have been encroached upon.

A HUDA notification states: “All local bodies, municipalities and gram panchayats, in whose jurisdiction lakes fall, shall take steps to exercise utmost vigilance to prevent any type of encroachments, reclamation, petition or damage of any listed lakes. They are also directed not to grant any permission for buildings or structures of any type within the full tank level and within the 30 metre buffer belt around the lakes under any circumstances.” However, the notification has been binned. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/encroached-hyderabad-lakes-unleash-flood-fury/articleshow/78671713.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

185 tanks overflowing due to heavy rains Telangana Principal Irrigation Secretary Rajat Kumar has said that all the 185 tanks in Hyderabad have surplus and overflowing following heavy rains over the past week.

Speaking to reporters along with Engineer-in-Chief of Irrigation C. Muralidhar, he said except three tanks — Pallechuruvu at Rajendranagar, Appacheruvu at Gaganpahad and Gurram Cheruvu at Balapur — which suffered major damages, none of the remaining 182 tanks breached.

He did not spell out the number of deaths nor encroachments of tanks as the police looked into casualties while encroachments were a subject matter of courts and sub judice to discuss. However, he said all the tanks in the State were mutated to irrigation department.

Overall, he said 101 tanks out of 46,000 tanks in the State breached. Permission to strengthen the bunds of tanks was given. Irrigation officials were instructed to reduce the weir of tanks and release water to avoid breaches. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/185-tanks-overflowing-around-hyderabad-due-to-heavy-rains/article32907958.ece  (21 Oct. 2020)

101 tanks including three tanks in Hyderabad city (APPA Cheruvu, Palle Cheruvu and Gurram Cheruvu) suffered breaches due to heavy inflows caused by incessant rains across the State over the last 10 days. Further, minor damages were reported to another 53 tanks in the city. The Water Resources (irrigation) department officials have already begun repair and restoration works, to prevent inundation in areas adjacent to these tanks. As per initial estimations, about Rs 10 crore are required to complete temporary repairs of these tanks. Another Rs 40 crore are needed to carry out permanent repairs and restoration works.  https://telanganatoday.com/heavy-rains-breach-101-tanks-across-telangana  (21 Oct. 2020)

Key message from this editorial: “This wilful disregard for public safety can only be attributed to a culture of impunity for the administration. The cost of the absence of accountability is being borne by cities and the people who inhabit them.” https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/dark-water-lessons-from-hyderabad-floods/cid/1795373  (22 Oct. 2020)  

Need for flood warning system grows stronger It has been 10 years since the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had come out with the ‘Guidelines on Management of Urban Flooding’ but many of its suggestions, including those regarding flood early warning system, have not been implemented. This is despite the fact that Hyderabad had witnessed disastrous floods back in 2000 and later in 2016 and 2017.

Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai have all come up with a flood warning system of their own — IFLOWS, CFLOWS and Varuna Mitra, respectively. Unfortunately, the GHMC has nothing like this despite the city being home to a vast network of lakes, has reservoirs in its periphery and a river flowing through it. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2020/oct/19/hyderabad-floods-need-for-flood-warning-system-grows-stronger-2212062.html  (19 Oct. 2020)

Bengaluru Rain floods 300 houses, washes away 500 vehicles “We never expected so much rain. The downpour has put the carrying capacity of our SWDs to test,” BBMP commissioner Manjunath Prasad told TOI.

According to the weatherman, at least 15 localities across the city received more than 50mm of rain; Kengeri and RR Nagar topped the list with 103mm and 102mm respectively, as of 7pm. “A trough is over Bengaluru city. A yellow alert has been issued for the city indicating heavy rain,” the Met office said.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-rain-floods-300-houses-washes-away-500-vehicles/articleshow/78838499.cms  (24 Oct. 2020)

According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), Kengeri and Rajarajeshwari Nagar received over 100 mm of rainfall while at least 13 other locations in the city received over 50 mm rainfall. These localities were mostly concentrated in the southern part of Bengaluru, in areas like Basavanagudi, Vidyapeetha and VV Puram. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/heavy-rains-overflowing-stormwater-drains-lead-flooding-south-bengaluru-areas-136036  (24 Oct. 2020)

River flowing through Bangalore streets after rains on Oct 23, 2020: https://www.ndtv.com/bangalore-news/bengaluru-rain-car-seen-floating-as-bengaluru-streets-flooded-after-heavy-rain-video-2315056  (24 Oct. 2020)

Opinion New warnings from floods Since 2000, urban flooding has emerged as a national trend. Several cities have been getting flooded, crippling normal life and posting huge losses to the economy. The list includes Mumbai, Chennai, Srinagar, Jaipur, Baroda, Kochi and, now, Hyderabad.

While extreme rain events are linked to climate change, every such episode of high rainfall need not end in urban flooding. Simply put, cities get flooded when there is not enough space for the rainwater to flow into drains, rivers and other channels.

It also raises important questions concerning urban development, conservation of water bodies, climate change, flood warning systems and policy response to climate change. Focusing on one aspect and leaving out the others could lead to a faulty understanding of the situation.

The policy response to extreme rain events as well as urban flooding has been slow, despite mounting scientific evidence and possible solutions. Most politicians and policy-makers love to dub such episodes as ‘nature’s fury’ and are satisfied by announcing immediate relief and funds for rebuilding damaged structures. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/new-warnings-from-hyderabad-floods-160305  (24 Oct. 2020)

Opinion Till when will we let our cities drown? As climate change worsens heavy downpours and water logging in ill-planned urban areas, India needs city-specific policy and scientific interventions such as early warning systems to reduce the losses and damages caused by urban floods.

Urban flooding and waterlogging have become a regular phenomenon during monsoons across cities, globally. With extreme rainfall events in urban areas, surpassing each previous highest rainfall records, the future appears to be quite grim. The 5th of August witnessed the highest rainfall for that month in the last three years in Mumbai, recording 268 mm within 24 hours. The next day, Colaba alone recorded 331.8 mm rainfall within 24 hours, the highest since 1974. Jaipur also experienced about 100 mm rainfall in about 6 hours on the 14th of August, out of which 81 mm was recorded within 3 hours. About 500 mm of recorded rainfall in the city of Vadodara within 24 hours in July last year led to extreme flooding and waterlogging.

In the onset of climate change, such extreme rainfall events are expected to increase further in both intensity and frequency. The year 2019 has witnessed a steep increase in the number of extreme rainfall events in the country, i.e., 74% more than 2018, as well as the highest recorded rainfall in the last 25 years. Such high-intensity rainfall, within shorter time spans, has the potential to significantly exacerbate the issue of urban flooding and waterlogging in urban areas if appropriate and timely measures are not undertaken. https://www.teriin.org/article/till-when-will-we-let-our-cities-drown  (09 Sept. 2020)

Report Climate Change to make anomalous flooding in urban sprawls the norm Scathing comment on Hyderabad flooding and its implications.   https://science.thewire.in/environment/hyderabad-urban-flooding-climate-change-anomalous-rainfall-urban-infrastructure/  (19 Oct. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Himachal Pradesh Indigenous rights undermined for Kashang HEP  “We are frustrated with this project,” said Bhagat Singh Kinnar, a resident of Rarang, an affected village in the district. Kinnar is also the sole petitioner in one of the legal battles. “People have been shouting and screaming, running to the courts and holding protests but this has had no impact… it seems like the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. [HPPCL] has the full support of the [state] government and the bureaucracy,” he added.

The problem, Kinnar pointed out, is “once work starts, it is very difficult to stop it because they [HPPCL] tell courts that they have already invested crores of rupees.” People from the district are protesting against the forest clearance granted to Stage II and III. They are entitled to forest rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), 2006, but forest land has been diverted in violation of the FRA law to build the hydropower project. The communities are also concerned about the project’s downstream impacts such as landslides and flooding, and the springs they depend on for irrigation drying up. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/10/21/indigenous-rights-undermined-for-hydropower-in-himachal-pradesh/  (21 Oct. 2020)

Kerala Kadars continue fight for assertion of their community forest rights State Electricity Board has started clearing about eight hectares of pristine forest with 625 old-growth trees for the Anakkayam Small Hydro Power Project.

-The Anakkayam hydro project, conceived in the buffer area of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, would require blasting for the construction of a five-km long tunnel. -They are expected to submerge and divert a vast expanse of unique lowland evergreen forests with high endemism of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians for reservoirs, construction of dams and the tunnel.

-The projects were conceived without consent from the Kadars, who are the original inhabitants of these forests and also hold Community Forest Resource Use rights over these areas. Kadars are one of the five particularly vulnerable tribal groups in Kerala. In Vazhachal, Kadars are spread across eight settlements and the Malayans live in one settlement. The community has faced displacement several times in the past, during the construction of the Parambikulam-Aliyar, Peringalkuthu, Sholayar, Mangalam and Thunakadavu dams. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/forests/kerala-s-kadars-continue-fight-for-assertion-of-their-community-forest-rights-73868  (20 Oct. 2020)

Sikkim Teesta tribals to intensify protest against HEP Gyatso Lepcha, general secretary of the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), said, “This campaign has been going on for the past 16 years. Now that the government and NHPC have been pushing it, we have started a campaign called ‘Save Teesta’. This (project) is actually coming in the last stretch of the free flowing river. The project also comes under the periphery of UNESCO World Heritage Site KNP (Kanchendzonga National Park).”  https://www.newsclick.in/Ecology-Livelihoods-at-Stake-Protests-Intesify-against-Hydropower-Project-on-Teesta  (24 Oct. 2020)

NHPC approves merger of Lanco Teesta HEP with it The Board of Directors of state-run hydro power major NHPC on Oct. 20 approved the proposal to merge Lanco Teesta Hydro Power Ltd with it. Lanco Teesta Hydro Power is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NHPC. The state-run major had won the bid to take over the 500 MW Teesta VI hydro power project under the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP). Lanco Teesta Hydro Power was executing the 500 MW (125 MWx4) Teesta VI hydro project on the Teesta river. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/nhpc-board-approves-merger-of-lanco-teesta-hydro-power-with-it/78780554  (21 Oct. 2020)

MoEF Agenda for the meeting of Expert Appraisal Committee for the River Valley Projects to held on Oct 29, 2020:

1. The order dated 20.10.2020 of NGT Principal

Bench New Delhi in the Appeal No. 20/2018 (Md. Hayath Udin v/s UOI and Ors.) – for Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) project in Karimnagar District of Telangana.

2. Saundatti HEP (1200 MW) Integrated Renewable Energy with Pumped Storage Project by M/s Greenko Solar Energy Pvt. Ltd. at village Karlakatti, Tehsil-Saundatti, District-Belgaum, Karnataka: For Env Clearanace.

3. Lower Orr project at village Didoni in Shivpuri Dist, Madhya Pradesh by NWDA – For Env Clearance

4. Shongtong-Karcham Hydroelectric Power Project in District Kinnaur of Himachal Pradesh by M/s Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd.-Revalidation of the install capacity wrt Satluj River Basin Study

5. Bhagpur Lift Irrigation Scheme in Jalgaon district, Maharashtra – validity extension of Env Clearance  http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/211020201F0QH0QTAgenda3rdEACRVP.pdf 

DAMS

Tamil Nadu Mettur dam water level reaches 100 feet for third time this year The dam’s full capacity is 120 feet. The inflow was 18,694 cusecs while water discharge was maintained at 9,000 cusecs. The water level reached 100 feet for the first time this year on Sept. 26 and for the second time on Oct. 15.  “We reduced the water discharging level to the delta districts from 12,000 to 9,000 cusecs on Saturday (Oct. 24) after good rain in those districts,” said a PWD officer. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/mettur-dam-water-level-reaches-100-feet-for-third-time-this-year/articleshow/78848275.cms  (24 Oct. 2020)

All major dams full in Marathwada after 15 years All the 11 major dams in Marathwada, including Manjra dam that is prone to dry storage and supplies water to Latur, Sina Kolegaon and Lower Dudhna in Osmanabad district are almost filled to the designed storage capacity due to a record rainfall.

Jaisingh Hire, assistant engineer with Command Area Development Authority, Aurangabad, on Oct. 24 said the cumulative storage in these major reservoirs was the highest in the last one-and-ahalf decade. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/maharashtra-for-the-first-time-in-15-years-all-major-dams-full-in-marathwada/articleshow/78853260.cms  (25 Oct. 2020)

Telangana EC to Kaleshwaram LIP given in violation of law: NGT In the judgment posted on its website on Oct. 20 in a petition filed by one Md. Hayath Udin, a resident of Siddipet district, who is also a farmer affected directly by the project, the Principal Bench of NGT asked the Ministry to constitute the expert committee within a month and it may complete its exercise within six months thereafter shouldering the responsibility of monitoring the panel work to the Secretary of MOEF&CC.

The petitioner moved the NGT with a contention declare the EC granted to KLIP as invalid since substantial work was done by the State Government, project proponent, prior to filing application with the Ministry for clearance.

“We find that in spite of finding illegality in granting EC, it is neither possible nor desirable to undo what has happened, but accountability needs to be fixed and remedial measures taken,” the Bench comprising Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Judicial Member Justice S.P. Wangdi and Expert Member Dr. Nagin Nanda said their judgement.

The NGT Principal Bench suggested that the expert committee could assess the extent of damage caused in going ahead with the project without EC – the period from 2008 to 2017 — and identify the necessary restoration measures. Further, it could look into relief and rehabilitation measures adopted and required to be further adopted, examine effective implementation of environmental management plan (EMP) submitted by the project proponent as also compliance of EC conditions.

In the matter of expansion of the project scope to draw 3 tmc ft of water a day from the present 2 tmc ft, the NGT observed that directions of the Centre are binding on the State unless challenged and set aside.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/kaleshwaram-irrigation-project-got-environmental-clearance-ex-post-facto-in-violation-of-law-ngt/article32899527.ece   (20 Oct. 2020)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Will protection wall protect temples from Narmada floods? The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) has begun construction work of the protection wall on the right bank of the Narmada river to protect the surrounding villages and the historic temples from the devastating floods. The state government sanctioned Rs 20 crore for the construction of about 32-metres protection wall to protect the temples of Garudeshwar Dutt Sansthan, surrounding villages and the historic Indraeshwar Mahadev temple on the left bank of Narmada. It has been a long pending demand from the villagers and the pilgrims visiting the temples on both the banks of Narmada river. It must be noted that the Indravarni village located on the left bank of Narmada canal remains the worst-during heavy release of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam every monsoon. Authorities of the SSNNL said that 76-metre long wall will be constructed at the cost of Rs 20 crore.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/protection-walls-for-temples-on-narmada/articleshow/78775615.cms  (21 Oct. 2020)

Gujarat Bhadbhut barrage project embankments to affect farmers 131 hectares of land in 14 villages on the banks of the river Narmada will be acquired by the government for the Rs 5,300-crore Bhadbhut barrage project in Bharuch district. The land acquisition is specifically meant to build flood protection embankments on both sides of the river near Bharuch. These embankments will begin from the Bhadbhut reservoir which will be located just 25 km away from the mouth of river Narmada and will be built upstream, official sources said. “A total of 131.53 hectares will be acquired for the project. Most of these land parcels belong to 377 farmers in 14 villages,” a senior official of the Kalpasar department said.

– “The embankments will be several km long and will protect both the banks,” the official added. The right bank flood protection embankment that will fall on side of Bharuch city will be 14 km long and will have an average height of four metres. The left bank flood protection embankment, falling on the Ankleshwar side, will be 27 km long with an average height of eight metres. Both these embankments will run upstream from the barrage to the Golden Bridge. “When Sardar Sarovar dam overflows during monsoon, the area of 13 villages on the right bank of Bharuch and Vagra talukas gets submerged. Similarly, large scale soil erosion also takes place during the floods which also inundates 14 villages on left bank of Ankleshwar and Hansot talukas of the district. These embankments will help save the banks in the future,” the official added.

– Local Fisher people have been agitating against the proposed Bhadbhut project for long.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/reservoir-upstream-narmada-131-hectares-to-be-acquired-for-bhadbhut-barrage-project-6795279/lite/  (20 Oct. 2020)

Rajasthan 14 years on, 47 villages await Panchana dam’s water For 14 years now, after flow was stopped from the Panchana Dam in eastern Rajasthan, people living and farming in 47 adjoining villages in Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts have gone without water for drinking or irrigation. Local residents say that about 40,000 bighas (10,000 hectares) of once-cultivated land has been rendered arid in both districts due to closure of canals. This has caused a direct loss of about Rs 1,400 crore (calculated at Rs 25,000 a bigha a year) over 14 years, and a population of 125,000 has been affected, claimed the Panchana Dam Command Area Development Council, an organisation that has been fighting for the cause of water in these districts. https://en.gaonconnection.com/high-and-dry-fourteen-years-on-47-villages-in-rajasthan-await-panchana-dams-water/  (26 Oct. 2020)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Tungabhadra River Andhra, Karnataka projects halted after objections Proposals to build a parallel flood canal for the Tungabhadra (TB) High Level Main Canal by Andhra Pradesh and a supplementary reservoir across the Tungabhadra river near Nowli by the Karnataka government have been halted temporarily following objections by irrigation officials of both states during the recent Tungabhadra Board meeting. The Board has put the issue in the courts of the Chief Ministers of the two states.

It may be noted that the AP government had proposed the construction of a flood canal from the TB reservoir to the state borders and the issue has been pending for the past two decades because of a poor response from Karnataka. However, Karnataka proposed building a supplementary reservoir across the Tungabhadra river near Nowli upstream area and reportedly planned to mount pressure on AP irrigation officials and Board members to clear it.

In the Tungabhadra Board meeting held two days ago, AP officials objected to a supplementary reservoir even as Karnataka had prepared a detailed and substantiated project report. Karnataka justified drawing 30 tmc feet from the augmented canal at Nowli to compensate for the heavy silt in the Tungabhadra dam. Objecting to the proposal, Andhra Pradesh mooted a meeting of the tow CMs to resolve the issue.  https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/241020/andhra-pradesh-karnataka-projects-on-tungabhadra-river-halted-after-o.html  (24 Oct. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Photo Story: Worm Collectors of a Polluted River In this rather never before kind of photoblog, Abhay Kanvinde narrates how a group of people at such unimaginable risk collect worms from starkly and darkly polluted Mutha river of Pune to earn their livelihood, full time basis! Plz Watch, Share.  https://sandrp.in/2020/10/22/photo-storyworm-collectors-of-a-polluted-river/  (22 Oct. 2020)

Report Time to save urban rivers -Accelerated transformation of ‘urban riverfront development’ has been pushed along the riverbanks in the last few decades. The riverfront development has been reduced to just cosmetic ‘river beautification’ and unaccountable money spent to increase its real estate and commercial value.

-Our rivers are being narrowed far within their actual width with concrete riverbed wall embankments. Since concrete riverbed and channels are the main components of these projects for car parking, plaza, walkways, restaurants etc, the river’s flooding capacity and aquatic are adversely impacted.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/learning-from-past-mistakes-it-s-time-to-save-urban-rivers-73851  (19 Oct. 2020)

Mula-Mutha; Pune PCMC’s STP found non-functioning again Serious malpractices in treatment of effluents released into the Mula-Mutha have come to the fore once again, after a visit by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s (PCMC) sewage treatment plant (STP) at Pimple Nilakh.

-State pollution control officials were visiting the spot last week after taking cognisance of a complaint made by a group of students from Rayat Shikhan Sanstha — the Rayat Vidyarthi Parishad — who had exposed the irregularities two months ago. At the time, Mirror had reported the exposé in front page news titled ‘PCMC discharges sewage directly into Mula-Mutha’ (PM, August 10), noting that the pupils had demanded immediate action.

-Shockingly, the students pointed out that soon after the MPCB visit, the offending pipe was found broken, and alleged that this was done by the agency running the place to avoid accountability.

-The students had also found out that while the actual capacity of the plant is to treat 20 MLD of sewage, the contractor does not even treat 10 MLD per week. Further, they had alleged that although the chemical/powder to treat water costs Rs 10 lakh per month, the contractor is taking payment for the same from PCMC, but not actually treating the water.

-It further observed, “The STP was shut from October 1to 11, 2020. Treated outlet quality seen during the visit was slightly blackish in colour.” The report also noted that MPCB had already issued a warning notice to PCMC on August 3, 2020, directing it to stop discharge of untreated effluents into the river.  https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/cover-story/malpractices-at-pcmcs-sewage-treatment-plant-in-pimple-nilakh-mpcb/articleshow/78737586.cms  (19 Oct. 2020) 

Mithi, Mumbai Re-negotiating the lost edge of river Editor’s Note: This story is part of a campaign called Biodiversity by the Bay, run by Mumbai’s Ministry of Magic. The campaign is a citizen-driven environmental initiative to protect the rich biodiversity that lives in, or makes a stop in Mumbai on its migratory path elsewhere. The story is one in a series – An Architecture Student’s Vision for Building a Greener Mumbai – in which young architecture and urban planning students pen down their ideas for a sustainable future for development in Mumbai.

Conclusively, reviving a river and its ecology is a time and cost inductive task as it involves various stakeholders, perspectives, and biases, but few small initiatives to create an expression of co-existence of man and nature is currently the need of the hour for Mumbai. https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/an-architecture-students-vision-for-a-greener-mumbai-re-negotiating-lost-edge-of-river-mithi-8941781.html  (24 Oct. 2020)

Mumbai Construction muddying 1,000-year-old Banganga That ancient structures are susceptible to stress from development is no surprise but the 1000-year-old structure is facing a “first of its kind” threat, warn locals and members of the Goud Saraswat Brahman (GSB) Temple Trust that owns and manages the Banganga complex after the clear waters of the tank turned murky brown last month, which they believe is a result of heavy piling work for a new multi-storeyed residential project coming up 100 metres northeast from the historic tank. Rutvik Aurangabadkar, executive administrator of the GSB Temple Trust says, “We saw that the water was getting muddy every time piling work was on. We are worried that the construction activity has hindered the underground route and poses a threat of permanent damage to the natural aquifer that might render the tank redundant.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-locals-fear-construction-work-is-muddying-1000-year-old-banganga/articleshow/78854698.cms  (25 Oct. 2020)

RIVERS

Rajasthan River that ran through Thar Desert Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers. “These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can’t tell us when,” explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.

“To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert,” Achyuthan said. The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal.

The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits. “We immediately saw evidence for a substantial and very active river system from the bottom of the fluvial deposits, which gradually decreased in power through time,” Achyuthan said.

The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried. The results indicated that the strongest river activity at Nal occurred at approximately 172 and 140 thousand years ago, at a time when the monsoon was much weaker than today in the region. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/lost-river-that-ran-through-thar-desert-172-000-years-ago-found/story-RCuBibrYEGcJsL9QmSC06N.html  (21 Oct. 2020)

GANGA Uttarakhand  Don’t undermine SC on Char Dham plan HT Edit on government officials overruling Char Dham HPC Chairman:- Government officials who are uncomfortable with the prescriptions of the SC-empowered panel must realise that undermining Mr Chopra means undermining the court itself, and putting the ecology and citizens of the state at risk. As this paper had said before, the Char Dham project needs to be reviewed, and the SC needs to take a strict view of those undermining its orders. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/don-t-undermine-sc-on-char-dham-plan/story-PaIdwfVOddz2kPz9LMLfhN.html   (19 Oct. 2020)

गंगा और अन्य नदियों के किनारे नहीं होंगे बेतरतीब निर्माण This is clearly insufficient उत्तराखंड में गंगा सहित अन्य कई नदियों के बाढ़ क्षेत्र घोषित करते हुए निर्माण की सशर्त अनुमति की अधिसूचना जारी कर दी है। सरकार ने आपत्तियों की सुनवाई के लिए 60 दिन का समय दिया है। https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/uttarakhand-government-declared-flood-zones-of-several-rivers-including-ganga  (20 Oct. 2020)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Report Dams, mining big threats to gharial Several factors have contributed to the decline of the gharial population. Many get entangled in fishing nets or ensnared by hooks laid by turtle poachers. They are also hunted for their skin and as trophies, and for use in traditional medicine. Illegal sand mining from riverbanks destroys the gharials’ habitats and nests, forcing them to abandon their preferred basking sites. Basking is important for thermoregulation in the species.

One of the biggest threats is the unfettered use of dams and sluice gates, which when opened flood the downstream tributaries, eroding the riverbank in stretches, and washing away the gharials’ eggs.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/19/rising-tide-why-the-crocodile-like-gharial-is-returning-to-indias-rivers-aoe  (19 Oct. 2020)

Western Ghats 7 new species of diatoms discovered 7 new species of sub-aerial diatoms, a kind of algae, have been discovered from some areas of Western Ghats by city-based scientists from the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI).

-Diatoms, which generate nearly 25 per cent of global oxygen, are commonly found in streams, rivers, lakes and seas. In simple terms, every fourth breath that we take is produced by diatoms, which are efficient in the carbon fixation process.

-In a recently published study led by Balasubramanian Karthick, diatoms from genus Luticola were found growing on wet walls close to water bodies near Kaas plateau in Satara, Varanda ghat near Bhor and Yana caves in north Karnataka.

-What makes the discovery from Western Ghats significant is that the closest relatives from this genus can be traced to Antarctica even today. This is the first time in two centuries that a discovery of Luticola peguana, found during the 1800s in Bengal, has been found in the Western Ghats. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/seven-new-species-of-diatoms-discovered-from-western-ghats-6809893/  (21 Oct. 2020)

Himachal Pradesh 9 new animal species discovered The animals discovered in the state include a fish, moth, caddisfly, two wasps, and four true bugs. The fish was found in Simbalbara river in Sirmaur district and has been named after the river as Garra simbalbaraensis.

Across the country, 368 new animal species were discovered in 2019, including 294 invertebrates and 74 vertebrates. The report said that during the last decade, nearly 2,500 species have been discovered in India, a mega-biodiverse country. The total faunal diversity in India now comprises around 1.02 lakh species which is 6.5 per cent of the global diversity. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/animal-species-himachal-pradesh-6854277/  (24 Oct. 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Frequent Capsizes of Fly Ash Laden Ships and Barges in Hooghly River. Complaints Submitted by Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) Admitted for Adjudication.  Principal Bench of NGT Constitutes Committee to Examine, Investigate and Report In 2 Months

Malancha to Kulti Gang: Fisher People March 12 Kms To Save River Vidyadhari. Fisher People and Local Panchayets Demand Immediate Action Against State Pollution Control Board. Telegraph, 19×20  https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/3916982684996042 

SAND MINING

IRW 2020 Thrilled to announce the North Zone online Dialogue on “IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS?” Join the exciting panelists on 31st October, 4pm to 6 pm IST

PLZ SHARE WIDELY. To join, please register at this link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfrgNr6Tb5BUbbmrX9BGI8xwXrhBQGsfRH9hK-paCariGyMQg/viewform 

Rajasthan SC panel to inspect illegal sand mining areas A central empowered committee (CEC) was on a three-day inspection of illegal sand mining areas in Rajasthan from Oct. 22. The committee was formed after a SLP was filed in the Supreme Court stating that illegal mining on riverbeds was continuing despite a ban by the apex court in November 2017.

Following this, the court empowered the committee to submit a report on the problems related to sand mining that are faced by traders, consumers, transporters, the state and other stakeholders. It would be necessary for the CEC to suggest measures for stopping illegal mining. The CEC will submit its report along with recommendations in six weeks. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/sc-panel-to-inspect-illegal-sand-mining-areas-in-raj-from-today/articleshow/78797847.cms  (22 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Illegal mining activities continue in great Indian bustard’s habitat The GIB sanctuary in Shrigonda taluka of Ahmednagar district is an eco-sensitive zone and doesn’t permit any anthropogenic (human-related) activity within the 10-kilometre radius. Nonetheless, illegal stone mining and stone crushing units have been active here, affecting the habitat of the nearly extinct GIB.

-According to locals, the mining took place on the banks of an irrigation canal and the blasting of the ground affected the water recharge capacity of groundwater sources, wildlife and cattle. The locals also found that the water meant for irrigation purposes was pumped for the quarry works which is a violation of the environmental norms.

-Recently, a sugar factory and an electricity plant have been set up in the area, and within a few hundred meters from the GIB habitat. The electricity plant has not sought the required set of permissions from the National Board of Wildlife, the NGT had noted in December 2019 order. The mining company had told the green tribunal that the newly revised guidelines of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest have relaxed the eco-sensitive zone from 10 kilometres to 400 metres and as per those, the sugar factory now does not violate any environmental norms.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/illegal-industrial-and-mining-activities-continue-in-great-indian-bustards-habitat-in-maharashtra/  (20 Oct. 2020)

Odisha Govt spares mafia, punishes truckers Even as mining mafia of laterite stone has gone scot free, the government has, in a bizarre turn of events, been imposing environmental compensation upon truckers transporting the illegally mined mineral. One such incident has been reported from Khordha district, where the state government, by its own admission, has been penalising truck drivers to compensate for the environmental damage caused by large-scale illegal laterite stone mining.

In an action-taken report submitted to the NGT in the last week of Sept., the government said environmental damage of over Rs 1.80 crore, computed on account of illegal laterite mining in Khordha, is being collected from truckers transporting the material. It has been further claimed in the report, prepared by a team of nine state government officials, that thereby all steps have been taken to prevent illegal mining in Khordha. https://www.newsclick.in/Odisha-Govt-Spares-Mining-Mafia-Imposes-Environment-Damages-Truckers  (24 Oct. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Tamil Nadu Man protecting mangroves by digging over 3000 canals “I knew how marine animals make the roots of the mangroves their home and how they are also sometimes used as breeding areas, but after my association with scientists and researchers, I got to know how mangroves help in maintaining an ecological balance among the sea, the land and the rivers,” says Sankar, a fisherman.

3,000 canals were dug across 5,000 hectares in Muthupet to feed fresh water to the mangroves while flowing into the sea. Salinity levels in Muthupet increased due to changes in rainfall patterns and reduction in river water levels. Image from Google Maps. (TNM)

There were 200 traditional fishing canals in Muthupet, but on realising the importance of the inflow of fresh water to keep the soil salinity in control, Sankar began to mobilise his community to dig more canals — with the help of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department — leading the Cauvery river water into the wetland.

But, with scarce and erratic rainfall patterns, and an ongoing tug of war between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for Cauvery water, the hope for restoring the diversity of the mangrove forests are slim. Selvam says, “Unless more river water is released into the sea, the soil salinity levels are unlikely to get better. It is this fresh water that flows into the sea through the canals while feeding the mangroves. But since the State receives erratic rainfall and has often faced drought, the government is keen on saving the water for citizens, especially farmers.”

Most government authorities consider letting the river water flow into the sea waste and as a result, they try to ensure that very little is allowed to be “wasted”, the researcher adds.

Sankar, however, is optimistic. “When I was little, when the monsoon would set it, we would have a big festival and worship Paampatti Siddhar (a sage with an affinity towards snakes). We believe that he protects us from snakes when we venture out to catch fish. Now, even though the rains set in around November, we have maintained the tradition and continue to celebrate the festival on July 15. It has become a way to keep us connected to our past,” he says. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/tn-man-has-been-protecting-mangroves-digging-over-3000-canals-135941  (22 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra Govt re-examines ‘wetland’ status for Navi Mumbai flamingo haven The Thane district administration’s various bodies have undertaken a fresh verification drive from Monday to determine whether two sites in Navi Mumbai can be declared wetlands following an application by an environmentalist, who is also a local resident. The team will make its submissions before the Bombay HC-appointed state wetland committee, which is headed by the Konkan commissioner, on October 27.

The team also identified debris dumping at the site and directed the City Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (Cidco), which is Navi Mumbai’s planning body, to clear it within a week. The sites included the 21.9 ha NRI Complex and 14.3-ha Training Ship Chanakya (TSC), where a record 9,000 flamingos had flocked in April and May.

However, both these sites were not included by the district administration in their final list of newly identified and verified wetlands in line with 2017 wetland rules that was submitted to the Maharashtra government’s environment department on January 3. Cidco plans to develop a golf course and construct 17 buildings, including 1,564 flats and 20 office spaces, in the area, which have been opposed by environmentalists and the local residents. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-re-examines-wetland-status-for-navi-mumbai-flamingo-haven/story-ClEKPbMMLfbCb2UNA4zQWP.html  (21 Oct. 2020)

NGT slams district bodies for failing to restore 490-year-old wetland The NGT has directed the restoration of a 490-year-old wetland in Sindhudurg district and directed the bank account of the state PWD be seized since its previous orders were not adhered to.

The NGT principal bench of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and expert member Dr Satyawan Singh Gabryal on October 9 directed the Sindhudurg district collector to ensure that an amount of Rs 1.5 crore is seized in the bank account of the PWD till the time it does not transfer the amount to State Biodiversity Board to restore the heritage Dhamapur Lake, a notified wetland.  The district administration has also been directed to take necessary steps to remove all obstructions and illegalities (in terms of construction) undertaken in violation of the Wetland 2017 rules. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/ngt-slams-district-bodies-for-failing-to-restore-490-year-old-wetland-in-maharashtra/story-36ssEh3X3lCkyTdUFEDPCK.html  (15 Oct. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Turning lakes into dump yards Municipals are local governments are responsible for protecting the environment; but in Kashmir they are involved in its destruction. The crisis is not limited to urban bodies. Rural areas are also struggling due to poor waste management. Local residents and sanitation workers also dump waste in waterbodies.

DTE

-Despite scarcity of land, the local governments are aimlessly hunting new areas and are willing to resort to illegal practices. Instead, they should turn to the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2016. It insists on segregation at source and decentralised composting. This is easily possible in the Valley as nearly 80 per cent all houses own open spaces, but it needs a government push.

-For the revival of the wetlands, I had suggested in the 2019 NGT case a collaboration between the wildlife conservation department, which is responsible for wetlands, and the rural sanitation department, the nodal agency for Swacch Bharat-Gramin, a programme whose budget has remained largely unspent in the past five years. On August 27, the NGT has directed the state government to look into the feasibility of the suggestion.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/a-trashed-valley-kashmir-needs-to-segregate-its-waste-at-source-73447  (20 Sept. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Chhattisgarh Govt to build 1089 drains in forest To help conserve depleting groundwater resources within forested areas, the government has identified 1089 drains for treatment and revival in the forest areas. The programme will be implemented under the Narva Development Scheme. The initiative is aimed at the revival of 4,28,827 hectares of groundwater reservoirs within the forest-covered land. A provisional budget of Rs 160.95 crore has been earmarked from the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Protection Authority (CAMPA) fund for 137 drains. These drains are located over 31 forest divisions, one national park, two tiger reserves, one elephant reserve, and one social forestry area. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chhattisgarh-to-revive-depleting-groundwater-in-forests-1733250-2020-10-20  (20 Oct. 2020)

Low-profile scheme to conserve water is showing encouraging results More than nine lakh hectares of agriculture land is supposed to benefit from the conservation efforts and so far, 4.5 lakh hectares has already been covered. The state government has increased the Budget modestly to Rs 200 crore this year. Though not everything can be verified on the ground, Rao has meticulously documented the work being done with longitudinal locations and pictures. It will also help determine the progress in the future.

Unfortunately, the forest department’s efforts are not being supplemented by the district administration and rural development departments, which have larger areas to cover. For these departments, the priority is to ensure that the narwas located in revenue areas are not captured by land sharks.

It appears that a lot of work done by these departments – de-siltation of urban water bodies and cleaning of nullahs – has not met with Baghel’s approval. Besides, the forest department and Rao have the unique benefit of working across the state’s geographical, while district administrations have limited vision and plans.  https://thewire.in/government/chhattisgarh-water-conservation-bhupesh-baghel-forest-area  (26 Oct. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh Govt to install 179 community solar tubewells In a push for solar irrigation, govt has approved a pilot project on community-level off-grid solar pumps for small and marginal farmers. The state government has allocated ₹60 million to install 179 ‘community mini solar tube wells’ under PM-KUSUM. Around 70% of the project cost will be covered by the state and central subsidies, and the remaining 30% will be borne by the farmers’ society.

Under this project, a 5HP solar-powered tube well will be installed for a group of 10 or more farmers. Each of these community mini solar irrigation projects are estimated to irrigate around 6 hectares of land and create a potential irrigation capacity of 10-hectares land. The minor irrigation department will implement the project while the agricultural department will act as the nodal agency for the project. Taking into account the groundwater situation in the state, it was also proposed that all the tube wells would be installed at a depth of 69 meters to avoid the blocks which are critical in terms of groundwater. https://mercomindia.com/uttar-pradesh-install-solar-tubewells/  (16 Oct. 2020)

GROUNDWATER

CGWA 5-year jail, Rs 1 lakh fine for wastage of potable groundwater Wastage or misuse of potable groundwater will now be a punishable offence in India. A directive of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) says violators will face imprisonment up to five years or fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh, or with both, for non-compliance of a mechanism to be framed by local civic bodies to implement the order.

“No person shall waste or misuse potable water resources tapped from underground,” said the directive issued on October 8 under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 acting on an order of the NGT.

The local bodies, dealing with water supply, will specifically elaborate on what may constitute ‘wastage’ or ‘misuse’ — both in terms of domestic and commercial use — and enforce it through proper monitoring. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/5-year-jail-rs-1-lakh-fine-for-wastage-of-potable-groundwater/articleshow/78838163.cms  (24 Oct. 2020)

The notification further states that no person in the country shall waste or misuse potable water resources tapped from underground. “It is pertinent to mention here that failure to comply with this notification, in each such incident of contravention, is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both, and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine, which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention, under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” said Akash Vashishtha, counsel in the matter. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/oct/23/now-wastage-or-misuse-of-groundwater-to-invite-up-to-rs-1-lakh-fine-five-years-in-jail-2214149.html  (23 Oct. 2020)

NGT Policy to check GW misuse missing  A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the response filed both by the Ministry of Jal Shakti as well as DJB does not show clear enforceable policy to check such misuse and wastage. The affidavit is vague and general. It is stated that letters have been written to the States. This step by itself can hardly be enough to discharge the public trust reposed in the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

“Apart from writing a letter, there has to be specific time bound action plans and monitoring which should include coercive measures for enforcement, the bench said. The NGT said the affidavit filed by the DJB is wholly inadequate to address the problem. http://www.millenniumpost.in/nation/ngt-slams-centre-over-inadequate-measures-to-prevent-wastage-of-groundwater-421967   (23 Oct. 2020)

Karnataka Groundwater in 30 villages in Yadgir, Raichur has high arsenic A study by the Jal Shakti Ministry has lighted upon a disturbing reality: Groundwater in as many as 30 villages in Yadgir and Raichur districts are contaminated with arsenic.

In Kakargal and Maski villages in Raichur district, the concentration of arsenic in groundwater was found to be 0.05mg per litre, which is five times higher than what the WHO deems safe: 0.01mg per litre. The addition of these 30 villages, the groundwater reserves of which are found to contain arsenic, has earned Karnataka the dubious distinction of having most areas where the groundwater has arsenic. Of the 30 villages, 25 are in Raichur and five in Yadgir district.

The Jal Shakti Ministry report has emphasised the imminent need for action to remove this natural element, which is found in rocks and soil in the two districts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/groundwater-in-30-villages-in-yadgir-raichur-has-high-arsenic/articleshow/78834952.cms  (24 Oct. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Katte, Kunte losing to concrete While 20% of Bengaluru’s lakes have been encroached on, the largest losses are seen among gokattes and kuntes, water bodies smaller than three acre.

While 20% of Bengaluru’s lakes have been encroached on and have subsequently disappeared, the largest losses are seen among gokattes (defined as water bodies of between one acre and three acre) and kuntes (defined as water bodies less than one acre). As per the Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute report, 57.5% of gokattes and 75% of kuntes have disappeared.

-S Vishwanath, a water conservation expert, says kattes and kuntes host very specific urban biodiversity. “For instance, there are species of grasshoppers that sustain on these small patches. It becomes a symbiotic relationship between the shrubs, fauna and water. They should be protected.” https://scroll.in/article/975998/katte-and-kunte-the-smaller-lesser-known-water-bodies-that-bengaluru-is-losing-to-concrete   (19 Oct. 2020)

Report Why tanks are disappearing? A warming climate, bringing fewer rain days and more intense rainfall events in its wake, makes the role played by tanks even more critical.  

Water management has such a pride of place, that we found over 40 words in Tamil just to speak of water, with several words for a tank or lake — Eri, Kanmai, Kulam, Kuttai, Oorani, to name just a few. Each referred to a particular type of tank, designed largely for a particular purpose. Eri or Kanmai both referred to irrigation tanks, while Oorani referred to a drinking water pond, typically located like planets around a larger Eri or Kanmai. There were names for tanks within temples, tanks meant for livestock — clearly this was an important subject in the days of yore. There were also several roles assigned for water management — Neeraanikar, Neerkatti, Karaiyar, Kuzhathu Kaapalar — for water rotation, operating sluices, for cleaning the tanks, for ensuring there were no encroachments.  https://www.firstpost.com/india/tanks-are-silver-bullet-for-indias-water-woes-why-theyre-disappearing-leaving-us-more-vulnerable-to-a-warming-climate-8928381.html  (19 Oct. 2020)

Chennai Lakes in Chengalpet fill with sewage Streams of sewage are flowing unchecked into freshwater lakes in Chengalpet, polluting them and the groundwater all around. The local panchayats contribute to the mess, randomly digging stormwater drains, which mostly carry sewage, that flow into these water bodies. There are six inlet points into Vandalur lake and about a dozen into Manapakkam lake. The recent rain has seen streams of sewage from local households running through these channels into the lakes.

A panchayat official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said in most town panchayats underground drainage projects had been sanctioned. However, none of the village panchayats have any proposal for such a project. “In the Vandalur area, it is all village panchayats. They either have septic tanks or choke pits. For village panchayats sewage or drainage system is not planned for now,” said an official.

But a recently constructed canal to carry storm water at Otteri village has been converted into a sewage drain in no time. Venkatesh, a resident of Vandalur, said the canal joins the Vandalur lake and carries a stream of sewage. “The lake was recently cleaned and restoration work is going on. In such a situation the administration should take steps to plug such sewage channels entering the lakes. No steps are taken in Vandalur taluk for solid waste management, sewage management and rain water harvesting,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/lakes-in-chengalpet-fill-with-sewage/articleshow/78816769.cms  (23 Oct. 2019)

Thane Water crisis fuels dam talks Following the acute water crisis in Thane in the summer of 2016, resident Mangesh Shellar had filed a PIL in the High Court blaming poor planning by the TMC and the haphazard way in which the civic body granted permission for new constructions along Ghodbunder Road. Following this PIL, the court had stalled permissions to any new constructions along Ghodbunder Road in 2016. The court has also asked the corporation to file an affidavit stating the water connections and occupation certificates given in the last five years. In the affidavit, the corporation stated that TMC has done water management to meet the population requirement till 2025. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/cries-for-more-water-supply-own-dam-in-thane-grow-louder/story-F6DbGF6fCKE5phl7VUsZPK.html  (23 Oct. 2020)

Mangaluru Plaints on water bills prompt MCC to hold Water Adalats Mayor Divakar said the city corporation has received several complaints related to inflated or delayed billing. Some domestic consumers have complained about getting bills in the range of Rs10,000 to Rs25,000. The mayor said people may submit their complaints and the same will be taken up at Water Adalats for redressal. “Consumers should submit an application with details regarding discrepancies in their water bills before November 5. The applications will be scrutinized at Water Adalat sessions. Action will be taken by officials to sort out issues during the sessions,” Divakar said, adding that Adalats will be held every month. The civic body has been receiving complaints about even small families getting bills upwards of Rs10,000 with dues of the pandemic-induced lockdown period. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/plaints-on-water-bills-prompt-mcc-to-hold-water-adalats/articleshow/78835440.cms  (24 Oct. 2020)

Delhi Story of 9 year long attempt to get a water body back and some progress, but will it sustain?  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/finally-some-action-on-9-year-fight-to-get-waterbody-back/articleshow/78758050.cms  (20 Oct. 2020)

WATER POLLUTION

Research Coloured cotton on the cusp of commercial release in 2021 India has been the home to naturally-occurring coloured cotton. The research and commercial release of these varieties had been hampered in the past due to the fear of these varieties contaminating the white cotton. With the Government of India and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research paying attention to coloured cotton research in the recent years, there could be a commercial release in 2021. The promise of release of naturally-coloured cotton from India could help reduce the environmental pollution caused by dyes. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/coloured-cotton-from-india-on-the-cusp-of-commercial-release-in-2021/  (08 Oct. 2020)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Bihar मोकामा का टाल वाला इलाका दाल का कटोरा के नाम से भी जाना जाता है. विडंबना यह है कि आज यहां के किसानों के सामने खुद दाल खरीद कर खाने की नौबत आन पड़ी है. इसके पीछे कारण है टाल क्षेत्र में पानी की निकासी का बंद हो जाना.

लखीसराय, पटना, शेखपुरा और नालंदा में गंगा के किनारे खेतों को किसान टाल कहते हैं. करीब एक लाख छह हज़ार हेक्टेयर में फैले इस इलाकों में किसान एक ही फसल ले पाते हैं. आमतौर पर यह दलहन की फसल होती है. परंपरागत रूप से लोग यहां दाल उगाते रहे हैं.

टाल का इलाका हर साल गांगा में बाढ़ के पानी में डूब जाता है लेकिन धीरे-धीरे जब पानी उतरता है तब किसान इसमें अपने फसलों की बुआई शुरू कर देते हैं. बाढ़ के चलते आई उपजाऊ मिट्टी इसे बेहद उर्वर बना देती है. बिना खाद, पानी के ही किसान खूब पैदवार करते थे. आमतौर पर 15 अक्टूबर तक इस इलाके में बुआई शुरू हो जाती थी. लेकिन बीते तीन सालों से हालात एकदम बदल गए हैं. पानी समय पर निकल ही नहीं रहा. इसके कारण दलहन की खेती नहीं हो रही है. इस साल भी अक्टूबर बीतने को है लेकिन खेतों में कमर तक पानी भरा हुआ है. किसानों का कहना है कि बीते तीन सालों की तरह इस बार भी खेती नहीं ही होगी.  https://www.newslaundry.com/2020/10/23/bihar-elections-nitish-kumar-jdu-tejashwi-yadav-bjp-rjd-farmers-pulses  (24 Oct. 2020)

बिहार सरकार ने मोकामा के पास से गंगा का पानी 190 किलोमीटर दूर नालंदा और गया ले जाने का निर्णय लिया है। यह मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार की महात्वाकांक्षी योजना है, लेकिन इस पर कई सवाल भी उठ रहे हैं। जानकार इस पूरे प्रोजेक्ट को अव्यावहारिक मान रहे हैं और कह रहे हैं कि इससे मोकामा टाल में गाद की समस्या और बढ़ेगी। https://www.gaonconnection.com/read/ganga-udbhav-yojna-will-make-more-problematic-silt-problem-in-mokama-taal-bihar-48224  (23 Oct. 2020)

मोकामा से गंगा के पानी को राजगीर होते हुए गया में सप्लाई किया जाएगा इसके लिए सरकार 2800 खर्चा कर रही है । लेकिन गंगा के पानी को यहां से ले जाने से मोकामा और उसके आसपास के प्रभाव क्या पड़ेगा, इसकी एक पड़ताल  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAGxLiXZ9c4&feature=youtu.be   (23 Oct. 2020)

इस प्रोजेक्ट से गंगा की परिस्थितिकी और डाल्फिन पर भी खतरे की आशंका है। https://www.gaonconnection.com/read/why-nitish-kumar-bihar-government-is-not-focusing-to-build-historical-magadh-water-conservation-system-instead-of-ganga-uddhav-yojna-48231  (25 Oct. 2020) 

AGRICULTURE

Madhya Pradesh How Gond villages took to terrace farming The loss of topsoil was always a problem at the village of Chataniha, in Singrauli district. Then they learned terrace farming customised to their terrain and a transformation followed. Here is a ground report on how it happened.  https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/rural-reporter/how-gond-villages-took-to-terrace-farming/  (19 Oct. 2020)

Uttarakhand Young changemaker renewing hill farming Ranjana Kukreti’s is combining traditional knowledge with scientific techniques that is bringing in a new dawn for hill farmers of her village in Uttarakhand. https://scroll.in/video/976577/eco-india-a-young-changemaker-is-renewing-hill-farming-and-making-it-lucrative-for-her-community  (24 Oct. 2020)

Maharashtra The livelihood of the hilly, rainfed tribal areas of Akole taluka (Ahmedanagar dist) depends on Dangi cattle. The Lok Panchayat Sanstha, at Sangamner was alerted in time and undertook the Dangi Cattle Conservation under Mah Gene Bank Project. It raised the standard of the living of the pastoralists again. https://www.agrowon.com/agriculture-story-marathi-farmers-akole-taluka-nagar-dist-are-doing-traditional-dangi-cow-37327  (20 Oct. 2020)

DISASTERS

Report Move from early warnings to early action “Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.

– One in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, according to the 2020 State of Climate Services report released on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. It stresses the need to switch to impact-based forecasting — an evolution from “what the weather will be” to “what the weather will do” so that people and businesses can act early based on the warnings. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/natural-disasters-move-from-early-warnings-to-early-action-says-report  (13 Oct. 2020)

Study Himalayas poised for a series of big earthquake  The entire Himalayan arc is poised to produce a sequence of great earthquakes, and the next big quake — of the magnitude of 8 or above — may occur during our lifetimes, according to a study reviewing geological, historical, and geophysical data. The human toll of such an event in the densely populated countries across the arc is likely to be unprecedented, the researchers said. The study notes that the sequence of future Himalayan earthquakes could be similar to the great earthquakes that occurred in the twentieth century along the Aleutian subduction zone, which extends from the Gulf of Alaska to Kamchatka in Russian Far East.

Strong and damaging shaking in such great quakes could extend southward as far as India’s capital, Delhi, one of the largest cities in the world with a population of more than 11 million, Wesnousky added. North India has witnessed many earthquakes of small magnitude in the past four months, raising popular speculation about a big one in the region. However, he said, scientists have yet to find a systematic relationship between the occurrence of small earthquakes and the timing of greater earthquakes in the future. “These small earthquakes are thousands of times smaller than the great earthquakes we are studying,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/himalayas-poised-for-a-series-of-big-earthquakes-may-extend-to-delhi-chandigarh-study/story-tXfUHE4JLFl9WUmp0biPDJ.html  (22 Oct. 2020)

LANDSLIDES

Manipur Incessant rains trigger massive landslide, flood alert issued As the downpour in Manipur continued on Oct 23-24, a massive landslide occurred along the National Highway-2, Imphal-Dimapur road on Oct. 24 disrupting the traffic completely. The landslide occurred at near Khongnem Thana about 12 km north from Senapati police station.

A crack began to develop along the national highway stretch since Oct. 23 evening. On Oct. 24 morning, the landslide caused a depression of the highway stretch about 50 metres in length and 30 feet depth. A freight truck was also swept away but the occupants of the trucks escaped.  https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/manipur/manipur-incessant-rains-trigger-massive-landslide-flood-alert-issued-6871189/  (24 Oct. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

WII scientists anxious after Finance Ministry recommends funding cut A letter by the WII Director to the Environment Ministry says that the directive was “unviable” and would affect the institution’s ability to be seen as an “unbiased opinion generator” that both government and public sector units consulted for assessing the impact of development projects on wildlife.https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/wii-scientists-anxious-after-finance-ministry-recommends-funding-cut/article32902101.ece  (20 Oct. 2020)

Can’t do without support: WII chief writes to MoEF According to the letter: The institute raises a meagre Rs 3.50 crore a year on account of its consultancy and advisory services to various departments. This amount is used to cover pension liabilities of its employees appointed before 01.04.2004 for which currently it is insufficient.

The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, in its report Sept. 30 on rationalisation of autonomous bodies under the MoEF&CC recommended that the ministry “disengage” from five autonomous institutions under it — including WII. The proposal also seeks to reduce WII’s funding by 25 per cent each year and turn the institute into a deemed university. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/can-t-do-without-support-wildlife-institute-chief-writes-to-environment-ministry-73869  (20 Oct. 2020)

ZSI lists 62 Skinks species A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) reveals that India is home to 62 species of skinks and says about 57% of all the skinks found in India (33 species) are endemic. The publication, Skinks of India, was released earlier this month by Union Minister of State, MoEF&CC Babul Supriyo.

“It is the first monograph on this group of lizards, which are found in all kinds of habitats in the country, from the Himalayas to the coasts and from dense forests to the deserts,” Kaushik Deuti, scientist of ZSI and one of the authors of the publication, said. Director ZSI Kailash Chandra, said while a lot of work is done on other groups of reptiles like snakes or geckos, skinks are an ignored species. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/celebrating-skinks-zsi-lists-62-species-in-india/article32886528.ece   (19 Oct. 2020)

West Bengal Indigenous residents protest coal mine plan State government’s dream to develop the world’s second-largest coal mine becomes a nightmare as elections loom https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/10/09/indigenous-residents-protest-huge-coal-mine-plan-in-india/  (09 Oct. 2020)

Tamil Nadu 3 rare migratory birds spotted in Salem Birding enthusiasts from Salem have spotted and recorded three new rare migratory birds Whimbrel, Pacific Golden-Plover and Eurasian Wryneck during a bird walk organised recently. The enthusiasts said that it was first time these species have been recorded in Salem.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/three-rare-migratory-birds-spotted-in-salem/article32937490.ece  (24 Oct. 2020)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Uttarakhand Govt cancels 5-year Climate Change Centre project midway  Cancelling the five-year ongoing project of establishing/strengthening the State Climate Change Centre (SCCC) under the National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem, just a year short of completion, has come as a shock. The cancellation has been done without consultation with and approval of DST, which sanctioned it in August 2016, says project head, alleging violation of aims and objectives.  https://www.newsclick.in/Uttarakhand-Govt-Cancels-5-Year-Climate-Change-Centre-Project-Midway  (20 Oct. 2020)

Himachal Pradesh Shrinking of Nardu glacier

Nardu glacier in Baspa is retreating continuously and this will directly impact the flow of rivers in the state and the livelihood of people living in this region. Shivam Sharma, TERI-EJN Fellow, catches up with scientists studying the Nardu glacier under the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T213rxofxU&feature=youtu.be  (23 Oct. 2020)

Report Early butterfly migration holds signals of climate change Butterflies are bioindicators, and the early migration means an early arrival of monsoon. With climate change altering weather phenomena across the world, tracking and studying seasonal butterfly migrations have assumed greater significance. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/an-early-butterfly-migrations-that-holds-signals-of-climate-change-6835887/  (22 Oct. 2020)

MoES Rising sea sevels threat to millions living in coastal regions The rising sea levels, as shown from satellite data received from European Space Agency (ESA), is a threat to the millions of people living in coastal regions, said Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) Madhavan Rajeevan on Oct. 25.

Quoting a tweet from the ESA Earth Observation, Mr Rajeevan said that global warming is the major cause behind the rising sea levels. The ESA Earth Observation’s tweet has a graph embedded which reveals the changing height of the ocean surface. The data, as provided by ESA, shows that on an average “since 1993 the global mean sea level has risen by just over 3 mm every year.” https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/rising-sea-levels-threat-to-millions-living-in-coastal-regions-ministry-of-earth-sciences-2315552  (25 Oct. 2020)

CHINA

Causes of variations in sediment yield in the Jinghe river basin Abstract:- The Jinghe River remains the major sediment source of the Yellow River in China; however, sediment discharge in the Jinghe River has reduced significantly since the 1950s. The objective of this study is to identify the causes of sediment yield variations in the Jinghe River Basin based on soil and water conservation methods and rainfall analyses. The results revealed that soil and water conservation projects were responsible for half of the total sediment reduction; sediment retention due to reservoirs and water diversion projects was responsible for 1.3% of the total reduction.

Moreover, the Jinghe River Basin has negligible opportunity to improve its vegetation cover (currently 55% of the basin is covered with lawns and trees), and silt-arrester dams play a smaller role in reducing sediment significantly before they are entirely full. Therefore, new large-scale sediment trapping projects must be implemented across the Jinghe River Basin, where heavy rainfall events are likely to substantially increase in the future, leading to higher sediment discharge.  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74980-3  (22 Oct. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

Exploring food-energy-water nexus From India to California, water-intensive agriculture is grown in dry regions amid water scarcity. We’re hosting Arian Aghajanzade (Bountiful Agriculture), Maite Aldaya (Water Footprint, UPNA), Ellen Bruno (Rausser College of Natural Resources – UC Berkeley), Parineeta Dandekar (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People), and Claudia Ringler (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)) to discuss the social and environmental drivers and consequences of cultivating thirsty crops in dry regions at BERCsymposium20! Tickets & more info: http://www.bercresourcesymposium.com/

Australia Sydney’s last wild river is at risk. https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/sydneys-last-wild-river-is-at-risk-20201023-p567yq.html  (23 Oct. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 19 Oct. 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 12 Oct. 2020  

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

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