Dams, Rivers & People

DRP NB 8 Feb. 2021: Will NITI Aayog study the costs of overturning the Radhakrishnan Judgement on Uttarakhand?

NITI Aayog, we learn, has started studies of implications of the Supreme Court and NGT orders on environment issues. In the context of the massive Chamoli disaster now unfolding in Uttarakhand, NITI needs to urgently institute an inquiry as to who all are responsible for overturning the Justice Radhakrishnan led verdict of Aug 13, 2013 about the June 2013 Uttarakhand disaster and role of hydropower projects in the disaster and the costs of overturning that verdict. In fact if the Justice Radhakrishnan verdict were to have been sincerely and honestly implemented to its logical conclusion, the proportions of the current Chamoli disaster and others would have been majorly reduced. So the costs are no doubt huge and mounting. Will NITI Aayog institute such an independent inquiry urgently?

NITI Aayog Study to track economic impact of green judgements The NITI Aayog has commissioned a study that seeks to examine the “unintended economic consequences” of judicial decisions that have hindered and stalled big-ticket projects on environmental grounds. A perusal of the document appears to suggest that judgements that negatively impact major infrastructure projects don’t adequately consider the economic fallout — in terms of loss of jobs, revenue. Doing so, it reckons, would contribute to public discourse among policymakers for promoting an “economically responsible approach by judiciary” in its decisions.

The project brief, a copy of which has been viewed by The Hindu, says that it intends to examine five major projects that have been “impacted” by judicial decisions of the SC or the NGT. It plans to do this by interviewing people who’ve been affected by the closure of the projects, environmental campaigners, experts and assessing the business impact of closure. Projects to be analysed include the construction of an airport in Mopa, Goa; cessation of iron ore mining in Goa and, the shutting down of the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. The others are decisions by the NGT involving sand mining and construction activities in the Delhi National Capital Regions.

The study is to be undertaken by the Jaipur-headquartered CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society) Centre for Competition, Investment and Economic Regulation, that also has an international presence. Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar said the study was a purely economic exercise. Vikrant Tongad, Founder, SAFE was among those whom CUTS reached out to, as an expert, because of his involvement in campaigns against sand mining operations. He told The Hindu that he found the study “surprising” in its intent. “Does the government now want to train judges not to give such judgements? Is the government forgetting that due to their negligence, courts have been forced to give strict orders. Will the NITI Aayog also study how much damage will be done if the courts do not give such orders,” he asked.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/niti-aayog-study-to-track-economic-impact-of-green-judgements/article33770515.ece  (6 Feb. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

Uttarakhand Disaster Chamoli: the catastrophic flood was caused by a landslide The question as to the cause of this event has been solved by the availability of a Planet Labs image collected today (7 February 2021).  Dr Dan Shugar of the University of Calgary was the first person to deduce from this that the cause of the disaster was a landslide.   This image shows the source of the disaster – it a large rockslope detachment from Trishuli, The scar is the dark area just below the centre of the image.  It has moved northwards onto the glacier, and turned into a rock and ice avalanche that has moved toward the northwest.  Note the huge amounts of dust that has been left by the landslide: https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/02/07/chamoli-1/   (07 Feb. 2021)

The tragedy within the tragedy is that for hours official agencies failed in finding out reasons and timely communication for downstream areas. This disaster is not entirely natural. Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mpjK3z8lnQ  (07 Feb. 2021)

International geologists and glaciologists studying satellite imagery say the cause of the Chamoli flooding disaster in Uttarakhand appears to be a landslide and not a glacial outburst as widely believed. The first identification was done by Dr Dan Shugar of University of Calgary, who specialises in high altitude glacial and geologic environments. Shugar used satellite images from Planet Labs, captured before and after the disaster, to deduce that a landslide triggered the catastrophic flash floods along the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers, as also evidenced by a trail of dust visible in the satellite imagery.  

In all likelihood, a steep, hanging portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off at Trishuli, in what is called a ‘rockslope detachment’. This potentially caused nearly 2,00,000 square metres of ice to drop 2 kilometres vertically, causing a landslide, impacting the valley floor and shattering instantly. This debris, rock, and ice then flowed downslope in the form of an avalanche, identified by the dust trail in the satellite imagery.

This avalanche flowed onto the glacier itself. Such intense flows of rock can cause tremendous heat generation, melting ice and causing transient, slushy lakes and/or water flows. Additionally, there was likely more ice-cored moraine, or ice covered by sediment, as well as stagnant glacial ice downstream, as identified by Matt Westoby, a physical geography lecturer specialising in glacial analysis in Northumbria University. These large volumes of ice, spanning nearly 3.5 km, would have further melted due to the heat generated by the landslide and avalanche, leading to the huge volumes of water that flooded the rivers. https://theprint.in/science/uttarakhand-chamoli-disaster-likely-caused-by-landslide-not-glacial-outburst-satellite-images-reveal/600859/   (08 Feb. 2021)

“From the left of river Dhauli Ganga, its tributary Rishi Ganga comes from the core of the Nanda Devi Biosphere. It is estimated that a glacial lake must have formed in its upper catchment or the glaciers broke causing the avalanche. Since it is a difficult terrain, only foresters visit once every 10 years, no expeditions are allowed in this region,” Saraswati P Sati, professor and head department of basic and social science, College of Forestry, Ranichauri, Tehri Garhwal (VCSGUUHF, Bharsar) told Gaon Connection.

This disaster struck today morning near Reni village in Chamoli, which is the birthplace of the famous Chipko movement that began in 1974. At the confluence of the river Dhauli Ganga is the Rishi Ganga Hydropower project. This project is constructed in the buffer zone because of which the locals protested in the past. Due to the current avalanche, the entire project has been damaged. Further ahead, another hydropower project too has been damaged. The damage can be also seen further ahead in Vishnuprayag (downstream).

“What is most shocking is that the Uttarakhand government and the Central government, as a number of hydro power projects there are central government projects, have been caught completely unaware,” Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP told Gaon Connection. “We still do not know where did the disaster originate from and what is the cause and why there were no warnings and why we still do not have clear picture. Why the under construction project got damaged so easily in an off season event?” he asked. Experts point out that had such a disaster struck in monsoon season, when the rivers are already carrying huge amounts of water, it could have led to large-scale devastation. At present, it is off season (winter) and rivers have minimum water levels. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttarakhand-on-high-alert-two-dam-sites-affected-and-nearly-150-labourers-missing-as-a-glacier-burst-in-chamoli-triggers-massive-flash-floods/  (07 Feb. 2021)

Ground report in Hindi by Hridesh Joshi. https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/02/07/uttarakhand-chamoli-disaster-glacier-water-flood-river-ground-report  (07 Feb. 2021)

NTPC’s 520 Mw Tapovan-Vishnugad HEP damaged This is the second setback for the Rs 13,500-crore project which had suffered damage in the flash flood of June 2013. This time a glacier broke off in Reini village of Joshimath, setting off a massive flow of ‘cold lava’ made of snow, water, debris and silt.

The project has been delayed by more than eight years because of the geological surprises encountered during drilling tunnels and the damage in 2013. There were also reports of THDC’s 444-MW Pipal Koti and Jaypee group’s 400-MW Vishnuprayag projects also suffering damage in the deluge. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ntpc-hydel-project-may-be-all-but-gone-in-uttarakhand-glacier-burst/articleshow/80738835.cms  (08 Feb. 2021)

Nearly two years ago, residents of Raini villagers told Uttarkhand High Court that the construction of the Rishi Ganga hydel project could cause huge damage to them. The entire hydel project, just a few meters from their homes, was washed away in the sudden flash flood triggered by a glacial lake burst. The incident claimed about seven lives while another 170 are feared missing.

The huge pile of muck which was not disposed upstream of the project, as per environmental norms, came gushing down with water creating havoc in the region. “The only bridge connecting the village separated by the river has also been washed away,” said Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. Four other bridges in the area are also gone.

The project site in Raini village area falls under Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, just a few kilometres from Nanda Devi National Park. The protagonist of the Chipko movement, legendary Gaura Devi hails from Raini village and it was in this area where she had started the Chipko movement in March 1973.

Abhijay Negi, counsel of Raini village, said the project proponents of Rishi Ganga project since 2005 started practising environmentally hazardous activities such as stone crushing on the river bed and undertook blasting in the terrain there that forced wild animals to flee from the adjoining Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and enter Raini village.

In 2019, he said, the matter of muck removal near Raini village also came up in the hearing. “The deputy advocate general appearing for the state requested that the matter be taken up on August 1, 2019, to enable him to ascertain whether any action has been initiated against the respondent no.6 (Rishiganga Power project) for their failure to clear the muck stored near the barrage and powerhouse,” the July 2019 order stated. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/dehradun-news/uttarakhand-flood-raini-villagers-had-raised-alarm-before-hc-around-2-years-ago-101612720348122.html   (07 Feb. 2021)

Interestingly, Uttarakhand high court in the year 2019 has ordered that the use of explosives to be prohibited in and around the Raini village, the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and the Valley of Flowers, except with the prior written approval of the District Magistrate, Chamoli and on a license granted by a competent authority under the Explosives Act.

Ravi Chopra, chairman of Supreme Court appointed high powered committee (HPC) on the 900 kms Char Dham Pariyojana, commenting on the issue, said, “In the year 2014 we had submitted a report warning about hydropower projects at altitude of over 2000 meters voting various vulnerabilities which could result in a major disaster. Out of then proposed 24 hydropower projects, we recommended cancellation of 23. Altitude above 2000 meters is known as para glacial region where such heavy construction should be avoided.”  https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/feb/07/avalanche-orglacial-lake-burst-in-chamoli-scientists-conservationists-lash-outatgovernment-2260907.html   (7 Feb. 2021)

Consider the following: the Chamoli flood was the result of a glacial break-off that surprisingly occurred at the edge of winter. It is hard to overlook here a detail reported by the Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Bengaluru, in a 2018 policy brief: that the average temperature in the northwestern Himalaya has risen by 0.66º C since 1991 – an increase much higher than the global average. The higher Himalaya became even warmer on average in the same period.

Scientists from the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Chandigarh also reached the same conclusion – that winters in the northwest Himalaya have been getting warmer and wetter in the last 25 years. And these findings together indicate that a region that has for many millennia been marked by its extreme cold in the winter is already started exhibiting completely opposite trends.

The Central Water Commission was reportedly able to use a radar-based instrument to monitor Rishi Ganga’s water levels in real-time yesterday and help the Centre’s response. But it is not yet clear if the tool is appropriately effective, if state authorities have access to it to coordinate local operations or even if – more broadly – the latter have made efforts of their own, as they should have. https://science.thewire.in/environment/why-we-already-know-the-rishi-ganga-flood-was-a-sooner-or-later-event/  (08 Dec. 2021)

The water level of the Dhauliganga river at Joshimath breached all records, Central Water Commission (CWC) officials said. “At 11am, the water level recorded at Joshimath was 1,388 metres,” Saumitra Haldar, chairman, Central Water Commission told agencies. During the 2013 Uttarakhand flash floods, the highest flood level at Joshimath was 1,385.54 metres, he added.

Earlier, as a precautionary measure, flow of the Bhagirathi river was stopped and reservoirs of GVK dam in Srinagar and Veer Bhadra dam in Rishikesh were emptied in order to manage flow of the surging Alaknanda. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/massive-damage-after-glacier-burst-triggers-flood-in-uttarakhand-7-dead-170-missing/articleshow/80740908.cms  (08 Feb. 2021)

The stone quarrying, blasting of mountains and digging of tunnels in the base of the fragile mountain system for the two back-to-back under-construction dams on Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga rivers, despite warning by experts and ecologists, had played havoc with the local ecology.

The data from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s resource centre on Himalayan glaciers reveals that melting of the glaciers in Central Himalayan catchment area, where Chamoli falls, has increased in the first 20 years of this century. A research based on the study of 650 glaciers spanning 2,000 kms and published in journal, Science Advances, in June 2019 showed that glacial melting has doubled since 2000 as compared to 1975-2000. The faster melting of hundreds of Ganga glaciers would impact livelihood of close to 600 million people living in the Ganga river basin from Uttarakhand to Bangladesh, and India’s economy. https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/not-just-climate-change-chamoli-disaster-was-humaninduced-101612758291605.html  (08 Feb. 2021)

HC slaps state, Centre with notice on Rishiganga Power Project The petitioner, Kundan Singh, resident of Reni village from where the iconic “Chipko Movement” started in 1970, alleged in the petition that the Rishiganga Power Project entered the village in year 2005 and the private company started practicing environmentally hazardous activities such as stone crushing on the river bed, carrying on explosions that caused wild animals to flee the adjoining Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and enter Reni village. The petition goes on to add that the company blocked the historic pathway to enter the forest that was used by the Gaura Devi, who started the “Chipko Movement”. “We are hopeful that the tribal population of Reni village will get justice and the state will act to protect its citizens,” said Abhijay Negi, counsel for the petitioner.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/hc-slaps-state-centre-with-notice-on-rishiganga-power-project/articleshow/69348280.cms  (16 May 2019)

Few images of disaster impact. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/photo/in-pics-dam-damaged-huge-flood-in-uttarakhand-glacier-disaster-10-dead-several-missing-1766916-2021-02-08  (07 Feb. 2021) https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/2/8/in-pictures-himalayan-glacier-flash-floods  (08 Feb. 2021)

Uttarakhand CM inaugurates state’s 1st SHP  Kali Ganga is the first small hydro power project located on Kalimath Kotma Marg in Ukhimath development block of Rudraprayag district. After the 2013 floods, the construction was damaged, was restarted in 2016. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/uttarakhand-cm-inaugurates-states-first-small-hydro-power-project-on-kali-ganga/80699086  (05 Feb. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Locals oppose mega hydel projectsResidents of Lahaul and Spiti district – which is highly vulnerable to floods, avalanches and landslides – are a worried lot on hearing of the glacial burst in  Chamoli district. The govt recently signed MoUs for five mega projects in Lahaul – home to over 100 glaciers, including Himachal’s largest glacier Bada Shigri – with SJVNL and NTPC. Nearly 16 mega-hydel projects are proposed for the Chenab basin, which has a highly sensitive and fragile ecosystem, in Lahaul and Pangi valley with combined power generation of over 5,000MW.

Warning about the devastation caused by these projects in Kinnaur district and in Uttarakhand, Lahaul residents have been opposing these projects and have threatened that they will not allow companies to start work. They are worried that construction activities, including building reservoirs, will not only destroy huge glaciers but also will put human lives at risk. They have warned they will not let a single tree be cut and will not let land to be submerged into water.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/shimla/locals-oppose-mega-hydel-projects-in-himachals-lahaul/articleshow/80740816.cms  (08 Feb. 2021)

North East Hydro projects serious threats to undiscovered wildlife Rishika Pardikar on ecological significance on the area and how govt without following due processes is pushing destructive hydro projects there including Etalin HEP.  

The WII report was prepared by recommendation from MoEF to conduct a multi-season biodiversity assessment as part of the process to divert forestland for EHEP. But the report has “considerable deficiencies and scientific biases,” scientists and researchers pointed out in a review of the report published last May 2020. For one, the study took only five months — too short a time to represent all wildlife migrations and breeding seasons in the area. Sheth, the lead author of the review, says that the report fails to show just how much EHEP risks yet-to-be-identified biodiversity. https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/hydropower-in-northeastern-india-poses-serious-threats-to-yet-undiscovered-wildlife  (03 Feb. 2021)

MoEF Agenda of the meeting of the EAC on River Valley Projects to be held on Feb 5, 2021.

1. Sirkari-Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP (168MW) in Pithoragarh District of Uttarakhand by UJVNL for Environmental Clearance

2. Luhri HEP Stage – 1 (210MW) Project in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh by SJVN for Amendment in EC

3. 430 MW ReoliDugli Hydro-Electric Project in Dist Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradeshby M/s SJVN for Terms of Reference

4. 175 MW Bardang Hydro-electric Project in dist Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh by SJVN for Terms of Reference

5. 232 MW Purthi Hydroelectric Project in dist Chamba, Himachal Pradesh by M/s SJVN for Terms of Reference

6. Teesta Intermediate H.E. Project (2x 30 + 2×15 MW) Kirney Village of Kalimpong Dist in W Bengal by W Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd for Terms of Reference http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Form-1A/Agenda/01022021UYPADWEYFinalAgenda_7thEAC_RiverValleyHydro.pdf 

Centre Alok Kumar takes over as Power Secretary  Alok Kumar, a 1988 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, on Monday (Feb. 1) took over as Union Power Secretary. Kumar will succeed Sanjeev Nandan Sahai, who retired on January 31, 2021, a senior official said. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/alok-kumar-takes-over-as-power-secretary/80642320  (02 Feb. 2021)

DAMS

Polavaram Project No funds in union budget Though the revised cost of the project is pegged at Rs 55,546 crore at the 2017–18 price level, union finance ministry’s department of expenditure trimmed it to Rs 47,725. Even this is yet to be approved. This is quite galling as the state government has already incurred an expenditure of Rs 17,124.19 crore on implementation of the project The state had already spent Rs 12,393.48 crore on Polavaram before it was declared a national project on January 23, 2021.

Though Polavaram Project Authority has reimbursed Rs 10,741.46 crore so far to the state government, Rs 1,652.02 crore is yet to be reimbursed. Earlier, the centre allocated funds to Polavaram project through extra budgetary resource mobilisation by issuing fully serviced government bonds. Accordingly, in 2018–19, Rs 1,400 crore was allocated and in 2019–20, Rs 1,850 crore was allocated. However, in 2020-21, an amount of Rs 2,234.29 has been allotted in the revised estimates of the budget. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/020221/ap-including-polavaram-project-gets-no-funds-in-union-budget.html  (02 Feb. 2021)

Maharashtra Mulshi Satyagraha: Remembering first anti-dam struggle Ousted without rehabilitation in 1921 and jailed for resisting, the families of the 52 villages in Mulshi taluka who lost their land to the Tata Power dam face ever-growing troubles even today.  https://thewire.in/rights/mulshi-satyagraha-remembering-indias-first-anti-dam-struggle-in-its-100th-year  (05 Feb. 2021)

Pending Temghar work likely next month Officials said they expect the work or plugging the leakage from Maharashtra’s Temghar Dam to begin once the reservoir is fully empty — likely March 2021. The irrigation department has been working on arresting the seepage from the dam’s wall. About 95% of the seepage has been plugged, with the remainder to be fixed next month. The department would also undertake the second phase of strengthening the wall. Currently the dam has 25% storage, which will be brought down to zero before the work starts. Full Reservoir capacity is 3.7 TMC. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pending-temghar-work-likely-next-month/articleshow/80695718.cms  (05 Feb. 2021)

Experts renew demand for water release for Marathwada  About water sharing conflict between Marathwada and Krishna Valley. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/experts-renew-demand-for-water-release-for-mwada/articleshow/80617055.cms  (01 Feb. 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Dam “Worlds Greatest Planned Environmental Disaster”: The Narmada River Valley Project Key Message is important here: The SC is supposed to protect the environment and environmental rights and also our government should be committed to protecting our environment at an international level. However, our Supreme Court forgot the mandate of various international human rights documents that speak about protection and improvement of the environment in the Sardar Sarovar Dam case. https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/02/sardar-sarovar-dam-and-the-question-of-environmental-justice/  (03 Feb. 2021)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

Monthly Updates Manthan compiles major news updates regarding National Waterways from various media reports, PIB releases and other sources like information obtained using RTI, Act, academic papers etc. and brings them on a monthly basis in the form of Monthly Updates. https://www.manthan-india.org/work-theme/inland-waterways/monthly-updates-waterways/ 

URBAN RIVERS

Devika, Udhampur River rejuvenation work delayed Union minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday (Jan. 30) reviewed the ongoing work on the Devika river rejuvenation project, officials said. The work on the Rs 186.74-crore project under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) started in March 2019 and was scheduled to be completed in two years. The project includes the construction of 3 STPs of 8 MLD, 4 MLD and 1.6 MLD capacity, sewerage network of 129.27 km, development of two cremation ghats, protection fencing and landscaping, small hydropower plants and three solar power plants.

Referring to the March 2021 deadline for the completion of the project, Singh said due to the time loss in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable that the work will get delayed. However, the entire project should be completed before the end of 2021, he said. Under the project, bathing ghats on the banks of the Devika river will be developed, encroachments will be removed, natural water bodies will be restored and catchment areas will be developed. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/union-minister-reviews-work-on-devika-river-rejuvenation-project-in-jks-udhampur/2020441 (30 Jan. 2021)

Mula-Mutha; Pune Cleaning tender approved Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday (Jan. 27) said that the Jal Shakti ministry has approved the process to initiate the tender for pollution abatement. A decision was also taken to appoint a consultant for a similar project in Nagpur. Gadkari also suggested to provide the treated water to industries or MIDC. “In Mathura, the treated water is being given to the industry and the local body is getting revenue in return. The PMC too can give the treated water to industries and generate revenue,” Gadkari said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/mula-mutha-project-gets-a-big-boost/articleshow/80488761.cms  (28 Jan. 2021)

Badi; Ajmer Rs 5.29-cr RFD project begins The work of riverfront development at the Badi river here has started after CM Ashok Gehlot laid its foundation virtually last week. The Badi river originates from Anasagar Lake and Rs 5.29 crore will be spent on the initiative under smart city project. The project will be taken up under two stages, wherein in the first stage, the river front from Pushkar Road to RK Puram will be developed, and in the later stage, there will be fencing on the border of Badi River so that there will be a walking trail for people. The second stage includes development from RK Puram to Foy Sagar, under NREGA and other projects. Officials said that the river front development will boost tourism and will provide water to the tributaries.  During these two stages, there will be forestation as well. The project of uplifting of the front is expected to be complete in August 2021. 

Badi river is the main source to the tributaries of small seasonal rivers including Khari and Dhai rivers in Western Rajasthan and it originates from Ajmer after the Anasagar Lake overflows. Sources said that at present, there are encroachments in the catchment area of the river and the fencing will curb the encroachments. It will also develop forest and green cover and will provide a walking track to the locals.  Official said that the motive is to save the river from encroachments and to bring back the ecological system back on track. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/rs-5-29-crore-badi-riverfront-project-in-ajmer-kicks-off/articleshow/79846763.cms  (22 Dec. 2020)

Sabarmati, Ahmadabad MoD sanctions STP Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sanctioned construction of a 25 MLD STP and a 2.5 MLD tertiary treatment plant on the plot of land between Dufnala and Dasada Mata Mandir which will take into account requirements of the population till 2030; other sewage lines will also be linked to it.  Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) official said about 7 MLD of untreated sewage water flows into the Sabarmati presently. Highly toxic and filthy sewage flows into Sabarmati, degenerating the river and harming aquatic life apart from raising a stink in the area.

According to the source in Ahmedabad Cantonment Board (ACB), “The proposal for setting up the STP was being discussed since 1991 but the proposal was made only in 2015.” The permission of construction has been granted on Dec. 31, 2020 following the sanction by the president of India. The STP will be constructed by AMC on 10, 401 sqm land given on a 30 year lease, extendable to 90 years, on the land presently held by the Ahmedabad Cantonment according to terms set by the MoD on a payment of lease of Rs 1 per sqm. https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/civic/new-stp-to-help-sabarmati-20000-citizens-breathe-easy/articleshow/80160309.cms  (08 Jan. 2021)

Hyderabad NGO working on waste free rivers Jeevanadi Foundation is working for conservation of rivers in the city. Having cleaned six rivers at different locations so far, the NGO has taken up sensitisation of public on protection of water bodies through events, campaigns and programmes. Lakshmi Durga, founder says, “River water is being polluted by plastic especially at holy places; so, we have begun our awareness activities from the holy places. So far we have cleaned six rivers namely, Krishna, Godavari, Kaveri, Thungabadra, Pranahitha and Yamuna during Navarathri seasons when devotees throng to take holy dips.” In the last week of every month, they conduct activities at different locations. Volunteers pitch in to take up river cleaning activities. https://www.thehansindia.com/news/cities/hyderabad/after-cleaning-six-rivers-this-ngo-looks-up-for-more-669543  (31 Jan. 2021)

RIVERS

IRF Remembering Prof Brij Gopal Prof. Brij Gopal passed away on 4th January 2021, leaving behind a towering legacy both as an academic and as a human being. With over 50 years of research experience, 40+ years of teaching experience, 100s of research papers and books, and an indomitable zeal, Prof. Brij Gopal worked tirelessly towards the conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

India Rivers Forum, in association with Water Conflicts Forum and India Water Portal organised a remembrance meeting for Prof. Brij Gopal on 1st February, the eve of World Wetlands Day. This audio visual was prepared as part of the meeting, as a tribute to the legend.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_15butK0gY  (01 Feb. 2021)

Gujarat Rivers highly polluted despite norms The unchecked flow of untreated industrial effluent into rivers in Gujarat has led to increasing pollution in the Sabarmati, Mahisagar, Narmada, Vishwamitri and Bhadar. Recently, a thick froth on the Mahisagar, along a stretch of several km, raised serious concern, prompting the GPCB to constitute a high-level committee to study the rising level of pollution in the river. “Pollution in rivers has emerged as a major threat in the last few years because the lackadaisical approach of the authorities has emboldened the industries to discharge untreated effluents into flowing rivers,” said Vadodara-based environmental activist Rohit Prajapati. He said that both treated and untreated effluent is released into the estuary of the Mahisagar and Gulf of Cambay, flouting the guidelines of the CPCB.

In December 2020, Mr. Prajapati and a few others wrote a letter to the State authorities providing evidence, including videos and photographs, of how toxic effluents were being dumped into the Mahisagar and other rivers by industries. “The Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd, which runs a 55-km-long pipeline to discharge treated effluents into the deep sea, releases the effluents into the river. The effluents are not getting discharged into the deep sea as required,” a former official of the GPCB told The Hindu.

Now, the State govt has proposed a ₹2,300 crore project for a deep sea effluent disposal pipeline to cater to nearly 4,500 industrial units. The project will serve four highly industrialised districts (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Kheda and Rajkot), which are the main sources of pollution of the rivers Sabarmati, the Mahisagar, the Vishvamitri and Bhadar. The Centre had allocated almost ₹200 crore to curb pollution in the Sabarmati from 2014-15 to 2017-18 but the situation has only worsened. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-rivers-remain-highly-polluted-despite-norms/article33589234.ece  (16 Jan. 2021)

Bhavnagar electricity plant operates without ETP  Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant have sought Government of India intervention to ensure that the GPCB should Immediately issue a Closure Notice on the state-owned Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) in Bhavnagar district, for not having the requisite Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and STP as per the Supreme Court (SC) Order dated February 22, 2017 in a Writ Petition filed by PSS.

In a letter to the Union environment, forests and climate change secretary, and copies to the Gujarat chief secretary and other senior officials of the state government, the activists, calling the GPCB and GSECL attitude “non-serious and nonchalant” attitude, said, the “unscientific approach” of the concerned authorities is harming life, livelihood and environment of the region. https://www.counterview.net/2021/02/gujarat-electricity-plant-in-bhavnagar.html  (05 Feb. 2021)

Maharashtra MPCB shuts down 4 industries over river pollution Acting on a series of complaints of pollution in Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers, the MPCB has directed four industries to close down and issued show cause notices to local municipal bodies.

Environment group Vanashakti, petitioners before the SC, had flagged violations through three major complaints between November 26 and November 28 wherein a large stretch of Waldhuni river along the Ulhasnagar railway station was spotted foaming with effluents. Industrial effluents were also discharged into Waldhuni near Vriddhashram Pipeline Road at Ambernath, leading to a reddish layer over the water, and the third complaint pertained to a stench at night near Ambreshwar Shiv temple at Dombivali Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) where untreated effluents were entering Waldhuni. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/maharashtra-pollution-board-shuts-down-4-industries-pulls-up-civic-body-over-river-pollution/story-dQRzLw7Sxn77k3KP90f7kI.html  (07 Dec. 2020)

Odisha Dry Brahmani sparks fear of water crisis Even as winter season is yet to go, a sharp decline in the water flow in Brahmani river in Jajpur district has sparked fear of a drinking water crisis in the area. The river enters the district at Jenapur under Dharmasala block and ows towards Kaipada under Bari block. At many places along its course, the river has gone dry leading to a sharp decline in water flow. The river getting buried at most places and formation of islets are attributed to the decline in the water flow. This has sparked resentment among residents as Lokanath Das, president of Brahmani Banchao Abhiyan, Gagan Bihari Jena, former block chairman, Kishan Panda, Dharmasala block chairman, Bishnu Charan Mohanty, Raghunath Jena and Basant Parida wrote to Jajpur MLA Pranab Prakash Das and his Bari counterpart Sunanda Das seeking their intervention. https://www.orissapost.com/dry-brahmani-sparks-fear-of-water-crisis-in-bari-block/  (31 Jan. 2021)

Punjab NGT directs govt to deposit ₹50 cr with CPCB immediately On Jan. 22, the NGT has dismissed review applications filed by the state govt against a 2018 order, requiring the state to pay environmental compensation of ₹50 crore for polluting the Sutlej and Beas rivers and directed it to deposit the amount with CPCB for eco-restoration of two rivers. The Punjab government had filed two review petitions with the NGT on January 19 and said that the state has taken several measures, including in-situ remediation of the drains connected to the rivers. “The state is willing to spend ₹50 crore on landscaping Buddha Nullah in Ludhiana,” the application said.

The NGT said that Punjab’s appeal had already been dismissed by the SC and the tribunal’s directive was merged in the apex court’s order, so no review was permitted. “Even after the dismissal of the state’s appeal a year ago, the order of 2018 has not been complied with for which we do not find any justification. Taking future steps is not a ground for not paying compensation for the damage already caused,” the NGT order said. The tribunal said that the state has to be model of compliance of binding orders but “it is acting at its sweet will with no respect for the rule of law”. “The draft plan may be prepared by Punjab for consideration by the CPCB chairman. It should primarily cover eco-restoration of the rivers,” the NGT order concluded. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ngt-directs-punjab-to-deposit-50-cr-with-cpcb-immediately-101611741515043.html  (27 Jan. 2021)

NGT disbands panel formed to monitor pollution in Sutlej, Beas NGT has disbanded a committee that was formed on its directions almost two years ago for monitoring the pollution in Sutlej and Beas rivers. The tribunal has now asked Punjab govt to monitor the pollution in the two rivers and said that the state may take the services of this committee if it wants.

The order states that “monitoring by the Tribunal or the Tribunal appointed committee cannot be a regular feature” and is “only a last resort for some period”. “It is finally for the state to take ownership and take stern measures and evolve effective monitoring mechanisms to remedy the situation to give effect to its Constitutional obligation to provide a clean environment to the citizens and protect natural and scarce environmental resources like water, air and soil for current and future generations. Violators of environmental norms need to be sternly dealt with in the same manner as other criminals threatening the safety of the citizens,” the order read. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/2-yrs-on-ngt-disbands-panel-formed-to-monitor-pollution-in-sutlej-beas-7167225/  (30 Jan. 2021)

CAUVERY Is ‘Cauvery Calling’ A State Project? Karnataka High Court on Tuesday (Feb. 2) allowed the request for time made by the state government to comply with the court order directing it to make its stand on the question whether the State Government has any connection with the project of Cauvery Calling and whether the second and third respondents (Isha Foundation/Isha Outreach) are involved in the project of the State Government.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum granted the request made by the state government seeking time to file its affidavit. It said “AGA seeks time to comply with what is observed in paragraph 8, of the last order only by way of last indulgence we grant time till Feb 23, no further time shall be granted.” In its last order, the court had asked if the Government was willing to make a statement that ‘Cauvery Calling’ was not a government project. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-cauvery-calling-project-karnataka-government-169282  (02 Feb. 2020)

Karnataka Toxic cocktail of chemicals discharged into Indrani river  The toxic cocktail of chemicals, inorganic wastes and drainage water discharged into the Indrani river has made life miserable for people in Kalmady near Malpe in Udupi district. Though the river has been badly polluted for a decade now, the nauseating odour and dark black water flowing in the river this year suggest that the situation is nearing the point of no return. If monitoring by the pollution control authority is not done even now and enforcement activities are not initiated to revive this resource, it will be the death knell for the river. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jan/29/toxic-cocktail-of-chemicals-discharged-into-indrani-river-making-life-miserable-for-locals-2256670.html  (29 Jan. 2021)

Phalguni river pollution worries locals Based on a complaint received over the phone on the Phalguni river pollution, a delegation visited the riverbank on Monday (Jan. 25) to understand the cause of pollution. Deputy tahsildar Shivaprasad said that though there was no written complaint, a delegation including revenue inspector Navaneeta Malava visited the spot. Locals claimed that the water had turned black especially in a few areas near the bridge and pollution was also noticed at a holy pond. “We will visit the area again, to check if there is pollution and submit a report,” Shivaprasad said.

The locals also feared fish kill and suspected that industrial effluents are being directly let into the river. They fear that the wells in the surrounding area are also getting polluted. For gram panchayats, Paduperara, Ganjimutt, Kandavara and Gurupur, this river is the major source of drinking water. Prakash Shetty, owner, Kapila Park Goshala, in Kenjar that is protecting the Kapila species of cow, said they have noticed a reduction in fish population and the water has turned sticky. “When we raised the river pollution issue about three years ago, the administration said they would test the water regularly. However, this is not being done,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/karnataka-phalguni-river-pollution-worries-locals/articleshow/80484972.cms  (27 Jan. 2021)

NARMADA Madhya Pradesh Ecological degradation at origin in Amarkantak spells more trouble by Nivedita Khandekar A study has pointed to the increasing anthropogenic stress factors in Amarkantak, the upper catchment area of the Narmada river in central India. The study raises concerns on land-use change, degradation of forests and overgrazing of grasslands, problems of siltation and pollutant influx in the river water leading to degradation of water quality and decreasing wetland spaces.

As many as five check dams/barrages built on the first three km at the Narmada river’s origin at Amarkantak are restricting its ecological flow. Madhya Pradesh government and the Union Tourism Ministry have launched infrastructure development plans that focus more on amenities and cement work and less on ensuring an increase in the ecological flow of the river. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/ecological-degradation-at-narmadas-origin-in-amarkantak-spells-more-trouble/  (03 Feb. 2021)  The Hindi version of this can be read here. https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/02/03/ecological-degradation-at-narmadas-origin-in-amarkantak-spells-more-trouble/  (03 Feb. 2021)

SOANAS Reflections on Floods, Droughts, and Irrigation by Dr. Dinesh Kumar Mishra  A new journey should start with revisiting the water education system opening one’s mind to the specific nature of South Asian hydrology and rivers.  In this journey, South Asians need a new imagination of their Ganga in its celestial, brought to the earth by King Bhagirath, cultural and physical manifestations. They must find ways to better understand their local realities before suggesting grand proposals of development. https://soanas.org/reflections-on-floods-droughts-and-irrigation/

GANGA Bihar SC seeks Centre’s reply on encroachments on floodplains in Patna The SC has sought the Centre’s reply against a NGT order dismissing a plea on unauthorised and illegal constructions and other permanent encroachments on the eco-fragile floodplains of the Ganga in Patna. A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Aniruddha Bose issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Jal Shakti, NMCG, Central Water Commission and others.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Patna resident Ashok Kumar Sinha against June 30, 2020 order of NGT dismissing his plea against illegal constructions and permanent encroachments on the eco-fragile floodplains. The plea contended that the tribunal passed the order without examining the detailed particulars of the violators encroaching upon the Ganga floodplains in Patna submitted by the appellant.

“The illegal and unauthorized constructions and permanent encroachments on the floodplain of Ganga are creating tremendous amounts of waste, noise and generating vast quantum of sewage. “They are aggravating the risk to life and property of thevdwellers occupying the surroundings since every year, the areas stated in preceding paras go down under flood waters. The illegal constructions were obstructing the natural course of the river,” said the plea filed through advocate Akash Vashishtha.

The plea said they were causing deleterious environmental impacts on the rich biodiversity and were destroying the habitat and, thereby, the very survival of Dolphins, a Schedule I species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, on the stretch. The plea stated that the tribunal failed to note the fact that a clean Ganga river was vital and essential to meet the drinking and domestic water needs of 5.5 lakh population of the city as the groundwater in the district was contaminated with Arsenic. “A massive 520 acres of ecologically sensitive Ganga floodplain, stretching from Nauzer Ghat to Nurpur Ghat, in Patna, have been usurped. This stretch is prone to recurrent floods every year. A multi-storey building, belonging to the Takhat Shri Harmandir Sahib, has further come up since 2017 and parts, thereof, are still under construction,” the plea said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/sc-seeks-centre-s-reply-on-encroachments-on-ganga-s-floodplains-in-patna-101612257684930.html  (02 Feb. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh अनूपशहर गंगा नदी में जा रहा गंदा पानी, नाले का पानी सीवर लाइन से नदी में गिर रहा, बनाया गया वाटर ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट बना सफेद हाथी, मोटी रकम से बनाया गया था ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट, अधिकारी ही लगा रहे है योजनाओं को पलीता. https://twitter.com/bstvlive/status/1357911988446236678?s=20  (06 Feb. 2021)

Uttarakhand Kumbh preparation CM said that an amount of around Rs 1,500 crore is being spent on Kumbh-related works in Haridwar. “Majority of the projects are complete whereas some are on the verge of completion. For instance, the flyover at Ranipur is being given finishing touches and it would be dedicated to people by the middle of the month. Covid-19 has delayed our works by around three months. However, I am happy that overcoming all challenges, we have still been successful in completing projects in the stipulated time span,” the CM said.

The mela would have four ‘shahi snans’ — on March 11 (Mahashivratri), April 12 (Somwati Amavasya), April 14 (Baisakhi Kumbh), and April 27 (Chaitra Poornima). Besides, there are also six ‘parv snan’, which commenced with Makar Sankranti (January 14). The other five ‘parv snan’ dates are – February 11 (Mauni Amawasya), February 16 (Basant Panchami), February 27 (Magh Poornima), April 13 (Navsamvratsar), and April 21 (Ramnavmi). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/well-ensure-crystal-clear-ganga-water-fit-for-drinking-during-kumbhcm-rawat/articleshow/80674709.cms  (04 Feb. 2021)

Study Geo-tagged bottles travel 2845 km in 94  A new study using geo-tagged bottles was able to show plastic can cross the Ganges, travel thousands of kilometres, and end up in the ocean within just a few months. The maximum distance tracked was 2,845 kilometres in 94 days. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/news/geo-tagged-bottles-in-the-ganges-river-show-how-plastic-pollution-can-travel-thousands-of-kilometres-in-just-a-few-months/articleshow/79540173.cms  (03 Dec. 2020)

YAMUNA Delhi To clean river, govt should first forget STPs by KAS Mani Plants Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati quoted data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to inform the bench that Delhi had 35 sewage treatment plants with the capacity to treat 2,715 million litres a day of sewage. The problem: only one plant remains functional, and treats 90 million litres a day. As a result, more than 3,00 million litres of sewage flows untreated into the Yamuna.

– In one of its studies, the Union environment ministry reported that 70% of all STPs in the country are dysfunctional. But still the same government to which the ministry belongs continues to push these wasteful ‘solutions’.

– It’s also important to note that such a biological cleaning model wouldn’t work to clean the whole Yamuna. This is because this model is the last step in the scheme of things. It can be effective only at the end of a series of steps – the first being decentralised wastewater treatment upstream, beginning at housing communities in Delhi. https://science.thewire.in/environment/to-clean-the-yamuna-the-govt-should-first-forget-sewage-treatment-plants/  (04 Feb. 2021)

Centre NMCG has sanctioned a project “Agra Sewerage Scheme (I&D works) and construction of 10 Decentralized STPs” for creation of additional 178.60 MLD STP capacity at the estimated cost of Rs. 842.25 crore to cater to the sewage treatment demand till the year 2035. This information was given by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in Lok Sabha on Feb 4, 2021. https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1695261

Union Minister Kataria informed the Loksabha on Feb 4, 2021: “As regards the assessment of water quality of river Yamuna in April 2020 during lockdown period, as compared to pre-lockdown period i.e. March, 2020, at Palla, improvement in terms of BOD was observed and at locations Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/S, improvement in terms of both DO and BOD was observed.” https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1695262

NGT refuses to entertain washermen plea  NGT has refused to entertain a plea by washermen against the proposed demolition of a dhobi ghat at Jamia Nagar in Okhla on the ground that it falls in the ‘O’ zone of the Yamuna river where construction is prohibited. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said steps taken for protection of floodplain remains to be satisfactorily addressed and the encroachment is huge. “It is clear that encroachment from floodplain is to be removed by the Delhi Development Authority which is to be demarcated by it in the ‘O’ zone of the master plan.

As per the letter of the DDA, the dhobi ghat in question is in ‘O’ zone. This being the factual position, no further order is necessary,” the bench said. The tribunal said that Yamuna floodplain must be demarcated and kept free from any permanent construction and wherever it is possible, it should be restored to its original position. The green panel was hearing a plea filed by the Muslim Kassar Vikas Sangthan against the proposed demolition of the dhobi ghat. According to the plea, the dhobi ghat is located 2.5 kilometres away from the waters of the Yamuna river. The petitioner submitted that the status quo be maintained as the site concerned is still being used by washermen to earn a living, who are otherwise facing economic difficulties on account of the prolonged coronavirus pandemic. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/feb/04/ngt-refuses-to-entertain-plea-by-washermen-against-demolition-of-dhobi-ghat-on-yamuna-floodplain-2259499.html  (04 Feb. 2021)

Damage from Hindon pollution heinous crimes The NGT has rapped the state government for not taking effective steps to control pollution in River Hindon, noting that damage from pollution is no less than the damage from other heinous crimes. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said repeated orders will not serve any purpose unless the administration takes ownership of its Constitutional obligation to the citizens. “It is a matter of regret that the State authorities have failed to discharge their constitutional obligation of taking remedial measures inspite of attention of the highest authorities in the administration being drawn to the problem,” the bench said.

“We had expected that with the involvement of the Chief Secretary, the procedural and inter-departmental coordination issues will be resolved. But unfortunately, it has not so happened,” the bench said. “Thus, instead of keeping the proceedings pending, we consider it appropriate to require the Chief Secretary, UP to ensure remedial action on expeditious basis. “The action should also include fixing responsibilities and making entry in the service record of incompetent or failing officers, who were earlier entrusted this responsibility, granting necessary approvals and providing necessary funds,” the bench said.

The NGT also directed the River Rejuvenation Committee of UP to monitor execution of action plans for Hindon, subject to overall oversight of the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary, while reviewing the status of various issues, may focus on timely completion of the ongoing works, it said. The green panel also noted that the Member Secretary of the state pollution control board does not have exclusive charge of the PCB but is also Special Secretary to the Government, apart from being Member Secretary, SEIAA and holding other positions. “One wonders how one person can do justice to the job holding so many positions when even working as Member Secretary pollution control board requires full time involvement in view of serious environmental issues awaiting attention. “Independence in working is also bound to be affected when a person has multifarious functions, including as limb of the Government, making it difficult to work as independent regulator,” the bench said.

“Even the compliance report in the present case, on behalf of the State, has been filed by the said Member Secretary in his capacity as Special Secretary to the Government. Let this aspect be looked into by the Chief Secretary, UP and remedial action taken in accordance with law in the light of the Supreme Court judgement,” the bench said. The Tribunal was hearing a petition filed by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti alleging pollution in Kali Nadi, Krishna and Hindon rivers, resulting in diseases and deaths of some inhabitants of the area. https://www.news18.com/news/india/damage-from-pollution-no-less-than-damage-from-other-heinous-crimes-ngt-3401540.html  (07 Feb. 2021)

RIVERS BIODIVERSITY

Report Chowkidar turns conservationist for winged friends in Chambal  Jagdish, 44, has been active in conservation work in the Chambal region for a decade and is currently involved in a project to protect the nests of the Indian skimmer. Chambal is rich in biodiversity and hosts the migratory Indian skimmer. Sandbars and islands of river Chambal are nesting grounds for the bird. Attacks by free-ranging dogs, cattle trampling and sand mining are some of the threats to the endangered skimmer and its habitat. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/chowkidar-turns-conservationist-for-winged-friends-in-chambal/  (01 Feb. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

PM Matsya Sampada Yojana For more details, click the link – http://dof.gov.in/pmmsy. The operational guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana can be checked using the link below:- http://dof.gov.in/sites/default/filess/PMMSY-Guidelines24-June2020.pdf  ; https://themiracletech.com/latest/neeli-kranti-pm-matsya-sampada-yojana-pmmsy-2021-operational-guidelines/

Tamil Nadu Community’s efforts to save Pulicat lake continues From restoring mangroves to fighting off worm poachers, people living around Pulicat have been making efforts over years to save their wetlands and their livelihoods. Meerasa, who lives in Jameelabad near the lake, has been involved in conservation of the lake and raising awareness about the ecosystem for almost two decades now. The region faces a looming threat from the Kattupalli mega port expansion plan that could severely impact the wetland, its mangroves and marine life and result in displacement and loss of livelihood of many fishing families dependent on Pulicat lake. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/as-threats-increase-communitys-efforts-to-save-pulicat-lake-continues/  (04 Jan. 2021)

Giving false details for appraisal will result in rejection: Javadekar Any false or misleading information provided by a project proponent will lead to rejection and cancellation of the prior environmental clearance granted, Union Minister for MoEF Prakash Javadekar informed Parliament. Replying to queries raised by DMK MPs Thamizhachi Thangapandian and Dr. Kalanidhi Veeraswamy on the proposed expansion of Kattupalli port and its impact on the coastal region around Chennai, Mr. Javadekar said impact assessment and mitigation measures were mandated as per the EIA and Environment Management Plan studies. Public hearing as part of the mandatory public consultation had not been held for the project so far, he noted.

The MPs also sought to know if the government will take action against the company engaged in the expansion work for providing false or misleading information relating to the project. Mr. Javadekar said: “As per EIA Notification, 2006, as amended, deliberate concealment or submission of false/misleading information which is material to the appraisal or decision shall be liable for rejection, and cancellation of prior environmental clearance granted on that basis”. He also said based on the terms of reference for the project, the EIA mandates a number of studies, including a comprehensive study on all existing developments like Ennore port and L&T shipyard, impact of construction of berths and breakwaters on the littoral drift, shoreline change management plan covering the area from Ennore Creek to Pulicat lake have to be done. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/giving-false-details-for-appraisal-will-result-in-rejection-javadekar/article33764094.ece  (06 Feb. 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Fisheries department is hurting trout farmers At any government trout farm run by Himachal Pradesh’s fisheries department, you can purchase a kg of rainbow trout for Rs 550. It’s a simple process, and the farm’s infrastructure is intriguing enough to attract tourists: An employee walks along one of several cemented raceways, sweeps three fish out with a net, measures their weight, hammers them with a rod, and exchanges them for money. But behind this simple process lurks many complications for private trout farmers.

“The government must stop competing with us in the same market,” said Shakti Singh Jamwal, president of the Trout Fish Farmers Association, Kullu. “The government has full-scale infrastructure of large farms and competes with us. If they sell their own fish within the state, then who will we sell to?” A fully-equipped trout farm, such as the government’s main farm in Kullu’s Patlikuhal, is infrastructure heavy. It has several raceways and tanks, a hatchery (that costs Rs 25 lakh) to process eggs, and a feed mill – that can cost anywhere from several lakhs to crores, depending on the quality and quantity of feed produced – to create fish feed. https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/02/02/how-himachal-pradeshs-fisheries-department-is-hurting-trout-farmers  (02 Feb. 2021)

Maharashtra Thousands of fish found dead in Panchganga river After thousands of fish were found dead in Panchganga river near Terwad village in Kolhapur district, angry villagers on Wednesday (Dec. 23, 2020) tied up MPCB regional officer Sachin Harbad, claiming nothing had been done in the matter despite repeated complaints by them. He was released an hour later, only after MPCB officials promised, in writing, to probe the incident and take action against the guilty, including Ichalkaranji civic body officials.

“Since last year, thousands of fish have been found dead near the Kolhapur-type weir at Terwad village. Despite the release of untreated water by industrial units and untreated nullah water into the river, MPCB has not taken any action in the matter. Vishwas Balghate of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana said, “The river has been affected by pollution, which has claimed the lives of thousands of fish. The stench from the water is unbearable. There are at least five industrial estates upwards of the weir. The industrial units, including chemical ones, release untreated water into the river,” he alleged. Bandu Patil, a member of the Sanghatana, said there are 12 nullahs from Kolhapur and two from Ichalkaranji, besides hundreds of industrial units, which discharge untreated waste into the river. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/thousands-of-fish-found-dead-in-kolhapur-river-angry-villagers-tie-up-pollution-board-official-7117391/  (24 Dec. 2020)

Dead fish & lobsters choke Malegaon’s water supply Water supply to the Malegaon, Nandgaon, Dahiwad regional water supply scheme and the Chalisgaon areas in Nashik and Jalgaon districts from the Girna dam was stopped from Thursday (Oct. 15) night when a large volume of dead lobsters and other fish chocked the jackwell. Water supply resumed on Saturday (Oct. 17) after the water was found to be safe following a potability test. Agriculture minister Dada Bhuse, who represents Malegaon Outer, has ordered a thorough probe to understand the cause. Samples of dead fish were sent to forensic laboratories for post-mortem.

The Girna dam is one of the largest in Nashik supplies water to parts of Nashik and Jalgaon districts. Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC) commissioner Deepak Kasar said the dead fish were seen floating near the jackwell and more than 600 quintal of lobsters were found inside the jackwell. “We need 65-70 MLD of water, and Girna alone supplies 55 MLD. Since the dead fish had entered the jackwell, we stopped the supply immediately and drew water from Talwade — a storage tank downstream of Chankapur dam,” the officer said.

According to the water resources department (WRD) sources, this could be an act of business rivalry or even a case of illegal fishing. “Fisheries contract is awarded to a person or company. But business rivals may try to spoil the produce. Some people carry out illegal fishing activities by using crude bombs to kill fish with shock waves or using chemicals. An overdose can kill the fish. At Girna, the fact that schools of fish were seen swimming in the same areas after eight hours shows that the toxins had diluted or vanished now,” the officer said. Anwar Hussain — who was given the fishing contract — has registered an FIR against unidentified person for causing him loss of Rs 3 lakh by killing the fish. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/dead-fish-lobsters-choke-malegaons-water-supply/articleshow/78725457.cms  (18 Oct. 2020)

Andhra Pradesh Dead fish wash ashore in Visakhapatnam’s Rushikonda beach Dead fish washed ashore on Rushikonda beach in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday (Aug. 18). Local people thronged the beach to collect about two to three tonnes of silver belly fish, thrown up by the sea. The fish died due to depletion of oxygen in a particular patch of the beach following five days of inclement weather, it was noted. It may be mentioned that in 2010, several tonnes of dead fish washed ashore on Appikonda beach.

Fisheries department joint director K Phani Prakash told The New Indian Express that the fish died because of shortage of oxygen due to a drop in temperature and overcast conditions/rain for the past four to five days. He said the fish death might not have died due to pollution. Rushikonda is an open beach coast and is relatively pollution free. If there was deficiency in the water current, whatever fish are in that particular patch die, Prakash said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/aug/19/dead-fish-wash-ashore-in-visakhapatnams-rushikonda-beach-2185329.html  (19 Aug. 2020)

Odisha Union Budget 2021-22 allocation for Paradip Fishermen, seafood exporters and those engaged in ancillary industries in Paradip welcomed Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of developing a fishing harbour and fish landing centre in the port town in Jagatsinghpur district. Kochi in Kerala, Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Petuaghat in West Bengal will also be developed as hubs for economic activities.

In May 2020, the state fisheries department had submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying asking for Rs 30 crore to modernise the state’s biggest fishing harbour at Paradip. The funds would be used to fill the infrastructure gaps and promote seafood export under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), the letter said.

The fishing harbour in Paradip was constructed by the state in 1996 at a cost of Rs 39 crore. The state government handed over the harbour to the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) in 1998 for maintenance. In 2019, PPT handed over the fishing harbour to the fisheries department. In the financial year 2019-20, around 32 companies in Odisha exported around 45,000 tonnes of seafood worth around Rs 3,200 crore. Of this, Paradip fishing harbour contributed Rs 500 crore. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/odisha-fishing-sector-hopeful-with-union-budget-2021-22-allocation-for-paradip-75319  (02 Feb. 2021)

Bay of Bengal New species of snake eel found Researchers have discovered a new species of snake eel from the ports of Paradip in Odisha and Petuaghat harbour in West Bengal along the Bay of Bengal. The genus of the species is Cirrhimuraena. It is part of the Ophichthidae family of snake eels and its order is Anguilliformes.

The researchers found six specimens of the new species from Paradip, while two others were found from Petuaghat harbour in October 2019 and January 2020 respectively. They concluded that the new species belonged to the same clade as Cirrhimuraena chinensis and was separated from it morphologically and genetically. Cirrhimuraena chinensis is a tropical, marine eel that is known from China and Papua New Guinea, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The scientists have proposed the name of the new species as ‘Indian fringe-lip eel’ or Cirrhimuraena indica. The research been published in the recent edition of Fish Biology, an international journal. It was the second new fish species discovered by researchers from the Odisha coast in the past two years. In 2018, researchers led by Mohapatra of ZSI, Gopalpur, had found a new species of moray eel — a snake-like fish from the Bay of Bengal at Gopalpur-on Sea — a fishing town in Odisha’s Ganjam district. The scientists named the species as Odishi moray (scientifically named Gymnothorax odishi) as it was first sighted in Odisha. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/new-species-of-snake-eel-found-in-bay-of-bengal-by-researchers-75352  (03 Feb. 2021)

SAND MINING

Report Why India needs a blood sand awakening Rishika Pardikar on violence in Sand Mining in India.In addition to mining accidents, the death toll comprises “scores of villagers, young kids, reporters, activists and government officials” who are being attacked “for objecting to and for taking action,” the report states. These numbers though are “gross underestimates” because they are based on “media reports we could access,” says Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator for SANDRP. Sand mining deaths are not officially recorded in India. Another reason why the death toll could be a low estimate, Thakkar explains, is because attacks associated with sand mining are sometimes only reported in local news channels and in regional languages. https://www.ozy.com/news-and-politics/why-india-needs-a-blood-sand-awakening/414058/  (01 Feb. 2021)

Disorganized crime in a growing economy: Sand mafias in India by Prem Mahadevan  All trends suggest that law-enforcement agencies are prevented by both capacity constraints and lack of political support (from a political class that is itself highly criminalized) from going after influential crime lords. What is worrying is that single-point organized-crime actors (mafias that are focused only on the illicit sand trade, for instance) can, over time, mutate into larger organizations with diversified investment portfolios in multiple sectors.

Indeed, this trajectory was noted by a 1993 report commissioned by the Indian government to study the level of threat posed by organized crime to Indian national security. The full report has never been made public, perhaps because the contents would be politically embarrassing. But a summary available online makes clear that the government apparatus has a time-limited window of opportunity to act against gangsters before the latter acquire political patronage and become untouchable. Since the state apparatus is unlikely to do anything more than maintain discreet surveillance on politically connected gangs (for fear of the backlash that could result from targeting them), it would be more productive to build community resilience from the bottom-up. https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Sand-Mining-in-India-Report-17Jul1045-Web.pdf  (July 2019)

Karnataka Illegal mining menace: It is deep and disturbing A senior legal expert says, “The best and fastest way to become a politician is to get yourself involved in mining as profit margins are more than 110 per cent as compared to other industries, which is 10-15 per cent.”“People in power do not want to stop it because it is a major profitable business and that was the reason the government announced legalising it in Shivamogga. That was why portfolios of ministers were shuffled four times to ensure that the ‘right’ person gets it. Whoever knows about the industry is well aware that there is profit in every aspect of mining – extraction, transportation, sales and even middlemen,” says the expert, requesting anonymity. “Mining is not a costly affair. All one needs is trucks, 5-6 labourers and blasting material. Just five labourers can blast large areas, collect the material, load it into trucks and transport it. This was what was exposed in Shivamogga when the blast occurred,” he says.

The problem:- A senior legal expert on mining, requesting anonymity, says there is no ready record with the Mines and Geology Department head office on how many mines and quarries are operating in Karnataka and how many are defunct. “Though the process has been decentralised, there should be a uniform platform available for the public to ensure transparency. There are no field-level staffers in the Mines and Geology Department, like guards in the forest department or constables in the police department,” he adds.

The suggestion:- A member of the SC committee on mining, UV Singh, who is known for his fight against illegal mining, says there is an urgent need to bring in amendments to existing laws. The Karnataka Mines and Minerals Conservation Rules say the minimum distance between a mining site and a habitation is 200 metres, but it should be at least 1 km just like in quarrying. “While seeking environmental clearance for small mining areas (1-5 hectares) no public hearing is required, but it should be made mandatory and involve locals. For all types of mining and quarrying, public hearings should be mandated,” he adds. Demand for crushed stones, granite and sand is rising. Alternative sources are well known and they should be used. The government must have the will to push it, he says. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2021/jan/31/illegal-mining-menace-it-is-deep-and-disturbing-2257481.html  (31 Jan. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Sand mafia opens dam shutters, ryots protest Hopes of farmers to raise crops in 1,000 acres under three villages near Pernambut were dashed when unscrupulous sand mafia elements, who found the accumulated water a hindrance to their activities, opened the shutters and then welded them in that position, much to public ire, on Thursday (Feb. 4).  https://www.dtnext.in/News/TamilNadu/2021/02/06040513/1274777/Sand-mafia-opens-dam-shutters-ryots-protest.vpf  (06 Feb. 2021)

Sand mining gang attacks revenue staff in Sivaganga In a daring attack, a revenue department employee suffered severe cut injuries when an armed gang assaulted him with aruvals on Sunday (Jan. 17). It is said that a few days ago, a flying squad in the district intercepted and seized a vehicle near V Pudukulam village after it was found that sand was being smuggled from the river bed. The victim, Pandian, 40, who was in Mela Vaniyangudi village at the time, received a call. When he stepped out of the premises, he was attacked by Siva of V Pudukulam and others with aruval. He fell unconscious and was rushed to hospital, where the doctors referred him to Madurai. Sivaganga Town police registered a case and were on the look out for the suspects.

A few months ago, in a similar incident, a village administrative officer in Devakottai block was targeted by a sand mining gang. Though revenue officials then seized the lorry, which was carrying sand, a police inquiry was delayed due to political pressure. Following this, the VAO Association staged a protest. A revenue official in the Collectorate, who was supervising the issue, said the VAOs had represented about the case and firm action would be taken against the attackers. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/sand-mining-gang-attacks-revenue-staff-in-sivaganga/article33594770.ece  (17 Jan. 2021)

Bihar Sand price shoots up by 30-40% Several districts are hard hit with an upward revision in sand prices by 30-40 per cent, sparking fear of slowdown in the real estate sector. Traders say the escalation in cost has encouraged black marketing and illegal mining of the basic construction commodity. “The sand price in December was ₹5,400 for a trailer of tractor, now, it has risen to ₹7,000 in Patna. There are reports that the price of sand in other districts has risen by 30-40%,” said Mahesh Lal, a sand trader of Danapur. Another dealer of sand at Gaya, Arun Yadav, said the price of sand has risen ₹800 per trailer of tractor since December. The spike in price of sand is being witnessed after the state cabinet took a decision to extend the validity of lease of existing sand mining ghats with 50% increase in lease fee.

A mines and geology official said the need of extending the lease of old lease holders of sand ghat was necessitated after some people filed a petition with the NGT against the new sand mining policy of the Bihar government. Now, the mines and geology department has moved the SC to seek relief. The sharp rise in sand price has spurred smuggling of both yellow and Ganga sand, despite the mines and geology department claiming that raids were being conducted. Another official of the mining department said the department had earned about ₹35 crore this fiscal till December by penalising the sand smugglers. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sand-price-in-bihar-shoots-up-by-30-40-real-estate-sector-hit-101610444159400.html  (12 Jan. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh  Day after police action, locals target two Nishad leaders A day after an alleged clash with police during a drive against illegal sand mining in the Yamuna river, members of the Nishad community allegedly chased and threw stones at Nishad Party president Sanjay Nishad and BJP leader Piyush Ranjan Nishad, who visited Baswar village of Prayagraj district to talk to affected residents on Friday (Feb. 5). While police claimed that local residents attacked JCB machines to oppose the administrative action on Thursday (Feb. 4), Piyush Ranjan Nishad alleged police brutality and said police personnel damaged 18 boats owned by the community.

A case for rioting, attempt to murder and illegal mining has been lodged against 10 identified and around 150 unidentified persons over the incident on Thursday (Feb. 4). However, Yamunapar Additional SP Saurabh Dixit denied that any boat was damaged in police action. He said there were around 150 boats loaded with sand and they probably collided with each other when left abandoned during police action. Officials said the area saw sand mining for a long time but the same was prohibited in 2019. On Saturday (Feb. 6), around 250 people protested to demand that sand mining be allowed but police said that decision has to be taken at a policy level.

Sources said the villagers who allegedly chased the two political leaders were agitated that they were not doing enough to get mining legalised. “Organisations like the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) and Laal Salam are involved in illegal sand mining in the area. On Thursday (Feb. 4)… after regular complaints of illegal sand mining… the mined sand was put back in water. Coincidentally, all these people were from the Nishad community and because of that the said political leaders had come… When they went to the village, they did not find a very supportive audience,” Dixit said. “For some strategic reasons, the police force was not there at the time. After coming out of the village, they put forward their demands at the behest of the Nishad community. They asked that sand mining should be allowed which is a totally illegal demand. For some time they also had blocked the road, but things were sorted out soon,” he said.

BJP leader Nishad said he will meet CM Yogi Adityanath to look into the possibility of allowing sand mining in the area. He alleged that his visit would have been cordial but Samajwadi Party members and a few from Laal Salaam instigated the villagers. “They want to malign the image of our government,” he said. “Since Ramayan time, the Nishad community is working on the river and no animal was affected. But now after an FIR the NGT is saying that this is affecting turtles and crocodiles. The administration takes money from the big mining mafia and instead of acting against them, they trouble the poor fishermen.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/up-day-after-police-action-against-sand-mining-locals-target-two-nishad-leaders-7177920/  (07 Feb. 2021)

Following the incident, the BJP’s own ally in the State, the Nishad Party, has also demanded action against the police and administrative officials who allegedly damaged the boats and lathi-charged Nishad boatmen and labourers, men and women, near the Yamuna river on February 4. “By breaking the boats of the Nishad community in Prayagraj, the BJP government has kicked on their bellies,” Mr. Yadav tweeted. The BJP government should immediately apologise to the Nishad community and provide them new boats for livelihood, Mr. Yadav demanded, as he accused the State government of targeting the poor.

Nishads or Mallahs are a group of riverine communities traditionally engaged with river-bed farming, boating, fisheries and other similar activities. On February 4, a joint team of police personnel and administrative and mining officials landed up at Mohabbatganj and Baswar village in the Trans-Yamuna area of the district, after complaints of alleged sand mining in the river. Dozens of people on boats were digging sand out of the Yamuna, said the Prayagraj police. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/compensate-prayagraj-boats-damaged-by-authorities-sp-bjp-ally/article33768624.ece  (06 Feb. 2021)

Mining Yamuna day and night Video clips from Nagla Rai area under Kairana tehsil in Shamali district of Uttar Pradesh show that large scale riverbed mining of sand has been taking place day and night with heavy machines. The river has been facing two consecutive deficit monsoon and hardly managing to flow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpoYGfAMmPk&feature=youtu.be (04 Feb. 2021) More news on this in Hindi here. https://circle.page/post/4827837?utm_source=an&person=207875/  (04 Feb. 2021)

3 arrested for illegal sand mining in G Noida Three persons were arrested on Sunday (Jan. 24) for illegal sand mining in Hindon river basin in Greater Noida. The police said that the gang had been involved in the illegal activity in the Knowledge Park area for some time. The suspects were identified as Annu Momnathal, 35, Ajay Singh, 32, and Manish Singh, 33. Annu is a resident of Momnathal village while his accomplices are residents of Safipur in Knowledge Park area, the police said.

The police said that Annu is a seasoned criminal wanted in at least five cases of sand mining and extortion in Greater Noida. “He used to roam around in the neighbouring villages and enquire if someone needed sand for any kind of construction or development work. The gang used to steal sand early morning and sold it to people at cheap rates,” Pandey said. A case has been registered against the suspects under Sections 4 and 21 of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and Section 379 (theft) of IPC at Knowledge Park police station. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/three-persons-arrested-for-illegal-sand-mining-in-greater-noida-101611510307769.html  (24 Jan. 2021)

CBI raids premises, files FIR against ex-IAS officer, 9 others The CBI on Tuesday (Feb. 2) conducted raids on the premises of retired IAS officer Satyendra Singh and nine others in Lucknow and Kaushambi in connection with illegal mining between 2012 and 2014. The CBI also filed a case of dishonesty, theft and criminal conspiracy against Satyendra Singh, the then district magistrate of Kaushambi, and nine private persons under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI officials said that Singh was accused of awarding two fresh leases and renewing nine existing leases to the nine accused to facilitate illegal mining of minerals in Kaushambi. They said Singh did not follow e-tendering procedure as mentioned in the orders of May 2012.

Sources in the CBI said several incriminating documents were recovered during the raids on the premises of the retired IAS officer in Lucknow and Kaushambi. “Documents relating to 44 immovable properties, Rs 10 lakh cash, fixed deposits worth Rs 51 lakh and around 36 bank accounts, in the name of Singh and his family members in Lucknow, Kanpur, Ghaziabad and New Delhi were found during the raid,” an official said. Keys of six lockers were found in which gold and silver jewellery worth Rs 2.1 crore and old currency notes worth Rs 1 lakh were recovered. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/illegal-mining-cbi-raids-premises-files-fir-against-ex-ias-officer-9-others-in-up/articleshow/80655809.cms  (02 Feb. 2021)

खनन इंस्पेक्टर का अवैध खनन पर छापा, 2 डंपर और 1 जेसीबी मशीन बरामद हुई, संभल के नखाशा थाना क्षेत्र का मामला https://twitter.com/bstvlive/status/1357661058635161611?s=20  (05 Feb. 2021)

ताज नगरी में बड़े पैमाने पर अवैध कारोबार, बालू के खनन का अवैध कारोबार हो रहा है, खनन माफियाओं की मिलीभगत से भंडारण, बड़े पैमाने पर लोग कर रहे बालू का स्टॉक, स्टॉक कर मोटी रकम में बेची जा रही बालू. https://twitter.com/bstvlive/status/1355790243136331782?s=20  (31 Jan. 2021)

Banda- एनजीटी के नियमों की उड़ रही धज्जियां, Right pointing backhand indexBJP के पूर्व मंत्री के संरक्षण में नदी की धारा रोककर दिन-रात भारी मशीनों से हो रहा अवैध खनन, Right pointing backhand indexजिम्मेदार अधिकारियों ने बंद कर रखी आंखे,  Right pointing backhand indexसरकार को लगाया जा रहा राजस्व का चूना, साड़ी खादर खंड 4 बालू खदान का मामला. https://twitter.com/bstvlive/status/1352487754853060608?s=20  (22 Jan. 2021)

Baghpat- यमुना नदी में बालू खनन का विरोध, विरोध में ग्रामीणों का कलेक्ट्रेट में प्रदर्शन, यमुना में खनन का ग्रामीण कर रहे विरोध, खनन के पट्टे को बंद कराने की मांग की, खेकड़ा के सांकरौद गांव में चल रहा खनन.  https://twitter.com/bstvlive/status/1350430517615738883?s=20  (16 Jan. 2021)

Haryana Impact of mining work and transportation on Kanalsi village paths, roads and people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6kN0KC8jw&feature=youtu.be  (07 Feb. 2021)

Rajasthan Ram temple: Govt frees land for sandstone mining The standing committee of the state wildlife board, headed by CM Ashok Gehlot, cleared a proposal last Friday (Jan. 29) to shift Bharatpur’s Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary “southwestward” to exclude three forest blocks “damaged irreparably” by “rampant mining”. This loss of 7 sqkm will be compensated by adding 198 sqkm of territorial forest to the sanctuary.

The boundary reorganisation will allow mining of the unique pink Bansi Paharpur sandstone named after the area — it has been in demand for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The mining department, it is learned, has been advised to apply for fresh leases to mine these blocks once the reorganisation is completed.

Although on paper no mining was allowed after 2016, illegal operations continued and the Bansi Paharpur sandstone remained available in the grey market. But supplies took a hit after the Bharatpur administration seized 25 trucks loaded with illegally mined pink sandstone last September. Following the raid, functionaries of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Ayodhya warned against blocking the supply of the unique pink sandstone. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ram-temple-rajasthan-frees-land-for-sandstone-mining-7172151/lite/  (03 Feb. 2021)

Lack of alternatives force women back to work in stone mines In Rajasthan, stone mining is the main cause of silicosis, a lung disease, resulting in hundreds of deaths every year. Widows of men who have died of silicosis are then forced to go back to the same mines to earn a livelihood and land up contracting silicosis or other diseases as well.

In many cases, the women end up in a vicious cycle of loans or mortgaging their jewellery, for treatment of ailments or simply to survive. Organisations and activists working with mining-affected women are trying to develop cooperatives for the women to earn a livelihood from alternate means so that they aren’t forced to work in the mines.  https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/lack-of-alternatives-force-women-back-to-work-in-stone-mines-which-are-health-hazards/  (01 Feb. 2021)

Report Startup crushes used glass into sand  Glass2Sand, an initiative by 19-year-old Udit Singhal that gives purpose to discarded glass. “Started in 2018, it’s a zero-waste ecosystem that stops glass bottles from being dumped in landfills and crushes them into commercially valuable silica sand,” explains Udit, who in September 2020 was selected by the United Nations as one of 17 Young Leaders for the SDGs.

So far, 14,000 glass bottles have already been stopped from entering landfills and crushed into 8,400 kg of high-grade silica sand, says Udit. All the bottles received have come from volunteers. “We pay ₹2 per kilo for bottles that come to our facility. So far, none of our volunteers have charged us for the bottles. They tell me that this is their commitment to this social cause,” says Udit, who now receives about 700 glass bottles every month. 1 kg of bottles (including ones that are chipped, broken, coloured and dirty) is equal to one kilogram of sand. While currently the project runs out of Udit’s garage, discussions are on with like-minded organisations to replicate it in other cities. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/this-19-year-old-crushes-used-glass-back-into-sand-for-commercial-use/article33730571.ece  (02 Feb. 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

SANDRP Blog 5 new Ramsar sites in 2020 but threats remain Even the information available on Ramsar site mentions that most all the wetlands have been facing threats ranging from human settlements to geological events. It says that human settlements (non-agricultural) have been affecting 33 Ramsar wetlands in the country while agriculture & aquaculture has become a threat to 31 such wetlands. While 30 sites are facing pollution issues 29 are undergoing natural system modifications.

Similarly invasive and other problematic species and genes is a problem for 23 wetlands whereas 20 are under biological resource use. Likewise 20 sites are facing issues of water regulation, 16 human intrusions & disturbance, 14 transportation and service corridors, 10 climate change & severe weather, 4 energy production and mining and 3 geological events. https://sandrp.in/2021/02/01/world-wetlands-day-2021-five-new-ramsar-sites-in-2020-but-threats-remain/  (01 Feb. 2021)

World Wetlands Day 2021 Activities On World Wetlands Day Mongabay-India’s series https://india.mongabay.com/series/wetland-champions/ on Wetland Champions. Over the past six months, Mongabay-India have been documenting stories of individuals and local communities, who, by their own initiative, are protecting India’s wetlands. The series and the stories so far: https://india.mongabay.com/2021/01/world-wetlands-day-celebrating-the-champions-who-protect-our-wetlands/ Also, some of the stories in Hindi: https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/01/13/women-revive-ponds-for-water-security-in-bundelkhand/; https://hindi.mongabay.com/2021/01/21/returning-to-traditional-practices-to-save-vidarbhas-lake-district/; https://hindi.mongabay.com/2020/11/03/reviving-water-bodies-in-mithilanchal-region-of-bihar/  

Commentary Restoring urban wetlands for a brighter future by Priya Ranganathan Caught in the midst of urban expansion, India’s wetlands are often sidelined for large-scale infrastructure projects. Lack of awareness and knowledge of wetlands and their ecosystem services can also be attributed for the widespread loss of wetlands, specially in cities.

It is time for India to look beyond protected areas and protected wetlands and extend conservation measures to lesser-studied waterbodies, including those within city limits, writes the author of this commentary on World Wetlands Day. India must turn its focus inwards and work towards restoring urban wetlands in order to balance ecosystem services and development in a growing nation. A far-sighted approach incorporating multiple stakeholders and considering multiple benefits of wetland conservation is imperative if we are to create liveable, healthy cities of the future.  https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/commentary-restoring-urban-wetlands-for-a-brighter-future/  (02 Feb. 2021)

Manipur Importance of protecting Loktak Lake emphasized Fisher unions and farming communities of Manipur observed World Wetlands Day at Tonoma Chingjin, Mamang Ching, Pumlen Pat-a wetland devastated by the Ithai Barrage of the Loktak Hydroelectric Project.

The event was organised by Ngamee Lup, a federation of fisher unions and other associations of Loktak and surrounding wetland areas including Pumlen and Khoidum Lamjao in coordination with Indigenous Perspectives (Imphal) and Environment Support Group (Bangalore) and was hosted by Pumlenpat Ngamee Sinmee Lup. http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=5..040221.feb21&fbclid=IwAR1TCRDy_ZNn7vAClaEVc9vwDDrTzsXVF73tpcTQYiPZiTRe2tc2zVeoC3c  (03 Feb. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh A unique Kalp Vriksha and a wetland in search of a saviour by Manoj Misra about Alwara lake along Yamuna in Allahabad The vast alluvial plains of the Ganga and Yamuna are composed of material eroded from the slopes of Himalayas. But in the case of the Yamuna differently from the Ganga it is also the former’s proximity first with the Aravali range and later the central Indian plateau which perhaps invests it with a kind of river bed material that helps it maintain a more playful (read meandering) character.

It is in the aftermath of a high flood that meanders find new definitions and often leave behind ox-bow lakes big and small as relict channels. But Alwara Taal is too big and of the wrong shape to qualify for an ox bow status as ox-bows – a part of former meanders – are horse shoe in shape. A Google earth search revealed Alwara to be a saucer. Locals confirmed that during floods the Yamuna’s waters do overwhelm the lake giving it a floodplains water body status but the Taal (lake) is of greater vintage than what an ox bow lake would normally be.

Interestingly since then at least two scientific papers one dealing with the fish biodiversity and the other on Phyto-plankton diversity of Alwara Lake have been published in scientific journals. Both have been authored by Allahabad based researchers. Certainly more research is called for but on priority the State needs to accord Alwara Taal a legal status of a bird sanctuary or a Community Reserve. Anyone listening! https://turnslow.com/a-unique-kalp-vriksha-and-a-wetland/ 

Tamil Nadu Move to declare Kaliveli wetlands a sanctuary  In a major push to declare Kaliveli wetlands, the second-largest brackish water lake in South India after Pulicat lake, a bird sanctuary, the Villupuram district administration has issued the first declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The decision is seen as a big win for Forest Department officials and conservationists, and their efforts to protect this wetland that remains a safe haven for diverse flora and fauna.

The first challenge will be to minimise the negative impacts of the creation of a checkdam downstream that may impact water levels and salinity but also of the plan of creating a fishing harbour in the estuary of the lagoon system downstream from the bird sanctuary, Mr. Mathevet said. “The surface area of the bird sanctuary is around 5,000 hectares while the wetlands are much larger than that. The Forest Department must work with the local communities to improve the management of the wetlands,” he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/move-to-declare-kaliveli-wetlands-a-sanctuary-first-declaration-issued/article33739194.ece  (03 Feb. 2021)

Nilgiris grasslands being restored Ecologists, students, corporates and individuals in Nilgiris, pitch in to restore wetlands and grasslands with native species of grass, shrubs and sholas that have all but disappeared. https://en.gaonconnection.com/grassroots-revival-it-is-the-world-wetlands-day-and-in-the-nilgiris-native-flora-in-its-marshes-shola-forests-and-grasslands-is-being-restored/  (02 Feb. 2021)

First wetland conservation centre comes up in Chennai City has got its first specialised institution – Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM) – in Chennai which will work as a knowledge hub for various stakeholders for conserving wetlands that occupy 4.6% of the country’s total land area. The CWCM has been set up as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai.

It will assist the national and state/UT governments in the design and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks, management planning, monitoring and targeted research for conservation of wetlands, said the environment ministry in a statement. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/indias-first-wetland-conservation-centre-comes-up-in-chennai/articleshow/80660343.cms  (03 Feb. 2021)

Why wetlands are key to mitigating flood, drought According to the Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority, 24,684 wetlands have been mapped, that include natural and human-made inland and coastal wetlands. One of the major threats to wetlands is the dumping of waste. Care Earth Trust has drafted a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Pallikaranai Marsh in Chennai and have been involved in other wetland restoration projects that include Puduthangal and Thazhambur. They also drafted Management Plans for 13 Wetland Bird Sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu counting Koonthankulam and Karikili.

About the important Pallikaranai wetland area, the team says, “The marsh has a recorded 167 species of birds, 100 species of fish, 141 species of plants (including 29 species of native grasses). The area acts like a sponge soaking up water during peak rainfall and releases it slowly during dry spells. The Pallikaranai marsh also plays an important role in groundwater recharge, especially for South Chennai aquifer that runs from the south of Adyar right up to Kovalam.”

What was once spread over 5,500 hectares according to a 1965 survey, the urban marshland has been truncated to a mere 300 hectares today, due to the fabrication of concrete structures like houses and workspaces and dumping of waste. Urban wetlands like Pallikaranai are important because by 2050 the urban population is projected to increase to 68% as people migrate for jobs. The stress of urbanisation on urban wetlands will be immense, as housing and industries burgeon. The number of cities in Asia is expected to increase and Tamil Nadu is the third most urbanised state of India. What if unchecked human activities evanesce these wetlands? https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/why-wetlands-chennai-s-pallikaranai-are-key-mitigating-flood-and-drought-142636  (02 Feb. 2021)

Kerala Wetland Schooling kicks off at Vellayani Wetland Schooling, a community-based educational and awareness programme on wetlands for students has kicked off at Vellayani— the second largest wetland and freshwater lake in Kerala. The programme, which is being rolled out by Climatehood— a youth climate fraternity— offers wetland walk, bird watching, wetland cleaning. On the occasion of World Wetlands Day on February 2, Climatehood organised the first-ever wetland schooling session for the students of All Saints’ College, Thiruvananthapuram. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/2021/feb/04/wetland-schooling-kicks-off-at-vellayani-2259168.html  (04 Feb. 2021)

Maharashtra Vanshakti alleges beach at Raj Bhavan is being buried Vanshakti has alleged that the beach at Raj Bhavan is being buried by tetrapods and a small road is being built on the complex, transforming the natural landscape of the area. It also claims that trees on the sprawling complex are being felled to make way for ornamental ones. The Raj Bhavan has stoutly denied the allegations. D Stalin of Vanashakti has, in a letter, urged Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar and officials of the environment department to stop the ‘destructive construction’ and deforestation in the Raj Bhavan estate. The road is not part of the Coastal Road project.

 https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/cover-story/tere-mere-beach-mein/articleshow/80729201.cms  (07 Feb. 2021)

Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary Mumbai’s biggest open space Flamingo Sanctuary owes its birth to the shock of the July 2005 floods in Mumbai that left 546 people dead in the city. Ruling on a bunch of petitions filed in the aftermath of the tragedy, the Bombay High Court ordered measures for preventing further destruction of the city’s mangroves and called for implementation of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and the Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 1991.

Until recently, the city had only two protected green zones – the Sanjay Gandhi National Park spread over 28,367 acres, and the Aarey colony stretching over 3,500 acres. The Flamingo Sanctuary with an expanse of 4,190 acres now becomes the second largest open space in Mumbai. It boasts of 2,214 acres of mangroves and a 1,962-acre creek. The sanctuary’s ‘management plan’ has proposed a spend of Rs 100 crore over the next ten years to create various facilities for the visitors and other developments. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mumbais-newest-open-space-is-a-paradise-few-know-about/articleshow/80656430.cms  (03 Feb. 2021) 

Flamingo Sanctuary that has been a quiet haven for birds, flora and marine life, is now buzzing with visitors as well. More than 11,000 people have visited the sanctuary in just the last 2 and a half months. A massive jump from the 7000-odd visitors who came here in 2017-18. There is also a proposal to spend Rs 100 crore over the next 10 years to improve visitor facilities. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/videos/mumbai/from-watchtowers-to-modern-interactive-platform-heres-what-thane-creek-flamingo-sanctuary-has-to-offer/videoshow/80663676.cms  (03 Feb. 2021)

3 arrested for destroying mangroves The forest department on Monday (Feb. 1) night seized two dumpers and arrested three people for allegedly destroying mangroves by dumping debris on Dive-Anjur stretch in Bhiwandi on Mumbai-Nashik highway in Maharashtra. Many land grabbers have made encroachment on forest land by destroying mangroves and have constructed dhabas and eateries between Thane and Bhiwandi on Mumbai-Nashik highway. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-three-arrested-in-bhiwandi-for-destroying-mangroves-on-mumbai-nashik-highway/articleshow/80653749.cms  (02 Feb. 2021) 

Haryana Forest depart to recommend 2 sites for Ramsar The two wetlands to be recommended by the department are Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary near Gurgaon and Bhindawas Lake is situated in Jhajjar district.The development came in the wake of the central government’s decision to recommend 10 Indian wetlands for recognition as Ramsar site last year. The decision was taken during the 13th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Migratory Species and Wild Animals held at Gandhinagar in Gujrat.

Sultanpur wetland is spread across 1.21 sq km, is situated in Sultanpur National Park. Besides a den for residential birds, the wetland hosts a number of migratory birds who arrive in September from far away cold places. Bhindawas lake is situated in an area of 4.11 sq km and is also a recognised bird sanctuary by the central government. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/haryana-forest-department-to-recommend-sultanpur-lake-and-bhindawas-lake-for-ramsar-wetland-sites-7168341/  (31 Jan. 2021)

Delhi 4 constructed wetlands in S Delhi park to get functional Four constructed wetlands, which will naturally purify 200-250 MLD of raw sewage before the water enters the Yamuna, will become functional from this month. Officials at South Delhi Biodiversity Park and a team of Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystem have jointly created these constructed wetlands.

Wetlands are spread over 160 acres in the park and they receive 1,500-2,000 MLD of untreated sewage from drains. For treating raw sewage, officials had decided to create 11 constructed wetlands. Of these, two, which naturally purify 21 MLD of untreated sewage, are currently functional. Officials said they were also planning to regularly monitor the quality of water cleaned through the wetlands. The constructed wetlands comprise 25 plant species, which naturally purify water through microbes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/4-constructed-wetlands-in-s-delhi-park-to-get-functional/articleshow/80657319.cms  (03 Feb. 2021)

Assam State bird crying for attention The population of the white-winged duck, locally known as ‘deo-hans’ meaning spirit duck, is dwindling at a dangerously fast pace. Research shows there are less than 1,000 white-winged ducks left the world over, out of which more than half of the population is attributed to the northeast region of India. It is believed that the white-winged duck’s call revives the spirit of the jungles of the northeast. Now these very jungles are, however, in danger of missing the beauty of their calls if we don’t take action on war footing to locate and preserve this bird’s habitat. https://www.eastmojo.com/assam/2021/02/02/world-wetlands-day-the-state-bird-of-assam-is-crying-for-attention  (02 Feb. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Author takes stock of Ramsar wetland sites. https://kashmirreader.com/2021/02/03/kashmirs-dying-ramsar-sites/  (03 Feb. 2021)

Gujarat Wetlands birds On World Wetlands Day, we take you on a virtual tour of 12 wetlands from the state of Gujarat and showcase their stunning avian fauna. https://www.natureinfocus.in/indian-wildlife-information/the-wetlands-of-gujarat  (02 Feb. 2021)

NCR Najafgarh – Wetland or Wasteland? In this chapter from Nature Conservation in the New Economy, Neha Sinha tries to unravel the curious conservation case of the Najafgarh drain in the National Capital Region. https://sustain.round.glass/book/najafgarh-wetland-wasteland/ 

Save Wetlands Appeal by Anand Arya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxAbPNc3mBY&feature=youtu.be  (01 Feb. 2021)

Aquatic resources and Amphibia  by Prof Saibal Sengupta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nzYVPeiCHM&t=48s  (02 Feb. 2021)

Waste to wealth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LooOs78IZs0&feature=youtu.be  (19 Nov. 2020)

World wetlands day a special program https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P9OoWuTBdY&feature=youtu.be  (02 Feb. 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Kerala Man build rare ‘Suranga’ water system Digging through the ‘suranga’ cave wells, one of the oldest water harvesting systems found in the regions of north Kerala and Karnataka, 67-year old Kunjambu has single handedly provided water to the villagers of Kundamjuzhy, a village in Kerala’s Kasargod district for more than 50 years. Kunjambu, who started digging at the age of 14 is now one of the very few suranga diggers left in the country and claims that thus far, he has dug out over 1000 of these cave-like wells.

‘Suranga’ in Kannada or ‘Thurangam’ in Malayalam is a narrow cave-like structure dug into the lateral sides of hills. These unique cave wells are almost 2.5 feet wide can be dug up to 300 meters until a water spring is found, and are considered to be one of the most sustainable water harvesting systems in these regions. The water that flows into the tunnel is channeled into a reservoir that is built near the tunnel. Once the water starts freely flowing from the springs, there is a steady supply of freshwater for years, without the use of motors or even pumps. Said to have originated in Iran, this sustainable water harvesting system is now sadly being overpowered by the borewell culture, and many of the existing surges have become futile.

“Surangas have been an ideal resource for farmers for a long period of time. They are a perennial source of water, and borewells can never become a replacement to this system, especially in regions like Kasargod where the tendency for a collapse is much higher,” explains Shree Padre, a renowned writer from Kasargod. Today there are more than 5,000 surangas in the Kasargod district, but most have become ineffective because of its decrease in popularity. However, people like Kunjambu are not ready to give up, yet. “Although the suranga system is slowly dying,  I want to continue my journey in the depths of the earth as long as I can, in hope that this system can be revived again,” Kunjambu concludes. https://www.thebetterindia.com/224351/kerala-man-water-harvesting-system-suranga-cave-wells-natural-ancient-techniques-india-ser106/  (21 April 2020)

Tamil Nadu The Madurai Corporation has constructed a rainwater collection well in Duraisamy Nagar to drain stagnant rainwater, after residents complained that it took time for the storm water to recede. https://m.timesofindia.com/city/madurai/madurai-corporation-constructs-rainwater-collection-well/amp_articleshow/80671750.cms  (03 Feb. 2021)

Chennai Residents working to make Ramapuram a better place In 2015, when residents of the neighbourhood got together to form the Ramapuram Social Welfare Federation, the office-bearers pledged to reclaim the rights of residents to the lake. They have been putting up a staunch fight since then. “The actual size of the lake was 25 acres. When we compared the revenue maps, we realised that it had shrunk to around 2 acres. While passing by the lake we noticed several huts being constructed on the lake bed. We understood that they too were trying to encroach the lake bed permanently, but we immediately stepped in and wrote to the civic body and managed to stop them,” said A Paul Dhas, president, Ramapuram Social Welfare Federation.

In 2016, the Chennai Corporation sanctioned Rs 1 crore for rejuvenation of the lake but Paul tells us that only the bund construction has been completed till date.  The Federation has filed a case with the Madras High Court demanding the restoration of the lake and full eviction of the encroachers. Even as the case is still on, residents are hopeful and determined about bringing the lake back to its old glory now that they are actively working on the cause. https://chennai.citizenmatters.in/what-can-other-rwas-learn-from-the-ones-in-porur-and-ramapuram-22564  (07 Jan. 2021)

URBAN WATER

Goan Connection Budget 2021: JJM Urban launched Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of SANDRP raised a similar concern on the sustainability of water sources. “Neither Jal Jeevan Mission, nor the next phase of Swachh Bharat Mission includes sustainability or proper assessment of social and environmental impact, and using this understanding in decision making. So, investment under the mission is likely to be environmentally hazardous,” he told Gaon Connection.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/budget-2021-jal-jeevan-mission-urban-launched-rs-287000-crore-allocated-for-five-years-meanwhile-only-34-rural-households-get-tap-water/  (03 Feb. 2021)

Centre JJM Urban launched in Union Budget 2021-22  Union Budget 2021-22 announced Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) to bring safe water to 2.86 crore households through tap connection. This in line with the Centre’s rural water supply project launched in 2019. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an outlay of Rs 50,011 crore for this scheme, about 4.5 times the revised budget for 2020-2021.

The mission is the country’s 12th attempt to connect every household with tap water. This time the target year is 2024. India has failed miserably to fulfil its past promises around this objective. JJM Rural, for instance, has been able to cover only around 34 per cent of the targeted households (65.5 million) in rural India, according to the latest data from the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.

But simply rolling out an ambitious mission does not ensure sustainable supply of household drinking water in rural India which has been haunted by the ‘slippage’ problem. It means villages or habitations covered with safe drinking water facilities slip back to ‘not-covered’ status due to reasons that include drying up of water source or collapse of facilities due to non-maintenances.

According to the CAG report, which analysed the state of rural water supply between 2012 and 2017, 4.76 lakh habitations had slipped from ‘fully covered’ to ‘partially covered’. The phenomenon was high in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Hence, projects focusing on the recharge the source of water, which in most cases is groundwater, should be also planned. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/jal-jeevan-mission-urban-launched-in-union-budget-2021-22-75294  (01 Feb. 2021)

JJM to revive urban water bodies The urban water supply mission would include rejuvenation of water bodies as well as 20% of supply from reused water, the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday (Feb. 2). In a statement, the Ministry said there was an estimated gap of 2.68 crore urban household tap connections that the JJM Urban would seek to bridge in all 4,378 statutory towns. The Mission would also aim to bridge the gap of 2.64 crore sewer connections in the 500 cities under the existing Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).

The mission would include rejuvenation of water bodies to boost the sustainable freshwater supply and creation of green spaces. “JJM Urban will promote circular economy of water through development of city water balance plan for each city focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation,” it said. The Ministry said 20% of the water demand would be met with reused water. The total expenditure on the mission would be ₹2.87 lakh crore over five years.

Apart from the Budget announcements, the Ministry said there had been an increase in the funds allocated to urban local bodies (ULBs) as per the 15th Finance Commission’s report. There had been a 78% increase, from ₹87,143 crore in the 14th Finance Commission period to ₹1,55,628 crore in the 15th Finance Commission’s period, it said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jal-jeevan-mission-to-revive-urban-water-bodies/article33732701.ece  (02 Feb. 2021)

Bengaluru 9-yr wait for Arkavathi water set to end? As per the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) plan, the western areas of Bengaluru may get around 110 MLD of water from TG Halli reservoir, thus bringing down the dependence on Cauvery and borewell water.

The Thippagondanahalli (TG Halli) was built at a place where Arkavathi and Kumudvathi have a storage capacity of 3.34 thousand million cubic feet (TMC). A BWSSB official told Bangalore Mirror, “As per the original plan, 1.7 TMC of water was to be supplied to this reservoir from The Yettinahole water diversion project. The machinery installed at the reservoir was old. Hence, BWSSB took up the project of not just rejuvenating the reservoir, but also replacing the old machinery. A Hyderabad-based company was given a Rs 291.57-crore contract for the entire overhaul process. As of now, 50 per cent of the work has been completed and we expect the project to be completed by December-end or January next year.”

A pipeline is already in place from Thippagondanahalli to Malleswaram to pump water from Arkavathi to the western areas of the city. It stopped from December 2012 when the water level reached the dead storage level. An official added, “Rampant encroachment of the catchment areas and urbanisation had resulted in drastic reduction of water and lower rainfall added to the woes.”

According to BWSSB sources, Bengaluru faced a severe water crisis in 1925 when the Hesaraghatta Lake became dry. A committee under the chairmanship of Sir M Visvesvaraya identified TG Halli reservoir as a source of water supply to citizens and this was commissioned in 1933. However, since this reservoir’s water was not enough to quench Bengaluru’s thirst, the state government started plans to draw water from the Cauvery. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/9-yr-wait-for-arkavathi-river-water-set-to-end/articleshow/80637748.cms  (02 Feb. 2021)

Mumbai City Must Embrace Its Wetness In the various attempts to build out the city, officials have eroded beaches, destroyed mangroves, choked essential waterways and ravaged water-holding lands. Dharavi was once at the edge of the city but today it is smack dab in the middle, and teeming with people. The swanky Bandra-Kurla Complex was built on the graves of more than 600 acres of mangroves and wetlands. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link was paid for in money as well as the loss of the Dadar beach and an altered shoreline.

The waters off Mumbai are warming and also becoming more polluted. With limited solid and liquid waste management, and ineffectual to boot, the city’s rivers and nullahs have turned foul. And their backflow onto the city’s beaches has deposited faecal bacteria there – more than a few of which are drug-resistant species. Development that helped build the city has helped make it more susceptible to the forces of climate change. But development in a new direction, one that welcomes wetness and open spaces, has the potential to revitalise the city’s lifeblood. https://science.thewire.in/environment/mumbai-climate-change-urban-flooding-cyclones-water-pollution-wetness-open-spaces/  (24 Oct. 2020) 

Chennai Why city facing water crisis Climate change, urban growth and poor planning have left Chennai with both too little and too much water. Between 1893 and 2017, the area of Chennai’s water bodies shrank from 12.6 sqkm to about 3.2 sqkm, according to researchers at Chennai’s Anna University. Most of that loss was in the past few decades, including the construction of the city’s famous IT corridor in 2008 on about 230 square kilometers of marshland. The team from Anna University projects that by 2030 around 60% of the city’s groundwater will be critically degraded.

– Now, the government is pursuing a new approach inspired by the city’s past. The Greater Chennai Corporation is supporting an initiative called City of 1,000 Tanks, a reference to the ancient man-made lakes that were built around temples. Supported by the Dutch government and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the plan is to restore some temple tanks and build hundreds of new ones with green slopes throughout the city to absorb and filter heavy rains, recharge the groundwater, and store water for use during dry months.

-The ancient south Indian port has become a case study in what can go wrong when factors like industrialization, urbanization and extreme weather converge and a booming metropolis paves over its flood plain to satisfy demand for new homes, factories and offices.  “Floods and water scarcity have the same roots: Urbanisation and construction in an area, mindless of the place’s natural limits,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a writer and environmental activist who lives in Chennai. “The two most powerful agents of change—politics and business—have visions that are too short-sighted. Unless that changes, we are doomed.” https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/how-chennai-one-of-the-worlds-wettest-major-cities-ran-out-of-water/articleshow/80680182.cms  (04 Feb. 2021)

Residents seek permanent solution to sewage overflow Residents of Mangayar Nagar in Jafferkhanpet have been forced live in a stinky environment amidst disease-spreading mosquitoes as the sewage that has overflowed into their locality has not been cleared. Even stepping out of home has been made difficult, they say. “We have reported the sewage overflow and the groundwater contamination several times now. We suspect the source of the sewage is a popular theatre complex right opposite the street. Despite our complaints, the officials remain tightlipped,” said P Lakshmi, a resident.

After the officials were intimated about the issue, the sewage water was cleared on Tuesday (Feb. 2) night. However, the residents say that the issue keeps repeating and a permanent solution needs to be found. “Every time we make repeated appeals, Corporation workers clear the drainage water, which again floods the street a couple of days later.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/feb/03/jafferkhanpet-residents-seek-permanent-solution-to-stop-sewage-overflow-2258769.html  (03 Feb. 2021)

Kochi SPCB to analyse water quality of canals  The SPCB has plans to carry out physico-chemical and microbial quality assessment of water in major canals under the Kochi Corporation to ascertain the pollution levels. The move comes shortly after tests revealed high levels of faecal contamination and depleting oxygen levels in Perandoor and Edappally canals. The total coliform count, indicating faecal contamination, had exceeded the maximum permissible limits by 160 and 96 times respectively in both the canals, according to test results of samples collected from the canals over a period of two weeks starting from December second week.

The analysis of the physico-chemical and microbial quality of the water samples in canals has to be carried out in response to the directions given by the NGT in the case related to the unscientific management of solid waste in the State. As per an order issued by Adarsh Kumar Goel, chairperson of the NGT’s Principal Bench, the Chief Secretary has to take steps to ensure proper treatment of plastic, biomedical and construction and demolition waste, which are linked with solid waste treatment and disposal. Other thematic areas that are included under the tribunal’s directives include hazardous waste, e-waste, polluted industrial clusters, reuse of treated water, performance of common effluent treatment plants or effluent treatment plants, groundwater extraction, groundwater recharge, restoration of waterbodies, noise pollution and illegal sand mining. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pcb-to-analyse-water-quality-of-canals-under-kochi-corporation/article33754391.ece  (05 Feb. 2021)

Delhi Landfills cost to environment Rs 450 cr Delhi’s three landfills at Bhalswa, Okhla and Ghazipur have collectively caused nearly Rs 450 crore in damage to the environment, as calculated by a committee comprising NEERI, CPCBd and IIT, Delhi. The panel was tasked by NGT to ascertain the environmental damage caused by these waste dumps and based their calculations on factors such as legacy waste and leachate generated over the years. They determined the damage cost at Bhalswa to be Rs 155.9 crore, at Okhla Rs 151.1 crore and at Ghazipur, Rs 142.5 crore.

The report said that the deterioration of air and water quality in a 5-km radius of the landfill cannot be attributed through empirical data directly to the dumpsite activities, so the interim damage cost was assessed on the basis of legacy waste and leachate to determine the environment compensation needed to be levied for violation of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The report said Ghazipur, which falls under East Delhi Municipal Corporation, has 140 lakh tonnes of legacy waste, with 3.5 lakh tonnes of legacy waste processed so far. Okhla landfill under SDMC has 60 lakh tonnes of legacy waste, with 3.1 lakh tonnes of legacy waste already processed, while Bhalswa under North Delhi Municipal Corporation has 80 lakh tonnes of legacy waste, 11.5 lakh tonnes of which has been processed. The committee also reported that high COD values were reported in Sanjay Lake, which is located 3-5 kms from the Ghazipur landfill. “Owing to the distance from the site, the actual impact due to the dumpsite can be confirmed, based on the hydrogeology of the region and contaminant transport modelling,” its report said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/a-number-to-landfills-cost-to-environment-rs-450-crore/articleshow/80592971.cms  (30 Jan. 2021)

DJB to hire experts, restart defunct tubewells Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has decided to restart defunct tubewells which are feasible and to use those which cannot be used for water extraction for groundwater recharge. Currently, DJB has 10,000 tubewells. Of these, 4500 are functional. “Groundwater levels in Delhi are depleting at an alarming rate, which is a matter of grave concern. To address this issue, DJB has been instructed to use all the defunct tubewells for groundwater recharge purposes. In addition to this, experts will be hired to improve groundwater levels,” said DJB chairperson Satyendar Jain. Jain announced the extension of the Mukhyamantri Muft Sewer Connection Yojna in colonies where DJB will provide household connections where the laying of sewer lines is completed.

DJB will also work for the rejuvenation of Tihar lake which will be done by filling the treated effluent (5 MLD) from the proposed STP by taking the sewage from the existing peripheral sewer line near Jail Road. The board approved construction of a 2 MGD waste-water treatment plant at Bawana, other than sanctioning consultancy work on 100 water bodies and drain rejuvenation projects near Badshahpur drain in Najafgarh and Timarpur. Work will start on a water distribution system in Abul Fazal Enclave, Part 1 Block E to N and Shaheen Bagh in Okhla constituency. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2021/feb/05/jal-board-to-hire-experts-restart-defunct-tubewells-to-improve-groundwater-level-2259826.html  (05 Feb. 2021)

Chandigarh Groundwater panel to submit report this month The committee comprising UT Administration and Municipal Corporation officers formed to reassess the groundwater resources in the city will submit its report this month. The committee was tasked with reassessing annual ground water recharge of the UT and estimating the status of utilisation of the annual extractable ground resource. The committee was asked to submit its report on or before February 26.

In 2019, Chandigarh figured among 14 state capitals where tap water is ‘undrinkable’. This report was released by the then Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan. Same year, the city topped the list of water-stressed states/UTs, as per a report of the World Resource Institute (WRI), an international think tank. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/groundwater-panel-to-submit-report-this-month-207123  (03 Feb. 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

IMPRI Panel Discussion on Environment and Budget 2021: Business As Usual? Speakers include Ashish Kothari, Kanchan Chopra, Himanshu Thakkar, Debadityo Sinha, Simi Mehta, India Water Portal  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-JCl3HnfXg  (04 Feb. 2021)

Planet Talks​ on Decentralized Water Resources Management https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9cUhANsdiQ&feature=youtu.be  (03 Feb. 2021)

Paradox of promises, priorities, provisions This year’s budget isn’t much different from its predecessors with few exceptions, whether that is provisions or the priority. No wonder if after spending almost 80,000 crore INR in the water domain in the months to come, the country would be still shivering through the drudgery of an acute water crisis. https://paaniwalibaat.wordpress.com/2021/02/01/union-budget-2021-2022-water-and-money-arent-hand-in-hand/   (01 Feb. 2021)

WATER

India exported 3,850,431 litres of water since 2015 India exported 3,850,431 litres of water between 2015-16 and 2020-21 (April-November), the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Hardeep Singh Puri, told the Lok Sabha February 3, 2021. Puri was responding to a question raised by Member of Parliament Feroze Varun Gandhi.

India exported three categories of water in this period: Mineral water (2,378,227 litres), aerated water (602,389 litres) and natural and other water (869,815 litres). Most of this water in 2019-20, went to China. Beijing imported 63,580 litres of mineral water, 1,000 litres of aerated water and 20,000 litres of natural water.

It imported the highest quantity of mineral and natural water. Other major imports of Indian water were to the Maldives (38,380 litres), United Arab Emirates (35,510 litres), Canada (33,620 litres) Singapore (33,460 litres), United States (31,730 litres), Qatar (25,900 litres) and Saudi Arabia (29,020 litres).

Experts noted that while water was being exported on the one hand, on the other, the government had not been able to meet its own targets for drinking water supply. All rural households in India are entitled to 55 litres of drinking water per person per day under the Jal Jeevan Mission. The mission, launched August 15, 2019, aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water. It has not been able to meet its target.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/india-exported-3-850-431-litres-of-water-since-2015-mostly-to-china-govt-75411   (05 Feb. 2021)

Telangana Reservoirs in Krishna, Godavari basins have more water Most reservoirs in the Krishna and Godavari basins have more water than previous years, just before the onset of summer. At others, the water is close to the levels seen in 2020. The government is confident it can sail through this summer without facing drinking water shortage either in the city or in the districts.

The good storage is the result of heavy rains received during the southwest monsoon that lasted till October. The state received 1,259.7 mm of rainfall from June 1, 2020, against the norm of 852.8 mm, an increase of 48 per cent. In the GHMC limits, the total was 1221.1 mm against 723.5 mm usually, which is higher by 68.8 per cent.

As per the latest reservoir storage bulletin issued by the CWC, live storage available in the reservoirs in the southern region is 33.12 billion cubic metres (BCM), which is 63 per cent of the total capacity. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 61 per cent at this time of the year. The average storage in the last 10 years during the corresponding period was 42 per cent. The southern region includes the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 36 reservoirs under the CWC monitoring having total capacity of 52.81 BCM. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/070221/reservoirs-in-krishna-godavari-basins-ts-have-more-water-level-than.html  (07 Feb. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Check dams built to prevent human-animal conflicts A check dam constructed by the Forest Department in Salem district.  District Forest Officer R. Murugan said that the new facilities are expected to prevent straying of animals out of forest limits. The Forest Department has constructed new check dams and created grazing patches at various parts of its limits to reduce and prevent incidents of human-animal conflicts.

According to forest officials, a grazing field of 10 hectares have been set up at Kanjeri reserve forest, and check dams have been constructed at Pellapaddi and Paithur reserve forest ranges. The department has also constructed water bodies at Oppushan reserve forest, Pachamalai and Manjuvadi. There are about 400 check dams across forest ranges in the district, officials said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/forest-department-constructs-check-dams-to-prevent-human-animal-conflicts/article33763676.ece   (06 Feb. 2021)

Delhi Check dams to help Asola animals The forest department has built 45 check dams in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary to prevent soil erosion, conserve rainwater and raise groundwater table to help wildlife and improve plantation. Forest officials said nearly 40 additional check dams would be constructed in the sanctuary by March-end. When Delhi receives rains in monsoon, around 85 check dams would be ready that would act as perennial pools for wild animals, they added. Eight rain-fed streams ranging from six kilometres to 11 kilometres length have been identified on which check dams are being constructed.

A forest official said the check dams would help in improving soil quality, which would further assist in improving vegetation and replenishing the groundwater. Three types of check dams—gabions, sand dams and grass dams— have been made. Gabions are stone and wire mesh structures, sand dams are made up of sandstone and soil and under grass dams, water is stopped with the help of wooden planks and local grasses are planted to create a wetland.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/check-dams-to-help-asola-animals/articleshow/80728030.cms  (07 Feb. 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Budget 2021: What does it have for the water and agriculture sector. https://mailchi.mp/indiawaterportal/budget-2021-22-under-the-spotlight  (04 Feb. 2021)

ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE

Economic growth has devastating cost to nature Power & Climate Policy Analyst Shankar Sharma’s letter to Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog with copies to PM Modi and MoEF minister Prakash Javadekar, among others, on why India cannot afford to ignore the true relevance of the findings of Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity: https://counterview.org/2021/02/03/economic-growth-has-devastating-cost-to-nature-india-cannot-ignore-dasgupta-review/  (03 Feb. 2021)

Is the Budget’s infrastructure push green? One hand the government is setting out to make India a global leader on renewable energy generation, on the other there is promotion of coal mining and dilution of environment safeguards. If implemented without caution, the latest infrastructure blitz could make the situation worse for the environment. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/commentary-is-the-budgets-infrastructure-push-green/  (05 Feb. 2021)

In Six Charts, a Visual Primer on India’s Budget for Diplomacy https://thewire.in/diplomacy/india-mea-budget-2021  (02 Feb. 2021)

Save Mollem GFP draws Unesco’s attention to infra projects Goa Forward Party (GFP) president Vijai Sardesai has written to the director of Unesco World Heritage Centre, France, Mechtild Rossler, and director of IUCN World Heritage Programme, Switzerland, Peter Shadie, drawing their attention towards the threat posed to Mollem, the Unesco protected biodiversity hotspot by the three linear projects – double tracking of Tinaighat-Vasco railway line, four-laning of the NH44 from Belgaum in Karnataka and laying of 400 kV transmission line and additional systems for the Goa-Tamnar project. Sardesai in his letter to the Unesco brass explained how “Goa’s share of the lndia’s Western Ghats will soon be home to a coal corridor.”

Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary and Mollem National Park are part of India’s Western Ghats, a Unesco protected World Heritage centre and is the world’s 8th hottest biodiversity hotspot. “These three linear projects cut through the entire width of Goa’s tiger habitat, and in view of the importance of this tiger reserve for the ultimate survival of India’s national animal, none of these projects should be allowed. These projects also threaten to destroy landscapes which are home to vast populations of other endangered species,” Sardesai said in the letter. https://m.timesofindia.com/city/goa/gfp-draws-unescos-attention-to-infra-projects-in-mollem/amp_articleshow/80676883.cms  (04 Feb. 2021)

Karnataka Donate to environmental organization: HC The High Court has suggested to the National Highway Authority India (NHAI) to donate a substantial amount to any organisation working in the field of Environment, for it to consider the application made by the authority seeking to withdraw the objectionable affidavit led by it earlier, in which it said that the Environment Protection Act 1986, has been passed by the Parliament, at the instance of foreign powers.

Earlier, the bench had taken strong exception to the statement in NHAI’s affidavit that the Environment Protection Act was enacted at the instance of foreign powers. “Notwithstanding what has happened, the prayer made by NHAI for grant of permission to withdraw the statement of objection led on January 4 will have to be acceded to. The same will have to be subject to payment of appropriate cost. Before we pass any order regarding cost, we give the opportunity to NHAI to donate a substantial amount to any organisation which according to NHAI is doing constructive work in the field of Environment. While we say so, we are not compelling the NHAI to do so, as the court always retains power to pass appropriate orders of cost.” The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on February 9, for considering the response of NHAI and report of inquiry prepared by the ocer. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-environment-protection-act-nhai-donation-169311  (03 Feb. 2021) 

MoEF Govt may tweak policy for infra projects in forest areas  MoEF proposes to increase the net present value (NPV) of forests that will be diverted for infrastructure projects, linking it to a measure of wholesale prices, a development that could have a significant impact on infrastructure projects that are to come up in forest areas, raising concern among policy analysts who say it sidesteps issues such as conservation.

NPV is the upfront payment made by various infrastructure projects for the loss of forests and its ecosystem services, and is used for various conservation efforts by the ministry. NPV is calculated depending on the density of the canopy and quality of forests. In 2002, SC had directed that infrastructure projects pay NPV for the forest loss while hearing the TN Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs. Union of India case related to forests.

But the ministry has decided to not increase the NPV values in line with the recommendations of the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, which had estimated in 2014 that the values should be raised to nearly four times the present value to reflect the real cost of goods and services of forests. Instead, the ministry has proposed to use the wholesale price index (WPI) to determine NPV values for the time being. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-may-tweak-policy-for-infra-projects-in-forest-areas-101612377236095.html  (04 Feb. 2021)

Report ‘300 felled trees will cost ₹2.2 billion in products, including oxygen’ SC on Feb 3, 2021 took judicial notice of its expert committee report, which said the felling of 300 heritage trees to construct five Railway over-bridges in West Bengal will cost India a staggering ₹2,23,50,00,000 (₹2.2 billion).

– The 10-digit figure was arrived at by the committee after calculating the products these trees would produce over 100 years of their natural lifetime. The committee’s valuation included oxygen, micro-nutrients, compost and bio-fertiliser, besides the trees being valuable members of the natural environment. The committee said an individual tree parts with, free of cost, “products” worth ₹74,500 a year.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/300-felled-trees-will-cost-22-billion-in-products-including-oxygen/article33744504.ece  (04 Feb. 2021)

Report Are major insect losses imperiling life on Earth? by Liz Kimbrough New studies assessing insect declines around the planet find that on average, the decline in insect abundance, seen on nearly every continent, is thought to be around 1-2% per year or 10-20% per decade. Precipitous insect declines are being escalated by humanity as soaring population and advanced technology push us closer to overshooting several critical planetary boundaries including biodiversity, climate change, nitrification, and pollution. Action on a large scale (international, national, and public/private policymaking), and on a small scale (replacing lawns with insect-friendly habitat, for example) are desperately needed to curb and reverse insect decline. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/01/are-major-insect-losses-imperiling-life-on-earth/  (28 Jan. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Panna: Dark underbelly of diamond hub by Maynak Agarwal Panna is known for its diamond mines. Behind that glitter lurks the dark reality of the locals facing poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and migration. According to social organisations and experts working in the area, many of the women associated with the mining activities in the region are anemic, and their children are malnourished. In Panna, collection of minor forest produce, and mining of stone and diamond are the most popular means to earn a livelihood. These avenues are shrinking, leading to an increase in migration and poverty. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/panna-the-dark-underbelly-of-indias-diamond-hub/  (05 Feb. 2021)

Odisha Govt imposes penalty of ₹2056 cr for illegal mining  A decade after the mining scam rocked state leading to tightening of rules governing raising and transportation of minerals, the mining department for the first time detected a major illegality, imposing penalty of ₹2,056 crore on Sarda Mines, a merchant miner for excess mining. The joint director of mines in Joda of mines-rich Keonjhar district last week sent the notice to Sarda Mines under Section 21 (5) of The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957, for raising 4.2 million tonnes of iron ore in excess of the limits stipulated under environmental clearance, mining plan as well as the limit set by SPCB.

The mines department in its penalty demand said the Thakurani Block-B iron mines held by Sarda Mines in Keonjhar district over an area of 947.046 hectare produced at least 7 times of the limit set up by different government agencies such as Indian Bureau of Mines, the SPCB as well as the MoEF for the financial year 2019-20. The demand note from the joint director of mines said the excess mining happened in the month of February and March 2020. The mines department calculated the penalty taking into account the price of lump ore decided by the Indian Bureau of Mines. In February 2020, the highest price of lump ore was ₹4,691 per tonne while in March it was ₹4,835 per tonne. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/decade-after-scam-odisha-imposes-penalty-of-rs-2056-cr-for-illegal-mining-101612209948737.html  (02 Feb. 2021)

Meghalaya Governor bats for scientific mining  Amid the brouhaha over alleged ongoing illegal coal mining and its transportation in Meghalaya, Governor Satya Pal Malik has banked on adopting scientific mining to generate additional revenue in the state, which has of late seen the government come under fire over reportedly giving a free hand to illegal mining and transportation of the mineral. “The state does not have much resource for revenue and if mining is done properly, it will generate funds and serve the purpose,” he said, while adding that the government should plead with the NGT to make headway towards the scientific mining idea. https://theshillongtimes.com/2021/02/05/malik-bats-for-scientific-mining/  (05 Feb. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study ‘Snow Droughts’ increasing in the western U.S. Laurie S. Huning is the co-author of a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with U.C. Irvine colleague Amir AghaKouchak, which developed a new framework for characterizing “snow droughts.” These can occur when there’s an abnormally low snowpack, which may be triggered by low precipitation, warm temperatures or both.

The concept of a “snow drought” has been around for several years, and it’s been studied in certain key locations, but until now scientists and water managers lacked a worldwide method to assess them. The study aims to solve that. Huning and AghaKouchak have developed a standardized snow-water equivalent index in an effort to better characterize and compare the duration and intensity of snow droughts around the world.

The results already reveal some areas of concern. Looking at data from 1980 to 2018, the researchers found a few hotspots where snow-droughts became longer and more intense during the 21st century. The most notable area was the western United States, which saw a 28% increase in the length of periods of snow drought. Eastern Russia and Europe also saw increases, though less severe.

And on the flip side, some areas saw a decrease in snow drought duration, including the Hindu Kush, Central Asia, greater Himalayas, extra-tropical Andes and Patagonia. “It’s important to remember that not only does the snowpack vary but the impact that it has differs across the world,” says Huning. Huning hopes the framework developed for the study can help water managers better understand the amount and timing of snowmelt, and to integrate that with drought monitoring systems to recreate better resiliency and management of resources. https://www.ecowatch.com/snow-droughts-climate-change-2650237332.html  (01 Feb. 2021)

Glacial change and hydrological implications in the Himalaya and Karakoram  Abstract:- Glaciers in the Himalaya–Karakoram mountain ranges harbour approximately half of the ice volume in High-mountain Asia and modulate the flow of freshwater to almost 869 million people within the Indus, Tarim, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins. Since the mid-twentieth century, rising temperatures have led to unsustainably high melting rates for many glaciers, particularly in the Himalaya, temporarily increasing summer meltwater run-off but continuously reducing the ice-storage volume.

In this Review, we discuss how and why glaciers and meltwater supplies have changed, how they will likely evolve in the future and how these changes impact water resources and water-related hazards. Heterogeneous glacier retreat is changing streamflow patterns, in turn, affecting the incidence of glacial-lake outburst floods and exacerbating the risk of flooding and water shortages associated with future climate change. These changes could negatively impact downstream populations and infrastructure, including the thriving hydropower sector and some of the world’s largest irrigated agriculture systems, by making water flow more extreme and unpredictable. An improved in situ monitoring network for weather, hydrology and glacier change is a crucial requirement for predicting the future of this resource and associated hazards, and their impact on regional water, energy and food security. https://www.nature.com/articles/s43017-020-00124-w  (02 Feb. 2021)

Water scarcity likely in Himalayan catchment if warming continues A new paper published last month studied how these Himalayan rivers are affected by the different components – rainfall-runoff, snow-melt and glacier-melt – and notes that if drier and warmer scenarios continue in the near future (2031–2050), we are more likely to face water stress in these catchment areas. They also note that if there is increased rainfall, this could lead to a water surplus situation.

The team studied five basins in the central Himalaya – Sutlej, Thulo Bheri, Kali Gandaki, Dudh Kosi and Arun. They analysed the daily precipitation, maximum and minimum daily temperatures, wind speeds, land cover, elevation and soil properties. “We developed a new glacier melt model and integrated it to the currently used land surface model. The currently used land surface model – used even by the Ministry of Earth Sciences – does not take into account glacier melt. This could lead to serious errors in the study of north-Indian rivers. Our model helps make the current one complete and turns it into a more advanced and better one,” explains Subimal Ghosh, the corresponding author of the paper published in Water Resources Research. He is from the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

The results show that the glacier-melt increases about 15% to 70% in a warmer environment with its present volume, but then decreases to 3%–38% substantially when the glacier volumes shrink. However, such a decrease can be compensated if there is increased rainfall and if a wetter scenario persists. The team notes that proper water-management and governance are urgently required. “Changing patterns of precipitation systems — Indian Summer Monsoon and Western Disturbances — are important for the future situation of water resources in Himalayan catchments,” adds the paper. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/water-scarcity-likely-in-the-himalayan-catchment-if-warming-continues/article33769372.ece  (06 Feb. 2021)

Climate change, border tensions destroy habitat of Pashmina goat  Already suffering from the impacts of climate change, the habitat for Ladakhi shepherds to graze their flocks is further reduced as tensions escalate between India and China.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/climate-change-border-tensions-destroy-the-habitat-of-the-pashmina-goat/  (04 Feb. 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

India-Pakistan Pollution in Sutlej kills fish in large number India released untreated water into Sutlej River, killing a large number of fish on Saturday (Jan. 30). The local fishermen said that several fish seeds at ponds areas were also damaged owing to poisonous water. “This is another form of terrorism and clear violation of environment,” said Ahmed Zafir, a local resident of Head Sulemanki. The release of poisonous water in Sutlej River was killing fish and badly damaging livestock sectors.

“We are fearing of skin disease in the area due to supply of dead fish in the market,” said Zafir, warning the people to avoid from using such fish. “Normally people don’t know what kind of fish they are eating. It is dangerous,” he added. The officials took notice of the untreated water into Sutlej River. This is not for the first time that India has released untreated water as it is frequent move. https://www.urdupoint.com/en/business/india-releases-poisonous-water-into-sutlej-ri-1155435.html  (30 Jan. 2021)

Pakistan LHC reserves verdict in Daducha dam case Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench has reserved the verdict on the increase in compensation payment landowners displaced by the construction of the Daducha Dam. The verdict would be pronounced by a single-member bench of LHC Rawalpindi Bench comprising Justice Atir Mahmood today.

Some 20 people, who own the land the government intends to acquire for building the dam, had filed a petition in the HC demanding compensation at par with the market value. The petitioner maintained that the indemnity was unrealistic. They said the project was planned over a decade ago in 2010 and the amount was set at Rs100,000 per kanal. The government plans to acquire some 7,000 kanals for the dam. Now, as the project hung in the balance for a decade and the incumbent government decided to revive it, the petitioners said the compensation amount should be revised. The water reservoir is being constructed by Small Dams Organisation (SDO) and its estimated cost has escalated to Rs6 billion from Rs3 billion over the years. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2282447/lhc-reserves-verdict-in-daducha-dam-case  (03 Feb. 2021)    

Fisheries action plan presented for public consultation in Sindh The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Tuesday held a public consultation workshop under the Sindh Agriculture Policy 2018-2030 to validate a proposed Fisheries Action Plan for Sindh province. The workshop was attended by Secretary Livestock and Fisheries, Director General Marine Fisheries, representatives of International Trade Centre, World Wildlife Fund, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, private fisheries businesses, seafood processors and exporters. FAO Pakistan, through European Union-assisted Food Security and Nutrition Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) programme, is seeking to help deepen the dialogue between different sectors with a stake in food security, through its policy assistance service, supporting evidence-based decision making and analysis of proposed policy frameworks and action plans. https://pakobserver.net/fisheries-action-plan-presented-for-public-consultation-in-sindh/  (03 Feb. 2021)

Nepal Forgotten tale of first hydro project Built over a hundred years ago to light the Rana’s palaces, Nepal’s first hydropower project – and South Asia’s second – now lies abandoned along with the country’s grand dam ambitions. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/the-forgotten-tale-of-nepals-first-hydro-project/  (05 Feb. 2021)

Illegal mining rampant in Bajura The illegal mining of river products has continued unabated from Bahuli river in Badimalika Municipality-7 of Bajura district. Scores of loading vehicles are seen ferrying river products including sand, gravels, and stones from the river daily. The illegal mining is being carried out in areas not very far off from the district headquarters Martadi. However, the administration is mum regarding the illegal operations.

Extraction of sand from the river has increased the danger of land erosion in the area. Around 12 families were displaced in the area some years ago after the river eroded their land. It has been found that mining operations in the district are being carried out without any regard to regulations such as conducting the environmental impact study and primary environmental assessment before the extraction of any kind of river-based products. https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/illegal-mining-of-river-products-rampant-in-bajura  (31 Jan. 2021)

Large Avalanche generating huge air blast in Kapuche Lake in Nepal in January 2021: https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/02/02/kapuche-1/

Bangladesh Consequences of arsenic-tainted well water Widespread use of arsenic-contaminated water during the 20th century has been called by the WHO the largest mass poisoning in history. A new study co-authored by Yale economist Mark Rosenzweig finds that, in addition to profound health impacts, high levels of arsenic retention has caused a significant decline in the productivity, cognition, and earnings of Bangladeshis. Until now, much of the literature on this public health crisis has revolved around the health effects of arsenic retention, and previous related economic research primarily focused on the associations between arsenic poisoning and economic outcomes rather than identifying the causal effects. https://news.yale.edu/2021/02/01/study-shows-consequences-arsenic-tainted-well-water-across-bangladesh  (01 Feb. 2021)

Sri Lanka Satyagraha against sand mining racket The Sathyagraha campaign launched against a sand mining racket in Madampe entered its 5th day in Chilaw on Wednesday (Jan. 27). It has been three days since the three protestors involved in the Satyagraha campaign launched a hunger fast in support of this cause. Residents of areas surrounding Madampe in Chilaw also expressed their support towards the fast today. Vehicular movement along the Kuliyapitiya-Madampe main road was disrupted for more than two hours due to the demonstration. https://www.newsfirst.lk/2021/01/27/satyagraha-in-madampe-against-sand-mining-racket/  (27 Jan. 2021)

ASIA

Philippines New Magat Dam protocols released Govt has released a revised set of water discharge protocols for Magat Dam, one of the biggest dams in Asia, to avoid a repeat of unprecedented flooding that drowned Cagayan province during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last year. It was last week, during the congressional hearing on such a massive flooding incident, when the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) revealed for the first time the revised Magat Dam Protocol on Dam Discharge and Flood Warning Operation. This was after the creation of the Dam Crisis Management Task Force dedicated to review the existing protocols and address concerns on dam management crisis. https://mb.com.ph/2021/02/04/new-magat-dam-protocols-released-to-avoid-repeat-of-massive-ulysses-flooding/  (04 Feb. 2021)

Tonle Sap fishermen claim a decline in fishing yield Some fishermen living in core areas of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Kampong Thom province claim that fishing yields have been declining over the last three years due to low water levels in the wet season, forest fires in the dry season and climate change. This was brought up during a recent meeting between the Ministry of Environment, representatives from Unesco, relevant authorities and members of the Boeng Tonle Chhmar and Stung Sen community, that discussed preserving the lake’s resources and sustainably improving local livelihoods. https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50810402/tonle-sap-fishermen-claim-a-decline-in-fishing-yield-due-to-environmental-factors/  (04 Feb. 2021)

MEKONG Study Droughts in an Era of Mega-Dams Abstract:- In light of such changes, the 2019-2020 drought – the most severe one in the recent history in the Lower Mekong Basin – was a consequent of constructed dams reducing the amount of water during the wet season. This reduction of water was exacerbated by the decreased monsoon precipitation in 2019. Concurrently, the untimely operationalisation of the newly opened Xayaburi dam in Laos coincided with the peak of the 2019-2020 drought and could have aggravated the dry conditions downstream. Thus, the mega-dam era (post-2010) may signal the start of a new normal of wet-season droughts. https://www.authorea.com/doi/full/10.22541/au.161189206.60684509/v1  (29 Jan. 2021)

Delta faces chronic development blocks: experts  After over three decades of reforms, the Mekong Delta was still facing several challenges, including a lack of vision for the region, ineffective use of land and water, low labor quality and quantity, low application of high technology and underdeveloped infrastructure, he added. Statistics show that the region, known as the rice basket of the country with 1.5 million hectares of rice, has been struggling to develop for several decades now. https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/economy/mekong-delta-faces-chronic-development-blocks-experts-4231081.html  (04 Feb. 2021)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

IFA Inland fisheries: Better management can’t wait About new Inland Fisheries Alliance and issues:- There is ample evidence that freshwater fish make significant contributions to people’s diets and livelihoods around the world, yet the often-incomplete numbers have failed to attract the attention of national or international decision makers. The value of inland fisheries are little known to the Western media and general public, and we often use terms like “hidden harvests” and “forgotten fish” when we talk about them. With their value unrecognized, they are inadequately included in plans to use inland waters for other purposes, such as domestic, industrial and recreational water use, irrigation, energy, or waste-disposal. Similarly, they are often overlooked in global sustainability policy, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

A group of organizations is coming together under a new Inland Fisheries Alliance to tackle this challenge — to catalyze efforts to improve the health and management of inland fisheries and the ecosystems upon which they depend, improve measurement of those fisheries and, crucially, shine a spotlight on the importance of these fisheries for both people and nature.

Despite these impressive numbers, development decisions that affect the health of watersheds and their freshwater ecosystems are routinely made without adequate consideration of their impacts on inland fisheries. In fact, 90% of global freshwater fish catch comes from river basins with above-average stress levels. https://inlandfisheriesalliance.medium.com/inland-fisheries-better-management-cant-wait-78e235f9693d  (02 Feb. 2020)

USA Pilchuck River is showing signs of recovery The goal of removing the Pilchuck dam was to open up an additional 37 miles of pristine salmon habitat. The dam hadn’t been used to divert water to the City of Snohomish for several years, but it served as a giant roadblock to spawning salmon.

-The dam removal itself is only a part of a larger equation when it comes to salmon recovery. There are numerous other factors as well. Climate change factors in, as do conditions in the ocean and further downriver. In fact, the Washington Department of Ecology has said that the Pilchuck River itself has risen above historically normal temperatures in recent years — an added stressor on the endangered salmon. https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/months-after-dam-removal-pilchuck-river-is-showing-signs-recovery/6QODJG3Q6RC35PGLNMGTE4D36A/  (03 Dec. 2020)

GOP congressman wants to remove 4 dams An Idaho Republican congressman wants to end the salmon wars by removing select hydroelectric dams, replacing the electricity lost, paying communities and businesses, and giving American Indian tribes more power. A $33 billion Pacific Northwest energy and infrastructure proposal would end litigation over endangered salmon and authorize the removal of four dams on the Snake River in Washington beginning in 2030. U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of East Idaho released the plan after asking more than 300 groups what they would need if the dams came out. https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/environment/article248988810.html  (06 Feb. 2021)

3 iconic Susquehanna species struggle to survive This USA Today Network special report explores solutions to deep threats that flow through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland as the Susquehanna River feeds the Chesapeake Bay — with life and death. https://www.ydr.com/in-depth/news/2021/02/03/3-iconic-susquehanna-river-aquatic-species-struggle-survive/5853999002/  (03 Feb. 2021)

NILE As Ethiopia fills its Nile dam, regional rivalries overflow When African Union-mediated talks between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a Nile River dam broke down yet again last month, it didn’t mark a new disagreement over sharing vital water resources. Rather, it was a case of regional rivalries trumping understandings about science and cooperation that have been laid out by African and Western mediators in multiple draft agreements. 

– Tensions are now high as Addis Ababa is set to fill the dam’s reservoir with an additional 11 billion cubic meters this year after the initial 4.9 BCM it filled in July 2020. The dam has a total capacity of 74 BCM. “The biggest problem is not knowing how Ethiopia intends to use and operate the dam, what times of year, what quantities, and what will be the impact,” says Amal Kandeel, an environmental and policy consultant and former director of the Climate Change, Environment and Security Program at the Middle East Institute. “Downstream countries can’t plan without knowing; they need clarity.

– The reduction in flooding and sharing of irrigation water would help Sudan cultivate more than 50 million hectares of arable land abandoned due to flooding and mismanagement, a critical boost to an agricultural sector that is Sudan’s largest employer and accounts for 30% of the country’s gross domestic product. Ethiopia has also vowed to export cheap electricity to Sudan. Khartoum – militarily close to Egypt, diplomatically indebted to Ethiopia, and financially and politically dependent on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are allied with Egypt – is reluctant both to appear to support the dam, on the one hand, or come down hard on Addis Ababa, on the other.

– The Trump administration’s few forays into the GERD dispute favored Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a Trump ally. Last July the Trump administration partially suspended American assistance to Ethiopia after Addis Ababa rejected a draft agreement compiled by Washington that it saw as heavily favoring Cairo. President Donald Trump publicly warned that Cairo would “blow up that dam” should talks fail.   https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2021/0201/As-Ethiopia-fills-its-Nile-dam-regional-rivalries-overflow  (01 Feb. 2021)

Brazil Small hydropower dams threaten marine biodiversity The University of Washington found that small hydropower dams in Brazil are potentially damaging river connectivity and marine biodiversity. Their findings suggest that small hydropower plants are relatively responsible for river fragmentation than large hydropower plants, because where they are built and how many of them exist. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/hydropower-dams-in-brazil/102451/  (28 Jan. 2021)

Ghana Tipper crashes student to death A 22-year-old senior high school graduate, Anita Asieduwaa Ama Nkrumah, has died after being crushed to death by a tipper truck Friday (Feb. 5) morning at Senchi-Amanfrom in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region. The truck with registration number GN-6025-16 belonging to Afcons Construction Company Limited, had been driving at 9:00am along a dusty road close to its sand winning base which is about 150 meters from the home of the victim, when the accident happened. It was learnt that the truck, after being filled with sand was negotiating a sharp bend on its way from the sight when it lost its balance and fell on the kitchen, a detached, wooden makeshift structure located close to the road in which the victim was said to be preparing food, flattening it in the process. https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Tipper-truck-crashes-22-year-old-student-to-death-in-her-kitchen-1173376  (06 Feb. 2021)

UK Angling Trust says no to damning the River Severn The Angling Trust has put its weight behind calls for the Environment Agency and Shropshire Council to drop its proposal to install a dam on the River Severn near Shrewsbury.  Local angling clubs, including the Prince Albert Angling Society, and the campaign group, Save Our Severn, have raised concerns about the impact a dam would have on the environment and on angling.  The Angling Trust agrees and has written to the Environment Agency’s Deputy Regional Director, Clare Dennis, opposing the scheme. 

The scheme, called the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme, would see the building on a barrier across the Severn at the point where the bridge carrying the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road would cross the river. https://anglingtrust.net/2021/02/02/angling-trust-says-no-to-damning-the-river-severn/  (02 Feb. 2021)

Ecuador Indigenous Water Defender Who Might be Next President Against all odds, an indigenous water defender is among the top three candidates in Ecuador’s presidential election, to be held on 7th February. If he wins, Yaku Pérez, who has been imprisoned several times for his struggle to protect water sources from transnational metal mining, plans to stop the expansion of extractive industries in Ecuador. Refusing corporate donations and running a campaign staffed entirely by volunteers, Pérez risks assassination daily as he tours the country in the run-up to the election, arriving in town after town on his bamboo bicycle. https://writersrebel.com/yaku-perez-the-indigenous-water-defender-who-might-be-ecuadors-next-president/  (04 Feb. 2021)

France Parisians want to recover a legendary river now buried under concrete  Though the Seine evokes dreams and romance, the Bièvre—its only tributary to flow through Paris—is largely unknown to the millions of tourists who arrive in the French capital every year. But many passionate Parisians have harbored a long-standing dream of resurrecting a river that, to them, has taken on mythic status.

Now this dream is close to becoming a reality. In recent years, sections of the river have been reopened in upstream suburbs, and the Paris mayor’s office recently launched a feasibility study to look at uncovering stretches in Paris. Like international river restoration projects in Madrid and Seoul, the renaissance of the Bièvre reflects a green shift in city planning and urban lifestyles that sets up the city for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The current study is reevaluating these locations in light of recent urban works projects, focusing solely on gravitational solutions and dismissing the use of pumps or hydraulic systems. Lert’s hope is to open at least one stretch before the end of the government term in 2026.

The Bièvre’s renaissance isn’t just a means of cooling the city, fighting global warming, and returning nature to the urban milieu. It also creates a better living environment for residents like me, who dream of walking on a greenway instead of concrete, sharing summer aperitifs with neighbors on the riverbanks once roamed by Rabelais. “The Bièvre flowed in Paris for thousands of years,” says Cadiou. “It would be sensible to return it.” https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/france/in-paris-conservation-effort-is-recovering-lost-river/  (01 Feb. 2021)

Australia Bravus accused of environmental breaches Environmentalists have alleged Bravus (formerly known as Adani) failed to properly manage erosion at its inland rail project, potentially contaminating waterways, according to a complaint made to Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-05/bravus-formerly-adani-accused-of-environmental-breaches-erosion/13120172  (05 Feb. 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 01 Feb. 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 25 Jan. 2021  

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

One thought on “DRP NB 8 Feb. 2021: Will NITI Aayog study the costs of overturning the Radhakrishnan Judgement on Uttarakhand?

  1. I’m wondering if this Chamoli disaster is another Chorabari Tal type incident as various reports describe the symptoms to be same.

    When JAAPEE and Ambani have invested money, is there any reason to believe that NITI to stop them. Learnt from a news site that after 2013 Kedarnath disaster, Supreme Court gave a verdict to stop Rishiganga Dhauliganga project and the current scenario tells that there was a clear violation of SC verdict.

    Like

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