DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 30 Nov 2020: J&K SEAC denies EC to sand mining

In otherwise bleak governance of sand mining in India, J&K State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has denied environment clearance to sand mining projects on Jhelum river, since the proposals were not in conformity with the MoEF’s 2016 Sand Mining Management Guidelines, involved in-stream mining, did not have proper District Survey Reports, proper Sand Mining Plan or Replenishment studies. One hope this is emanating from genuine concern for proper governance and this needs to spread to more areas so that at least the guidelines get properly implemented.

J&K Experts stop mining in Jhelum riverbed The Jammu & Kashmir Expert Appraisal Committee (JKEAC) – which approves or denies environmental clearances (ECs) to projects – has decided that it cannot process the sand mining cases pertaining to the Jhelum river for grant of environmental clearance.

“…the Committee (JKEAC) recommended that all the in-stream cases relating to river Jhelum pending before JKEAC and those in pipeline in the office of JKEIAA/JKEAC, may be returned to the project proponents on the grounds of ‘being not in conformity with the provisions/ stipulations under National Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and JK Water Resources Act, 2010’,” reads the recommendation part of the minutes of the 17th meeting of JKEAC which was held October 21-22 via video conferencing.

– “While examining the mining blocks on multi-date/multi-season high resolution Google Earth satellite images one by one, the Committee observed that all the mining blocks are located in the centre of flowing water channel of river Jhelum and the cases are sheer in-stream commercial mining proposals,” reads another section of the minutes.

– JKEAC has expressed its inability to appraise the riverbed mining projects pertaining to River Jhelum as the District Survey Reports (prepared by geology and mining department) which are supposed to identify the locations of minor minerals on the basis of scientific studies including replenishment data, do not conform to the guidelines of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

– JKEAC has expressed its inability to appraise the riverbed mining projects pertaining to River Jhelum as the District Survey Reports (prepared by geology and mining department) which are supposed to identify the locations of minor minerals on the basis of scientific studies including replenishment data, do not conform to the guidelines of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

– the geology and mining department of Jammu and Kashmir government has been held responsible by JKEAC for “unscientifically identifying and e-auctioning mining blocks in River Jhelum without any due diligence, investigation or technical inputs from Kashmir’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department”. The latter department is the sole custodian of all rivers and streams of Jammu and Kashmir as per Jammu and Kashmir Water Resource Act. “The representative of the geology and mining department was unable to explain and justify why his department conceptualised and conceived minor mineral mining blocks in River Jhelum which is always in full flow and its bed remains under water all through the year,” an attendee at the meeting said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Mining in such conditions, the experts have observed, “is nothing but in-stream mining” which is strictly prohibited by MoEFCC.

– During the meeting, the experts, quoting MoEFCC’s 2016 guidelines on sustainable sand mining management, have also observed that these guidelines allow for removal of river bed material only for maintenance and regulation purposes; that too by those authorities which regulate or own them as per legislation. Only the irrigation and flood control department of Jammu and Kashmir has this authority when it comes to the Jhelum.

– The report also mentions about North India River Sand Mining Dialogue held on Oct 31, 2020 and SANDRP report presented there and the overview report published post Dialogue. The report is by Athar Parvaiz, who participated in North India Dialogue as a panelist. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/11/26/jammu-and-kashmir-experts-stop-mining-in-jhelum-riverbed/  (26 Nov. 2020)

SAND MINING

SANDRP Blog India Rivers Week 2020: Key Highlights Key Highlights of the Final India Rivers Week 2020 meeting held on Nov 28, 2020. The well attended meeting had memorable Key note address by Justice Madan Lokur, some great presentations and discussions. The Highlights also reveals the BPS and AMM award winners for 2020 among many other things. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/29/india-rivers-week-2020-key-highlights/  (29 Nov. 2020)

Video of National Dialogue – India Rivers Week 2020 held on Nov. 28 on the theme of “Is sand mining killing our rivers”.  https://fb.watch/24pc0q-0KS/

East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders? Summary report of the East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue held on Nov 21, 2020. One key highlight of the Dialogue was that MoEF representative kept singing praise of its guidelines, which remain unimplemented and he did not mention about the local communities even once, kept talking about technologies. The second key highlight was that NGT and courts have been making a lot of orders and judgements, but most remain unimplemented. Why are these judicial bodies not concerned about implementation of their orders? Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/23/east-zone-river-sand-mining-dialogue-why-does-the-moef-lack-faith-in-people/  (23 Nov. 2020)

Note from a lawyer to citizens on illegal River Sand Mining In this Guest Article, lawyer Parul Gupta provides some helpful notes for citizens taken up action against Illegal River sand mining.  It has been put together in the context of recent action by Pune citizens against illegal sand mining in Pune city, but it is equally relevant for such citizen actions elsewhere too. Plz Read and share widely so that citizens everywhere can benefit from it.https://sandrp.in/2020/11/27/note-from-a-lawyer-to-citizens-on-illegal-river-sand-mining/   (27 Nov. 2020)

193 deaths caused during illegal sand mining operations in 2 yrs At least 193 people have died during illegal sand mining operations across India from January 2019 to November 15, 2020, according to a report collated by a network of organisations working on rivers.

The data by SANDRP shows that in this period, 23 farmers and villagers; 5 reporters and activists and 11 government officials, including forest guards, policemen, revenue officials, mining personnel and district officials have been killed by illegal miners.

The highest number of people, 95, have been killed in North India while South India has seen least deaths.  Bhim Singh Rawat, who compiled the report, says the actual numbers could be way higher as many cases are not reported or cases are registered under different sections. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/nov/23/193-deaths-caused-during-illegal-sand-mining-operations-in-twoyears-report-2226869.html  (23 Nov. 2020)

Illegal river bed mining continues unabated in north India Need effective sand mining governance and law enforcement to address the plundering of the rich river ecosystem.

Nailing illegal sand mining has been rare and river conservationists feel that the environmentally hazardous activity continues with impunity. To discuss some of these issues a series of zonal webinars are being conducted as a part of the India Rivers Week 2020. The ‘North India sand mining dialogue’ was held on October 31, 2020, and began with a presentation of the zonal report by SANDRP on sand mining by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP.

This was followed by a panel discussion representing different perspectives on governance, law, media, ecology, civil society/ community and industry. Providing an account of the rivers of North India affected by sand mining Rawat highlighted the murky situation of illegal sand mining, corruption, rampant nexus between politicians-officials-sand miners, and numerous cases of violence and death. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/illegal-river-bed-mining-continues-unabated-north-india  (25 Nov. 2020)

Parineeta Dandekar’s article (Marathi) on importance of sand in the river. https://www.loksatta.com/bara-gaoncha-pani-news/article-on-plight-of-the-yamuna-abn-97-2340130/  (28 Nov. 2020)

Haryana HC seeks report from additional civil judge in 4 days The Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a report on the allegations of illegal sand mining by the sarpanch of Karira gram panchayat in Mahendergarh district, from Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Kanina, within four days. The bench of Justices S N Satyanarayana and Archana Puri, in the order passed on Thursday (Nov. 26) said, “As soon as the report comes, we will look into the same and would pass appropriate orders to ensure that the truth is elicited from the aforesaid exercise.”

The bench further stated that if it is found that the allegations and accusations made by the petitioner are true, appropriate directions would be issued to the concerned authorities. The bench also said that if they found out that the director of Mines and Geology, director of Development and Panchayats Department, Haryana and Mahendergarh deputy commissioner were supporting the sarpanch, it “may not also hesitate to initiate proceedings against the three officials as well as Additional Chief Secretary, Haryana, Home Department for giving wrong information to this court”. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/allegations-of-illegal-sand-mining-in-mahendragarh-hc-seeks-report-from-sdditional-civil-judge-in-4-days/  (13 Nov. 2020)

Sand mining in Yamuna impacts the environment and livelihood During the COVID-19 lockdown, legal and illegal mining continued in the Yamuna river. Unsustainable extraction of sand, the river’s key ingredient, has severe ecological and human impacts. https://youtu.be/2KUPpV-hqc4 https://india.mongabay.com/2020/11/video-rampant-sand-mining-damaging-yamunas-ecology/  (16 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Aundh: Mula River Can Get Easily Flooded Due To Illegal Sand Lifting After the Aundh activist Vaishali Patkar lodged an FIR with Sangvi Police Station against illegal sand mining activities at the confluence of Ramnadi and Mula river, however, it seems that the stakeholders are not yet punished. Seeking further action against the culprits, Jeevitnadi founder Shailaja Deshpande and Aundh Vikas Mandal president Patkar took the matter with Additional Collector Vijay Deshmukh.

According to both the activists, the Mula river can be easily flooded because of the sand mining issue. Deforestation has also been done so that the mechanical equipment like JCB and poclain can fit inside the area. Which in turn has also led to a change inflow of the water. “Strict action should be taken against illegal sand mining and proper planning should be done for the environmental damage done at the place, and orders should be issued by a separate team to excavate and transport sand at the confluence of Ramnadi and Mula river”, said Patkar. Deshpande added,” The additional collector was surprised and shocked at the same time to know about the sand mining. We asked him to take strict action against the culprits. He wasn’t aware of the situation but after understanding the situation he has assured that strict action will be taken.” https://www.punekarnews.in/aundh-activists-claim-mula-river-can-get-easily-flooded-due-to-illegal-sand-lifting-district-admin-orders-action/  (24 Nov. 2020)

Karnataka Demand for separate sand mining policy for 3 coastal districts MLAs from the coastal districts of the state on Thursday (Oct. 15) urged CM B S Yediyurappa to formulate a separate sand mining policy for the three districts. With sand mining practice in the coast unique and different from rest of the state in that it is done manually using boats, the MLAs impressed on Yediyurappa to bifurcate the policy that will help the local administration supply this vital mineral to people at affordable cost.

A delegation headed by Dakshina Kannada district minister Kota Shrinivas Poojari urged the CM to remove restrictions on mining of sand along the river course. With the manual practice of sand mining used only on the coast, uniform sand mining policy for the state will lead to shortage of sand and also lead to hike in its cost. A bifurcated policy will also ensure that sand mined in the district equitably made available to stakeholders, they said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/mlas-for-coastal-karnataka-press-cm-for-separate-sand-mining-policy/articleshow/78678567.cms  (15 Oct. 2020)

Manipur Meeting on mining, transportation of sand and clay  In the face of shortage of construction materials after a ban was clamped on mining and transportation of sand and clay by the Manipur high the court last year, a joint coordination meeting was held on Wednesday (Nov. 18) with textile, commerce and industry minister Thongam Biswajit Singh here. Forest, environment and climate change minister Awangbow Newmai was also present.

During the meeting, Biswajit asserted the importance to strengthen and formulate new policy and regulation for the recognized mining areas and instructed the officials to identify mining zones at the earliest. He also asked officials concerned to coordinate with the forest department for the environmental clearance, irrespective of whether the area falls in forest area or not. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/imphal/meeting-on-mining-transportation-of-sand-and-clay-in-manipur/articleshow/79296456.cms  (19 Nov. 2020)

Telangana 4 youths drown in Godavari river in Mulugu A tragic incident unfolded on the day of Diwali in Mulugu district when four youths’ swimming session in the Godavari river turned deadly on Saturday (Nov. 13) evening, while celebrating a friend’s birthday. The four deceased have been identified as Rayavarapu Prakash (19), Tumma Karthik(19), K Anvesh(20) and S Srikanth (20).

The incident occurred near the Rangarajapuram Colony of Venkatapuram village in Mulugu. According to the police, a group of 16 friends went to the bank of the river to celebrate birthday of one Sashi Kumar. The location where they celebrated is 3km away from Venkatapouram.  Four of the 16 persons, swam in the Godavari river during the birthay party and drowned. The incident occurred near the Rangarajapuram Colony of Venkatapuram village in Mulugu. Inspector K Shiva Prasad said that the four youth who entered the river had underesimated its depth at the location as there is an old sand ramp present at that location increasing depth of the river there.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2020/nov/15/diwali-day-tragedyfour-friends-celebrating-birthday-drownin-godavari-river-in-mulugu-bodies-retrieved-2223803.html  (15 Nov. 2020)

Uttarakhand  आखिर किसकी सरपरस्ती में बेखौफ हैं खनन माफिया?देहरादून में खनन माफिया किसकी सरपरस्ती में धड़ल्ले से नदियों का सीना छलनी कर रहे, इस सवाल का जवाब शायद ही कोई दे पाए। जिले का शहरी क्षेत्र हो या ग्रामीण, हर जगह खनन माफिया पुलिस से दो हाथ आगे नजर आ रहे। अक्सर खनन माफिया और पुलिस के गठजोड़ भी उजागर हो चुके हैं और आरोपित पुलिसकर्मियों के खिलाफ बड़े स्तर पर कार्रवाई भी हुई, लेकिन खनन माफिया की दबंगई बदस्तूर जारी है। पिछले दिनों मुख्यमंत्री के विधानसभा क्षेत्र में जिस तरह फर्जी रवन्ने पर चल रहे अवैध खनन के ‘खेल’ का एसटीएफ ने पर्दाफाश किया, उससे भी पूरी व्यवस्था पर सवाल उठ रहे हैं। सवाल यह भी कि जिला प्रशासन और पुलिस क्यों इससे नजरें फेरे रहे।

जिले में फर्जी रवन्ने पर अवैध खनन की घटना ने एक बार फिर साबित कर दिया है कि खनन माफिया सिर्फ बेखौफ ही नहीं है बल्कि उसे प्रत्यक्ष या अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से बड़े स्तर पर संरक्षण भी हासिल है। लंबे समय से डोईवाला, विकासनगर, कैंट, ऋषिकेश, सहसपुर, वसंत विहार, राजपुर और रायपुर क्षेत्र विवादों से घिरे आ रहे हैं। गुजरे कुछ वर्षो से इन सभी क्षेत्रों में नदियों में अवैध खनन जोरों पर चल रहा है। पहले रात में चोरी-छिपे धंधा चलता था, पर आजकल दिनदहाड़े नदियों का सीना चीरा जा रहा। लगभग छह साल पूर्व जिले के तत्कालीन एसएसपी ने खुद सहसपुर, वसंत विहार और कैंट क्षेत्र में खनन के खिलाफ डंडा उठाया था तो उसमें पुलिस भी सवालों का हिस्सा बनी थी। उसमें माफिया और पुलिस की एक क्लिपिंग मिली थी, जिसमें दारोगा-सिपाही आसन नदी से अवैध खनन कर रहे ट्रकों और ट्रॉलियों को सुरक्षा देते नजर आ रहे थे। https://m.jagran.com/lite/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-mining-mafia-is-doing-illegal-without-interruption-at-dehradun-21095137.html  (24 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Publish White Paper on revenue earned through sand mining: TDP The TDP has asked the government to publish a White Paper on the revenue generated through sand mining in the State. Addressing the media on Friday (Nov. 13), MLA Gorantla Butchaiah Chowdary accused the ruling YSRCP MLAs and MPs, and their followers of committing irregularities in sand mining and transportation.

The construction industry in the State collapsed after the YSRCP came to power, he said. “Construction workers have been thrown onto the road. They have not been provided any financial assistance from their ₹1,200-crore welfare fund during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he alleged. “The per tonne price of sand has increased from ₹50 to ₹525 at the sand reaches and boatmen societies. This is to facilitate the YSRCP leaders loot more from sand mining,” the TDP leader added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/publish-white-paper-on-revenue-earned-through-sand-mining-tdp/article33097920.ece  (14 Nov. 2020)

Report Tracking the Source of Illegal Sand Mining Sand might not be as glamorous as gems and metals. Yet, it might be the most important resource extracted from the Earth today — and, like many resources, it is not easily replaced if used up. And much like many other resources, its extraction can be highly damaging. Being able to track the source of sand to monitor how it is extracted might move us closer to making sand a more sustainable resource. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/tracking-the-source-of-illegal-sand-mining  (29 Oct. 2020)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog The Real Worries about MoEF’s Expert Committee on River Valley Projects In this Guest Article, well known Supreme Court lawyer RITWICK DUTTA writes that the MoEF’s new office memorandum on Nov 18, 2020, that mandates its expert appraisal committee (EAC) to meet “at least” twice every month to “cut down the time” for environmental clearances (ECs). However, real question is who are the chair and members of the EAC, for example, of River Valley Projects, what expertise they have and how they are selected. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/30/the-real-worries-about-moefs-expert-committee-on-river-valley-projects/  (30 Nov. 2020)

Govt to fast track norm A Nov 11 letter from the Ministry’s Environment Impact Assessment division, that coordinates EAC meetings, issued fresh guidelines to accelerate the appraisal process.

– The recommendations include ensuring that EAC meetings are held at least once in 15 days. All proposals that were placed for approval 10 days before a meeting ought to be considered (It is 15 days now). “The queries or issues, which the division may have, should be raised during the EAC meeting only. Member Secretary (MS) ought to ensure that the relevant queries of the division are also pointed out at the time of EAC meetings itself so as to avoid occasion for such queries before and after examination by Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC),” the missive notes. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar has said he’s committed to bringing down the time required for clearance down to less than 100 days.

– Kanchi Kohli said it was legally contentious if an office order could curtail the role of the EAC that requires detailed scrutiny of applications seeking environmental clearance. “What is even more concerning is the Environment Ministry’s approach to reading down its own mandate for environment protection. Accelerated approvals definitely don’t allow for good environmental decisions and do not necessitate that projects will be up and running to support an already sluggish economy. Our current approval rates are close to 100%, and yet there is an economic slowdown,” she said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-to-fast-track-green-nod/article33163541.ece  (23 Nov. 2020)

MoEF Agenda of the meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Dec 2, 2020:

1. Completion of Balance Works of Two Units (2×115 MW) at Lower Sileru Hydro Power House & Improvement of Power Canal Works in East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh For ToR

2. Lakhwar Multipurpose Project in Dist Tehri Garhwal of Uttarakhand by M/s UJVN LTD.- For Env Clearance

3. Kundah Pumped Storage Hydro Project (4×125 MW) in tehsil Udhagamandalam, dist The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu by TN Generation and Distribution Corp For Env Clearance

4. Wakurde Lift Irrigation Scheme, Dist Sangli, Mah by Sup Engineer, Kolhapur Irrigation Circle, For Ext of Validity of EC

5. MP 30 Gandhi Sagar Off-Stream Pumped Storage Project, District Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh by M/s Greenko Energies Pvt Ltd – For Amendment in ToR

6. Badaun Lift Canal Project district Badun, by Eastern Ganga Canal, Irrigation Dept, Uttar Pradesh For EC

7. Gyspa Hydro Power Project (300 MW) on River Bhaga in Lahaul and Spiti, Dist Himachal Pradesh by HPPCL For ToR

8. Dugar HEP in Chamba Dist, Himachal Pradesh – For Amendment of ToR http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/24112020CP3YE17U4thEACAgenda.pdf

Himachal Pradesh IndiGrid inks pact to acquire 74% stake in Parbati Koldam from Reliance Infra India Grid Trust on Saturday (Nov. 28) said that it has inked an agreement to acquire 74 per cent stake in Parbati Koldam Transmission Company (PKTCL) from Reliance Infrastructure. “India Grid Trust has signed share purchase agreement on November 28th, 2020 for acquisition of 74 per cent in PKTCL from Reliance Infrastructure Ltd,” a BSE filing said.

The completion of acquisition would depend upon receipt of relevant approvals and completion of contractual obligations, it added. According to filing, the implied enterprise value (for 100% equity shares) is Rs900 crore inclusive of cash & cash reserves and normalised tariff receivables, subject to adjustments on account of movement in cash, deviation in outstanding debt, tariff receivables, assets, liabilities outstanding. https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/indigrid-inks-pact-to-acquire-74-stake-in-parbati-koldam-from-reliance-infra-120112800761_1.html  (28 Nov. 2020)

DAMS

Uttarakhand Dam on Saung river approved The state’s first gravity dam project, to be built at the foothills of Mussoorie on the Saung river got forest clearance from the Union environment ministry on Wednesday (Nov. 25). It would involve construction of a 3.50 km-long lake, which is also expected to serve as a tourist attraction and stimulate the state’s eco-tourism plans.

The dam, named after the river Saung that will feed it, will be built over 138.122 hectares in village Sondhna in Maldevta, and will be around 130.60m in height. It is estimated to cost Rs 1,580 crore if construction is completed within three years. Its reservoir will span around 76 hectares, and with its 150MLD water, it is projected to fulfill the drinking water needs of 10 lakh people till 2051.

Dehradun requires around 200 MLD water, of which 180 MLD comes from groundwater, which has stressed the water table. “We extract 180 MLD from our 291 tubewells, and fetch the remainder from natural aquifers. But in summers, as water in tubewells gets depleted by over 15%. This leads to a crisis situation sometimes. The dam will help us adequately supply water to all of Doon localities, especially its dry areas,” said Sandeep Kashyap, executive engineer, Pey Jal Nigam, Uttarakhand. The city’s dry areas include Raipur, the downward area from Dillaram Chowk towards Saharanpur Chowk, Sahastradhara, Chukhu mohalla, Rispana Pul etc. Residents of these areas excessively depend on tubewells, which exacerbates the supply during summers and peak tourist season. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhands-first-gravity-dam-to-address-doons-water-woes/articleshow/79434102.cms  (27 Nov. 2020)

Karnataka Mekdatu dam project threatening the last surviving Grizzled Giant Squirrels  At Mekedatu, which is located inside the sanctuary and borders Tamil Nadu, a controversial dam project has been proposed by Karnataka. It will provide drinking water to Bengaluru city, situated 100km from the sanctuary. Once the dam is built, 2,925.5 hectares of the sanctuary will get inundated, submerging nearly one lakh wild trees, some of which have stood here for centuries. It is not just the trees but the entire ecosystem of the forest that could be submerged in the proposed reservoir. Representing the victims of the deluge among the flora and fauna is a seemingly small rodent that belongs to the genus of giants—the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, named so for its salt-and-pepper fur.

Endemic to south India and Sri Lanka, Grizzled Giant Squirrels face a population decline owing to the dwindling habitat everywhere. The near-threatened Grizzled Giant Squirrel is one of the three varieties of giant squirrels found in India; the other two being the Indian Giant Squirrel and Black Giant Squirrel. Less than 500 Grizzled Giant Squirrels are left in India. Of these, less than 50 call the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary their home. If they exit from here, the richness of Karnataka’s wildlife will diminish. Along with the squirrels, the population of endangered orange-finned Mahseer fish, smooth-coated otters, mugger crocodiles and rare honey badgers will also decline. Also, the dam will lead to more human-animal conflicts, what with the forest area shrinking. Elephants and deers could enter towns and adjacent villages and raid crops.

While people of Bengaluru have been vocal against cutting trees for widening roads, not a word has been spoken yet against the proposed dam project. For now, Tamil Nadu is the only active protester against the construction of the dam. It claims that water inflow into its territory will be restricted. Environmental activists are being cautious in their protests as it is a matter of state chauvinism. “The project is to tap the surplus water in a good rainfall season that otherwise ends up in the sea,” says Captain S. Raja Rao, former secretary of the state’s environmental and minor irrigation department. “Any developmental project will naturally create environmental damages. If there are threats to certain species, then alternative ecosystem should be created to protect them.”

But conservation biologist Sanjay Gubbi differs: “Bengaluru’s water requirement is an endless well. It is wise to use in-house solutions such as revival of lakes, rather than creating mammoth projects, which will disrupt the ecosystems that play a crucial role in reducing global warming. The plight of the Grizzled Giant Squirrels represents the survival threat posed to the entire wildlife and their habitats here.” https://www.theweek.in/theweek/specials/2020/11/26/dam-and-the-doomed.html  (06 Dec. 2020)

Opinion The other Nehru The Author, Mahesh Rangrajan, even with his sharp mind and amazingly vast canvas of knowledge, unnecessarily criticizes all critics of big dams here. However, he provides new and interesting set of information here.

– Yet, there was another Jawaharlal Nehru, not the ardent champion of big projects but the healthy sceptic. The Discovery of India, written in Ahmednagar Fort during his three-year-long detention, offers a clue.

– Published in 1946, the book has a section where he crucially assesses the impact of modern engineering structures on river valleys. Embankments on river basins blocked the flow of waters and worsened floods. These prevented the natural flow of water in the monsoon and exposed more villagers and townspeople to floods. These were a new feature of the era of British rule. Nehru was thus conscious of the double-edged effect of new technologies.

– Most revealing are two letters he wrote to chief ministers in August and September 1957, respectively. This was just over three years after his speeches at the Bhakra and the Nangal dam sites in August 1954. Both are in Volume Four of Letters to Chief Ministers, 1954-57, published long ago in 1988. Interestingly, neither his admirers nor his critics seem to have paid much attention to these communications.

– The first letter dated August 15, 1957, the tenth anniversary of India’s Independence, could have been penned by one of today’s critics and a paragraph deserves to be cited in extenso. “We have many large-scale river valley projects,” he wrote, “which are carefully worked out by our engineers. I wonder, however, how much thought is given before the project is launched, to having an ecological survey of the area and to find out what the effect would be on the drainage system or to the flora and fauna of that area. It would be desirable to have such an ecological survey of these areas before the project is launched and thus to avoid an imbalance of nature.”

– Emphasis is added here and not in the original but it is notable that he was talking of ecological studies at the planning stage as part of a project, an idea that was to take shape only in the 1970s in the developed world and in India in the next decade. These words were penned in August of 1957.

– The next letter of September 3 returned to the same theme of bunds and embankments on the flood plains he had taken up in his writings as early as 1946. There was a widespread demand for structures to avert floods but “every embankment or bund, while protecting one area, might lead to greater danger to another area”. Drainage was the key to flood control. Interventions were often a must but they ought to proceed “paying any attention to their effect on nature’s economy”. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/the-other-nehru-dams-and-nature-economy/cid/1797589  (16 Nov. 2020)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Link EAC defers clearance to Lower Orr dam Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP said Lower Orr dam project is part of phase-II of the Ken-Betwa project. “But in a scenario where the viability of the Ken-Betwa project has been questioned then what is the point of actively looking and clearing the projects in phase-II. The expert panel has rightly sought fresh data, in accordance with the rules. In fact, the projects in phase-II are pursued on the understanding that phase-I projects are viable and will bring surplus water. So, the phase-II projects like the Lower Orr dam project should not get a green signal until the air is cleared on the future of phase-I projects,” Thakkar told Mongabay-India.  https://india.mongabay.com/2020/11/environment-ministry-defers-clearance-to-dam-in-m-p-part-of-ken-betwa-interlinking-project/   (27 Nov. 2020)

INTERSTATE WATER DISPUTES

Kerala’s proposal to build a dam raises the hackles in TN

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/keralas-proposal-to-build-a-dam-raises-the-hackles-of-farmers/article33194316.ece  (27 Nov. 2020)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

14 more water aerodromes for seaplane services The government is looking to set up 14 more water aerodromes across the country after the launch of maiden seaplane service by PM Modi between the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya in Gujarat’s Narmada district and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad. These will facilitate seaplane services on various routes including Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.

“Development of 14 more water aerodromes is being planned pan India under RCS UDAN scheme. Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had requested Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to conduct a hydrographic survey and later on requested assistance in setting up jetties for facilitating the passenger movement,” a Shipping Ministry official told PTI.

Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya last week told PTI that post the launch of seaplane service at Gujarat, regular services are being planned on various routes including in Guwahati, Andaman & Nicobar and Uttarakhand. “The potential locations include Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, Guwahati riverfront and Umrangso reservoir in Assam, Khindsi Dam and Erai Dam in Maharashtra, Prakasam barrage in Andhra Pradesh, Minicoy and Kavaratti in Lakshadweep, Havelock, Neil, Long and Hutbay islands in Andaman & Nicobar and Dharoi and Shatrunjaya in Gujarat,” according to a Shipping Ministry document. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/government%C3%82%C2%A0eyes-setting-up-14-more-water-aerodromes-for-seaplane-services-164354  (01 Nov. 2020)

Gujarat Seaplane to return to the Maldives month after operations begin Less than a month after PM Modi inaugurated the seaplane service from the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad to Kevadia, the service has been temporarily suspended due to maintenance issues in the seaplane. The aircraft — a 19-seater Twin Otter 300 — will be sent back to the Maldives on Saturday (Nov. 28) as it is the property of a Maldivian company, said sources in the MoCA.

A spokesperson for SpiceJet confirmed the seaplane service has been suspended. “Seaplane operation has been temporarily suspended due to mandatory aircraft maintenance. Since the maintenance facility (dry and wet dock) is still under construction at Ahmedabad, the aircraft has to be sent to our lessor’s facility at Maldives. The operation will resume once the aircraft is back. The maintenance facility at Ahmedabad should be ready soon which would ensure that future maintenance is done here itself.” the spokesperson said.

The airline further clarified that the maintenance had been planned beforehand although seaplane services had to be suspended for two days in the first week of operation, due to maintenance issues. “We didn’t take any bookings beyond November 27 as this was pre-planned,” said the spokesperson. Sources in MoCA said the Maldivian aircraft may be replaced. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) did not comment on the matter.

Aviation safety consultant captain Mohan Ranganathan said, “No aircraft goes for maintenance within one month of flying, which means that they did not get the paperwork done as required.” Raising questions about whether due process was followed while acquiring clearances for the service, he further said, “It is obvious that the facility was initially inaugurated for publicity. While giving all the permits to an airline, the authority has to ensure that the company is financially viable and that crew and maintenance staff is available. Unless this is confirmed in writing by the airline, approvals are not given. This implies that the aircraft did not have a proper certificate of airworthiness (CofA).”

SpiceJet has been conducting seaplane trials in India since 2017. While under the first phase, trials were conducted in Nagpur and Guwahati, the second phase involved trials held at Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty. The airline had earlier said it had secured 18 seaplane routes under UDAN, including services between Ahmedabad and Kevadia; Agatti and Minicoy; and Agatti and Kavaratti. https://m.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/seaplane-to-return-to-the-maldives-month-after-operations-begin-service-temporarily-suspended/story-3Duw033CXlQHHU0QtGDM4I_amp.html  (28 Nov. 2020)

URBAN RIVERS

The fountains are dry as there is no treated wastewater to run them with. Indore. Photo in Nov 2020 by Rahul Banerjee

SANDRP Blog River rejuvenation in Indore: Mendacity displacing common sense In this Guest Article Rahul Banerjee exposes the reality of cleaned Saraswati river flowing through Indore. An article earlier claimed that a 2 km stretch of this river was was 100% without sewage water, cleaned due to efforts of Municipal commissioner in setting up STPs etc. The author visited the river and his article and photos show the hollowness of the claims of clean Saraswati river in Indore. Plz Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/11/30/river-rejuvenation-in-indore-mendacity-displacing-common-sense/  (30 Nov. 2020)

Dravyavati, Jaipur Wrangle over maintenance stalls Dravyavati river project opening With Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) and Tata Projects Limited locking horns over maintenance charge issue, the condition of Dravyavati riverfront is expected to deteriorate further in future.

Even after two years of inauguration, the Rs 1676-crore project continues to remain underutilised and partially opened for public despite majority of work being completed. While JDA is not willing to take the possession of the project, the firm has expressed helplessness to continue the maintenance for long as the civic body is not releasing outstanding amount for maintenance. Sources said the firm had reduced the manpower at the project drastically. A JDA senior official said, “Almost 93% work of the project is completed. We have asked the firm to complete the entire project, before handing it over to the JDA.”

As per the contract, the JDA will release the operation & maintenance costs once the project is completed & handed over to the user. However, the firm is stressing to take possession of the completed portion of the project. Sources said, “Though, the JDA is asking to complete the project before releasing payment, work on the 550-metre stretch near Hassanpura cannot be initiated due to court stay. If land is not provided for another 3 months, the company will have to incur maintenance costs.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/wrangle-over-maintenance-stalls-dravyavati-river-project-opening/articleshow/78211394.cms  (20 Sep 2020)

Downpour takes its toll on Ring Road, Dravyavati river projects According to reports, the 47-km Ring Road project has witnessed damages at more than 20 points. When TOI visited the spot, the transport corridor was found uprooted near Pharaladpura after side embankment crumbled. Sources said, slope projection constructed using concrete cement washed away after heavy rains. Huge depression was witnessed after the sand beneath the road caved in.

The dream project of the BJP which took nine years to complete instead of its original plan of 21 months, remains an unsafe process for many. Though, the project is not operational, commuters are using the passage in stretches. Dravyavati river rejuvenation project is still being executed by the Tata Group. An official source at JDA said, “We have handed over operation and maintenance of the project to the company for 10 years. All the project repairs will be carried out by the firm,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/downpour-takes-its-toll-on-ring-road-dravyavati-river-projects/articleshow/70414961.cms  (28 July 2019)

Gomti-Lucknow CBI makes first arrests in RFD project scam The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has made first arrests in the Gomti riverfront development, a dream project of then CM Akhilesh Yadav. Two engineers who were part of the project Roop Singh Yadav and Raj Kumar Yadav have been arrested by the CBI.

Roop Singh, who is now retired, was then executive engineer Lucknow division and Raj Kumar Yadav, senior assistant, irrigation department. After the BJP formed the government in the state, it appointed a committee headed by a retired justice of the Allahabad High Court. In its report submitted in May 2017, it was alleged there were widespread irregularities in the project. 

Following which the UP Police at Gomti Police Station filed an FIR against eight persons. Later the state government requested for a CBI probe. It has been alleged that Rs 1513 crore Gomti riverfront development project saw widespread irregularities. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/uttar-pradesh-cbi-makes-first-arrests-in-gomti-riverfront-development-project-scam/684565  (20 Nov. 2020)

Kukrail-Lucknow Gomti riverfront-like facelift for Kukrail drain Banks of Kukrail drain will get a facelift on the lines of Gomti riverfront with green belts on both sides of the drain. In addition, traffic management and roads development in the city will be done with the Smart City vision. These directions were issued by state urban development minister, Ashutosh Tandon, on Friday (Nov. 6) in a meeting with the officials of civic and urban development agencies.

Tandon directed officials to prepare an action plan for a STP for treating Kukrail drain water and diversion of drains that fall in it. He also asked them to work on the beautification of Kukrail banks on the lines of Gomti riverfront. It will include green belts on both sides of the drain and removal of encroachment. The green belt will have plantations and parks with benches for people to spend leisure time.

The minister also said that in order to reduce vehicular traffic pressure in the city, roads on both sides of the Gomti river need to be connected to IIM via Shaheed Path. He directed officials to get an artist’s impression of the project at the earliest. Officers were also told to prepare a detailed presentation of the development plan for presenting it before the chief minister. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/gomti-riverfront-like-facelift-for-kukrail-drain/articleshow/79090944.cms  (07 Nov. 2020)

Periyar-Kochi Pollution assessment of Periyar to be held in 3 phases The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has assured the NGT that it will inspect the Periyar and monitor river pollution through a three-phased project. The first phase of the monitoring will be held along the river stretch in Idukki district. The committee responsible for the work will oversee the preparation of an inspection plan. The second phase will cover the river stretch from Idukki-Ernakulam border (Neriamangalam) to Aluva and Mangalapuzha branch in Thrissur district. The third phase will focus on the Periyar river stretch from Aluva to Eloor ferry, covering the industrial areas in Eloor, Edayar and Kalamassery.

The pollution load assessment in all impact zones will be carried out by the district offices concerned in Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur. A schedule will be prepared based on the preliminary assessment, primary data, mapping and district environmental plan already prepared by the board. The work plan consisting of day-wise inspection details for individual teams will be made available prior to the actual schedule of inspections in the three districts.

The teams will inspect all industries, hospitals, other establishments, waste dumping grounds and drains in the impact zones. The officials will collect samples from all applicable sources. Nearly 10% of the samples will be duplicated for cross verification by either the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pollution-assessment-of-periyar-to-be-held-in-three-phases/article33145445.ece  (21 Nov. 2020)

Godavari-Nasik Activist objects to Nashik township Rajesh Pandit, the petitioner of Godavari river pollution in the Bombay high court, has raised an objection to a proposed township project under the smart city known as Greenfield project as some part of the project comes under the blue line of Godavari. Pandit has sent a letter to the CEO of the Nashik Municipal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (NMSCDCL), divisional revenue commissioner Radhakrishna Game and Nashik municipal commissioner Kailas Jadhav urging them to remove the about 25 acres (total project area 753 acres) of blue line areas of the river Godavari from the township project. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/activist-objects-to-nashik-township/articleshow/79467220.cms  (29 Nov. 2020)

RIVERS

Report Impact of Water Pollution on River Biodiversity Interactions between abiotic and biotic organisms have to be maintained for survival of all. And rivers, canals, streams, creeks or brooks act as natural hierarchical water links between ecosystems, catering to the basic necessities of each region. Rivers are the hub of intermixing ecosystems. If left alone, without any man-made disruption, these pristine ecosystems have the ability to survive and thrive properly.

To know how pollution is influencing rivers, both physico-chemical and ecological indicators are to be well referenced. An example of ecological indicators is diatoms. Absence of diatom species in and around any river basin might affect level of pollutants and change the physico-chemical nature of a river. Diatoms are extremely delicate but efficient bio-indicators of pollutants, biochemical elements, temperature, alkalinity and dynamics of a flowing water body. Any change in the stipulated environment might lead to their extinction. Although new varieties may thrive in a pollutant rich environment depending on the presence of substances they are sensitive to, but loss of any significant species, even microscopic in dimension, might lead to a domino effect in and around the distressed area. https://thekashmirimages.com/2020/09/02/impact-of-water-pollution-on-river-biodiversity/  (02 Sept. 2020)

Karnataka HC stays Byramangala Diversion Project over change of Vrishabhavathi course The High Court of Karnataka has formally stayed all further works on the Byramangala Diversion Project, which allegedly involves diverting the flow of Vrishabhavathi River. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty on Tuesday (Nov. 24) directed the Kaveri Neeravari Nigama Limited and the state government to stipulate whether they are willing to obtain expert opinion from the NEERI for the project.

At the previous hearing, the court had directed the government to file an affidavit on oath by a senior officer that the ongoing work will not divert or change the course of Vrishabhavathi River. The court observed that the affidavit on oath clearly indicates that a channel has been sought to be built for diverting the water of the river. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/top-bengaluru-stories/karnataka-hc-stays-byramangala-diversion-project-over-change-of-vrishabhavathi-course-919608.html  (25 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Deposit Rs 5 cr with MPCB as an interim compensation : NGT to developer The principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday (Nov. 19) directed the developer of a mega housing project in the city to deposit interim compensation of Rs 5 crore with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) within a deadline of two months.

The developer, Prayeja Realty Private Limited Company, is engaged in constructing Prayeja City, a 12-wing complex housing over 600 flats, at Vadgaon Budruk near Sinhagad Road. While doing so, several trees were allegedly hacked for the project between 2017 and 2019, but the developer failed to replant t hem as per the norms, causing damage to the environment. It has further been alleged that groundwater was extracted without prior permission from the relevant authorities, and sewage generated from the project was also not treated, which is another mandate as per environment rules.

While issuing an order for the fine, the green court also directed that no further construction on this project can take place without compliance to statutory norms.  https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/deposit-rs-5-cr-with-mpcb-as-an-interim-compensation-says-ngt-to-developer/articleshow/79356386.cms  (23 Nov. 2020)

GANGA Uttarakhand Char Dham highway project will only add to urban woes  The “Char Dham project is a typical example of hasty development.The project does not  benefit the local population, “most of whom have lost their shops or agricultural land due to road expansion”, says Ayush Joshi, Uttarakhand based environmental engineer. He says the project is going to be catastrophic for Uttarakhand, and it has already triggered landslides at several places, with mud dumping rules flouted and trees cut.

Presently, these towns are witnessing an unprecedented rise in levels of urbanization. Unplanned townships, rising quantities of waste, waste water, vehicles, lack of a sustainable public transport system are some of the immediate challenges facing these towns. https://citizenmatters.in/char-dham-highway-project-concerns-about-urban-ecology-and-civics-22470  (27 Nov. 2020)

YAMUNA Uttar Pradesh Volunteers clean banks of Yamuna in Agra People cleaned the banks of Yamuna under the River Connect Campaign on Sunday morning in Agra. The programme, being conducted every weekend, involves several volunteers who clean the riven bank. https://www.hindustantimes.com/it-s-viral/volunteers-clean-banks-of-yamuna-in-agra/story-wEQqCYLBXUWeFGMs69FkfK.html  (22 Nov. 2020)  

Delhi YMC red flag delay in tree felling nod impacting STP construction Delay in granting tree felling permission for constructing and upgrading STPs — to prevent flow of untreated waste into the Yamuna — recently led the Yamuna Monitoring Committee to raise the matter with the Delhi’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF).

In a meeting on November 10, members of the NGT-appointed Committee pointed out to PCCF Ishwar Singh that more than 9-10 months had been spent in granting tree felling permissions, some of which were still pending. “The purpose of the review meeting needs to be seen in the context of the larger objective of cleaning River Yamuna, and the fact that administrative delays caused in grant of time bound statutory clearances will impact commissioning of projects having large outlays to the tune of Rs 1,656 crores,” minutes of the meeting said.

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials informed the Committee during a meeting on November 4 that application for felling 860 trees to build Rithala STP was made over 11 months ago and has been pending for approval with Environment Minister Gopal Rai’s office since September 17. Another application was made by the DJB for Phase II work of Kondli STP in February for cutting 1,185 trees, which is also pending approval. “The delay would leave vast quantities of sewage going untreated and resulting in continued pollution of the river,” members of the monitoring committee observed during the November 4 meeting.

The PCCF informed the Committee on November 10 that the proposal for cutting 1,185 trees for Kondli STP had been revised and a new proposal was submitted earlier this month. “The DJB was not able to identify land for compensatory plantation (for trees cut at Kondli) and hence there was delay,” Singh told the Committee, as per the minutes. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/panel-red-flag-delay-in-tree-felling-nod-impacting-yamuna-7071234/  (28 Nov. 2020)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Catfishes of the genus Sperata (Pisces:Bagridae) in India – Rahul Girish Kumar, Ravi Charan, Nadumury Pradeep Krishnaprasoon, Valaparambil Saidumohammad Basheer

A recent study reveals diversity within catfishes of the genus Sperata in India. Five species have been recorded, all of which were previously described, but since synonymised with S. aor or S. seenghala. Sperata aorides is endemic to the Cauvery river basin and is apparently the only species in that river system. Sperata lamarrii is unique within the genus in possessing short maxillary barbels which do not reach the adipose fin, a very slender body with eyes in the anterior half of the head and a short adipose fin. Sperata aorella also possesses a short adipose fin, but is very deep bodied and has maxillary barbels extending to the adipose fin. Sperata aor, S. seenghala and S. aorides can be differentiated visually by the shape, size and position of the supra-occipital spine and interneural shield, a bony plate just ahead of the dorsal fin. Link to Paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jfb.14590

Presenting the 22nd new species from our team – Dawkinsia uttara, a new species of filament barb! Look out for this fish if you are in the Kajali, Jagabudi and Terekhol river systems in the Konkan region of northern Western Ghats.  Paper is available open access from Vertebrate Zoology – VZ-70-4-11 | Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/4009057275788582

Report Waste fishing gears threatens Ganges wildlife Indeed there is need to raise awareness about this among the fisherfolks: how their discarded fishing gear, thrown in rivers, could harm their own livelihoods: fish in the river. https://phys.org/news/2020-11-fishing-gear-threatens-ganges-wildlife.html  (25 Nov. 2020)

Odisha Crocodile carcass found in Bhitarkanika The carcass of a six-foot long female saltwater crocodile was found in Patasala River near Hansua village within Bhitarkanika National Park on Tuesday (Nov. 17). The carcass, which was floating in the river, was retrieved by forest personnel. “We suspect the reptile either got choked in fishing nets in the river or died in a fight with another crocodile. The exact cause of its death can be ascertained after the autopsy report is received,” said Bhitarkanika DFO Bikash Ranjan Dash. This is the fifth such incident reported from the park in a year and the 28th crocodile casualty in the last eight years.

The rivers, creeks and other water bodies within Bhitarkanika is home to about 1700 endangered saltwater crocodiles. Fishing is banned in the water bodies in Bhitarkanika but some locals illegally fish in the river taking a toll on the rare species of estuarine crocodiles. Saltwater crocodile is covered under schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and has been declared an endangered species by the IUCN. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/nov/18/crocodile-carcass-found-in-bhitarkanika-2224873.html  (18 Nov. 2020)

Uttarakhand Govt allows ‘catch & release’ fishing in 8 specified rivers  Two years after Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to ban angling – catching fish using hooks and releasing them back into rivers and ponds in forests – the decision has been reversed. An order to this effect, dated Nov.18, signed by the chief wildlife warden JS Suhag has been sent to all DFOs.

The order says that the state wildlife board, in its meeting held last year, decided that angling should be permitted in the state’s reserve forest areas to boost tourism, provided due norms are followed. It goes on to say that the forest department has accordingly decided to allow angling with certain conditions.

Among the norms that have been laid down are that angling will be permitted in eight specified rivers on a ‘catch and release’ basis only and permission will be given by the DFO of the area for the activity to be conducted between sunrise and sunset only. The specified rivers pass through dense forest belts and include Sharda, Nayar, Ganga, Vyasghar, Tons, Dodital, Kosi and Kothari rivers. The season for angling has been specified as being between September 15 and May 31.

Wildlife experts, on the other hand, advised caution. “If angling is permitted, the process — to make sure the fish are released back in the wild — should be monitored, as the forests are among the only remaining habitats for aquatic life. As it is, Himalayan rivers are witnessing a reduction in and migration of fish population due to various factors ranging from construction of hydropower plants, pollution, to uncontrolled fishing, irrespective of seasons,” said a scientist from the Doon-based Wildlife Institute of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/uttarakhand-1st-state-to-ban-angling-reverses-decision-allows-catch-release-fishing-in-8-specified-rivers-to-encourage-tourism/articleshow/79375011.cms  (24 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Godavari, Krishna estuaries provide a safe ground The wildlife management authorities in Krishna and Godavari estuaries have prepared the ground for safe nesting of Olive Ridley turtles (lepidochelys olivacea) that arrive on the Andhra coast for annual breeding in the winter. The turtle eggs are being conserved in ‘in-situ’ method (in natural habitats) in the Godavari estuary and ‘ex-situ’ method (outside natural habitats) in the Krishna estuary with the involvement of fisherfolk and Yanadi tribe people. The 25 km coastal stretch between Hope Island and Sacramento Island in the Godavari estuary on the Kakinada coast remains a safe habitat for the turtles, and their eggs are protected by the wildlife management staff and local fisherfolk.

In Krishna estuary, the coastline between the two confluence points of the Krishna river into the sea at Hamsaladeevi and Nagayalanka Lighthouse is the prime breeding ground for the turtles. The eggs are collected from the ground and conserved in rookeries. Last winter, nearly 30,000 eggs were collected and at least 29,000 hatchlings were released into the sea. “We continue to prefer the ex-situ method of conservation of turtle eggs as wild boars and jackals remain the prime predators in the sanctuary. However, the Yanadi tribals monitor the breeding ground round the clock till the hatchlings are released into the sea,” she explains. The arrival of Olive Ridley turtles in the Krishna estuary is expected to be delayed this year as the normal conditions in the breeding grounds have been disturbed due to the recent flood in the Krishna river. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/godavari-krishna-estuaries-provide-a-safe-ground/article33156092.ece  (23 Nov. 2020)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

J&K Hundreds Of Fish Killed As COVID Medicines Found Abandoned In Neeru River Authorities in Doda district have ordered a probe after medicines worth lakhs of rupees from hospital supply were found abandoned at multiple places along Neeru River on Sunday, (Nov 8), leading to the deaths of hundreds of fishes. The medicines meant for the coronavirus patients were seen by locals after hundreds of fish died under suspicious circumstances in the river near Gupta Ganga temple, Parnala and Atal-garh area.

Neeru River is the lifeline of Bhadarwah since it is the primary source of potable water and provides water supply to trout fish farms besides being the source of income to local fishermen. Workers of trout fish farms claim that the mortality rate has suddenly spiked after the medicines were thrown in the river in large quantities. “Since past one week, we have been collecting and removing medicines from our pond every day. Despite all of our efforts, dozens of fish have died in last couple of days and hospital authorities are responsible for this,” Barkat Ali of Bagwan trout fish farm Atalgarh said. https://thelogicalindian.com/trending/fishes-jammu-kashmir-24763  (10 Nov. 2020)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

States/UTs directed to designate nodal agency for restoration of water bodies  NGT Order to save water bodies: Under Public Trust Doctrine, State has to act as trustee of water bodies; States/UTs directed to designate nodal agency for restoration of water bodies. Petition no 325 of 2015, decided on 18-11-2020. Extract of NGT order:

1. All States/UTs may designate a nodal agency for the restoration of water bodies, wherever no such agency has so far been designated.

2. Under the oversight of the Chief Secretaries of the States/UTs, the designated nodal agency may:

a. hold its meeting not later than 31-01-2021 to take stock of the situation and plan further steps, including directions to District authorities for further course of action up to Panchayat levels and to evolve further monitoring mechanism as well as Grievance Redressal Mechanism.

b. Submit periodical reports to the CPCB/Secretary Jal Shakti Government of India. First such report may be furnished by 28-02-2021.

Central Monitoring Committee for monitoring remediation of 351 polluted river stretches, headed by the Secretary, MoJS may monitor the steps for restoration of water bodies by all the States periodically.  https://www.scconline.com/blog/?p=239541 (23 Nov. 2020)

Gujarat Set up lake conservation body by January 2021:NGT The NGT has stepped in and directed Gujarat along with other states to designate a nodal agency for the conservation of lakes. The NGT has written to the Gujarat chief secretary to designate a nodal agency which should hold its meeting not later than January 31. The NGT’s principal bench has written to the state that as a custodian, under the Public Trust Doctrine, the State has to act as trustee of the water bodies to protect them for public use and enjoyment for current and future generations.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/set-up-lake-conservation-body-by-jan-2021-ngt/articleshow/79377457.cms  (24 Nov. 2020)

Goa Sarzora, Saulem among 5 lakes to get wetland tag After Bondvoll lake, five more waterbodies have inched closer to being declared as wetlands in Goa, under the Union environment ministry’s wetland rules. The Goa State Wetlands Authority, in a draft notification, has proposed to declare as wetland the Sarzora lake in Salcete, the Toyyar or Chimbel lake, the Dashi lake in Revora, the Saulem lake in Pilerne and the Xeldem lake in Quepem. The authority has called for any objections or suggestions within a period of 60 days to the draft notification of these five waterbodies being declared wetlands.

After the five lakes are declared as wetlands, several activities will be prohibited in and around them as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 of the central government. The five waterbodies are proposed to be declared wetlands as they are ‘considered to be critically significant for its ecosystem services and biodiversity values for the local communities and society at large’. Of the five, Sarzora lake includes the largest area of over 1.69 lakh sqm, followed by Saulem lake with an area of more than One lakh sqm. While the Toyyar lake comprises of an area admeasuring 51,000 sqm, the Dashi lake includes an area of over 28,000 sqm. Similarly, the Xeldem lake is made up of 18,400 sqm of area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/sarzora-saulem-among-5-lakes-to-get-wetland-tag/articleshow/79358504.cms  (23 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Navi Mumbai couple fights to save a bird haven from becoming a golf course A Navi Mumbai couple has been fighting to save 80 hectares of wetlands in Navi Mumbai that are home to thousands of flamingos. The wetlands were proposed to be converted into a golf course and residential complex but in 2018, based on their petition, the Bombay High Court quashed a notification to this effect. The forest department now plans to declare the area a conservation reserve but is facing resistance from within the government. While these wetlands constitute a small percentage of the area of Navi Mumbai, they support more than a hundred species of birds, including many migratory species. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/11/navi-mumbai-couple-fights-to-save-a-bird-haven-from-becoming-a-golf-course/  (23 Nov. 2020)

Assam Baghjan oil well fire disaster continues Six months back, on May 27, the Baghjan-5 oil well started to leak gas and then caught fire on June 9. At least 9,000 villagers were evacuated and moved into relief camps. They are now returning home, their livelihoods wiped out. Compensation remains contentious. https://en.gaonconnection.com/assam-baghjan-oil-well-fire-doused-after-five-months-but-for-the-thousands-displaced-in-the-12-surrounding-villages-the-disaster-continues/  (28 Nov. 2020)

WATER OPTIONS

Bihar Ahar pynes: Traditional flood harvesting systems  Ahars and Pynes, the traditional irrigation systems of South Bihar were first developed during the times of the  Magadh dynasty nearly 5000 years ago and continue to be particularly popular in Gaya district of South Bihar. The system is highly sophisticated and well managed and is considered to be one of the most reliable sources of irrigation by cultivators in Bihar.

The Ahar pyne system, with the help of its network, not only helps in transferring river water to nearby agricultural fields to irrigate kharif (mostly paddy), rabi (wheat or gram) in winter season when water is available, but also sustains the water table in the area.

Simply put,  it is a diversion-cum-storage system wherein Ahars include  man made earthen storage structures that have small embankments on three sides and store harvested river water while Pynes are diversion channels or carriers of the harvested water that is drawn from the river from a temporary head to be stored into the Ahars. In a suitable terrain, the main Pyne often branches into  into interrelated Pynes and Ahars to form a network of channels drawing and storing river water.

The system is mostly used for paddy cultivation in Bihar where rainfall is scanty, farm lands are sloping and undulating and the soil is clayey or sandy with little water retention capacity. The system has attained its highest level of development and social acceptance amongst cultivators in Gaya district.

Ahar pynes also play an important role in recharging groundwater. For example, The Ahar, known as Surajkund, in Nalanda district, has five wells to recharge the groundwater. Ahars also have waste-weir to discharge excess water, which finds further use in the form of a new Pyne. The excess water, if necessary can be released in a small stream as well. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/ahar-pynes-traditional-flood-harvesting-systems-south-bihar  (18 Nov. 2020)

Uttarakhand Youth dedicates self to plant oak trees across state in bid to conserve groundwater Chandan Nayal (26) has planted over 1 lakh trees out of which 10,000 survive in state’s hill areas. The oak — baanj in local language — is believed to hold and preserve groundwater in hill areas. “The pine tree invasion has fueled forest fires. So I decided to talk to the people, especially children and youth, about the alternative that I have. Their efforts are bearing fruit, and I am thankful to the people for their support,” says Nayal who earns around Rs 6,000 per month by farming on his ancestral land. He has left his well-paying job in the industrial town of Rudrapur in Udham Singh Nagar.

Today, he has a team of over 150 people who choose spots across the state which need plantation or water conservation. Nayal and his team survey the area and talk to locals. After the local population is convinced, the work starts. This includes readying the land for plantation, creating ‘Chal Khaal’ — a small area with pits to conserve the water table. This is a traditional method in Uttarakhand hills to conserve water. He has also built a nursery of over 6,000 square feet in his ancestral land where plants are kept by him to support the plantation drive. A patient reader, he travels to the state’s glaciers every year to assess the ground situation of remotest villages of the state. He recently returned from his 120km trek of Milan glacier and plans to cover many others. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2020/nov/29/uttarakhand-man-dedicates-self-to-plant-oak-trees-across-state-in-bid-to-conserve-groundwater-2229383.html  (29 Nov. 2020)

GROUNDWATER

Punjab Interim permission to factories for extraction of groundwater City industrialists who were seeking relaxation in the norms for applying for permissions for extracting groundwater within their factories will now be able to get interim permissions from Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA). Till now, the factory owners had to apply for permissions to extract groundwater inside their factories from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), which according to businessmen was a very time taking and complex procedure.

Ever since last year, when these norms of seeking permissions from the CGWA came into effect, several business associations had to organise help camps for their members to help them apply for permissions. However, the PWRDA will provide ad-interim permissions for groundwater extraction to industrial and commercial units in Punjab under the draft guidelines, pending their finalisation. Units which are granted interim permission will have to comply with the rules and regulations of the PWRDA once they are finalised by the authorities concerned. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/interim-permission-to-factories-for-extraction-of-groundwater/articleshow/79376339.cms  (24 Nov. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh District panels to reassess groundwater The State Water Resources department approved the proposal to constitute district-level committees for re-assessment of groundwater resources in all the 13 districts. According to the order (MS 60) issued by special chief secretary (water resources) Adityanath Das on Wednesday (Nov. 25), the 14-membered committees will be headed by the respective district collector/joint collector as the chairman and deputy director of ground water department as the member convenor. The remaining members will be from various departments including water resources, planning, agriculture, APTRANSCO, horticulture, forest, industries. A 23-membered state-level committee under the chairmanship of the special chief secretary (water resources) has already been constituted and the district-level committees are formed to support  and coordinate for the submission of the final report by February 28, 2021.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/nov/26/district-panels-to-reassess-groundwater-2228271.html  (26 Nov. 2020)

URBAN WATER

Delhi Turning barren plot into wetland Four years ago, Ambedkar University Delhi took possession of a barren plot used by people of Gopalpur village in northeast Delhi to learn driving or for religious gatherings. Today, it is a wetland with over 90 species of trees and 108 species of migratory birds, the miracle wrought on the 15 hectares by the students and teachers of AUD’s Centre for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES).

Believing as the CUES vision statement says, that “wetlands are essential for maintaining ecosystem balance and performing various ecosystem functions such as moderating micro-climate, providing habitat for aquatic and avian life, recharging aquifers and groundwater, and maintaining soil moisture” AUD collaborated with Delhi Development Authority to restore the Dheerpur wetland in Gopalpur village.

Suresh Babu, director, CUES, said, “The project envisages ecological restoration of 25.8 hectares earmarked for wetlands over a period of five years. The wetland park will provide hydrological, regulatory, cultural and aesthetic benefits to the local communities of Mukherjee Nagar, Nirankari Colony, Gandhi Vihar and the AUD campus coming up at the site.”  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/turning-barren-plot-into-wetland-how-ambedkar-university-delhi-gave-back-its-lush-look/articleshow/79471085.cms  (29 Nov. 2020)

AGRICULTURE

Report IIPM to focus on biodiversity conservation practices Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM) has been entrusted with the preparation of a ‘State of Sector’ document to provide a framework for achieving conservation and development simultaneously for tea, cardamom, coffee, forest and oil palm plantations. This will be the baseline document which covers the key statistics of each sector in terms of production, ongoing and best practices, economic contribution, gap areas and conservation of significant natural resources.

The document will give special emphasis on biodiversity and will identify multiple use of management plans as potential strategies for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in tea, cardamom, coffee, oil palm and forest plantations. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/institute-of-plantation-management-to-focus-on-biodiversity-conservation-practices/article33158601.ece  (23 Nov. 2020)

POST MONSOON 2020

Cyclone Nivar Chembarambakkam water release could have been avoided if……desilting work had been completed on time; officials confirm that nearly 15 per cent of the lake has been eaten away by silt

Despite the sanctioning of funds, desilting of Chembarambakkam lake was not taken up by authorities over the years, and experts opine this was the main reason why water had to be released on Wednesday (Nov. 25) from the reservoir.

Public Works Department officials confirm that at least 15 per cent of the lake is filled with silt and that deepening works were also not taken up. Following heavy rainfall on Wednesday (Nov. 25) night, the release of water from the reservoir was stepped upto 5,000 cusecs. The water level stood at 21.5 feet, against the lake’s total capacity of 24 feet. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/nov/26/chembarambakkam-water-release-could-have-been-avoided-if-2228080.html  (26 Nov. 2020)

Rivers and waterfalls have begun to swell with copious water flowing downstream owing to the heavy downpour triggered by Cyclone Nivar in the Vellore region and Tiruvannamalai. A flood alert has been issued in Vellore, besides alerting government officials of neighbouring Ranipet and Kancheepuram districts.

Four rivers in Vellore district have been in spate, besides copious flow on the Palar River, raising concerns of flooding and inundation in low-lying areas and submerging crops along the river banks and water carrying canals. The figures of inflow into the rivers are: Naganathi- 3,400 cusecs, Koundinya-3,320 cusecs, Agaram-4,000 cusecs, Ponnai- 7,040 cusecs, and Palar River receives 17,820 cusecs, according to Vellore district collector A Shanmuga Sundaram. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/nov/26/cyclone-nivar-impact-rivers-waterfalls-in-spate-in-vellore-region-flood-warning-issued-2228442.html  (26 Nov. 2020)

Chennai braces for flood as Adyar level rises, canals flow in full capacity Five years after overflowing Chembarambakkam reservoir triggered an unprecedented deluge in Chennai city and surrounding areas, causing large-scale destruction to lives and properties, the sluice gates of the reservoir were opened again on Wednesday (Nov. 25), releasing 1,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) initially, which was increased to 5,000 cusecs at 7.00 pm as the inflow increased.

 “Water was released from the reservoir when the dam level touched 22 feet and the inflow was 4,398 cusecs. Usually during a cyclone, rainfall reduces and wind speed increases. The maximum release from the reservoir may not cross 10,000 cusecs,” said S Asokan, chief engineer, public works department. Another 2,000 cusecs is being released from Adhanur tank, which also flows into Adyar. The PWD had also widened the river and removed silt to ensure free flow of water in the river. The Union Jal Shakti ministry said Poondi in river Kosasthalaiyar basin was also likely to get an average inflow of 3,885 cusecs by Thursday (Nov. 26) morning.

Activists have alleged mis-governance and red tape in clearing water body restoration projects. “The government had passed work orders to desilt all four city reservoirs in 2018. Work on Chembarambakkam reservoir to remove 1.51cr cubic feet of silt should have begun in December 2018. However, work began only in June 2019 and soon due to south west monsoon it was stalled. If that work had been completed, the reservoir’s capacity would have increased by 0.5 TMCft,” said S Thirunavukkarasu, retired PWD official.

Alarm bells were raised when water level in Adyar began rising by evening. “The problem is that Adyar, Cooum, Buckhingam Canal, Mambalam canal, Virughambakkam canal, MGR canal and most feeder canals are flowing in full capacity. And due to this, even the water carried by the storm water drains was hitting a reverse flow, inundating city roads and localities. We have to wait for the tide to reduce in the sea,” said a corporation official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-braces-for-flood-as-adyar-level-rises-canals-flow-in-full-capacity/articleshow/79419073.cms  (26 Nov. 2020)

PWD continues to release water from Poondi and Chembarambakkam reservoirs as they continue to get inflow. As much as 300 cusecs of water from Chembarambakkam and 1,000 cusecs of water from Poondi is being released. “We have been receiving an inflow of 300 cusecs at Chembarambakkam and are releasing the same amount into Adyar river, which eventually gets mixed in the sea. With more rains expected in the coming weeks, this move is being taken to avoid flooding. The water is being released in phases,” said an official from the Public Works Department.

Similarly, the Poondi reservoir has been receiving an inflow of 2,000 cusecs and 1,000 cusecs of it is being released into Red Hills reservoir. The civic body is maintaining a depth of 34 feet as against the total depth of 35 feet. Besides floodwater from its catchments in Kosasthalaiyar river and the Kesavaram anicut, the reservoir is receiving flows from the Ammapalli dam in Andhra Pradesh through Nagari river. Currently, there is no flood warning and officials say they would issue it once the rains begin. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/nov/29/pwd-continues-to-release-water-from-two-chennai-reservoirs-2229661.html  (29 Nov. 2020)

URBAN FLOODS

Hyderabad floods: A disaster years in the making Activists argue that far from modernising such mitigation measures, over the past few decades, successive governments have been indifferent to the rampant encroachment of waterbodies – hundreds of lakes and the Musi river bed itself.

According to the report “Overcoming Barriers to Urban Flood Resilience: A Case of Hyderabad, India,” the total build up area in the city was 17,092 ha in 1964, which increased to 45,550 ha in 1990 and to 86,535 ha by 2015. “Construction activities on the lake and the riverbed have made more people highly vulnerable to floods. Waterbodies in (Hyderabad) reduced from 2.28% to 1.64% between 2001 and 2016,” the study, by Vikas Sehra and Milap Punia of the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, says. Between 2001 and 2015, the city saw an average of 84.61 ha of waterbodies being encroached each year. Government initiatives for riverfront development like Nandanavanam project in 1997 and Save Musi campaign in 2005 were ill-conceived, they add.

After the August 2000 floods, the Kirloskar committee has recommended removal of encroachments, widening of drains from 40 to 60 feet and a nine feet buer zone around the nalas. The implementation is still pending. In 2017, municipal administration minister K T Rama Rao reportedly called the expert committee recommendations impractical. “These floods are the direct result of the multidimensional failure of the governments and more so, during the last 6 – 7 years. There is no preparedness, disaster management plans or an authority. With the GHMC not allowed to function properly, and a holistic, sustainable approach lacking, such devastation keeps recurring,” says Prof Purushottam Reddy, a noted environmentalist.

https://www.deccanherald.com/specials/insight/hyderabad-floods-a-disaster-years-in-the-making-915700.html  (15 Nov. 2020)

Chennai Should there be 500-m buffer zone on banks of Adyar river to prevent flooding? Should there be a 500-metre buffer zone along the banks of the River Adyar to protect residential areas and developments from flooding? After the 2015 floods in the city, the Public Works Department (PWD) wanted to fix a buffer zone of 500 metres along the banks of the river for 852 acres of prime land, which were initially acquired for airport expansion but later denotified. The land, acquired in 2007, was not put to use for a parallel runway as the Airport Authority of India in 2011 has dropped the plan stating that no significant improvement in aircraft movement would be achieved due to long taxiing time involved. The land has been lying idle for nearly nine years as it is yet to be reclassified by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. The denotified land is located at Manapakkam, Gerugambakkam, Kolapakkam, Tharapakkam and Kovur villages in Sriperumbudur taluk of Kancheepuram district.

Although the PWD came out with a plan to fix the buffer zone upto 500 metres to avoid flooding, sources told The New Indian Express that the CMDA opposed it, stating that a buffer zone upto 500 metres or any other distance would be arbitrary and may not reflect the actual flooding condition on the ground. PWD sources told Express that CMDA felt it is a sensitive issue involving several plot owners and prospective construction of several homes. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/nov/26/should-there-be-500-metre-buffer-zone-on-banks-of-chennais-adyar-river-to-prevent-flooding-2228392.html  (26 Nov. 2020)

ENVIRONMENT

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Central Government has constituted an ‘Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris Agreement (AIPA)’ through a gazette notification on Nov 27, 2020. The 17 member committee has all central govt officials, chaired by Secretary, MoEF. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223382.pdf

SOUTH ASIA

Pancheshwar Dam Nepal, India fail to meet again It has been 21 months since Nepal and India last held a joint meeting to discuss outstanding issues related to the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. However, the two governments are clueless about when they will meet next. It has been over 25 years since the project was conceptualised, but up to now, they have not yet finalised the detailed project report.

– The last joint meeting of expert groups between two countries was held in Kathmandu in February 2019. Now, it is New Delhi’s turn to host the meeting. But, it is not certain when it will take place. A member of Nepal’s Water and Energy Commission says the escalated border dispute between the two countries might have affected the meeting schedule. Nonetheless, a meeting of the governing body of the project was held in November last year. The governing body does not discuss outstanding issues except for some administrative affairs.  https://english.onlinekhabar.com/21-months-on-nepal-india-fail-to-meet-again-on-pancheshwar.html  (23 Nov. 2020)

ASIA

MEKONG Thai Official Warns Laos on Power Purchases from Controversial Dam The Thai government has warned that it might refuse to buy electricity from a planned hydropower dam in Laos due to the negative environmental impacts, potentially throwing the controversial project into doubt. In comments to the Bangkok Post newspaper, Somkiat Prajamwong, secretary-general to the Office of National Water Resources, said that the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s cabinet had grave concerns about the impact of the Sanakham dam project on the ecological system of the Mekong River, as well as the livelihoods of those living along its banks. He said Thai authorities were also concerned that the location of the dam was too close to the river, which demarcates an 800-kilometer stretch of its border with Laos.

“The country’s territory is our paramount concern,” Somkiat said after a seminar on the Mekong River in Bangkok, adding that the Ministry of Energy felt the country had an oversupply of power and didn’t need to buy any more from Laos. “The Thai government has the authority to decide whether or not the project greatly damages the environment,” he said.

The Sanakham dam, which is located about two kilometers from the Thai border on the Mekong, is one of seven planned dam projects on the mainstream of the Mekong River in Laos, part of Vientiane’s plan of transforming itself into the “Battery of Southeast Asia.” The 684-megawatt project will be constructed by a subsidiary of Datang International Power generation, a Chinese state-owned power company, and is expected to be completed by 2028. https://thediplomat.com/2020/11/thai-official-warns-laos-on-power-purchases-from-controversial-dam/  (27 Nov. 2020)

Philippines 3 issues that need to be addressed in Cagayan flooding This extreme damage to the province prompted both the House of Representatives and the Senate to probe the incident (https://www.rappler.com/nation/senate-house-probe-luzon-flooding-typhoons-quinta-rolly-ulysses) separately. While House Resolution No. 1348 (http://congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HR01348.pdf) focused on Magat Dam, the Senate Resolution No. 570 mentioned the Ipo, Ambuklao, and Binga dams. (READ: In massive Cagayan flooding, Robredo backs probe into Magat Dam protocol – https://www.rappler.com/nation/robredo-backs-probe-magat-dam-protocol-cagayan-flooding-november-2020)

– However, think tank Infrawatch PH said dams, including Magat, “rushed to open gates only at the height of Ulysses,” and that the Magat Dam did not make sufficient water drawdown 2 to 3 days prior. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/issues-need-to-be-addressed-cagayan-flooding  (24 Nov. 2020)

FROM OFFICIAL PHILIPPINES AGENCY: NIA convenes with  NDRRMC, PAGASA on Dam water release With the proposal of transferring the authority of dam water release to the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has started to convene with NDRRMC, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Department of Local Government (DILG), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to review existing protocol on water discharges from dams last Wednesday, November 18, 2020.

– Present in the initial talk are NIA-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MARIIS) officials, headed by Manager Wilfredo C. Gloria to discuss further the followed Protocol on Dam Discharge and Flood Warning Operation during Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) and the current status of Magat Dam. NIA-MARIIS emphasized the communications done to different government offices, local media, and residents of Provinces of Isabela and Cagayan that may be affected of its water releases.

– Furthermore, NDRRMC will review its technical capability and manpower with regards to the proposal of transfer of authority of gate opening and water releases to their office. Strictly following the protocol on water discharge, PAGASA informed NIA-MARIIS-DRD Flood Forecasting and Warning System Dam Operations on November 9, 2020, two (2) days before the first landfall of Typhoon Ulysses, that they had commenced preparatory phase of flood operation for the Magat-FFWSDO indicating that Magat Dam is soon to release flood water due to large amount of rainfall because of Typhoon Ulysses (Form 1). After which, dam discharge warnings were activated and disseminated. This action is based on the memorandum dated December 12, 2006 stating that the release of water from Magat Dam should be decided by PAGASA. NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya assures that along with other concerned government agencies, existing protocol on dam discharges will be reviewed and will look into the possibility of transferring the authority of water releases to the NDRRMC. (NIA) https://pia.gov.ph/press-releases/releases/1059861  (24 Nov. 2020)

The spread of rice farms threatens key wetlands in South-East Asia Intensifying rice farming is threatening the ecosystem and fishing community of one of South-East Asia’s most important wetland areas. “The floodplain is undergoing a fairly rapid shift away from natural habitats that supports bird populations when they’re flooded to rice cultivation,” says Simon Mahood at the Wildlife Conservation Society in Cambodia. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2259193-the-spread-of-rice-farms-threatens-key-wetlands-in-south-east-asia/  (05 Nov. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 23 Nov. 2020 & DRP News Bulletin 16 Nov. 2020

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

One thought on “DRP NB 30 Nov 2020: J&K SEAC denies EC to sand mining

  1. Illegal sand mining is an old issue that looks new everytime with a vigour bcos apart from farmers and environmental activists along with a handful eminent people, no one really cares.
    Moreover, all illegal activities take place under the watchful eyes of the local politicians who receive bribes and give it a nod.
    Since, riverbed sands are natural, sand mafias don’t pay a penny to buy it but for the sake of excavation, they bribe the ministers who later pass on the share to the central ministry who “tweets” that everything is fine.
    And if something is not going well, it’s all bcos of 60-70 years of Congress regime or directly Nehru’s fault.
    Poor janta, looks like being used to with dhokhas and still voting for them.
    Look, this is not just the problem of one particular party or system. It’s just happening with every political party in every state. I remember what happened during Akhilesh Yadav govt when Durga Shakti Nagpal was suspended for taking action against illegal sand mafias.
    The whole system is corrupt. When a local politician is promoted as MLA /MP, their assets increase illogically. Whoever comes to power, seems to be more interested in vindication of opposition. But their ministers are doing the same.
    Selling a natural resource without consent is as good as destroying environment through both front and back doors. Therefore, it needs iron hands to stop it. Still I believe, pen is always mightier than sword. But will be pleased to see actions taken by central ministry of MoEF against destruction of rivers. Tweets won’t work for long.

    Like

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