DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 23 Nov 2020: Pune Citizens Expose illegal River Sand Mining in Pune City

This is remarkable, first of its kind of development where the citizens of the city have come together to expose the illegal River sand mining in the Pune City in the middle of the night. They alerted the police, who did take action, caught one of the culprits along with Poclain machine. The rest of the machines, which too should have been guarded, were taken away by the miners after police left, it seems. Salutes to all the citizens involved including Vaishali Patkar and Pushkar Kulkarni and their supporting organisations including Jeevit Nadi, Aundh Vikas Mandal.

It is only when citizens come together in this way that there is any possibility of stopping the menace of illegal sand mining and other menace affecting our rivers. Kudos to the Pune Citizens to show the way for the rest of the country too and hope such collective efforts by the Pune citizens will continue to show the way forward for all concerned.

The prompt action by the Pune police also should be appreciated and one only hopes the police will investigate the case professionally and produce a strong legal case, apply all the relevant sections of IPC, Environment Protection Act and Mines and Minerals Development Act, all the government department will play their role and bring everyone guilty to book with exemplary punishment. Pune citizens will surely keep a watch on this.

PUNE: Activists Detect Illegal Sand Lifting At Confluence Of Ramnadi, Mula river; One Person Arrested A case of illegal sand lifting was detected by activists at the confluence of Ramnadi and Mula river behind the sewage treatment plant (STP) in Aundh, on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. After being informed by the alert activists, police have arrested one person while the search is going for two others. Based on a complaint from activist Vaishali Patkar, who is also the president of Aundh Vikas Mandal, an FIR has been registered by Sangvi police station under Pimpri Chinchwad police, against Vijaykumar Chhakam Sav (23), a native of Jharkhand, who lived in Takli Haji in Shirur taluka of Pune district.

– According to police, the incident took place between 11 pm on Friday to 1 am on Saturday. After getting information from her sources, Patkar along with another activist Pushkar Kulkarni visited the spot near Pimple Nilakh crematorium. After confirming sand lifting, she reported the incident to Chaturshringi Police station. A team led by Police Sub Inspector Rakesh Sarde visited the spot, but two accused ran away taking advantage of darkness, while one person was caught.

– Amid the chaos, Patkar said that in that the confusion of whether the area falls under Sangvi police station or Chaturshringi police station or Pune city police, began. Later, Sangvi police registered the FIR after it was settled that the illegal sand lifting was taking place in their jurisdiction. Police officials have recovered sand worth Rs 8,000 from their possession. Police have also seized the poclain machine which was being used to lift sand from the river and put it in their tractor trolley. The accused persons have been charged for offences under section 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 9 and 15 of the Environment Protection Act. “This kind of illegal mining was observed for more than a week now, residents nearby were also concerned about the whole situation, so I decided to take the matter into my hands”, Patkar said. (https://www.punekarnews.in/aundh-activists-detect-illegal-sand-lifting-at-confluence-of-ramnadi-mula-river-one-person-arrested/; https://www.mypunepulse.com/sand-mining-at-odd-hours-on-the-confluence-of-ram-mula-river-raises-environmental-concerns/ Nov 22, 2020)

PUSHKAR KULKARNI on SANDRP FB: Local residents, mohalla committees, area sabhas have been complaining about sand mining & debris dumping in Ram & Mula rivers for many years. The local corporators, ward office, police conveniently overlooked all this. On 21st over a dozen residents of nearby housing societies noticed poclain going towards the river and alerted the Aundh Vikas Mandal president who then called the cops. Dozens of residents were watching from their balconies as police seized the equipment and arrested the operator.

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog 193 dead in River Sand Mining incidents in India in 2019-20 Sand Mining involves brutal violence against anyone objecting against the legality or impacts of it is known, but we do not know the full extent of the violence. This detailed account from SANDRP shows that between January 2019 and Nov 15, 2020, at least 193 people have been reportedly KILLED in sand mining related incidents in India. This is certainly hugely conservative estimate, but even by this, EVERY WEEK TWO PEOPLE have been killed in sand mining in this period in India. The violence not leading to death and threats etc are additional. This should be an eye opener. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/22/193-dead-in-river-sand-mining-incidents-in-india-in-2019-20/  (22 Nov. 2020)

Informative piece by Gaon Connection covering sand mining violence and India Rivers Week dialogues:- As per the latest data compiled by SANDRP, a network working on issues related to rivers, between January 2019 and November 2020, 193 people have died due to illegal river sand mining incidents/accidents in India. This comes to more than eight people dying due to illegal sand mining. In 2018, only 28 deaths due to illegal sand mining were reported.

“We have scanned news reports from various states to compile this data on deaths due to illegal sand mining in the country. But 193 deaths since last January is a conservative estimate as not all such deaths get reported,” Bhim Singh Rawat, associate coordinator of SANDRP told Gaon Connection.

“Majority of deaths related to illegal sand mining are of children who fall in illegal sand mining pits and die. Second reason for such deaths is rash driving by trucks transporting the mined sand,” he added. https://en.gaonconnection.com/the-bloody-world-of-indias-illegal-sand-mining-at-least-193-killed-since-jan-2019/  (23 Nov. 2020)

West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: Mining Riparian Health River Sand Mining is equivalent to mining not only riparian health, but also destroying massive water storage and recharge capacity. This was one of the central message of the West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 12, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” The other central message of the West Zone Dialogue was well encapsulated by this quote from Yamuna Sunny, one of the panelists at the Dialogue: “The intricate relationships between the fishers, the small scale sand miners, the sand farmers, the birds and the trees, pertains not only to possibilities of developing sustainable ways of human life in an economic sense, but also the sustaining of all life forms and their relationships in nature.”… https://sandrp.in/2020/11/17/west-zone-river-sand-mining-dialogue-mining-riparian-health/  (17 Nov. 2020)

IRW 2020 As part of India Rivers Week celebrations in 2020, India Rivers Forum is organizing a series of Dialogues (digitally) with a focus on the theme: “Is sand mining killing our rivers?”.

https://fb.watch/1UFYu6FG0J/

This is face book recording from East Region dialogue wherein citizens and experts have presented a varied perspective on this issue. https://fb.watch/1UFYu6FG0J/  (21 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Negotiations with NMDC, MSDC on sand mining underway: Govt officials The negotiations of State officials with two Central agencies on sand mining are underway. Officials said the discussions will continue for a few more days to arrive at a conclusion. As per the revised sand policy, the State government has decided to give the task of sand excavation, storage and sale to Central government agencies, subjected to certain terms and conditions. In case of no response from the Central agencies, the State government will entrust the sand operations with private agencies after inviting technical and commercial bids.

As per the plan, State officials wrote to as many as eight Central agencies, informing them about the proposal to give the sand operations in the State and the terms and conditions. The deadline for the Central agencies to give their response ended on November 18 and the State government got responses from two agencies — NMDC and MSDC. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/nov/21/negotiations-with-nmdc-msdcon-sand-mining-underway-andhra-pradesh-government-officials-2226200.html  (21 Nov. 2020)

Report What makes sand soft? No one understands how sand works. That may sound absurd, but it’s sort of true. Understanding the flow of granular materials like sand is a major unsolved problem in physics. Karen Daniels, a physicist at North Carolina State University who studies sand and other granular materials — a field actually called “soft matter” — told me that sand is challenging in part because the grains have so many different properties, like size, shape, roughness and more: “One reason we don’t have a general theory is that all of these properties matter.” Our failure to find a general theory of sand isn’t for lack of trying. For everything from agricultural processing to landslide prediction, understanding the flow of granular materials is extremely important, and we just aren’t very good at it. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/science/what-makes-sand-soft.html  (09 Nov. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Kerala Green collectives to protest against Anakkayam hydel project Scores of green collectives and environmental organisations will join hands on Wednesday for a protest at numerous places in the State against the planned felling of over 1,800 large trees in Vazhachal forests near Athirappilly for a proposed small hydro-electric project by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) at Anakkayam.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/green-collectives-to-protest-against-anakkayam-hydel-project/article33120677.ece  (18 Nov. 2020)

DAMS

Forest Advisory Committee meeting on Nov 25, 2020, the agenda just made public. Relevant projects in the agenda:
1. Himachal Pradesh: 54.67 ha FL for SAND, STONE AND BAJRI MINING PROJECT BY RANDEEP SINGH
2. Uttarakhand: DIVERSION OF 127.6712 HA FOREST LAND FOR SONG DAM DRINKING WATER PROJECT UNDER FOREST DIVISION DEHRADUN & MUSSOORIE; DIST DEHRADUN & TEHRI GARHWAL (http://forestsclearance.nic.in/AgendaDetail.aspx?id=246!dis1 Nov 23, 2020)

DRIP Is govt serious about dam mishaps? Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat writes poetry about the DRIP project: – “… Lord Shiva who dammed its flow in his locks and saved the planet.” Sounds like fictional poetry…

– The committee formed to investigate the (Machhu dam disaster of 1979: Plz Read NO ONE HAD A TONGUE TO SPEAK if you want to read about realities of these committees) disaster recommended clear guidelines for dam safety protocols along with an implementing body to oversee the same. Thus, the DRIP was born and since then it has guarded the nation from impending disasters like the soldiers of water. Among the towering achievements of the DRIP are the rehabilitation of 207 structures in six years, numerous dam break analysis, the preparation of emergency action plans, training of professionals, and strengthening of institutions. [REALITY: THERE HAS BEEN SEVERAL DAM MISHAPS ALMOST EVERY YEAR, INCLUDING AT DAMS COVERED UNDER WORLD BANK’S DAM SAFETY PROJECTS. THE LATEST ONE AT DURGAPUR BARRAGE, AGAIN COVERED UNDER THE WORLD BANK FUNDED PROJECT.]

– True: “Dam disasters are seen as matters of national shame; they not only lead to human tragedy, but also devastate the ecology.”  https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/safeguarding-our-dams-and-waters-drip-a-critical-aspect-of-national-resilience-and-sovereignty/2130512/  (18 Nov. 2020)

Sardar Sarovar Dam Maharashtra CM pushes for rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar dam project PAPs CM Uddhav Thackeray, in a meeting with Union Jal Shakti Minister Rajendra Singh Shekhawat and CMs of three other states, pressed on the rehabilitation issue and said the rehabilitation of the project affected persons (PAPs) is the priority. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackarey expressed discontent with Gujarat government for its failure to provide Maharashtra’s share of electricity generated from the project.

– The meeting via video conference was held on the order of the Supreme Court (SC) which had asked CMs from all four states — Maharashtra, Gujrat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — to discuss the five contentious points related to relief, rehabilitation among others. The SC had refused to accept the compliance report submitted by Narmada Control Authority last year. The court had, last October, asked the Centre to submit a fresh report with clarification on the points raised by the organisations representing PAPs. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-cm-uddhav-thackeray-pushes-for-rehabilitation-of-sardar-sarovar-dam-project-paps/story-9Wf3eaZVd39JqWe3K5EAUP.html  (19 Nov. 2020)

Rahul Banerjee on FB post comment:- Wonder what the MP CM said given the number who have to be rehabilitated is even more

Pushkar Kulkarni on FB post comment:- Easier for Uddhav Thackeray to comment on the destruction done by others whereas he isn’t ready to discuss the catastrophic ambitious project of his called coastal road. Inspite of being part of present and past state governments, he hasn’t done anything to #SaveHillsOfMaharashtra. His government conveniently forgot to file review petition when the 100ft buffer zone was lifted in July 2020. http://chng.it/SVDprbSC

Madhya Pradesh बरखेड़ा बांध के प्रभावितों का जमीन कब्जे की करवाई करने के जिला कलेक्टर के आश्वासन के बाद धरना समाप्त  धार जिले के गंधवानी के पास बन रहे बरखेड़ा बांध के प्रभावितों का बांध स्थल के पास उरी नदी के किनारे आज दूसरे दिन भी धरना जारी रहा। नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन के वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता श्री आलोक अग्रवाल ने जिला कलेक्टर श्री आलोक कुमार सिंह से बात करने पर उन्होंने आश्वासन दिया कि अभी जमीन कब्ज़े की कोई करवाई नहीं की जायेगी और प्रभावितों को पुनर्वास के लाभ जल्द से जल्द दिये जायेंगे। इस विषय में वह 23 या 24 नवंबर को एक बैठक भी करेंगे। जिला कलेक्टर के इस आश्वसन के बाद प्रभावितों ने अपना धरना समाप्त किया और संकल्प व्यक्त किया कि उनके मुआवजा और पुनर्वास के सम्पूर्ण अधिकार मिलने तक उनका संघर्ष जारी रहेगा।  https://www.spsmedia.in/current-news/district-collector-assured-not-to-take-possession-of-the-land-of-the-affected-people-of-barkheda-dam/  (19 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Scam-tainted babu in key water body causes ripples The appointment of a scam-tainted official as a member on the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) has raised quite a few eyebrows. Sanjay Kulkarni, a former executive director of the North Maharashtra Irrigation Development Corporation, is among the several high-ranking irrigation officials, whose name has cropped up in the multi-crore irrigation scam relating to alleged corruption in awarding contracts and other irregularities between 1999 and 2014 during the Congress-NCP rule.

– Water resources minister Jayant Patil said he was not sure if Kulkarni is an accused in the scam. However, Kulkarni himself admitted he is among the nearly 100 senior officials of the irrigation department who are under scrutiny, while the anti-corruption bureau confirmed that an FIR has been registered against senior irrigation officials, including Kulkarni. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-scam-tainted-babu-in-key-water-body-causes-ripples/articleshow/79333947.cms  (21 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Full utilisation of Penna dam a distant dream  The Penna reservoir, completed in 1994, has a storage capacity of 11 tmcft and production capacity of 40 MW. However, due to lack of sufficient inflows, the reservoir has never been filled to even half of its capacity, thus denting the hopes of farmers in Anantapur region. Fed by the Tungabhadra through the High-Level Main Canal (HLC), the highest quantum of water ever stored in the reservoir is 4.9 tmcft (434.9 m) during 2015-16. Full utilisation of the reservoir can be possible by pumping in ₹477 crore before the next monsoon — ₹300 crore for pending HLC modernisation works, ₹156 crore on land acquisition and ₹21.88 crore for laying of geomembrane.

– A sum of ₹9.18 crore has already been spent on grouting works since 2002, but it helped store only below 5 tmcft and on the completion of ongoing works (at a cost of ₹2.6 crore), Superintendending Engineer Nayakanti Rajasekhar expects to store 6 tmcft this year — the maximum ever in its history. In some cheer for the district, the realisation at Tungabhadra Dam at Hospet in Karnataka is expected to go up from 163 tmcft to 168 tmcft and allocation through HLC to Anantapur will also go up to 25.755 tmcft against the earlier estimated 24.98 tmcft. Regarding demand, there is a 50% reduction due to incessant rains during south-west monsoon. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/full-utilisation-of-penna-dam-a-distant-dream/article33120838.ece  (18 Nov. 2020)

INTER STATE WATER ISSUES

Odisha Jharkhand on Suvarnarekha Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sought cooperation from his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren for early completion of Ichha Dam project. Patnaik urged Soren to ensure storage of water up to FRL (full reservoir level) in Chandil Dam in monsoon season mitigation of flood in Odisha. Patnaik in a letter to Soren said “I am happy to know that the government of Jharkhand has taken up Ichha dam construction work recently. Odisha government will reimburse Odishas share of the cost of the dam,”. Rs 1026.91 crore has so far been paid to the Jharkhand govt against the estimated share of Rs 1208 crore of Odisha, he added. “36 villages in Odisha are affected under Ichha dam reservoir submergence area at FRL 225m. Land acquisition and R & R have been taken up. “5196 acres of land (98%) out of 5283 acres has already been acquired. Rehabilitation assistance has been paid to 1268 out of the total 1369 project affected persons,” Patnaik wrote. He said that Chandil dam has been completed since long, but water has been stored up to RL 181.50 m during monsoon against FRL of 192 m due to R and R issues. The Subarnarekha multipurpose project was taken up in Subarnarekha-Kharkhai Basin as per the tripartite agreement of 1978 among erstwhile Bihar (now Jharkhand), Odisha & W Bengal. (https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/patnaik-writes-to-soren-for-early-completion-of-ichha-dam/1979826 Nov 22, 2020)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken Betwa Interlinking MP Minister wants review of forest laws The Madhya Pradesh mineral resources and labour minister of Madhya Pradesh Brijendra Pratap Singh has called for “review of the forest laws hampering the development works.” The minister said,” large area of the national park covers Panna and it hampers the development works. We need to review the laws. We can’t carry out works for the construction and widening of roads. Even the Ken Betwa link project is pending because of this project.” Singh is also an MLA from Panna. He said that in case of mines (allocation), a distance of 250 meters is required from the park. It should be reduced to 50 meters only.” We need to have a committee to review the forest laws”, he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mp-minister-wants-review-of-forest-laws-says-they-are-hurdle-in-development-around-panna-tiger-reserve/articleshow/79283299.cms  (18 Nov. 2020)

IRRIGATION

Gujarat Breach in Narmada canal inundate farmlands Breach of a Narmada Canal in Surendranagar district has led to waterlogging in large number of farm lands, leading to anger among the farmers.  https://www.vtvgujarati.com/news-details/surendranagar-narmada-canal  (17 Nov. 2020)

RIVERS

Kerala Conscience keeper of Chalakudy river Remembering the strong and gentle voice of Dr. Latha Ananthahttps://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/Second-Nature/the-conscience-keeper-of-chalakudy-river/  (16 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra NGT raps builder over floodline construction The principal bench of the NGT on Wednesday (Nov. 18) directed the developer of Sai Exotique — a mega housing project inChikhali in the limits of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) — to deposit interim compensation of Rs 2 crore to MaharashtraPollution Control Board (MPCB) within two months for allegedly flouting prescribed construction norms. The authority has given the liberty torespective bodies to take coercive measures against the developer. The bench further directed to ensure that no further construction takes place withoutcompliance of statutory norms.

The bench took strict action after an expert committee appointed by the tribunal found out that construction waste from the project was dumped along the floodline of Indrayani river and tanks were erected within the prohibited area of the waterbody. The green court further mentioned that the mandatory environmental clearance (EC) required under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, was also bypassed.

Tanaji Gambhire, a city-based civil engineer, had filed a petition before the court in October last year, demanding the alleged illegal structure built by Sai Baba Sales Private Limited — the proprietor of Sai Exotique project — be demolished.

According to the petitioner, the project has already completed construction over a 29,000 sq metres stretch and plans to expand the capacity to some 49,012 sq metres. Apart from not obtaining EC and other approvals, allegations also relate to violation of environmental norms, non-installation of pollution control devices, non-plantation of trees required to offset environmental damage, illegal ground water extraction, podium built on 10 per cent recreational space, and no soil preservation, among others. The petitioner has claimed that the violations have led to adverse carbon footprint impact to the extent of Rs 150 crore.

The matter first came up for hearing on July 9 this year when the NGT constituted a three-member panel comprising members from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), MPCB and the PCMC municipal commissioner to submit their findings on the project.

Accordingly, a report was filed on August 24. After a site visit, officials observed that a part of the open recreation space stands on the flood zone of the Indrayani. Authorities also observed that the organic waste converter (OWC) for treating wet waste lies on the flood zone. Members further noticed that another underground tank (UGT) was proposed to be built on the flood zone. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/ngt-raps-builder-over-floodline-construction/articleshow/79307883.cms  (20 Nov. 2020)

Another builder has been asked to similarly deposit Rs 5 Crores with MPCB for similar violations in Pune. (https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/deposit-rs-5-cr-with-mpcb-as-an-interim-compensation-says-ngt-to-developer/articleshow/79356386.cms Nov 23, 2020)

GANGA Study  Tracking Trace Elements in the Ganga River Both trace and heavy metals can be toxic to humans. Heavy metals, such as chromium, arsenic, and lead, especially can cause severe illnesses at even low concentrations. To create a more comprehensive picture of how concentrations of these metals change across the river’s geography and to provide a baseline for future studies, Boral et al. analyzed 243 different water samples for 15 trace elements. The samples came from 38 sites in the Indian portion of the Ganga Basin and were collected between 2014 and 2016 in every stage of the monsoon season (before, during, and after).

By combining these data with time series samples taken from the farthest downstream point studied, at the town of Manikchak, the scientists tracked where these dissolved metals were entering the river and how they were being diluted along the way. They found that trace and heavy metal concentrations in the Ganga River varied considerably with geography. Near the river’s source, Himalayan glaciers contribute to higher levels of dissolved trace elements, which the researchers attributed to freshly eroded and reactive rock fragments (known as glacial flour) that enter the river as glaciers erode bedrock.

Downstream, where urban and industrial centers are more prevalent amid the river’s floodplains, the scientists observed large spikes in trace elements in river water. However, as large tributaries join the river, trace element concentrations drop quickly, leading the researchers to conclude that dissolved metal pollution is not widespread in the river but, rather, is linked to pollution hot spots. Overall, the work shows that current trace element pollution in the Ganga River is not significantly higher than the global average for rivers and is lower than previous estimates have suggested. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/tracking-trace-elements-in-the-ganga-river  (16 Oct. 2020)

Char Dham Highway यदि तंत्र खुद अपने द्वारा तय मानकों, आदेशों आदि की अनदेखी करने लगे और लोक को लालच हो जाए। ऐसे में नदियों के लोकतांत्रिक अधिकारों की सुरक्षा तो खतरे में पड़ेगी ही। चारधाम ऑल वेदर रोड और गंगा एक्सप्रेस-वे परियोजना के जरिए इसे प्रस्तुत करने की कोशिश है यह लेख। लेखक : अरुण तिवारी

– बुनियादी प्रश्न है कि क्या योगी सरकार द्वारा किए गए बदलाव मात्र से विरोध के वे सभी आधार खत्म हो गए, जिनकी बिना पर उत्तर प्रदेश हाईकोर्ट ने गंगा एक्सप्रेस-वे परियोजना की पर्यावरणीय मंजूरी को रद्द कर दिया था ? (https://panipost.in/2020/11/22/ganga-hito-ki-andekhi-ke-marg/ Nov 22, 2020)

YAMUNA Delhi: Yamuna faces fresh threat from Central Vista Garden This river front development proposal from Delhi and Central Govt cannot happen on the Yamuna floodplains, as Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has written to the government. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/trees-along-yamunas-west-bank-to-make-way-for-central-vista-garden-7061791/ (Nov 23, 2020)

L-G orders installation of CCTVs, removal of debris from Yamuna Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal has directed the DDA to remove debris from the Yamuna floodplains and install CCTVs for surveillance. The directions were issued to DDA officials in a meeting on Wednesday (Nov. 18) where the L-G reviewed the progress of the ongoing restoration work of the riverfront.

The L-G tweeted, “Chaired meeting with @official_dda to review progress of Restoration and Rejuvenation of Yamuna River Front. Emphasised upon time bound completion of landscaping, greening and plantation in the area to restore wetlands & riverine ecosystem.” “Directed removal of malba on top priority, CCTV based surveillance for protection of floodplains,” Baijal posted in another tweet.

DDA officials say that routine drives are being carried out to remove encroachment from the river floodplain. “We already have 78 CCTV cameras installed at 26 different locations on the floodplain. We are in the process of installing 18 CCTV cameras at six different locations. As for removing the debris from the floodplain, a majority of the agencies have already done that. We will be taking action against those who are yet to remove the debris,” said a DDA official. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/l-g-orders-removal-of-debris-from-yamuna-floodplain-installation-of-cctvs-for-surveillance/story-FM0Ln3jKkCrd18TayHkjJO.html  (19 Nov. 2020)

Delhi Yamuna Monitoring Committee (DYMC) has recommended that the DTC shift the Millennium Bus Depot as it lies on the river’s flood plain and said it is environmentally unsafe. The committee told the NGT that the DTC has been operating without necessary approvals and discharging waste water into the river. https://www.news18.com/news/india/dtc-discharging-waste-into-river-green-panel-calls-for-millennium-bus-depot-to-be-shifted-from-yamuna-flood-plains-3101978.html  (20 Nov. 2020)

DJB targets March 2023 for a clean Yamuna The Delhi government will set up a modern technology to treat around 150 MGD of polluted water coming from the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by natural wetlands and aeration method, the government said. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has planned four interventions to clean Yamuna by reducing river pollution by 90% by March 2023, three in addition to the one above. Second, the wastewater in drains will be tapped into STPs. Third, steps will be taken to improve the quality of the existing STPs, including upgrading equipment and using innovative processes. Fourth, all sludge and septage from septic tanks across Delhi will be collected by DJB and reused in the bio-gas plants to generate electricity and gas, the government said.

– In a meeting between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and DJB officials on Nov 18, 2020, a plan to reuse treated water was also discussed. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/jal-board-targets-march-2023-for-a-clean-yamuna-7056933/  (19 Nov. 2020)

During the meeting, DJB presented a detailed action plan on reusing around 436 MGD treated wastewater in addition to the currently used 90MGD. Currently, only 90MGD wastewater is being reutilised in the city. This water will be reused in waterbodies, lakes, irrigation, gardening, forests, and groundwater recharge. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/4-key-steps-to-a-clean-yamuna-by-march-2023/articleshow/79290782.cms  (19 Nov. 2020)

Major interventions include treatment of around 150 MGD polluted water coming from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh using natural wetlands and the aeration method. The government will increase the treated water reuse capacity to 400 million gallons per day. More treated water will be used in lakes, forests, gardening, and groundwater recharge and irrigation purposes.

-The national capital generates around 720 million gallons of wastewater per day, of which around 525 million gallons is treated by sewage treatment plants. Around 90 MGD is used in various parks and gardens, and the rest goes to waste. https://www.india.com/news/india/delhi-govt-to-reduce-yamunas-pollution-by-90-by-march-2023-kejriwal-4214688/  (18 Nov. 2020)

DO level the amount of oxygen available to living aquatic organisms is “nil” at seven of the nine ghats along the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi, according to the latest tests conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/nov/21/zero-oxygen-level-at-7-out-of-9-yamuna-ghatsin-delhi-2226177.html  (21 Nov. 2020)

Sahibi: How a river was killed This article talks about all the three Sahibi Nadi, Najafgarh jheel and the Najafgarh Drain since all the three are interconnected. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/pollution/sahibi-nadi-how-a-river-was-killed-74254   (16 Nov. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh The man who fell in love with the Katha river Great story about efforts of Mustaqueem in trying to revive Katha River, a tributary of Yamuna flowing through Saharanpur and Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh. Mustaqueem was the recipient of the Bhagirath Prayas Samman award from India Rivers Week 2019. https://turnslow.com/a-river-story-the-man-who-fell-in-love-with-the-katha-river/  (19 Nov. 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

SANDRP Blog WFD 2020: Impacts of River Sand Mining on Riverine Fisheries  On World Fisheries Day 2020 this article highlights the various ways in which River Sand Mining affects fisheries in North, South, East and West Zones of India.

The first step in this context would be for all concerned, particularly the governments at the centre and states in India to recognise the reality that sand mining has major adverse impact on Riverine fisheries and this must be studied. The Environment Impact Assessment studies of the River Sand Mining Projects must include a section about the impact of sand mining on the fisheries. The Environment Management Plan must include provisions for compensating those affected by such adverse impact on fisheries prior to starting the the sand mining. Mitigation measures like protection of certain sections from sand mining should be urgently implemented. The informed consent of the fisheries dependent communities before any sand mining proposals must be a statutory requirement. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/21/wfd-2020-impacts-of-river-sand-mining-on-riverine-fisheries/  (21 Nov. 2020)

Himachal Pradesh 500 tonnes of fish to be harvested from Gobind Sagar dam The overall fish production in the Gobind Sagar dam is set to reach 500 metric tonnes this fiscal, ensuring additional income for 3,963 fishermen and 2,169 fish licence holders, Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said on Tuesday (Nov. 17). The fish production in the reservoir is likely to hit 30 kg per hectares in comparison with 23.78 kg per hectares in 2019-2020, he told IANS.

As per the Director-cum-Warden of Fisheries, 195.34 metric tonnes of fish was harvested from the reservoir from April to October this year compared with 164.35 metric tonnes during this period in 2019. In 2017-18, the yield was 346.42 metric tonnes from April to October. The species reared here include the silver carp, grass carp, and common carp.

Illegal mining in rivers and unscientific dumping of road construction debris in the rivers is also destroying fish breeding grounds, say fish experts. This has caused a decline in fish production in the Gobind Sagar too.

The major fish species available in the streams of Himachal are trout, mahseer, barilus and glyptothorax. Trout, both brown and rainbow, are found in the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi rivers in the higher reaches of the state. Being a game fish, the brown trout is also an angler’s delight.

Nearly 13,000 fishermen and fish farmers in Himachal are dependent on this sector for earning their livelihood. Of the 3,000-km network of water resources for fisheries, 600 km of cold water streams are conducive for trout farming. The average annual production of a small fish farm is 900 kg, whereas a large farm could produce up to 3,400 kg, say studies. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/500-tonnes-of-fish-to-be-harvested-from-hps-gobind-sagar-dam-171637  (17 Nov. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Assam Baghjan fire off, impacts to linger The Baghjan oil spill fire is doused now, after burning for more than five months and requiring coordinated efforts from experts in India, the U.S., Singapore, and Canada. But the fire’s proximity to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri-Motapung Beel wetlands, and its forced evacuation of more than 2,500 people, mean the harm to both biodiversity and livelihoods will linger, experts have warned. https://theswaddle.com/the-assam-oil-fire-is-doused-but-its-damage-is-ongoing/  (17 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Demolition of skywalk over heritage wetland begins The Sindhudurg district administration has complied with the orders of the NGT, which was issued in October, by starting the demolition of an illegal skywalk built by the PWD over Dhamapur Lake at Malvan, a 490-year-old heritage wetland.

In a compliance affidavit filed on October 23 and received by applicants, the Sindhudurg district collector, K Manjulekshmi, told the NGT that a departmental enquiry had been initiated against the PWD authorities for neglecting previous decisions of the tribunal and failing to take remedial steps to destroy the skywalk.

The Dhamapur Lake, an inland wetland and a permanent freshwater lake that is spread over 61.7 hectares (ha), was constructed in 1530 AD between villages Are and Katta in Sindhudurg district. The wetland has been recognised by the MoEFCC among top 100 wetlands in the country that need ecosystem restoration.

The NGT had been hearing a plea by Sindhudurg residents Dr. Harishchandra Purshottam Natu and Omkar Keni since 2017 alleging various encroachments and the construction of skywalk around Dhamapur Lake by the PWD authorities, which was leading to shrinking of the lake and causing environmental degradation. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/maharashtra-in-keeping-with-ngt-orders-demolition-of-skywalk-over-heritage-wetland-begins/story-8p1pzN55WrgFw2ndBOw88H.html  (03 Nov. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Maharashtra Nashik villagers bag national award for water conservation For the last 27 years, some 17,000 farmers from Nashik have been meticulously planning post-monsoon irrigation, ensuring there is no theft. The apex body of these farmers, whose members are drawn from 41 smaller units dependent on the Waghad irrigation project in Dindori taluka here, has bagged the second prize of the Union government-instituted national water award, 2019, in the “best water users’ association” category.

Waghad Project Level Water Users’ Association has been managing equitable water distribution for irrigation. It ensures distribution of measured water to every farmer, collecting water dues and water distribution through the canal network. The office-bearers of the association are elected as well as selected from across all the 41 units. Politicians do not have any role in this system. It has a turnover of Rs 30-35 lakh per year by way of water cess and management charges.

“Every farmer clears his dues genuinely,” said Rajesh Gowardhane, senior officer from Palkhed irrigation division that manages the Waghad project. The project is designed to irrigate agriculture farms for eight months. However, considering the usage of water in the monsoon, the farmers get an estimate of the water storage and, in October, plan for water release from the dam. The Waghad project constructed on river Kolwam, a tributary of river Kadwa, irrigates more than 140% of its planned target of 6,750 hectares. The farmers, who could earlier take up only kharif crops, today cultivate cash crops like grapes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/nashik-villagers-bag-national-award-for-water-conservation/articleshow/79315275.cms  (20 Nov. 2020)

GROUNDWATER

CPCB flags loopholes in groundwater usage guidelines The guidelines provided exemption from seeking NOC (v) to Micro and Small Enterprises drawing groundwater less than 10 cum/day but the CPCB said that the units located in a cluster or designated industrial areas may not be given blanket exemption in OCS (Over and Critical and Exploited) blocks.

“Existing units in all the OCS blocks may be allowed to continue without any expansion subject to conditions that recharge activities in the vicinity are adopted under Corporate Responsibility. CGWA should take the lead role in Critical and Over Exploited areas rather than delegating powers to the State Ground Water Authority, for protection and conservation of groundwater resources,” it added.

New industries falling under 17 categories of Highly Polluting Industries (HPIs) and Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) should not be allowed in all OCS Blocks till further orders from CGWA and authority may decide based on positive yield rates in the areas. It further said that all users, commercial & industrial, should pay restoration charges in addition to abstraction charges in OCS blocks.

“Month-wise database may be maintained block-wise/area-wise to observe the trend of water level in the public domain. The project proponent may also provide monthly data on groundwater levels, on a central portal of CGWA. The over-exploited and critical blocks need protection, while semi-critical blocks need close watch/ surveillance. In any case, the proposed abstraction charges for groundwater should be applicable to sustain the measures of recharging groundwater. The measures to ensure protection and prevention of pollution needed better surveillance through State departments,” according to the national pollution watchdog. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/nov/19/cpcb-flags-loopholes-in-groundwater-usage-guidelines-2225542.html  (19 Nov. 2020)

Gujarat NITI Aayog warns govt NITI Aayog criticises and warns Gujarat about unsustainable use of groundwater in Gujarat and it can lead to serious water problems. https://www.vtvgujarati.com/news-details/gandhinagar-niti-aayog-gujarat-government  (17 Nov. 2020)

Telangana Groundwater levels improve  Out of a total of 33 districts, 27 received excess rainfall and six districts received normal rainfall. Not even one district received deficit rainfall. During the water year 2020-2021 (up to October 31, 2020), Telangana has received 53% excess rainfall — 1249.2 mm was received as against 816 mm, which is the normal rainfall during the same period.

The state average water level during October 2020 is 4.22 metres below ground level (m bgl) as compared to 7.92 m bgl during the same period in 2019, showing a rise of 3.7 metres. In terms of kms, as compared to September 2020, there is a decrease in deep water levels (>20m) by around 1,019 sq km.

The water levels during the month of October 2020 when compared with the decadal average of October (2010-2019) shows a rise in 543 mandals and a fall in 46 mandals.  The dynamic change in groundwater storage during the season is estimated at 771 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) in comparison with the water levels upto October 2020. During the month of October, there is a net increase of around 149 TMC in ground water.

Government is monitoring the changes in groundwater regime on a monthly basis continuously through a network of 1,278 monitoring stations in the state. They use 1,025 piezometers and 253 dug wells as monitoring stations. The maximum rise in water level of 21.96 m during October 2020 with reference to the decadal mean of October (2010 to 2019) was recorded at Veldanda village and mandal of Nagarkurnool district. The maximum fall in water level of 20.52 m was at Kondapur village and mandal of Sangareddy district.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/abundant-rainfall-telangana-improves-ground-water-levels-state-137827  (17 Nov. 2020)

Punjab Committee to research heavy metal, uranium in groundwater The Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, has started materialising the idea of setting up an integrated platform for the researchers of the top institutions of the country such as Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMDER), Hyderabad, and Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, to provide the solution of contamination of heavy metals and uranium in the groundwater of Malwa region of Punjab.

In a meeting held yesterday (Nov. 17), between the top scientists of CUPB, BARC and AMDER, it was decided to set up a six-member high profile committee of the leading scientists, who would collaboratively work, to find out the real-time solution of the heavy metal and uranium in groundwater of Punjab and its surrounding regions. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/top-scientists-committee-to-research-heavy-metal-and-uranium-in-groundwater-of-punjab-172172  (18 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Groundwater department to form users’ associations The Groundwater Department is planning to form groundwater users’ associations involving farmers to protect small water bodies and enhance water use efficiency in the agriculture sector in Vizianagaram district, its Deputy Director K.S. Shastry has said. The department is laying focus on promotion of ‘More crop per drop’ concept which aims at improving small-scale community based irrigation for tapping the underused potential of tank irrigation system. In sync with the Central government’s policy, the concept also encourages farmers to use water conservation technologies as part of the Andhra Pradesh Integrated Irrigation and Agriculture Transformation Project (APIIATP) project, Mr. Shastry said during a farmers’ awareness programme at Budatanapalli in Gantyada mandal on Thursday (Nov. 5). https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/farmers-to-help-conserve-groundwater-in-vizianagaram/article33033585.ece  (06 Nov. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Water infrastructure remains out of focus in GHMC poll While Hyderabad’s arterial roads have shown a dramatic improvement with the Comprehensive Road Maintenance Programme and Strategic Road Development Programme, a similar infusion of funding and focus is missing from water infrastructure which girdles the city and which brought the city to a halt for a fortnight in October this year. An RTI application has revealed that between 2014 and 2018, the budgeted amount on 32 major nalas in South Zone consisting of 57.78 km totalled ₹ 210.24 crore. In comparison, just for four road project components in the South Zone ₹ 670.47 crore has been budgeted. The RTI was filed by an organisation called Society for Safety of Public and Good Governance.

“The north and south basin of the Musi River is the canvas for water infrastructure in the city. Unless we take care of it citizens will be punished time and again. We need the will and sincerity to make the city safe,” says Lubna Sarwath of Save our Urban Lakes who has been campaigning against encroachments on lakes. “There is some talk about clearing the nalas and investing in storm water pipes. Currently only 2-3% of the rain water goes through the square manhole storm water drains. This is criminal waste of a natural resource,” says Ms. Sarwath. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/water-infrastructure-remains-out-of-focus-in-ghmc-poll/article33144463.ece  (20 Nov. 2020)

Chandigarh Water quality monitoring stations on streams soon CB Ojha, Superintending Engineer, UT, said the site for the installation of the water monitoring station on the Sukhna Choe (stream) had been finalised for checking the pollution level in the water. He said they had decided to install the monitoring station near the STP in Raipur Kalan and had written to the Forest Department for approval. Recently, the NGT had ordered the setting up of monitoring stations on the N-Choe and Sukhna Choe, which flow into the Ghaggar near Zirakpur. Ojha said the department would soon set up a water monitoring station on the N-Choe near the Garden of Silence in Sector 42. He said tenders for the project had already been floated and the final bidder would be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment to be installed on the site.

In a report submitted to the NGT, the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) had highlighted six locations where sewage was being discharged into the two rivulets. The NGT had then directed the Municipal Corporation (MC) to conduct a resurvey of the locations where sewage was being discharged into the Sukhna Choe and N-choe. In compliance with the directions of the NGT, the MC has plugged all six points were sewage was being discharged into both seasonal rivulets.

The NGT had also directed the Engineering Department to complete the phytoremediation work around Sukhna Choe and N-Choe in a month to prevent the flow of polluted water into the Ghaggar. In August 2019, the NGT had directed the department to undertake in-situ bio-remediation in the two drains carrying untreated sewage into the Gaggar. However, the department has so far planted nearly 3,500-4,000 saplings along the N-Choe and Sukhna Choe and on slopes. Under phytoremediation, different varieties of plants that remove, stabilise and destroy contaminants in the soil and groundwater are planted. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/water-quality-monitoring-stations-on-choes-soon-172940  (20 Nov. 2020)

Chennai Residents can check groundwater table and rainfall data in their localities, online Chennai Metrowater has accelerated work to fix automatic rain gauges in its area offices and digital water level recorders across the city. Many of the 15 area offices now have automatic rain gauge devices fixed as part of real-time online monitoring of the water table. Officials of the Metrowater noted that information on rainfall in a specific area would help correlate the impact on groundwater level and quality, and check over-exploitation of resources.

Once the project is completed, residents would be able to check the groundwater level and plan their water consumption and conservation efforts accordingly. “We plan to update the groundwater level and rainfall data through our website,” said an official. At present, nearly 90% of the work has been completed to sink borewells in 200 wards and also to fix digital water level recorders. The sensors will transmit real-time data and help assess the variations in the groundwater table.

“Some of the data from the digital recorders are already being used for compilation of monthly data. We are also collecting samples manually to check groundwater quality,” the official said. The information obtained about the groundwater table would also help assess the impact of RWH measures in each area and rectify deficiencies in the system. There are nearly 9 lakh RWH structures across the city. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/soon-chennai-residents-can-check-groundwater-table-and-rainfall-data-in-their-localities-online/article33131924.ece  (19 Nov. 2020)

Chennai will get a dedicated reservoir after 76 years With the commissioning of the Kannankottai-Therovy Kandigai reservoir on Saturday (Nov. 21), Chennai will get a dedicated reservoir for drinking water supply after a gap of 76 years.

So far, the Satyamurti Sagar at Poondi, built across the Kosasthalaiyar during 1940-44 at a cost of ₹65 lakh, has the distinction of being the only storage point formed for water supply to the city. It was named after Chennai Mayor S. Satyamurti (1939-40) in recognition of his efforts to get the dam project implemented amid the Second World War. On June 14, 1944, the then Governor of Madras Presidency, Arthur Hope, declared open the reservoir.

Located about 50 km from Chennai, the Kannankottai-Thervoy Kandigai reservoir, costing ₹380 crore, will store the Krishna water. This has been made possible through an 8.6-km link canal, which will take off from the Kandaleru-Poondi canal. Around 1,485 acres was acquired for the construction of the reservoir. Through two fillings, the new facility can store 1 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) in a year. It will facilitate the supply of 66 million litres a day (MLD) to the city. The reservoir will also supply water for irrigating 700 acres, according to an official release.

The reservoir will be the fifth storage point for Chennai after the Satyamurti Sagar at Poondi, Cholavaram, Red Hills and Chembarampakkam. Though the Veeranam tank in Cuddalore district also feeds to the city supply by way of 180 MLD for a considerable part of the year, it is an irrigation reservoir.

The combined capacity of the four reservoirs is 11.25 tmc ft. With the latest one, it will go up to 11.75 tmc ft. If all the five reservoirs are full on New Year Day (January 1), they can take care of the city’s water needs comfortably, as Chennai requires 1 tmc ft of water a month. The balance can easily be provided by Veeranam and two desalination plants of 100 MLD each, apart from groundwater sources. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/chennai-will-get-a-dedicated-reservoir-after-76-years/article33136810.ece  (20 Nov. 2020)

WATER POLLUTION

Goa App to file air, water pollution plaints The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) is in the process of developing an app that will allow citizens to file air and water pollution complaints. GSPCB chairman Ganesh Shetgaonkar told that the app is being developed based on CPCB guidelines. He said that earlier all complaints related to air and water used to be received on a common email which made scrutiny difficult. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/soon-file-air-water-pollution-plaints-via-app/articleshow/78523950.cms  (07 Oct. 2020)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Opinion Centre, states must seize opportunity to come together for water governance by Srinivas Chokkakula This plea for a more centralised water governance, using the bills and JJM funds is seriously problematic.

-JJM involves large-scale intergovernmental transfers to states at a proposed outlay of Rs 3.6 lakh crore (Centre and states together) over the next five years towards universal access to safe and secure drinking water in rural areas. In terms of the numbers, this is perhaps the largest CSS so far — larger than even the MGNREGA or the PMGSY.  https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/river-water-disputes-amendment-bill-water-conservation-governance-7056512/  (19 Nov. 2020)

Sundar Muthanna on FB post comment:- The Centre must work with states on making rivers sustainable.

Foundation laid for UP Rural Drinking Water Projects in Vindhyachal The projects will provide tap water connections in all rural households of 2,995 villages and will benefit about 42 lakh population of these districts. Village water and sanitation committees have been constituted in all these villages, and they will have the responsibility of operation and maintenance. The total estimated cost of the projects is ₹5,555.38 crore. The projects are planned to be completed in 24 months under the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ announced by the Prime Minister on August 15 last year. he projects aim at providing functional household tap connections to every rural house of the country by 2024. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pm-modi-lays-foundation-stone-of-rural-drinking-water-projects-in-up/article33153841.ece (Nov 23, 2020)

Rajasthan 200 villages to get drinking water Recently, a proposal for solarisation of standalone mini drinking water supply system at as many as 200 villages in the state of Rajasthan, has been approved by the Board of Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited. According to RRECL, the decision is in accordance with the Rajasthan Solar Energy Policy, 2019 as well as the state’s 2020-21 Budget announcement stating the corporation, on a pilot basis, to convert 200 water supply schemes for operating on solar energy. The rural locations have been selected by RRECL from a list of as many as 248 areas that have been specified by the Public Health and Engineering Department. The corporation further said, the pilot project is likely to cost around Rs 8 crore. https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/water-supply-in-the-desert-state-200-rajasthan-villages-to-get-drinking-water-details-here/2133304/  (21 Nov. 2020)

POST MONSOON 2020

Tamil Nadu Dams across the Nilgiris almost full According to Tangedco officials, storage at Upper Bhavani, Avalanche and Emerald are at between 95 and 98 % of full capacity, while the Parsons Valley Dam, which supplies water to Udhagamandalam town, is at 97 % capacity, with water level at 75 feet at the dam which has a total level of 77 feet. The only dam in the district below 90 % of storage capacity was the Mukurthi Dam at 88 %, the officials said. The Ralliah Dam, which supplies water to Coonoor town, is also almost full.

Rain continued across parts of the Nilgiris till Thursday (Nov. 19) morning, with an average of 17.49 mm of rainfall. The Kundah watershed received some of the highest rainfall, with heavy rain being recorded in Kinnakorai and Geddai. Heavy rain was also recorded in Balocola, Coonoor, Ketti and Kodanad near Kotagiri.

Tangedco officials said people living in villages further downstream had already been warned that water might be released from the dams if the rain continued, which would cause a temporary surge in the water level along the rivers, and that the residents had been urged to stay away from the banks of rivers. Due to the good rain over the last few months, it was likely that water supply to the major towns in the district would be assured during the summer this year, the officials said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/dams-across-the-nilgiris-almost-full/article33136398.ece  (20 Nov. 2020)

Dams continue to get copious inflow Heavy to very heavy rainfall reported in the last few days in the catchment areas has brought copious inflow to many of the minor dams of Virudhunagar district. Even as Sasthakoil dam has been overflowing for the couple of days, it continued to get 100 cusecs of inflow that was being let out. The level in the dam was 103.4 metres. Pilavakkal Periyar dam was getting the highest inflow of the season – 930.4 cusecs. With the level touching 201.66 metres (204.50 metres), 1,200 cusecs was being released from the dam. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/dams-continue-to-get-copious-inflow/article33142522.ece  (20 Nov. 2020)

SOUTH ASIA

Monsoon dread A beautiful contemplation on monsoon: physical and not-so-physical, past and present by Alizeh Kohari.

“For most of my life, I have lived in Karachi, a city by the sea where it typically rains only a few days each year. Perhaps it is only natural, then, that wherever I go, I carry this feeling—this monsoon feeling—of rain as culmination, as catharsis: even in London, where it is a quotidian, powdery affair, and Mexico City, where it is just as thunderous but far less fickle. I have never swung on a swing in a downpour—or yearned for a lost lover, for that matter—but the idea feels deeply familiar, preserved in some sort of communal imagination. The odd thing is that these associations persist even though, increasingly, when clouds break over dry, thirsty Karachi.” https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/monsoon-dread-kohari  (Nov. 2020)

CHINA

Misleading scare mongering? While there is no doubt that China has been behaving most irresponsibly along South Asian borders in recent past as even earlier and that it has also been irresponsible as an upstream riparian nation in Mekong and other basins, there is no new information in this article to suggest the Water bomb title, particularly in the context of India. The authors also make a number of misleading statements to substantiate their scare mongering title. For example, when the authors say: “Chinese projects in the Himalayas have only recently begun to operate amid protests from India.”, they do not mention any projects and to the best of public information no such projects are known to have started operation in recent days or weeks. It is also not clear which recent Chinese projects India has protested against, as suggested here. When they say “There are now multiple operational dams in the Yarlung Tsangpo basin with more dams commissioned and under construction.”, its an ambiguous statement as it does not mention a single project.

Their concluding lines are of course welcome: “There are alternate solutions to solving the water crisis. Both sides must cease new constructions on the river and commit to potentially less destructive solutions. Building a decentralised network of check dams, rain-capturing lakes and using traditional means of water capture have shown effective results in restoring the ecological balance while supporting the populations of the regions in a sustainable manner.” And that we must remain eternally vigilant about any Chinese activity on Yarlung Tsangpo and other shared rivers. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/brahmaputra-river-china-dam-india-china-relation-7061644/

ASIA

Philippines Dam Floods Some lawmakers are already itching to grill officials of agencies responsible for the release of water from these dams even before the floodwaters had a chance to recede. Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian would question the dam operators, including the National Power Corp. (NPC) and the National Irrigation Administration, when their proposed 2021 budgets would be taken up in plenary.

– Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is proposing the establishment of standard protocols for the release of water from dams for better preparation and response during times of calamities. He said local chief executives have voiced concern that dam administrators have different protocols on the release of water. Año said standard protocols during times of calamities should be under the supervision of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

– The NPC manages 22 dams all over the country and conducts semi-annual inspection to the five major dams in Luzon and seven dams in Mindanao to ensure their integrity and the safety of the people that live downstream of the dams. The agency also practices efficient reservoir management with partner agencies to help conserve water while optimizing water utilization.

– The Cagayan River, known as Rio Grande de Cagayan, is the longest and largest river by discharge volume of water in the Philippines, with a total length of approximately 505 kilometers. The river has a drainage basin covering 27,753 square kilometers and flows north to its mouth at the Babuyan Channel near the town of Aparri. Given these facts, Cagayan province should be spared from floods. Remember that Magat Dam only released water enough to fill 106,223 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In the 1960s, Cagayan River can accommodate more than the water volume recently released by the Magat Dam. However, siltation and government neglect killed the river.  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/11/18/damning-the-dams/  (18 Nov. 2020)

Over the past two weeks, torrential rains and back-to-back typhoons have killed up to 70 people. As of Monday (Nov. 16), 24 of the 28 towns in Cagayan Province, at the very northern tip of the Philippine island chain, were under water as the Cagayan River overflowed. And the Magat Dam, one of the country’s largest reservoirs, spilled over — possibly for the first time in decades. In some areas, power and communications have been out for days. Flooding has now affected eight regions and three million people, according to the U.N. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/world/asia/philippines-floods-photos.html  (18 Nov. 2020)

DAM SAFETY EXPERT: WHY DAMS POSE HIGHER RISKS THAN NUCLEAR PLANTS: Dam Safety Expert Roderick dela Cruz suggests that the Philippines must formulate a program that will focus on the aspect of dam safety in consideration of the communities near the downstream. Ten years back he proposed to the government to establish a national dam safety program that would regulate and facilitate the dams in the country.

– “We do not have a standard on how we monitor, how we design and how we improve the performance of an existing dam,” he said of his article published in 2012 in The Journal of Dam Safety. (https://www.untvweb.com/news/filipino-dam-safety-expert-explains-why-dams-pose-higher-risks-than-nuclear-plants/ 21 Nov 2020)

House summons dam, LGU officials The House of Representatives has summoned officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and local executives in Cagayan and Isabela for its inquiry on the cataclysmic flooding that submerged the two provinces and parts of Metro Manila and Rizal during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last week.

– Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, chairman of the committee on agriculture and food, confirmed that they have invited NIA officials to the hearings that will start on Nov. 24 to determine the cause of the severe flooding attributed partly to the release of water in Magat Dam. “We want to get the facts straight. The problem from the local perspective of our colleagues here was that there was no advisory given about the release of the water from the dam. But NIA claimed otherwise. So we want to get the real picture of what happened, to see who is responsible, and if there’s any negligence that we find, then we will act on it,” the lawmaker told reporters at the virtual weekly forum of the House. https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/11/21/2058413/house-summons-dam-lgu-officials  (21 Nov. 2020)

Heads should roll over Magat Dam water release—farmers A farmer’s group wants sanctions against officials of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) which it said should be held accountable for the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela in Philippines.  https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/17/heads-should-roll-over-magat-dam-water-release-farmers/  (17 Nov. 2020)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Rebirth of historic river This describes the steps that lead to destruction of fish in dammed Klamath River in USA. Now, some of these dams would be decommissioned and hopefully the fish will be back in the river.

– Without flowing sediment, the river below the dams then becomes starved of it, leaving only larger rocks on the river bottom. These rocks are ideal for bristle worms, also known as polychaete worms, to cling onto and colonise the bed and rocks. Although not harmful in and of themselves, the worms are the secondary host for C. Shasta, a parasite to which juvenile chinook salmon have proven particularly vulnerable. “Anytime you have fish that have limited genetic diversity and limited geographic area, you invite catastrophe to take out your fish, whether it’s a fish disease or a flood.”

– After painstaking negotiations, this led to the signing of an agreement between PacifiCorp (which operates these dams) and 40 other signatories, including tribes and state governments in 2010. The simultaneous removal of the four dams, with a combined height of 411ft (125m), makes it the largest dam removal project in America’s history, according to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the nonprofit tasked with overseeing the dam removals. It is also set to be the most expensive, at a cost of almost $450m (£340m). The dam removals were slated for 2022, though with negotiations still ongoing between the company, the tribes and other stakeholders, that date is still unconfirmed. But Cordalis says she still remains hopeful. “We’re getting very close,” she says. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201110-the-largest-dam-removal-project-in-american-history  (10 Nov. 2020)

An agreement announced Tuesday (Nov. 17) paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2020-11-17/apnewsbreak-deal-revives-plan-for-largest-us-dam-demolition  (17 Nov. 2020)

NILE Stormy Waters The Nile is the longest river in the world, but also the source of water for two great civilisations. Egypt is the epicentre of the oldest civilisation, with a current population of 98 million people. It is dependent on the Nile for 97% of all water on exogenous flows – water originating outside its territorial borders – making it extremely vulnerable to upstream activities.

– Ethiopia is home to the Orthodox Church in Africa, with a civilisation dating back at least 2,000 years, and a current population of 105 million. The Blue Nile is the largest contributor of water to the lower Nile on which Egypt is dependent, but its source is fully within the geographic limits of Ethiopia.

– It is a dispute arising from the clash between water, energy and food security at national level versus regional level. Egypt can still get its water from the Blue Nile, once the Grand Renaissance Dam has been filled, so the issue is the rate of filling, and not the energy production. More importantly, Egypt will be guaranteed a baseflow down the Blue Nile, which currently contributes about 2/3 of the total flow, simply because Ethiopia will be unable to close the sluices once the energy is flowing into a regional grid. The argument that Ethiopia can shut down the flow is illogical, because that would undermine the very objective of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which is to generate energy for export to the region.

– To reframe the debate, the obstacle to be overcome is the assurance that Egypt would receive greater benefits by relinquishing control over strategic storage to a location upstream in the basin. Countries are locked into relationships with other sovereign states by virtue of their shared dependence on a river. The Nile locks in 12 countries, some the poorest in Africa, and the flow of the river is such that by sharing water in any way that meets the needs of the downstream riparian’s – Egypt and Sudan – then food and energy security cannot also be guaranteed for other states.

– This implies the need to cooperate at multilateral level, to negotiate international agreements that are legally enforceable, and even guaranteed by external agencies as required. Such an agreement would determine the rate at which the Ethiopian dam can be filled, as well as the minimum and maximum discharges needed to satisfy the legitimate security concerns that Egypt has. In effect then, water, energy and food security would be shifted from national level to a regional level, managed within the context of a River Basin Authority representing all riparian states. Water and food security for Egypt would be offset against the creation of energy security in Ethiopia, acting as the powerhouse for regional integration and the sustained creation of an emerging industrial economy that benefits all riparian states. BY PROF ANTHONY TURTON (Original piece here: https://gga.org/the-nile/) https://allafrica.com/stories/202011170040.html  (16 Nov. 2020)

France Barbegal water mills, world’s earliest known industrial plant Interesting: About some water mills that existed around 2nd Century AD in Roman empire, some recent scientific work.  https://phys.org/news/2020-11-unique-hydraulics-barbegal-mills-world.html  (16 Nov. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 16 Nov. 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 09 Nov. 2020

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

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