Urban Rivers

South India Urban Rivers Overview 2020

Urban rivers provide a lot of services, but the urban areas are inviting major trouble by destroying them through dumping of solid and liquid waste, encroachments, river front developments, unsustainable mining among others. The urban areas also operate in almost total policy vacuum and none of the cities under smart city programs are dealing with Urban rivers with any smartness.

This overview includes some key developments about Urban Rivers in 2020 from the South Indian states of Karnataka (Vrishabhavati in Bengaluru; Swarna-Netravati in Udupi), Tamil Nadu (Adyar, Buckingham Canal and Cooum rivers in Chennai; Kiruthumal in Madurai; Noyyal in Tiruppur; Bhavani in Coimbatore; Palar in Vellore; Vasishta in Salem), Telangana (Musi in Hyderabad), Andhra Pradesh (Tungabhadra in Kurnool), Kerala (Periyar, Kadambrayar & Konthuruthy in Kochi; Kodoor in Kottayam) and Puducherry (Sankarabarani).

Musi-Hyderabad Satellite pictures show River being encroached Armed with satellite images of the Musi, Hyderabad-based activist Lubna Sarwath on Jan. 29 wrote to the Chief Justice of Telangana Raghavendra Singh Rathore seeking his intervention to save the river from encroachment. Satellite images show how over the course of a few years the dumping of waste into the river has increased and so have encroachments along the river banks.

Lubna Sarwath has also sought a directive from the Telangana HC to the state govt to initiate proceedings against officials and public representatives for dereliction of duty in being unable to protect the river.

A digital survey of the Musi River flowing within Hyderabad was done using Google Earth historical satellite imagery from 2014 to 2019. The activist says the pictures show how over the years dumped garbage and waste by the river bed was levelled and eventually encroached upon in areas such as Shankar Nagar. A field survey of Shankar Nagar where the land was being encroached upon was also done by Lubna who is associated with Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), an organisation working to save lakes in Hyderabad.

“The location where the encroachment is happening is right next to the Telangana HC. The Chief Justice has been vocal about the poor performance of the GHMC to try and protect the lakes in the city, we urge the courts to hold the officials accountable,” says Lubna, who also asked the court to hand over the lake and rivers in the city to the care of the public. “If the GHMC is unable to prevent encroachment and the dumping of waste into the lakes and rivers, then let the public take over the protection. As a citizen am ready to work pro bono for the lake & river protection in Hyderabad,” she adds. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/satellite-pics-show-hyderabad-s-musi-river-being-encroached-117204  (31 Jan. 2020)

Encroachments, govt apathy taking toll on Musi banks Musi river, once the lifeline of Hyderabad city, is in a sad state, with increasing encroachments shrinking its bed across the city. The situation at Nagole is getting worse by the day. At least 60% of buffer zone of the river is encroached upon by private establishments, residential complexes, deplore environmental activists. Many are utilising the riverbanks for parking and other purposes. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/encroachments-govt-apathy-taking-toll-on-musi-banks-663403  (24 Dec. 2020)

Musi stinking and shrinking at many places Rs 314 crore was pumped into a project to drain sewage and other filth from the Musi river in Attapur and surrounding areas and divert the same to STPs. However, the purpose is not achieved, and all that precious money seems wasted. The drain canal project at Attapur Musi stretch is not preventing filth from spilling directly into the water body. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/hyderabad-a-stinking-shrinking-stretch-at-many-places-663691  (25 Dec. 2020)

Why technocratic solutions fail to protect urban waterbodies? “In complete contrast to its past glory, the Musi river which traverses through Hyderabad, is degraded by indiscriminate disposal of waste and encroachments. The Telangana govt had announced plans in 2017 to revitalise the river through a large-scale riverfront development project. By revisiting similar initiatives taken up earlier to resuscitate the Musi, the article argues that these techno-managerial solutions completely disregard notions of commons, only to normalise their exploitation.” https://www.epw.in/engage/article/hyderabads-musi-river-why-technocratic-solutions-fail-in-safeguarding-urban-waterbodies  (3 March 2020)

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

Riverfront project destroys river, wastes money Unfortunate, shrub removal, fogging works costing crores is termed as river revival plan here. There is no detail of proposed road project probably happening along Musi.

The Musi Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (MRDCL) is setting up rain gardens, removing shrubs to reduce mosquito menace, and clearing silt from the riverbed for free flow of water from Bapughat to Nagole Bridge. The works, taken up at a cost of Rs 8.5 crore, are nearing completion. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2020/jul/18/plan-to-revive-musi-river-nears-completion-2171342.html  (18 July 2020)

Telangana Budget made an allocation of Rs 10,000 crore, to develop the city of Hyderabad and carry out works mainly related to infrastructure. The funds would also be used to carry out the MRDCL plans.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hyderabad-gets-rs-10000-cr-telangana-budget-be-spent-clean-musi-119801  (9 March 2020)

Metro Train for old city Excavation work is going on on the bed of Musi river where transport vehicles were used to park but they are removed now. Here the pillars will be constructed for the ensuing Metro Rail project for the old city. Photo:Laeeq/ Siasat.com

Lot of useful information about Musi River passing through Hyderabad, its past, present and possible future. https://www.siasat.com/historic-osman-sagar-is-in-great-danger-ts-should-wakeup-to-save-it-1969517/   (9 Sept. 2020)

Rivers drying up despite plenty rains: Experts Stating that more than 60 per cent of the Musi watershed basin has been urbanised, and that HMDA possesses 6,600 sq ft area of its basin area, V Subba Rao, Convenor of the Convergence for Sustainability, said, “We are undermining the hydrological sustainability of watersheds and waiting for a disaster to occur.”

During a Webinar on ‘Dry despite Rain: Fate of River Musi and Gandipet’, environment groups highlighted that industrial effluents, mainly let out by pharmaceutical and bulk drug companies, over the course of the years have destroyed our rivers. “Most industries have diverted their waste towards the Musi basin. Multiple GOs which were issued to protect our water bodies have been violated, resulting in the killing of our rivers and lakes,” said activist, Narasimha Reddy Donthi.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2020/sep/07/hyderabad-rivers-drying-up-despite-plenty-rains-experts-2193480.html  (7 Sept. 2020)

50 years on, people still remember historic floodsThe 1970 deluge had been arguably the worst calamity after the Sept 28, 1908 catastrophe. The historic water levels are engraved on concrete slabs at Chaderghat police station and the mosque at Petlaburj.  The City had witnessed many a deluge subsequently but nothing comparable to the 1970 disaster. It is a sad commentary on the current state of affairs that the city remains waterlogged, grid-locked and plunged in darkness even in the face of modest rain.”  https://www.siasat.com/fury-of-musi-river-fifty-years-on-people-still-remember-devastation-and-panic-1988277/ (1 Oct 2020)

Kurnool, Tunga-Bhadra KMC lacks STP fund, discharges 60 mld in river Pollution in Handri and Tunga-bhadra, the two rivers that flow across Kurnool city, have been causing health issues to people residing on the river bank. Plastic waste and other non-degradable material, lead and cadmium that are in the river need to be cleared. KMC has no STP & every day it discharges 60 MLD into Tunga-bhadra river without any concern for people’s health.

The rivers in Kurnool are polluted by chemical effluents, medical waste in addition to sewage by KMC, said KN Reddy, an environmental activist. KMC Commissioner DK Balaji said it requires Rs 300 crore to construct STP but the civic body does not have that money. A proposal has been sent to the Union govt to sanction the amount under Swach Bharat scheme. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/101220/kurnool-shocked-by-quality-of-kmc-water.html  (10 Dec. 2020)

Chennai River restoration lands hardest on poor Efforts to restore the city’s rivers weigh heavily on poor riverside residents, who are being forcibly moved. Restoration activities are seen as a pathway to a modern, cleaned up, 21st-century nation, and ecological interventions will almost certainly be necessary to adapt to a rapidly changing climate, with stronger floods, droughts, and heat waves, but river front development goes against the need for ecological interventions.

Sathyavani Muthu Nagar a few weeks after the evictions in January 2020. Rubble from residents’ brick houses and corrugated metal roofs line the Cooum River. Visual: Theo Whitcomb/Undark

Coelho suggested that so far these efforts have ignored, or given short shrift to, the most important questions. “The first order of business,” she said, “should be ‘what are we going to do about 50-60 thousand people?” https://undark.org/2020/07/29/chennai-river-restoration-impacts-poor/ (29 Jul 2020)

Hundreds of families evicted River Restoration & social justice at odds The Chennai police and slum clearance authorities forcibly evicted around 3500 settlements along the Cooum river near Triplicane on Dec. 29, 2019. The move sparked protests among the residents, which included school-going children who have been left homeless overnight. The eviction of settlements along Chennai’s rivers are being done as part of the river restoration project in the city, in order to clean up and plug sewage flow into the Adyar, Buckingham Canal and Cooum rivers. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/will-affect-livelihood-education-hundreds-families-along-chennai-s-cooum-evicted-114998  (30 Dec. 2019)

Brimming with sewage Chennai’s rivers continue to get severely polluted as lorries openly dump raw sewage into the Cooum and Adyar rivers, and Buckingham Canal. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2020/mar/26/brimming-with-sewage-2121551.html  (26 March 2020)

Cleaner Rivers in lockdown? The city’s water bodies including the Adyar, the Cooum and the Buckingham canal are cleaner than they were a fortnight ago, with no industrial effluents flowing in from closed factories. However, PWD officials say, domestic sewage flowing through illegal inlets continues to sully the water bodies.

Not just the industrial units, the scores of automobile service centres, hotels and small eateries along the various water bodies are also responsible for letting out liquids such as used oil. Now, the lockdown has put a temporary end to the flow of all untreated grey water into water bodies, he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/pollutants-down-citys-rivers-cleaner/articleshow/75260485.cms  (21 April 2020)

Are waterbodies cleaner? According to Arun Krishnamurthy, founder EFI, “Water quality of still waterbodies has not improved much in the city since domestic sewage continues to flow into the Cooum & Adyar rivers and their tributaries.” (There were also reports that Korattur and Ambattur lakes were recently contaminated with sewage.) But he says that there are encouraging signs at the Mannivakkam & Karasangal lakes in Vandalur: “We saw a visible increase in bird population in them”. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/lockdown-due-to-covid-19-how-our-waterbodies-are-cleaner/article31518267.ece (6 May 2020)

Adyar, Chennai Rebuttal to ‘..river comes back to life’ article It would have been worthwhile if the article did not merely echo the claims of Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) but looked a little closer at the issues involved – wetland restoration, obstruction of water flow into the river, garbage dumping and pollution through sewage, biomedical and industrial waste, dumping of construction material, a more nuanced understanding of rivers and riverine systems especially in the context of rising sea levels and new understandings in the current pandemic situation.

Several thousand crores of rupees have, in the last 15 years, been put into these river projects, which includes the Adyar. How this money has translated into environmental success benefitting the city is a key question that needs to be asked. The entire article is primarily based on information from CRRT regarding the success of the wetland restoration or the improved quality of water. There is no independent assessment by domain experts that would validate these claims. https://scroll.in/article/972229/readers-comments-claims-of-chennais-adyar-river-coming-back-to-life-are-overstated (5 Sept. 2020)

PWD looks to widen river course The PWD is looking at various options to save excess water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir and plans to take measures to reduce inundation in residential areas along the Adyar river course after the monsoon.

During heavy rain, a senior PWD official said, excess water released from the Chembarambakkam reservoir through the surplus course joins the Adyar in the Tiruneermalai area. At this confluence point, the existing course is unable to take large quantities of water released from the reservoir and many low-lying areas along the stretch get inundated. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/pwd-looks-to-widen-adyar-river-course/articleshow/79829390.cms  (21 Dec. 2020)

DMK stages protest on River bed On Feb. 21, DMK cadres staged a protest at the Adyar river alleging irregularities in the construction of a flood protection wall. The PWD has started work to erect a flood protection wall from Jaffarkhanpet bridge upto Saidapet on the bank sides of the Adyar river. The width of the river here is shorter, when compared to other parts of the city. This area was one of the worst affected during the Dec 2015 deluge, former Mayor and Saidapet MLA Ma. Subramanian said.

The govt allocated ₹104 crore for constructing a flood protection wall along the banks.  “Though ₹104 crore was allocated, the wall is being constructed only for 875 meters by spending a mere ₹18 crore. The authorities claim that they had strengthened the banks in the remaining areas with soil from the river bed,” he said alleging irregularities. “As per specifications, the wall should be constructed using M-sand but the contractor is using the dirty river sand. Hence the stability of wall is questionable. Moreover, water with chemical effluents is also used. The wall will not protect people during floods,” he charged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/dmk-cadre-stage-protest-on-chennais-adyar-river-bed/article30887920.ece  (22 Feb. 2020)

Broken bridge to nowhere Built in 1967 the Broken Bridge connected the Foreshore Estate beach in the northern bank to the Besant Nagar beach in the south. The single-lane bridge was built for fisherfolk settled on both the beaches to cross over, on foot or cycle rickshaws, to either side of the estuary.

Incomplete bridge near Adyar estuary. Photo credit: Picxy.com/Harish_Frozen/TNM

However, the structure stood exactly for a decade. In 1977, a stretch of the bridge collapsed into the estuary when the Adyar unexpectedly flooded, says Chennai-based historian Hemchandra Rao. It was never repaired after that. For nearly half a century now, the Broken Bridge has stayed true to its name. However, the bridge now faces the possibility of being restored with the Madras HC recommending the govt to rebuild the structure in order to dissolve bottlenecks on Greenways & Santhome High road.  https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bridge-nowhere-how-chennai-s-broken-bridge-became-social-landmark-119582 (5 March 2020)

Signs of recovery after years? According to a policy note tabled in Tamil Nadu assembly for the year 2019-20, the faunal diversity of the Adyar Creek has gone up. The report said 8 species of molluscs, 13 crabs, 170 insects, 12 fishes, 10 amphibians, 19 reptiles, 120 birds & 16 mammals have been recorded.

In the estuary 57,000 mangrove and 35,000 terrestrial saplings have been planted after the removal of invasive species, debris & plastic waste. https://science.thewire.in/environment/chennai-adyar-river-recovery-pollution-investment/  (28 Aug. 2020)

Kiruthumal, Madurai Sewage in river to be treated to recharge ground water Madurai Corp was planning to treat sewage running through the Kiruthumal river and let it into an oorani to recharge the ground water. The civic body has allocated Rs 23 lakh for this purpose. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/sewage-in-kiruthumal-river-to-be-treated-to-enrich-ground-water/articleshow/74143078.cms  (15 Feb. 2020)

The Noyyal river near Sri Sakthi cinema theatre in Tiruppur city. The river is also polluted by municipal drainage. Photo: Neeta Deshpande/ The Wire

Noyyal, Tiruppur Textile City killing river Residents & farmers have alleged that the dyeing & bleaching units in the city discharge dangerous chemical effluents into the Noyyal river under cover of darkness or when it’s raining. https://thewire.in/environment/australian-open-tiruppur-dyeing-bleaching-groundwater-contamination-agriculture-noyyal-river (12 Feb 2020)

Bhavani, Coimbatore Activists blame govt of river pollution Electricity Board in Erode had set up two barrages – one at Samayapuram and the other at Omapalayam – to generate electricity in 2001. While drinking water for Tirupur and Mettupalayam areas is drawn near the first barrage, that for Avinashi, Annur, Sulur and Sirumugai is collected near the second barrage. According to activists, the municipality is letting waste into the river between the two barrages. R Shanthamurthy, one of the trustees of Save Bhavani Trust, blamed the govt for its failure to prevent industrial effluents from entering the river. “Whenever we file a complaint with the pollution control board, officials would inspect the industrial units. After a few days, they will start discharging effluents in the river.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/bhavani-river-pollution-activists-blame-govt-apathy/articleshow/77623027.cms  (19 Aug. 2020)

Palar, Vellore City corp turns riverbed into a dump yard Throwing the guidelines of conservation of water bodies and the environment in the wind, the Vellore city municipal corp has been causing irreparable damage to the already ailing river with water forming just a pool only at certain points.

Garbage accumulated at the Palar river bed. (Photo: EPS)

AC Venkatesan, president of Palar Protection Committee, said, “Without bothering about the consequences, the corporation authorities are dumping the solid wastes on the river bed regularly. Instead of protecting the river, the govt agency itself is damaging it.” Not only in Vellore city, but also in several places, the civic bodies located close to Palar river are using the river bed as a dump yard causing huge damage to the river, he rued. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2019/nov/07/palar-river-bed-turns-into-a-dump-yard-velloe-city-corporation-causes-irreparable-damage-2058557.html (7 Nov 2019)

Vasishta, Salem Dirty and dry pays for unregulated development Some 25 years ago, River Vasishta had sparkling clean, bathable, potable water in Attur town to now when people have stopped visiting the river due to foul smell.

ToI Infographic

It all started about 20 years ago when Attur town began expanding. The growing population took the easy way of waste disposal by dumping it into the river. Simultaneously, sago units mushroomed along it, let untreated industrial waste into the river in the absence of strict norms. Illegal sand mining upstream near Pethanaickenpalayam till a decade ago, also contributed to the dwindling of the river. Farmers depending on Vasishta Nadhi and its canals also moved away from sugarcane and rice to less water-intensive crops like maize.

Originating as a stream in Aranoothumalai, erratic monsoon compounded the woes of the river. As water flow reduced, encroachments cropped up along the banks and an overgrowth of vegetation, particularly seemai karuvelam (prosopis juliflora) took over, hindering the flow and turning the river into a dirty channel of waste water. Residents point out that a check dam constructed upstream which stored water was also a reason for the poor water flow in the river. For 12 years there was no water at all. It was only during the copious rainfall in 2018 that Vasishta was in full flow.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/dirty-and-dry-vasishta-river-pays-for-unregulated-development/articleshow/71301354.cms (27 Sep 2019)

Periyar-Kochi Periyar remains polluted A report by the irrigation department on water samples collected at Pathalam in Eloor-Edayar belt showed high levels of contamination in Periyar. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/periyar-remains-polluted-report/articleshow/75925493.cms  (24 May 2020)

NGT orders urgent action against pollution The Southern Bench of the NGT directed the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Environment to come up with a proper action plan to prevent activities resulting in the pollution of the Periyar river. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/ngt-orders-urgent-action-against-periyar-pollution/article32459655.ece  (27 Aug. 2020)

Pollution assessment to be held in 3 phases The SPCB has assured the NGT that it will inspect the Periyar and monitor river pollution through a three-phase project. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pollution-assessment-of-periyar-to-be-held-in-three-phases/article33145445.ece  (21 Nov. 2020)

Water quality fails to improve during lockdown A comparative study of the river’s water quality by the SPCB before and during the lockdown revealed no major change in pollution levels. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/may/23/periyars-water-quality-fails-to-improve-during-lockdown-2146816.html  (23 May 2020)

HC directs PCB to preserve CCTV visuals HC directed SPCB to preserve the visuals captured by CCTV cameras installed on the banks of the Periyar river up to March 20. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/apr/29/periyar-pollution-court-directs-pcb-to-preserve-cctv-visuals-2136659.html  (29 April 2020)

HC initiate suo moto case The Bench said, “We are spurred to suo motu address this issue since the pollution of river Periyar can cause extremely deleterious consequences to our state – it being the one with the largest discharge potential, providing water to major towns and cities.” The court issued a notice to the secretary, Environment Dept; the District Collector, Ernakulam; Kerala Water Authority, Executive Engineer, Irrigation Dept; SPCB. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/apr/22/periyar-pollution-hc-initiates-suo-motu-case-2133497.html  (22 April 2020)

Even bathing harmful An official with the SPCB told that comparative studies were being conducted on pollution along the Pathalam-Eloor stretch during pre-lockdown and lockdown periods. “Results are yet to be out,” the official said. “But the recent sampling has revealed a high coliform presence. Direct consumption of water is dangerous. Even for bathing, water has to be chlorinated.”  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/apr/22/even-bathing-harmful-in-periyar-2133496.html  (22 April 2020)

Dark flows Periyar “In the last one-and-a-half months, the stretch witnessed several incidents of fish death. Some people have now made a business out of selling these fish,” said Mohanan an environmental activist.

The SPCB had asked the irrigation dept to maintain average lean flow in the river after their tests found extremely low-levels of DO downstream. But the SPCB has currently suspended onsite visits to the lockdown regulations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/even-under-lockdown-dark-flows-the-periyar/articleshow/75238971.cms  (20 April 2020)

No respite for river despite lockdown On April 17, the river water near the Irrigation Department shutters at Eloor turned black and emitted a rotten egg smell, angering environmental activists and residents. Shabeer O V, member, Jana Jagratha, said several companies were functioning at Eloor during the lockdown. SPCB engineer P B Sreelakshmi said the blackening of water happens every summer and the blame could not be entirely pinned on effluents from industries.

Periyar river at Eloor shutter. (Photo: EPS)

“Water near the shutters and upstream turns black when the natural flow of river gets blocked. Though we have, in several letters, urged the Irrigation Department to implement a procedure to raise the shutters regularly, it has been ignoring our requests,” Sreelakshmi said. The Irrigation Department rubbished the PCB’s allegations. “We have been raising the shutters two to three times daily,” said Sajeed Mohammed, engineer, Irrigation Department. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/apr/18/no-respite-for-periyar-from-pollution-despite-lockdown-2131633.html  (18 April 2020)

New panel to prepare Periyar rejuvenation plan The State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) on solid waste management appointed by the NGT proposed a joint committee comprising representatives of all local bodies located along the Periyar river to prepare a rejuvenation plan. A meeting of representatives of the local bodies will be convened after the govt lifts the restrictions on mass gatherings in view of the COVID-19 threat.

The committee has taken into consideration the findings by the SPCB that majority of the local bodies had no scientific facility to treat effluents from industries and households located along the river. Studies found that waste from houses and slaughterhouses were released into the water. The lack of STPs in local bodies close to the Periyar remains a problem. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/new-panel-to-prepare-periyar-rejuvenation-plan/article31077285.ece  (16 March 2020)

Kadambrayar; Kochi Fire keeps date with Brahmapuram WTP on Kadambrayar bank A major fire broke out at the Kochi corp’s waste treatment plant (WTP) at Brahmapuram on Feb. 18 afternoon, leading to thick smoke clouds in the area. This is the first fire incident reported from the plant this year. On Feb 22 2019, a similar fire broke out at the plant & the blaze continued to rage for over a week. The waste plant is located on Kadambrayar river bank.

Fire officials said that they are pumping out water from the nearby Kadambrayar as refilling the fire tenders by going back to the stations is time consuming. Members of Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat, where the plant is situated, blamed Kochi corporation for the latter’s failure to erect fire hydrants and create cleaves in the heap of garbage so as to prevent the fire from spreading to a large area. Mayor Soumini Jain said: “We did everything possible after the fire last year. We bought three motors to pump water on the heap of waste regularly and invited tender of Rs 83 lakhs to prepare layers of crushed gravel on the lanes in the plant. But erecting hydrants is not possible. Though we have filed a complaint with the vigilance to find out the reason behind the fire incidents at the plant, there is no headway yet,” she said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/brahmapuram-plant-keeps-annual-date-with-major-fire/articleshow/74198822.cms  (19 Feb. 2020)

Waste dumping, salinity leaves river high and dry Kadambrayar acts as the main source of water for Infopark, Smart City, Cochin Special Economic Zone and many industrial units but it is fast getting polluted due to the dumping of waste and lack of proper cleaning drives. Excessive growth of water hyacinths & other weeds has severely affected the water flow.

Kadambrayar river filled with water hyacinths at Kakkanad (below) A man rows a boat in the river. Photo: A Sanesh/ EPS

Residents and environmentalists feel the river will die a gradual death if action is not taken on a war footing. The Brahmapuram STP is not fully functional and waste is being dumped straight into the river. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/feb/11/waste-dumping-salinity-leave-kadambrayar-high-and-dry-2101688.html  (11 Feb. 2020) 

Konthuruthy, Kochi 128 families asked to vacate homes Konthuruthy colony, situated in Thevara, just about five kilometres away from the city centre, is a heavily residential area along the canal called Konthuruthy river. The canal, about 620 m long, connects the Thevara canal with the Vembanad Lake. The canal, which was having an original width of 48 m, has been rampantly encroached over the years and at certain points, it is not more than 5 m.

The issue of encroachments came to light when a PIL was filed in the Kerala HC in 2016 by a Kochi native. In November 2019, the court passed an order, directing the Kochi Corporation to remove the encroachments and to retain the width of the waterbody as 48 metres.

Like the Konthuruthy river, encroachments are rampant in the other major canals in the city and the district administration is on a mission to rejuvenate the canals through its project called Operation Breakthrough. The blocked pathways and the encroachments of the canals in the city are said to be the main reasons behind the flooding the city had witnessed last year. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/128-families-along-canal-kochi-asked-vacate-homes-residents-strike-117968  (11 Feb. 2020)

Kodoor, Kottayam River to flow clean again A year after the Meenanthara river in Kottayam was brought back to life, a team of voluteers have planned to turn the 10 km stretch of the Kodoor river clean and beautiful. The project, to be implemented at a cost of ₹40 lakh, aims at cutting down the flood risk faced by the district ahead of the upcoming monsoon.

According to K. Anil Kumar, convener Meenachil-Meenanthara and Kodoor River Linking initiative, the project envisages clearing of the weeds and dredging the channel to smoothen the flow of water. Besides ensuring uninterrupted water flow, the project also aims to reconnect the floodplain to the river channel and improve bank protection and stability. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/quiet-flows-the-kodoor/article31145725.ece  (23 March 2020)

Vrishabhavati, Bengaluru Plastic, chemical effluents continue to choke River The story of the Vrishabhavati has been one of deterioration, it is often referred to as Kengeri mori (drain) — a far cry from being a drinking water source a few decades ago. Pollutants from industries, raw sewage, plastic waste, and just about any discard that is too inconvenient to be thrown anywhere else finds its way into the Vrishabhavati, the only river that originates in Bengaluru.

Plastic waste dump aling Vrishabhavati river. Kumar Murli/ The Hindu.

As per water conservationist S. Vishwanath, the river originates near the Bull Temple in Basavanagudi, and gets its name from ‘Vrushabha’ (bull). In the 1930s, Sir M. Visvesvaraya built the Byramangala dam. Though many point to the establishment of the Peenya Industrial Area as the factor that led to polluting the river, Vishwanath said it had begun with the advent of the Cauvery water supply, which increased sewage load on the river. Industrial effluents got added to domestic sewage after Peenya Industrial Area came into being.

“Vrishabhavati and Bellandur lake are on the same plane. Both will be revived only when we put a significant amount of investment in our sewerage network and in our industrial effluent collection and treatment. At the current investment level, it is unlikely that these two will be cleaned up. It could take close to 25 years for them to be revived,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/plastic-chemical-effluents-continue-to-choke-vrishabhavati/article31079022.ece  (16 March 2020)

Industrial effluents and plastic choke our river. Our future is increasingly looking bleak, say farmers who live along the course of the river.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/farming-along-polluted-waters-of-the-vrishabhavathi/article31088306.ece  (17 March 2020) 

Frothing reduces after decades Vrishabhavathi, the sooty, stinking river (basin area 383 sq km) that flows out of the city has not only turned light green but has also seen a sharp drop in frothing in the lockdown. The river cuts through 96 BBMP wards, 16 assembly and five parliamentary constituencies. It merges into Arkavathi river a tributary of the Cauvery, in Kanakapura taluk, before which it is impounded at Byramangala.

Silk farmers living near the reservoir said water quality has improved a lot over the past few weeks.  A senior BBMP official said this clearly shows industrial effluents were the sole cause of the river turning toxic and sooty. “We have written to KSPCB and BWSSB numerous times requesting them to close down various industries surrounding the river. They agree and even issue orders but nothing changes on the ground,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/karnataka-frothing-reduces-vrishabhavathi-water-crystal-clear-after-decades/articleshow/75150777.cms  (15 April 2020)

Vrishabhavati river. TNM

Another report says sewage still flows into this river and hence testing is required, which is true. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bengaluru-s-vrishabhavathi-river-less-polluted-during-lockdown-experts-weigh-122680  (16 April 2020)

BBMP begins work on Vrishabhavati retaining wall Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has taken up restoration of the retaining wall of Vrishabhavati river that had collapsed on June 25 after heavy rains lashed the city. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/bbmp-begins-work-on-vrishabhavati-retaining-wall/articleshow/77640810.cms  (20 Aug. 2020)

Residents catch tanker dumping effluents in river Two Rajarajeshwari Nagar residents caught a tanker discharging chemical effluents into Vrishabhavathi river that has turned into a storm water drain (SWD) in the locality, in the wee hours Dec. 11. However, the culprits, including the tanker driver, managed to give residents the slip and vanish. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/residents-catch-tanker-dumping-effluents-in-river/articleshow/79699593.cms  (13 Dec. 2020)

Swarna-Netravati, Udupi Antibiotics in rivers In a report prepared by a team of experts from the Manipal Institute of Technology, Christ Engineering College Irinjalakuda Kerala, Waterloo University Canada and Japan National Institute after conducting a study about the quality of water of these rivers during the last 6-7 years. It has been found that water from these rivers contain trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, cloranfenicol, septiaone and neprain, which are harmful for human beings in the long run.

Antibiotics could have got mixed in the river from urine of people consuming antibiotics, some soaps, hand washes, insecticides, and untreated effluents of some factories would have given rise to this phenomenon. Compared to monsoon, these traces are found more during the summer. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=745786 (29 Aug 2020)

Sankarabarani, Puducherry Lifeline, faces threat Originating from Gingee in the neighbouring Villupuram district, the Sankarabarani, which flows for 24 km, is a major river in Puducherry after Thenpennaiar. Rampant pollution due to dumping of waste by industries and unscientific disposal of sewage poses a serious health hazard to people living in the river basin. The water is highly contaminated downstream, especially at Uruvaiyaru and Villianur. The contamination has been aggravated by illegal sand mining.

Mounds of solid waste can be seen on the banks of the river. The area near the Villianur bridge presents a sorry picture with vast quantities of solid waste, especially plastic carry bags and liquor bottles, floating in the river. Water hyacinth and weeds cover a major portion of the waterbody. Raw sewage is let into the river, residents allege. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/sankarabarani-puducherrys-lifeline-faces-threat/article31076588.ece  (15 March 2020)

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

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