DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 8 March 2021: Will Madras HC action help save water bodies?

While on the face of it the Madras High Court order on March 2, 2021 that all district collectors of Tamil Nadu must upload by March 17, GPS/ satellite images of all the water bodies in their districts is not only welcome, it needs to be done in all the districts across India. This order is by the bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

The same bench had earlier in January 2021 said, in response to a PIL that the government officials must have zero tolerance towards encroachment of waterbodies and ensure that every inch of such encroachment gets removed at the earliest by following the due process of law. The PIL had sought for removal of encroachments from a two-acre swamp at Arehalla in Ithalar, a village in Nilgiri hills.

While these are welcome, we hope these orders get implemented and provisions be made by the HC to ensure accountability of the DMs to ensure that all information is put out on the district water bodies website in form and manner that people understand as also in english and should be archived so that the information can be used in future. The information from the past should also be put up on such websites and a transparent, participatory monitoring of the water bodies be instituted for each district.

Tamil Nadu “Get bulldozers ready”: HC on waterbodies encroachments  In a bid to check encroachments on water bodies in the State, the Madras High Court on March 2, 2021 ordered that GPS/ satellite images of water bodies across districts in Tamil Nadu, as existing on March 15, 2021, be uploaded online by District Collectors by March 17. A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed the order this afternoon while hearing a PIL moved alleging water body encroachment through a Rs. 112 crore beautification project being undertaken in Erode. The case prompted the Court to opine that satellite images of all water bodies must be uploaded online so that the number of water bodies that existing on a particular date can be verified. https://www.barandbench.com/amp/story/news/litigation/madras-high-court-directs-state-to-upload-satellite-images-of-water-bodies-tamil-nadu (2 March 2021)

Ensure zero tolerance towards encroachment of water bodies: HC The Madras High Court on Jan. 5, 2021 said the government officials must have zero tolerance towards encroachment of waterbodies and ensure that every inch of such encroachment gets removed at the earliest by following the due process of law. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observation while hearing a public interest litigation petition which sought for removal of encroachments from a two-acre swamp at Arehalla in Ithalar, a village in Nilgiri hills.

A government counsel, on instructions, conceded that there were indeed encroachments on the swamp and sought six weeks’ time to remove them. The judges accepted her request and ordered that a compliance report should be filed in court.

In his affidavit, K. Ramesh Kumar, the petitioner said Ithalar had about 150 houses. The residents were basically an agricultural community and a majority of them were small tea growers dependant on natural streams for water supply. After repeated representation to the government authorities, the swamp was identified for fulfilling the water needs of the residents by erecting a well and a pump house. However, now some of the adjacent land owners had encroached upon the swamp, he complained. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ensure-zero-tolerance-towards-encroachment-of-water-bodies-madras-hc-tells-govt-officials/article33506463.ece  (6 Jan. 2021)

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANRP Blog EAC and FAC Decisions on Hydro Projects during 2020 Between Dec. 26, 2019 and Feb. 7, 2021, the EAC on River Valley Projects held 11 meetings. In this period EAC considered about 30 proposals of hydro projects (non-hydro projects considered by the EAC were additional to this number). Of these 11 proposals were from Himachal Pradesh and 7 from Uttarakhand. The EAC approved ToR to 16 projects and ECs to 5 projects. It also approved amendments in ToR and EC of one project each and also approved the Sutlej Basin Cumulative Impact Assessment in Himachal Pradesh. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/06/eac-and-fac-decisions-on-hydro-projects-during-2020/  (06 March 2021)

India Hydro Power Projects 2020: Violations, Accidents and Corruption This highlights Disasters, accidents, corruptions and violations taking place in hydro power projects across India in 2020 mostly as reported by media. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/08/india-hydro-power-projects-2020-violations-accidents-and-corruption/  (08 March 2021)

EPW Force multipliers in Uttarakhand disaster Himanshu Thakkar, Coordinator, SANDRP underlines role of hydro projects as force multiplier in Chamoli disaster:-While Uttarakhand is vulnerable to disasters, climate change is increasing these vulnerabilities. Major human interventions like hydropower projects and highways implemented without an informed or democratic decision-making process act as force multipliers during such disasters. The violations of legal and other prudent norms in their implementation further increase the damages. The absence of necessary monitoring, early warning systems and the overall disaster management system add another layer of damages during the disasters. The lack of the ability to learn lessons from disasters and lack of any accountability ensure the perpetuation of the situation. https://www.epw.in/journal/2021/10/commentary/force-multipliers-disasters-uttarakhand.html  (06 March 2021)

NTPC was violating muck disposal norms at Tapovan project In March 2020, the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board found NTPC violating the environment ministry’s muck disposal rules. Despite repeated warnings, the violations continued, and the PCB slapped a fine of Rs 57,96,000 on the company. The NGT has upheld the fine. But it is too little too late, say environmentalists. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttarakhand-disaster-ntpc-violating-muck-disposal-norms-at-tapovan-project/  (01 March 2021)

Understanding the Chamoli flood Infrastructure in the flood path, particularly hydropower projects, exacerbated the impact of the flood. Infrastructure development in fragile mountain environments should consider a sustainability framework, including environmental sustainability. https://www.icimod.org/article/understanding-the-chamoli-flood-cause-process-impacts-and-context-of-rapid-infrastructure-development/   (03 March 2021)

Infra development magnified Chamoli disaster ICIMOD has underlined the link between the February 7 glacier breach disaster in  Rishi Ganga river with infrastructure development, particularly the construction of hydropower projects in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

In its analysis of the disaster published on March 3 titled “Understanding the Chamoli flood: Cause, process, impacts, and context of rapid infrastructure development” by cryosphere experts, hydrologists, climate scientists have concluded that the Hindu Kush Himalayas are a multi-hazard environment and that hydropower projects, apart from amplifying disaster risk, impact environmental flows, water quality, and the health of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. On the other hand, these projects are also facing risks from climate change-related flow variations, extreme events, erosion and sedimentation, and glacial laker outburst floods (GLOFs)/ Landslides Dammed Outburst Flood (LDOFs).  

There are 105 existing hydropower projects (HP) (≥ 40 MW) with an installed capacity of 37 GW, 61 projects (≥40 MW) currently under construction (39 GW) and 890 projects (≥10 MW) in various stages of planning (242 GW) in the Karakoram-Himalaya region. Most of the existing hydropower projects were built in the past two or three decades. Now projects are gradually moving upstream where the exposure to mountain hazards is high, the chances of multiple hazards happening in combination and occurring more frequently, and cascading effects can create compounding impacts on the system.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/natural-hazards-infra-development-magnified-chamoli-disaster-icimod-101614942658848.html  (06 March 2021)

24 hour monitoring of glaciers to avoid rerun of Chamoli Experts who took part in a symposium here on Sunday to mark one month of the disaster said that round-the-clock monitoring of glaciers can help avert a rerun of such incidents.The event was attended by experts from all walks of life including environmentalists, geologists and lawyers.

– Eminent geologist SP Sati, who has conducted a detailed study on all riverbeds in Uttarakhand, said, “Almost all reports maintained that the massive flash floods were caused due to breaking of rocks and glaciers. It remains a mystery as to how a glacier broke in the peak of winter. Also, how did nobody spot such massive water accumulation even in satellite pictures?” Stating that certain laxities were later identified to be “criminal”, he said that the alarm system at the power project was non-functional which could have otherwise saved many lives. He also called for a blanket ban on hydropower projects at a height of over 2000 metres in the hills noting that loose sediments in the upper reaches aggravate disaster risk in such regions.

– The participants of the symposium also formed a 15-member committee — Himalaya Bachao Jan Samiti — to fight for issues related to the forest, water and land resources of Uttarakhand with Convenor of the panel being Mukesh Semval. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/24-hr-monitoring-of-glaciers-must-to-avoid-chamoli-rerun-experts/articleshow/81380878.cms  (08 March 2021)

– Heavy precipitation in the Chamoli region from February 4-6 and an overall rise in temperature in Uttarakhand in last four decades could have led to the rock collapse from the Raunti peak, which triggered the deadly flash floods. The rockslide brought along with it mounds of earth and snow which could have triggered the flash floods. With a straight slide line of 1.6 km (5500 to 3900 masl), the kinetic energy during the fall generated enough heat to melt the ice.

– At the same headwall of the Raunthi peak, a large ice avalanche was previously released somewhere between 19 September and 9 October 2016, which deposited ice and more bedrock in the valley below, the report states. “The resulting destabilisation of the rock due to the lack of ice cover (glacial debuttressing, stress-release fracturing), and increased exposure to solar radiation and hence an increased freeze thaw cycle, in combination with a large snowfall event preceding the event of February 7, 2021 and rapid melt water production, may have favoured the fracturing of rock,” the report states. “This can, however, not explain the depth of the fracture (150 metres), which must have evolved over a longer period of time,” the report states.

– The ICIMOD report further states that a strong western disturbance passed across Kashmir and northwest India from February 4-6. It was fully charged with convective instability that may have contributed to the heavy precipitation.

– “Precipitation data derived from Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission suggests that there were continuous precipitation events from February 3-5 which resulted in approximately 58 mm of cumulative precipitation. Most of the precipitation in the high altitude areas of Chamoli would have occurred as snowfall,” it states. The temperatures are also rising in Uttarakhand, the report states, saying maximum temperature in the Chamoli area has increased at the rate of 0.032 degrees C per year between 1980 and 2018. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/uttarakhand-tragedy-heavy-rains-rise-in-overall-temp-in-4-decades-could-have-led-to-rock-collapse/81367580  (06 March 2021)

This provides more details of the ICIMOD report on the Chamoli disaster, released on March 5, 2021. https://www.newsclick.in/ICIMOD-study-chamoli-disaster-triggered-massive-landslide (08 March 2021)

While the exact answer likely lies at the intersection of these possibilities, two things are clear: that climate change played a part and that governments should reconsider setting up hydroelectric projects in the higher Himalaya writes Nivedita Khandekar. https://science.thewire.in/environment/uttarakhand-chamoli-disaster-not-a-standalone-incident-more-to-come/  (07 March 2021)

IMPRI Panel Discussion on Uttarakhand Flood Disaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73QfB7d6Bzs  (18 Feb. 2021)

The Himalayan hazards nobody is monitoring Retreating glaciers in the Himalayas are not only dangerously filling up glacial lakes but they are also causing other hazards that are not being monitored, scientists have warned. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56247945  (05 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Ignoring Chamoli disaster SC clears forest land diversion by Prof Gurinder Kaur On February 15, 2021, a three-judge green bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde allowed the Himachal Pradesh government to clear 614 hectares of forest and move ahead with 138 currently existing infrastructure projects. Apart from this, the bench also approved 289 other projects involving the diversion of 122 hectares of forest land subjected to certain conditions.

The bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice A S Bopanna, and Justice V Ramasubramanian also approved the Rs 1,337 crore Green Corridor National Highway Sirmaur and a two-lane national highway in Dharamshala. These projects were previously suspended from March 11, 2019 as the Supreme Court barred them under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) 1980 and the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.

The CM said that he discussed this issue with PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The state government also filed five petitions in Supreme Court, one in 2019 and four in 2020, seeking these projects’ commissioning. Disclosing the details of these projects, the CM said that the 138 projects under FCA include 20 hydropower projects, 88 roads projects among others.

Lag in development of state pertains to delays in infrastructural development projects is a worldly notion. The Supreme Court’s verdict is commendable since it approves of development projects. However, only time will tell how the government of Himachal Pradesh will implement it. The state of Himachal Pradesh, like Uttarakhand state, is mountainous, earthquake-prone, rich in forests, and covered with snow. It is essential to seek geologists, environmentalists, and locals before any development can occur here. Failing to do so, Himachal Pradesh may have to bear the brunt of the tragic tragedies of Kedarnath (2013) and Chamoli (2021).

The construction of a 1 km road in the hilly area would extract at least 30,000 to 40,000 cubic meters of soil and stones. During the construction of roads and dams, mountains are usually blown up with explosives causing cracks in them. Consequently, they slide down during the monsoon season either by excessive rainfall or heavy snowfall in winters. This leads to heavy loss of life and property. On average, in the Himalayan region, one person is killed every year by landslides in an area of 100 sqkms. https://www.counterview.net/2021/03/apex-courts-forestland-ruling-will.html  (04 March 2021)

DAMS

Mullaperiyar dam row Kerala, TN spar in SC over safety The SC on March 2 scheduled a hearing on March 9 of the case concerning the safety of the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam. A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar adjourned the hearing on a request made by the Centre.

Recently, Tamil Nadu had filed an affidavit assuring that the dam was safe hydrologically and protected from earthquakes. Countering Kerala’s allegations of non-cooperation and lack of concern, Tamil Nadu accused its neighbour State of adopting an “obstructionist attitude”. Tamil Nadu, in fact, said the installation of instruments to protect the dam structure and warn about dangers to the Earth Dam and the Baby Dam has been hanging in limbo since 2015. This was solely because the Kerala Forest Department has refused permission to cut 23 trees.

In January, Kerala had accused Tamil Nadu of adopting an “obsolete” gate operation schedule, dating back to 1939, at the dam. In its affidavit, Kerala had in turn informed the court of Central Water Commission (CWC) inspection report which said that 70% of the installed instruments for monitoring the safety and health of the dam were not working properly. It said Tamil Nadu was yet to install the two seismoaccelerographs recommended to monitor tremors. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala-tn-spar-in-sc-over-mullaperiyar-dam-safety/article33974014.ece  (02 March 2021)

Hirakud Dam NHRC issues notices to Chief Secretaries of Odisha, Chhattisgarh on displacement  Odisha The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the action taken to alleviate the sufferings of people displaced by the construction of the Hirakud dam over the Mahanadi river about six decades ago. Human rights lawyer Radhakant Tripathy had moved the NHRC alleging that 26,561 families were displaced for the construction of the Hirakud dam project and due compensation was not paid to evictees. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nhrc-issues-notices-to-chief-secretaries-of-odisha-chhattisgarh-on-hirakud-displacement/article33964240.ece  (01 March 2021)

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam HC strikes down nod to prosecute officer  The Bombay high court last week struck down sanction to prosecute Chandan Jibhkate, the then senior divisional accounts officer of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), in five irrigation scam cases. Jibhkate had moved high court challenging five separate orders passed by Accountant General (Accounts and Entitlement) II, Nagpur, on January 17, 2019, granting sanction to prosecute him in all the five cases registered against him in connection with irrigation scam cases involving VIDC projects. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/irrigation-scam-in-maharashtra-hc-strikes-down-nod-to-prosecute-officer-101614627203058.html  (02 March 2021) 

Sardar Sarovar Dam 3 states owe Gujarat Rs 6,934 crore The states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan owed Gujarat a sum of Rs 6,934.19 crore as part of the Narmada project. The state government informed in the ongoing budget session of the Gujarat assembly on Thursday (March 4). Visavadar MLA Harshad Ribadiya asked a question, seeking details of amount that three states owed Gujarat as part of the Narmada project, as on December 31, 2020. In a written reply, the deputy CM said the Madhya Pradesh government owed Rs 4,764.35 crore, Maharashtra government owed Rs 1,627.66 crore, and Rajasthan owed Rs 542.18 crore. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/three-states-owe-gujarat-rs-6934cr/articleshow/81337209.cms  (05 March 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Manoj Misra on interlinking of rivers: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/03/interlinkages-of-rivers-ilr-a-flawed-concept/  (01 March 2021)

RIVERS AS NATIONAL WATER WAYS

IWAI inks pact with world’s largest gas carrier MOL Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on Feb 25, 2021 inked an MOU with the MOL Group, the world’s largest gas carrier to facilitate transportation of LNG through barges on National Waterways-1 and National Waterways-2, , the government said. MOL Group will invest in the construction and operation of dedicated LPG barges under the Make-in-India initiative of the Government of India. Inland Waterways Authority of India will provide support for adequate fairway, handling of LPG cargo on IWAI terminals/ multimodal terminals at Haldia, Sahibganj and Varanasi on request of MOL. It will also provide Lease Available Depth (LAD) information on a fortnightly/ monthly basis.

The statement said Aegis Group has proposed investments for setting up storage terminals, dedicated pipelines between jetty to the terminal and necessary infrastructure at the jetty for the evacuation of products from barges.

– Presently, 60 % of the LPG is moved through road to the various locations with a cost of Rs 5-6/ T / km. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/oil-and-gas/inland-waterways-authority-inks-pact-with-worlds-largest-gas-carrier-mol/81228244  (26 Feb. 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Ulhas; Mumbai Citizens group protests against pollution The different citizens group from Kalyan and Ulhasnagar sit on indefinite period protests in Ulhas river against pollution in Ulhas river which supplies drinking water to 45 lakh people in Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, and parts of Navi Mumbai.

The citizens group claimed that due to untreated sewage water supply into river the water has got polluted. The group claimed that till administration did not stop supply of untreated water from three different nullahs passing from Kalyan and Ulhasnagar cities into river they will continue their protest. The protest was organized by NGO’s like Mee Kalyankar, Ulhas Nadi Bachao Samiti and Valdhuni Jal Biradari.

The Ulhas river flows through Khandala valley and interior Karjat. It then flows through Neral, Badlapur, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar and Kalyan before joining the Vasai creek. Earlier in 2020 acting on PIL filed by an NGO Vanshakti, the SC had pulled up state government and Pollution control board for failing to address water pollution at Ulhas and another Waldhuni river. After SC’s order, the state through local civic bodies of KDMC and Ulhasnagar are constructing sewage treatment plant in to city to treat water before discharging in to river and work of same is in to final stages. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/citizens-group-protests-against-pollution-in-ulhas-river-which-supply-water-to-45-lakh-people/articleshow/80804952.cms  (11 Feb. 2021)

Nag; Nagpur Pollution Abatement Project approved “The Nag River Pollution Abatement Project has been approved at a cost of Rs 2,117.54 crore. The river which flows through the Nagpur city, thus giving its name to the city, is now a highly polluted water channel of sewage and industrial waste,” The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said in a statement.

According to the statement, Gadkari made the announcement with respect to the project after chairing a meeting of World Bank officials, DG NMCG and Nagpur Municipal Commissioner. The project has been approved under the National River Conservation Plan, and will be implemented by the National River Conservation Directorate.  https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/nag-river-pollution-abatement-project-approved-to-treat-waste-flowing-in-nag-river-govt/2039335  (02 March 2021)

Centre approves Rs 2,117.54 cr When the project was conceived, way back in June 2014 the cost was pegged at Rs 1,476.96 crore. However as the project was not properly drafted same was rejected and delays cost dearly as new additions were made pegging the pollution control price at nearly Rs. 2500 crores. But after intense negotiations and slashing at unwanted things, the final cost is of Nag River rejuvenation is pegged at Rs. 2117.54 crore.

Image source The Hitavada.

Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is the lead financer and it has entered into agreement with Maharashtra Government for a soft loan of Rs. 1864 crores for Nag River Pollution Abatement Project and other river cleaning projects. As mentioned earlier, Centre will contribute 60 per cent of the project cost, that is, Rs 1,323.51 crore, State will contribute 25 per cent — Rs 496.38 crore while for cash strapped NMC contribution is kept at 15 per cent that is Rs 297.82 crore.

After river rejuvenation, Gadkari has plans for river front development so that entire stretch of 17 km. All together 35 settlements would need to be relocated to facilitate development of amusement parks and other tourist facilities on banks of Nag River.

NMC constructed one treatment plant of 100 MLD capacity at Bhandewadi but it operates only at 80 per cent of its capacity. About 275 MLD untreated waste is release into nullah and it then drains into Wainganga basin whose water quality has deteriorated. Under the project, 3 STPs will be constructed one each at Aradhana Colony (45 MLD capacity), VNIT (12 MLD), and Mor Bhavan (35 MLD), at Sangam adjacent to Yashwant Stadium. Besides, two STPs of 10 MLD capacity each will be upgraded at Mankapur and Martin Nagar and they would be on Pili River. Total 520 MLD sewage flows into Nag river of which plan is to treat 480 MLD through existing, proposed and to be upgraded STPs. https://www.thehitavada.com/Encyc/2021/3/3/Centre-approves-Rs-2-117-54-cr-Nag-River-Pollution-Abatement-project.html  (03 March 2021)

Panchganga; Kolhapur CM held meeting on river pollution CM Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday (Jan. 5) chaired a meeting in Varsha Bungalow to discuss the issue of pollution levels in the Panchganga river in Kolhapur and adjacent areas. He instructed to form a coordination committee of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and the MPCB which will keep an eye on the pollutants being discharged in Panchganaga river in industrial areas of Ichalkaranji and other parts of Kolhapur district. District collector Kolhapur has been instructed by the CM to take strict action against the violators. The coordination committee is directed by Thackeray to give an assessment report every month about the pollution situation in the Panchganga river. http://www.businessworld.in/article/Uddhav-Thackeray-chairs-meeting-to-discuss-pollution-in-Maharashtra-s-Panchganga-river/06-01-2021-361993/  (06 Jan. 2021)

Netravati; Mangaluru Volunteers net 14 tonnes of garbage A group of 150 volunteers has scooped up nearly 14 tonnes of garbage after cleaning the banks of river Netravati. The river cleaning drive near Netravati bridge was initiated by Hasiru Dala and Anti Pollution Drive Foundation (APDF), in association with various organisations, last Sunday (March 7), the first day of the campaign.

“Despite repeated appeals by the civic authorities and installing fencing to prevent waste dumping, people continue to throw waste near the river. This is harmful to the ecology and pollutes Netravati, which is a lifeline for the region,” said Abdullah A. Rehman, founder and CEO of APD Foundation. Since waste collected last Sunday (March 1) forms only 10% of the actual garbage around the river, Hasiru Dala and APDF have decided to continue the drive every Sunday. It is estimated that currently the riversides are littered with over 200 tonnes of waste. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/mangaluru-volunteers-net-14-tonnes-of-garbage-from-netravati-river/articleshow/81373155.cms  (07 March 2021)

The 57-km-long Vrishabhavathi river used to be a picnic spot in the late 1960s. Due to pollution, the river now has an alternative name – Gutter of Kengeri(HT Photo)

Vrishabhavathi; Bengaluru River filled with froth, stench A river that once provided drinking water for villages outside Bengaluru city is now often mistaken for a sewage drain. The water is now unfit for drinking and the unchecked flow of industrial pollutants and domestic sewage and tons of plastic dumped in the river has made it difficult for the people to approach the river because of the froth and stench.

Experts say the decay of the river has an impact on Bengaluru’s ecosystem that goes beyond the froth and stench it generates; it could affect the quality of groundwater in the areas that it passes through. Farmers in the outskirts of the city use this water for the cultivation of vegetables that end up on the dining tables of the city’s residents. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/once-a-source-of-drinking-water-bengaluru-river-now-filled-with-froth-stench-101614778435072.html  (03 March 2021)

Kshipra; Ujjain नदी में धमाके शिप्रा नदी में धमाके के बाद आग की लपटें निकल रही हैं। इसके बाद इलाके में दहशत का माहौल है। नदी में धमाके कई दिनों से हो रहे हैं। इस धमाके की वजह भूगर्भीय हलचल को बताया जा रहा है। कलेक्टर ने इस मामले में जांच के आदेश दिए हैं। साथ ही धमाके वाली स्थल के पास 2 कर्मियों की तैनाती की गई है।

दरअसल, शिप्रा के त्रिवेणी स्टॉपडेम के पास स्थित नए घाट के सामने नदी में धमाके हो रहे हैं। धमाके के बाद नदी से आग और धुआं भी निकल रहा है। रुक-रुककर हो रहे धमाकों से ग्रामीणों में दहशत है। बताया जा रहा है कि नदी में पहली बार स्थानीय लोगों ने 26 फरवरी को धमाके की आवाज सुनी थी। अब लगातार हो रहे धमाकों ने ग्रामीणों को डरा दिया है। https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/madhya-pradesh/ujjain/explosion-in-shipra-river-water-jumped-10-feet-after-explosion-in-shipra-river-fire-also-out-panic-in-area/articleshow/81376220.cms  (07 March 2021)

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog HAPPY CENTENARY BIRTHDAY, SAHIR LUDHIANVI! 8th March 2021 is Centenary Birthday of Sahir, one of the most brilliant, most progressive and most versatile Bollywood Poet. Salutes to him. Some of his poems also had rivers in it! https://nadigeet.wordpress.com/2021/03/07/happy-centenary-birthday-sahir-kiske-roke-ruka-hai-savera/  (07 March 2021)  

Study Drainage evolution in a Holocene landscape that hosted a ‘lost river’ system in the Punjab-Haryana plains This study investigates the large interfluve between the Sutlej and the Yamuna rivers for its drainage reorganization including the westward deflection of the Sutlej river, using landforms and stream orientation analysis. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1040618221000288  (06 March 2021)

Gujarat ‘Mahisagar pollution risk to lives near Vadodara’ Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) on Monday (March 1) issued notices to all the concerned authorities seeking immediate action to save the river from irreversible damage. The confluence of Mahisagar river and the effluent channel project (ECP) at ‘J Point’ in the Gulf of Khambhat is in very close proximity to that of the mouth of the Sabarmati river, which also carries high concentration of sewage and industrial effluents that is dumped into the Gulf.

“We fear that the tidal activities in the Gulf of Khambhat, drive the highly toxic and polluted waters inland at the estuaries of the Mahisagar and Sabarmati rivers. This is risking all the settlements in the region,” said environment activist Rohit Prajapati from PSS. “It is possible that effluent discharged through Sabarmati into the Gulf may also be finding its way up in the Mahisagar river. The floating chemical foam entering the Mahisagar with the tides is an indication of that,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/mahisagar-pollution-risk-to-lives-near-vadodara/articleshow/81278464.cms  (02 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Man revives dead spring 55-year-old Jagdish Chandra Kudiyal from Sirkot village in Bageshwar district has revived a dead spring that, now, is the only source of drinking water to 400 homes in a number of villages and is useful for irrigation.

Kudiyal is a farmer and owns a grocery shop as well. Twenty years ago, he decided to plant saplings around the water spring that had dried up. The idea struck him when the villagers were facing an acute water shortage. He began plantation drive after being inspired by the Chipko Movement where people took to protest against deforestation since it was leading to soil erosion and depletion of natural resources. https://thelogicalindian.com/uplifting/jagdish-chandra-kudiyal-spring-uttarakhand-27150  (01 March 2021) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/mann-ki-baat-pm-mentions-bageshwar-farmer-55-who-revived-dead-spring/articleshow/81260880.cms  (01 March 2021)

GANGA Documentary Moving Upstream Ganga The documentary by Siddharath Agarwal of Veditum covers the riverside stories of farmers, fishermen, boatmen, small-time hawkers & priests. Then there are stories of villagers with their houses and sometimes even entire village lost to eroding banks or drowned behind huge dams and many more. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/AqTSxn0VM8thnP0FhF9C/iit-graduate-walked-upstream-ganga-for-10-months-to-make-this-film  (04 March 2021) This covers more information on Veditum and river walks by Siddharath Agarwal. https://www.mid-day.com/sunday-mid-day/article/going-with-the-flow-23162648  (07 March 2021) 

Prof Rajiv Sinha of IIT Kanpur on “Protecting Floodplains and Riverine Wetlands in the Ganga Basin to Foster River Health” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Uz5tVF0dxg (2 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Char Dham Project – Speed Of Destruction The “web” of roads in Uttarakhand that were being boasted about with the 900km long CDP as the main feature has triggered 161 landslides/slope failures on just three of the five stretches of the CDP (data submitted by MoRTH).  It will officially fell 56,000 Himalayan trees when completed.  Given the massive slope failures triggered by the widely adopted and illegal vertical cuts, one imagines this figure will rise substantially. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-char-dham-project-the-speed-of-destruction/376063  (04 March 2021)  Dave Petley writes about how Char Dham Highway is leading to increased landslide risks. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/03/04/char-dham-1/  (04 March 2021)

https://twitter.com/DrVNMishraa/status/1368422732052930562?s=20

Uttar Pradesh UPPCB to review industries on Ganga’s banks  The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has decided to conduct a fresh review of industries, including tanneries, located along the banks of the Ganga in the state. The move is a part of the ongoing drive to reduce pollution in the river. According to UPPCB officials, the review will begin in April and is expected to continue till June.

“It will focus on the level of pollution caused by industries located along the banks and also ensuring if they are following required protocols to reduce it,” said VK Singh, senior environmental engineer. Reportedly, there are over 1,000 registered industries situated on the banks of the Ganga in UP. Most of these industries are situated on the Kanpur-Prayagraj belt. A local UPPCB team will conduct the review along with experts. “The aim will be to determine the volume of pollution caused by industrial units, so that we can take measures to reduce it to a minimum,” the officer said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/up-pollution-control-board-to-review-industries-on-ganga-s-banks-101614832776475.html  (04 March 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Construction Mud Puts Settlements on the Edge of Eviction in Yamuna Khadar Mud excavated during the Central Vista Redevelopment Project is being dumped in the floodplains of Yamuna Khadar, near East Delhi’s Mayur Vihar. The mud will be used to level the areas under two newly constructed flyover loops to create green spaces with a walking track. But for this to happen, about 70 jhuggis here face the threat of being evicted from Yamuna Khadar, where they have been living for decades. They have one major demand—rehabilitate us first. https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/construction-mud-puts-settlements-on-the-edge-of-eviction-in-yamuna-khadar/  (08 March 2021)

When riverfront development sounds death knell for farmers “The farms and the park can co-exist,” said Swati Janu, founder of Social Design Collaborative. “We need to find a sustainable solution in our urban planning models.” The architect and writer believes that the “upcoming Delhi Master Plan 2041 has immense scope to consider the livelihoods of the farmers in its vision of the capital. The city also belongs to them. Instead of simply removing them, they need to be integrated as important stakeholders in the development of the city,” she said. https://adnasia.org/2021/03/04/when-riverfront-development-sounds-the-death-knell-for-farmers/  (04 March 2021)

The floodplains continue to shift along with the river due to geological and human interventions. Mapped above is the migration from 1807-2016Image: Kushal Lachhwani, Stir World.

Farmers earning livelihood from farming on the floodplains of river Yamuna in Delhi have borne the brunt of several demolition drives by DDA and need urgent attention. Sadly, in order to become a world class city, the planners have followed a road map, which excludes farming in these floodplains. This promotes removal of the very eyes and hands of the farmers who have been taking care of the floodplains for generations. https://www.stirworld.com/think-opinions-who-does-the-land-belong-to  (03 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Priests appeal to PM Modi ahead of Vrindavan Kumbh  The All India Teerth Purohit Mahasabha on Friday (March 5) urged PM Modi for increasing the Yamuna’s water flow, an apparent reference to the use of two canals linking it with the Ganges, to make it fit for bathing before the auspicious ‘Shahi Snan’ on March 9.

Upset over the pollution in the Yamuna at the Devarha Ghat on the first ‘Shahi Snan’ (auspicious bath) at the Vrindavan Kumbh, the Nirvani Ani Akhada, Digambar Ani Akhada and the Nirmohi Ani Akhara had on February 27 declared that they would boycott taking a dip in the next one if the water is not clean. The second and the third “Shahi Snan” are slated for March 9 and 13, Pathak said.

“Please instruct the department concerned to discharge sufficient water into the Yamuna so that feelings of seers and common people are not hurt while bathing at the Devarha Ghat in Vrindavan Kumbh,” he said. Another member of the organisation requested the Union government to find a permanent solution to the problem. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/release-more-water-in-yamuna-priests-appeal-to-pm-modi-ahead-of-vrindavan-kumbh-101614942738120.html  (05 March 2021)

‘Yamuna water more harmful than Covid’  A large number of saints returned from Vrindavan without taking part in the bathing ritual after seeing the state in which the Yamuna was at the time of the Kumbh ‘Shahi Snan’. When CM Yogi Adityanath had arrived in Mathura, the water quality in the Yamuna was bearable, but since then, the water has become polluted with sewerage and other impurities, rendering it unfit to bathe, the saint told India Today.

Mahant Ramdas said the Kumbh signifies ‘Amrut’, but the Yamuna water is no longer a blessing for humanity, but a danger. Narendra Das Maharaj said that the government should be taking strict action aimed at controlling pollution in the Yamuna and form effective laws to that effect. Residents of the Braj region have written to the CM, requesting him to take immediate steps towards countering the practice of dumping polluted water into the Yamuna by Delhi & Haryana. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/-yamuna-water-more-harmful-than-covid-hindu-saints-demand-cleaning-before-march-9-1774934-2021-03-03 (3 March 2021)

Bund on Hindon for RRTS work blocking river flow An environmentalist has said the flow of the Hindon river has been blocked by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is executing the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut regional rapid transit system (RRTS) corridor. The activist alleged that about three-fourth of the river’s flow has been choked by the earthen bund that the NCRTC has constructed “in violation of norms”.

A complaint in this regard was lodged with NCRTC by city-based environmentalist Vikrant Sharma, who said that according to the law, the flow of a river cannot be disturbed while executing any construction work. He said that the methodology adopted by NCRTC while erecting pillars on Hindon river is against the norms. “An earthen bund has been constructed along the width of the river and this is an outdated method. NCRTC should have followed the latest technology that is used in construction of bridges on rivers,” he added. Earlier, the DMRC had also constructed pillars on Hindon and the blockages were not completely cleared after the work was done. “I am apprehensive that NCRTC may also end up doing the same,” he added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ghaziabad/bund-on-hindon-for-rrts-work-blocking-river-flow-says-activist/articleshow/80889547.cms  (13 Feb. 2021)

Noida begins developing park on landfill site The Noida authority on Monday (Feb. 15) planted hundreds of saplings to develop part of a landfill site in Sector 145 as a park after remediation of about 200,000 tonnes of waste. The authority has planned to convert the entire landfill into a green zone in the next eight months, officials said. In June 2018, the authority had identified around 20,000 square metres land for the remediation of waste. Now, the authority has decided to make sure that the waste is treated in respective sectors, said the officials.

As per the official figures, the city produces about 900 metric tonne waste daily. The authority has been emphasising on the treatment of biodegradable waste at generation point and encouraging the citizens to segregate waste at source so that green waste reaches the compost plants being set up at multiple locations. This temporary landfill site is surrounded by a large forest reserve on one side and Hindon river on the other. Mubarakpur village is at a distance of around 2km from Hindon. The land is located off the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway. People living around the landfill had been demanding to clear the waste from the site. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/noida-begins-developing-park-on-landfill-site-101613412830978.html  (15 Feb. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Odisha CDA starts evicting illegal prawn gherries in Chilika The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) started evicting illegal prawn gherries (enclosures) February 28, 2021 from Chilika lake. Around 349 hectares were cleaned on the first day of the drive, carried out by the CDA. In 2018-19, the CDA cleaned gherries in around 160 sq km area of the lake, official sources said.

The Supreme Court had on April 3, 2017 asked the chief justices of high courts in 15 states to take up the issue of conservation of ecology of important wetlands. Out of 26 major wetlands in 15 states, Chilika and Bhitarkanika National Park are from Odisha. The Odisha High Court then issued orders to the state government on January 22, 2019 to evict prawn farms from these two wetlands. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/odisha-starts-evicting-illegal-prawn-gherries-in-chilika-75703  (01 March 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Rainbow trouts rain profits for farmers Farmers in Kashmir are taking up rainbow trout farming, tempted by high returns. Fish farms in many states get lakhs of eyed ova of rainbow trout from Kokernag fisheries farm in J&K, and make a neat profit from selling the grown fish. https://en.gaonconnection.com/jammu-and-kashmir-farmers-rainbow-trout-rain-profits-kokernag-anantnag/  (04 March 2021)

SAND MINING

National NGT issues slew of directions to States, UTs NGT has issued a slew of directions to the chief secretaries of the states and union territories, and the Environment Ministry on a batch of applications relating to updation of enforcement and monitoring mechanism to control and regulate illegal sand mining, including riverbed sand mining. Some of these applications have been pending for about seven years while others have been tagged to the pending matters later, from time to time, in view of common question of illegal sand mining.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel directed all the states and union territories to strictly follow the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines, 2016. “We further direct that periodic inspection be conducted by a five-members Committee, headed and coordinated by the SEIAA and comprising CPCB, State PCB and two expert members of SEAC dealing with the subject.” At the national level, a review needs to be conducted at least once in a year by the Secretary of Environment in coordination with the Secretaries Mining and Jalshakti Ministries, the CPCB, the bench stated.

All the states and union territories are further directed to publish their annual reports on the subject and such annual reports may be furnished to the Environment Ministry by April 30 every year, giving the status of the issue till March 31. Based on such reports, the ministry has been asked to prepare a consolidated report and publish its own report on the subject, preferably by May 31 every year. “We direct the Secretary MoEF to convene a meeting in coordination with the CPCB and Mining and Jalshakti Ministries of Central Government and such other experts at National level and representatives of states within three months… holding of such meetings will provide clarity on enforcement strategies and help protection of environment,” it said. https://odishatv.in/nation/illegal-sand-mining-ngt-issues-slew-of-directions-to-states-uts-523028  (03 March 2021)

NGT directs Centre, states to convene meetings Disposing of a number of petitions on sand mining, the NGT said holding such meetings will provide clarity on enforcement strategies and help protect the environment. The NGT directed all the states to post an annual report about sand mining status. “Based on such reports, MoEF may consider supplementing its guidelines on sand mining from time to time. The Green Bench directed the periodic inspection be by a five-member Committee, headed and coordinated by the SEIAA comprising CPCB and State PCB and visit the sand mining spot and prepare a report.

In January 2020, the Environment Ministry came out with ‘Enforcement & Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining 2020’ to regulate sand mining and check illegal mining. The guidelines suggest the use of technologies like drones with night vision for surveillance of sand mining sites, steps to identify sources of sand, procedures for the replenishment of sand, post environmental clearance monitoring of sand mining sites, a procedure for an environmental audit of such areas and steps to control the instances of illegal mining. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/ngt-directs-centre-states-to-convene-meetings-to-ensure-scientific-sand-mining-957706.html 3/21  (03 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh NGT forms independent panel to probe illegal mining in Swan  On the issue of illegal mining in Sombhadra river (also called Swan river) in Una district of, NGT has set up a fact-finding five-member committee to visit the site and give an independent report and suggest remedial action.

The committee will be headed by former judge of Punjab and Haryana high court Justice Jasbir Singh (retd) and have regional officers of the CPCB, the MoEF&CC, the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Institute of Dehradun, and the Himalayan Forest Research Institute in Shimla. MoEF&CC regional office at Chandigarh will be the nodal agency for this. The tribunal has also ordered the HP environment secretary, the SPCB and the Una district magistrate to verify facts and take further steps in the matter.

Applicant Amandeep had approached NGT with the complaint that of illegal mining at Sombhadra river. He had stated that the central government had sanctioned Rs 922 crore for the channelisation of the river. He said 73 khads (mini-water channels from different catchment areas of nearby villages) were also channelised so that the agricultural land of the nearby villages may be protected during rainy season. He alleged that sand mafia having political shelter under the garb of a mining licence were lifting sands and other material from the river bed in an unscientific manner by using big machines causing constant danger to the river and the channelisation.

Thousands of trucks were being loaded beyond the required capacity and running on the roads in utter violation of the norms. These were causing damage to the roads, causing pollution in the area, and inconvenience to the public at large and causing accidents, he had said. While hearing the matter on Tuesday (March 2), NGT principal bench, headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the state officials to support the independent committee. The tribunal said the committee would be at liberty to take assistance from other institutions and experts as required. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/ngt-forms-independent-panel-to-probe-illegal-mining-in-swan-river/articleshow/81357815.cms  (6 March 2021) 

Panel to study impact of illegal mining on Swan The petitioner also alleged that there is every possibility that it may cause not only loss, damage and destruction to the channelisation work of the Swan river, it may also cause damage to the bridges, leading to loss of public funds already spent for this purpose, besides loss to the water level.

The NGT, in its order passed on March 2, has also asked the secretary (environment), SPCB and the Una deputy commissioner to take note of the incidents, verify the facts and take steps following due process of law. The committee has also been asked to recommend measures to protect the local biodiversity and environment. Earlier, the NGT had passed similar orders asking the state government to stop illegal mining on the river beds in districts of Mandi, Kangra, Kullu and Sirmaur increasing chances of environmental disasters and flash floods in the state. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-ngt-sets-up-5-member-panel-to-study-impact-of-illegal-mining-on-swan-river-in-himachal/376277  (05 March 2021)

Karnataka Mining in CRZ: HC asks state if it is ready for study The High Court has directed the government to make a statement as to whether it is willing to conduct a study on the issue of grant of temporary permit to extract sand in the coastal regulation zone. The PIL was concerning sand mining permits at Phalguni river in Dakshina Kannada.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka passed the order on the PIL filed by Franky D’Souza and nine others from Mangaluru. The petition challenged issuance of temporary permits for sand mining on the banks of Phalguni river at Kenjar, Thukur and Malavoor villages.

In the previous hearing, the court had observed that none of the three provisions in the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994 (Rule 31-ZA, Rule 31-ZB and Rule 31-ZB-A) contemplate grant of temporary licences for sand mining. The court had also said that no temporary licences for sand mining shall be granted contrary to the said rules. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/sand-mining-in-crz-karnataka-hc-asks-state-if-it-is-ready-for-study-957874.html  (04 March 2021)

Can govt. study impact of sand removal on environment, traditional jobs: HC The High Court has asked the State government whether it is willing to conduct a study through an expert agency to ascertain damages that can be caused to the environment and affects to traditional occupations of villagers in granting permission for removal of sand from riverbanks. It also asked the government whether it was prepared to not to grant licences for removal of sand from rivers and riverbanks till the completion of such a study.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order while hearing a PIL petition filed by Franky D’Souza and nine others from Kenjar village near Bajpe of Mangaluru taluk in Dakshina Kannada district. The petitioners have asked about temporary licences being issued for removal of sand in the jurisdiction of Malavoor Gram Panchayat.

Though the government claimed that provisions of the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession (KMMC) Rules, 1994, allows removal of sand in Coastal Regulation Zone as per government notification issued in 2011, the HC pointed out that question is whether the State is under obligation to make a study on impact of sand removal on the environment and the traditional occupations of villages. Meanwhile, the Bench made it clear that temporary licences for sand mining on the banks of Phalguni river at Kenjar, Thokur and Malavoor villages of Mangaluru taluk should not be granted, contrary to the provisions of KMMC Rules. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/can-govt-study-impact-of-sand-removal-on-environment-traditional-jobs-asks-hc/article33984408.ece  (04 March 2021)

Sand mining in Malaprabha River basin This podcast is a part of the DH campaign “Mayhem in Mines”. In this episode of The Lead, get to know the issues related to sand mining in the Malaprabha River basin and what drives illegal sand mining there. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/dh-radio-the-lead-sand-mining-in-malaprabha-river-basin-958292.html  (05 March 2021)

Andhra Pradesh APMDC to hand over operations to MSTC by March-end  The State government is all set to hand over the sand mining operations to the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation (MSTC) by the end of March. Officials of the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) said the MSTC, which was endorsed with the task of sand mining and supply, has already invited technical bids and will call for financial bids within a week. All the remaining formalities involved in the process of transferring the operations is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Speaking to TNIE, APMDC managing director G Venkata Reddy said the State government classified the sand reaches across the State into three packages — Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts (Package 1), West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam (Package 2) and Nellore, Chittoor, Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur districts (Package 3) — and the MSTC invited tenders accordingly.

Asked about the current position of sand as the construction activity picked up momentum across the State, the APMDC managing director said the demand and supply are more or less the same. “As of now, we are able to mine 1.25 lakh metric tonnes of sand a day and the demand stands at 1.30 lakh metric tonnes a day. Thus, the pendency is less and we are able to deliver the construction material on the immediate day after booking. Moreover, we have 14 lakh metric tonnes of buffer stock and thus, we are in a position to meet the demand,’’ Venkata Reddy explained. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2021/mar/06/apmdc-all-set-to-hand-over-sandoperations-to-mstc-by-march-end-2273010.html  (06 March 2021)

Punjab CM announces enforcement directorate Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday  (March 5) announced the constitution of an enforcement directorate, mining, under the command of a senior police officer with adequate police force at his command to take action against illegal mining. Slamming the previous SAD-BJP government for not only patronising illegal mining during his reply to the motion of thanks on the governor’s address, the CM said his government had spent the last four years in setting in order the mining revenues, which the erstwhile regime had allowed to be frittered away. When his government took over, the revenue from mining was as low as Rs. 35 crore annually, which has been enhanced to ₹250 crore – an increase of ₹215 crore, said the CM. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/amarinder-announces-enforcement-directorate-to-check-illegal-mining-101614972420891.html  (06 March 2021)

Driver charred to death as 2 trucks collideA driver was charred to death after two trucks collided head-on and caught fire at Raikot Road in Jagraon late on Monday (Feb. 22) night. Onlookers said the trucks ran into each other while avoiding a collision with a car. Sadar police station SHO sub-inspector Parwinder Singh said, “One truck was loaded with bricks and the other with sand. They were coming from opposite directions on a single-lane road. Onlookers said as a car came in front of the trucks, they ran into each other which avoiding hitting it. After the collision, the trucks caught fire. The driver of one of the trucks got stuck inside.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/driver-charred-to-death-as-2-trucks-collide-catch-fire/articleshow/81177345.cms  (24 Feb. 2021)

Rajasthan 639 illegal mining cases last year In the past one year, 639 cases pertaining to illegal mining of different minerals have been reported in different districts, data from the state’s mining department has revealed. Between January 1 2020 and January 31, 2021, the highest — 86 cases — were reported from Bhilwara district followed by Jodhpur and Nagaur with 58 and 49 cases respectively, reveals the data furnished by the mining department in response to a question at the Assembly.

In January this year, Rajasthan had launched the state’s M-sand policy to govern the manufacturing of sand using mining waste. The policy was described as a ‘game changer’ by the government and was introduced with the purpose of increasing the supply of legal sand in the state. However, in recent times, illegal mining of sand has come up as one of the biggest challenges faced by the government, with CM Ashok Gehlot himself acknowledging the problem on several occasions.

According to the data, in the past three financial years (2018-19, 2019-20 and up to January 31 this year), the mines department has registered 38,335 cases and collected Rs 252.85 crore as fine. In 3,375 of these cases, FIRs have been registered by the police, reveals the data. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/639-illegal-mining-cases-last-year-over-3000-firs-since-2018-19-govt-data-7212150/  (03 March 2021)

Chhattisgarh Opposition demands discussion on illegal mining Alleging rampant illegal sand mining in connivance with the authorities, the opposition on Wednesday (March 3) demanded a discussion in the Assembly. The Chairman said an adjournment motion is under consideration and the matter will be taken up for debate later. Raising the issue, Shivratan Sharma (BJP) said the sand mafia assaulted of elected public representatives and officials trying to stop the illegal mining. And officials feared to take action as the illegal miners enjoyed political patronage. The price of a truck of sand had shot up from Rs 7,000 to Rs 40,000, he added.

Narayan Chandel (BJP) said sand mining was taking place in all rivers in the state. Even search lights were used to facilitate mining at night. Fines were being imposed on villagers but not on miners. Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik alleged there was a ‘jungle raj’ and massive losses were being caused to the exchequer due to non-payment of royalty. Saurabh Singh (BJP) said no CCTV has been installed and mining was being done one to two kilometers away from the allocated area. Plans are afoot to send sand by train to other states, he added. Keshav Chandra (BSP), Dharamjeet Singh (JCC-J) Dr Raman Singh (BJP) spoke of environmental degradation and rivers changing course due to the widespread mining. They said stop-dams gates were being broken to release water for sand mining. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/opposition-demands-discussion-on-illegal-sand-mining.html  (04 March 2021)

Madhya Pradesh अवैध खनन बंद होने के दावों पर खुद मंत्री ही उठा रहे सवाल’ शिवराज सरकार के अवैध खनन बंद होने के दावों पर खुद सरकार के मंत्री सवाल उठा रहे हैं. सूबे के कृषि मंत्री कमल पटेल ने जबलपुर संभाग के आयुक्त को चिट्ठी लिखी है. इसमें लिखा है कि कृषि मंत्री ने नरसिंहपुर जिले में नर्मदा नदी में पोकलेन मशीन औऱ पनडुब्बी लगाकर रेत खनन रोकने के लिये कलेक्टर को निर्देश दिए थे मगर अब तक कोई कार्रवाई नहीं की गई है.

कृषि मंत्री कमल पटेल नर्मदा परिक्रमा पर निकले थे. कहा जा रहा है कि उसी दौरान अवैध खनन का ये वीडियो उन्हें मिला था. पटेल ने परिक्रमा खत्म करते ही जबलपुर कमिश्नर को खत लिखा और प्रशासन पर मिलीभगत के आरोप लगा कर सरकार को ही कठघरे में खड़ा कर दिया. कमल पटेल ने कहा कि धर्मपुरी घाट, ककरा घाट के वीडियो मुझे मिले हैं. https://ndtv.in/videos/minister-himself-raising-questions-on-claims-of-illegal-mining-in-madhya-pradesh-576377  (19 Feb. 2021)

Odisha Rampant clay mining destroys embankment Rampant encroachment and illegal clay mining right under the nose of the district administration and Water Resources department has posed a serious threat to the Prachi river. The river bed and embankments have fallen prey to the sand mafia and brick kilns, who operate openly, cocking a snook at all government authorities.

Stretching for 72-km from Ramachandrapur to Keluni Muhan in Astaranga, the river covers three districts – Khurda, Cuttack and Puri.  It is maintained by Water Resources and Drainage departments. While the 45-km stretch of the river from Ramachandrapur near Bhingarpur is maintained by Gandarpur drainage division, the rest 27-km is maintained by Nimapara irrigation division.

However, due to gross negligence and inaction of local administration and officials of the irrigation and drainage divisions, mafia has become active in further ravaging the already dry river embankments and bed. Hundreds of brick kilns have sprung up along the Prachi river bed from Adaspur under Kantapada tehsil to Nuahat in Niali tehsil. They operate illegally in blatant violation of all norms laid down by the State government. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/06/rampant-clay-mining-by-brick-kilns-destroys-prachi-embankment-2273032.html  (06 March 2021)

Sand Mafia tries to eliminate RI Dilip Chand a Revenue Inspector (RI) in the Balasore district sustained severe injuries after he was allegedly run over by a dumper by a sand mafia at Ambaliaatha square under Jaleswar police limits on Thursday (March 4). The victim has been admitted to a nearby hospital in a critical condition.

According to reports, Chand was conducting inspection of the vehicles. The sand mafia tried to eliminate him when he tried to prevent the vehicle transporting sand illegally to West Bengal. The driver of the dumper tried to run over him. The vehicle ran over the foot of the RI and the driver managed to flee away.

Upon being informed, police rushed to the spot and started an investigation into the incident. According to reports, illegal sand mining is disconcertingly prevalent in several parts of the State. It is alleged that sand is being lifted from the approved areas within different quarries. Such activity is resulting in the change of course of the affected-river, thereby increasing threat to villages close to the embankments. https://odishatv.in/odisha-news/odisha-sand-mafia-tries-to-eliminate-ri-by-running-him-over-by-dumper-523599  (05 March 2021)

Stone Mafia Ransack Tehsildar’s Vehicle In yet another instance of hooliganism by stone mafia in Khorda district, the vehicle of a Tehsildar was ransacked by a group of unidentified miscreants near Gada Khorda area on Dec. 10, 2020. The local Revenue Inspector intercepted a stone-laden tractor allegedly trafficking the material and sized the vehicle. Later a group of persons attacked the Tehsildar’s vehicle when the Revenue Inspector was bringing the tractor to Jatni. The concerned official also sustained minor injuries in the attack.

It is alleged that the miscreants managed to decamp with the stone-laden tractor after resorting to vandalism. It is not for the first time that the officials of revenue department were attacked by stone mafia in Khordha district. On November 5, the Tehsildar of Bolagarh, Dhobei Nayak sustained multiple injuries after he was allegedly attacked by a stone smuggling gang near Gopalpur in the district. Nayak was assailed along with some other staff of the Tehsil when they reached a morrum quarry at Gopalpur to conduct a raid. Notably, Tangi Tehsildar was also attacked by stone mafia during a raid in the region couple of months back.  https://odishatv.in/odisha-news/stone-mafia-menace-resurfaces-in-khordha-miscreants-ransack-tehsildars-vehicle-499837  (10 Dec. 2020)

Uttar Pradesh 3 killed in Banda after sand mound collapses Three labourers got buried in sand and died after a sand mound collapsed during mining in Pailani area of Banda district on Friday (March 5). Hundreds of villagers protested by blocking the state highway by keeping the bodies and demanded compensation. They alleged gross irregularities in safety measures followed by the mine owners. All 3 were rushed to CHC where they were declared dead.

The deceased have been identified as Mahesh, Bunty and Chiriya of village Kakkua. The relatives of the deceased and villagers blocked the state highway and demanded compensation along with strict action against the mine owners for their gross negligence in following the safety measures. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/three-killed-in-banda-after-sand-mound-collapses/articleshow/81354509.cms  (06 March 2021)

बालू लदा ट्रक बाइक पर पलटा, दो की मौत जौनपुर मड़ियाहूं कोतवाली क्षेत्र के ऊंचनी कला गांव के पास मंगलवार (Feb. 26) की सुबह दर्दनाक हादसा हुआ। जौनपुर-मड़ियाहूं मार्ग पर बालू लदी ट्रक पलटने से दो बाइक सवार दब गए। हादसे में वृद्ध समेत दो की मौत हो गई। एक शिक्षिका गंभीर रूप से घायल हुई है। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/jaunpur/sand-loaded-truck-overturns-on-bike-two-killed-jaunpur-news-vns576261156  (26 Feb. 2021)

Bihar ट्रक की चपेट में आने से बाइक सवार युवक की मौत  गोपालगंज में बालू लदे ट्रक की चपेट में आने से बाइक सवार युवक की मौके पर ही मौत हो गई. वही घटना के बाद आक्रोशित परिजनों ने जमकर बवाल काटा. आक्रोशित परिजनों ने मौके से आरोपी ट्रक चालक को भी पकड़ लिया और उसकी बेरहमी से पिटाई करने के बाद पुलिस को सौंप दिया.

घटना बरौली के एनएच 28 स्थित मिर्जापुर गांव के समीप की है. मृतक के परिजन ट्रक चालक के ऊपर जानबूझकर कर दुर्घटना कर हत्या का आरोप लगा रहे है. मृतक की पहचान तुफान सिंह (25 साल) क रूप में हुई है. वह बरौली के मिर्जापुर गांव का निवासी था.  जानकारी के मुताबिक, मृतक तुफान सिंह अपने गांव से किसी काम के लिए बाइक से कही जा रहा था. इसी दौरान वह एनएच 28 पर सड़क पार करने के दौरान वह तेज रफ्तार बालू लदे ट्रक की चापेट में आ गया. जिससे उसकी मौके पर ही मौत हो गई. https://zeenews.india.com/hindi/india/bihar-jharkhand/bike-rider-dies-after-being-hit-by-truck-in-gopalganj/634857  (03 Feb. 2021)

Gujarat Girl killed by sand dumper in Vadodara As per details the 20 year old girl who lives in Navayard was passing by Karelibaug Vuda Circle on her bicycle on Jan. 8. During that time a rashly driven sand-filled dumper knocked her. She died on the spot as her cycle was crushed by the dumper. People rushed to spot and before they could vent their anger, the dumper driver left his dumper and fled from the spot. https://connectgujarat.com/girl-killed-after-knocked-down-by-rashly-driven-dumper-in-vadodara/  (08 Jan. 2021)

Haryana Govt seeks SC approval to restart mining in Aravallis Restarting mining in the Aravallis, one of the oldest fold mountain ranges, will have massive environmental implications for groundwater recharge, biodiversity and wildlife. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/haryana-seeks-sc-approval-to-restart-mining-in-gurgaon-faridabad-aravallis-101614584841633.html  (02 March 2021)

Mining in Aravalis will spell disaster: Activists A group of young climate activists on Wednesday (March 3) submitted a letter to the Haryana government, asking to not legalise mining in the Aravalis. The group of children, part of the ‘Aravalli Bachao Citizens’ movement, reached Haryana Bhawan and submitted a letter drafted for the Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar.

The letter also asks the government to withdraw the Punjab Land Preservation Act Amendment Bill 2019, remove illegal encroachments from the Aravalis, grant forest status to 50,000 acres of Aravalis that have no legal protection and cancel their plans to set up a waste-to-energy plant at Bandhwari. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/mining-in-aravalis-will-spell-disaster-say-young-activists/articleshow/81319567.cms  (04 March 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Goa Draft CZMP has stoked a controversy The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management’s (NCSCM) draft report made public earlier this year states that the primary purpose of a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) is to describe proposed actions to be implemented by administrative or other public authorities and potentially by the private sector to address priority management issues in the coastal zone over a defined implementation period.

Environmentalists, local bodies and opposition parties have all voiced their opposition to the draft CZMP report. Environmentalist and Goa Foundation director Claude Alvares said in a statement issued earlier this week that they had informed the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) constituted by the MoEF, that the 30-day limit for suggestions and objections to the draft was not legal, as it was contrary to the 60-day limit provided by the Environment Protection Rules, 1986. He said that people have the right to file detailed written objections before March 30, 2021 irrespective of the public hearing scheduled by the collector next week.

Goa Foundation alleged that several errors have been allowed into the draft CZMPs. “Re-zoning of beach areas like Querim (Tiracol), Palolem, Cola have been carried out without any legal basis. Each village community is finding hundreds of errors in the village plans,” said Alvares. He said that the GCZMA had put up the maps for public hearing without examining them first as a result of which errors pointed out by village communities during the 2019 public consultation have remained in the new draft plans. “Changes made to show several illegal constructions in the draft CZMPs (when several legitimate constructions have been left out) indicate indirect influence on the preparation of the draft CZMPs. This may require a criminal investigation” said Alvares.

Activists had alleged that 254 maps that were to cover the state but certain villages and municipal areas have been missing from the maps.

Locals and fishermen from South Goa villages have claimed that structures including some homes and churches have been left out of the CZMP. Traditional Fishermen Association and Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott had approached the Bombay High Court urging it to quash and set aside the public hearings scheduled on March 7. Earlier this week, however, the Goa bench of the High Court asked the petitioners to move the NGT and disposed of the petitions.

The public hearing on the finalisation of the draft CZMP will be held on Sunday from 10:30 am to 5 pm in Panaji for North Goa and in Margao for South Goa. Following Covid-19 safety protocols, the GCZMA has been asked to limit the number of participants to 50 per cent of the venue capacity. Each speaker will be given no more than five minutes to speak and only 150 speakers will be registered. Those who are unable to attend the hearing can submit their written representations to the GCZMA or the district collector by March 15. Modes of virtual hearing will also be kept open on March 7, an order issued by the North Goa and South Goa Collectors on Wednesday stated. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-finalisation-of-draft-czmp-has-stoked-a-controversy-in-goa-7217091/  (06 March 2021)

Maharashtra Mumbai needs 71 ha of mangrove land for transmission lines  The already-shrinking mangrove pockets in Mumbai and Thane may lose green pockets as big as 8 Oval Maidans to make way for giant transmission towers to meet the city’s growing appetite for electricity. The project entails denotification of 71 hectares of mangroves to install 47 transmission towers over 14.5 kilometres.

While the lines will pass through the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary, authorities said they have charted the alignment keeping in mind protected patches of forest, flamingo roosting and feeding sites and accessibility. Kharghar Vikhroli Transmission Private Limited, which is implementing the project, has approached the MoEF for approval to clear the mangroves. Considering the potential damage to ecologically important landscapes, the project also requires clearances from authorities like CRZ, forest and the National Board for Wildlife. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/power-hungry-mumbai-needs-71-hectares-of-mangrove-land-for-transmission-lines-23162357  (05 Feb. 2021)

Airoli creek clean up The amount of filth and garbage that’s being unearthed in the ongoing drive to clean-up the mangroves in Airoli, Mumbai – which the state government declared the ‘Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary’ in 2015 – has left even the authorities astounded. The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra, along with three volunteer groups, started the drive in the last week of December, and has so far removed close to eight tonnes (8,000 kg) of garbage – and there’s still more to go.

Despite the use of satellite mapping, forest patrolling and the threats of stringent actions, the state has not been able to put a lid on the illegal dumping of waste in the Airoli creek. It is also not easy, the sanctuary makes for 1,690 ha of total notified area, comprising 794 ha of water body and 896 ha of mangroves (of 12 different species). It also boasts of 67 bird species, 45 species of fish, 59 species of butterflies, 67 species of insects, 35 species of phytoplankton, 24 species of zooplankton, and 23 species of benthos.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/religious-idols-toilet-seats-mattresses-the-8000-kg-sea-of-garbage-threatening-mumbais-mangroves/articleshow/81257915.cms  (01 March 2021) 

Odisha Community mangrove forest protects a village from eroding away Over the past 12 years, the residents of Badakot have converted degraded land into a 25-acre mangrove forest that protects their village from eroding away. Bijay Kumar Kabi led the community to develop the mangrove forest and also negotiated with the forest department and others for seeds, training and other requirements to ensure the mangroves are grown scientifically and the toil of the community doesn’t turn futile. Badakot lies along the periphery of Bhitarkanika, one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in India and a Ramsar site.  https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/a-community-created-mangrove-forest-protects-a-village-from-eroding-away/  (02 March 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

Himanshu Thakkar Coordinator SANDRP speaking in LSTV discussion in the context of PM’s Mann ki baat on Feb 28, 2021 on Water and River Conservation.

Rajasthan Digital tool to monitor groundwater Up until now, the Community Resource Persons (CRPs) in the project area of Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), a non-profit organisation have mostly been men. However, its staff and cadre’s year-long efforts to mobilize women to participate in the water monitoring exercise have received a positive response, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.

To date, close to 45 women in these districts have taken to well water monitoring in and around their villages, of which at least 15 are actively engaged in this activity. Gayatri Sharma, one of the CRPs from Baori Village of Jahazpur Block in Bhilwara District, has already recorded the water levels of 50 wells. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/digital-tool-monitor-groundwater  (28 Feb. 2021)

Report about community driven revival of local water bodies in Goa, TN. https://news.trust.org/item/20210308005902-n6kop/  (08 March 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Tamil Nadu NGT orders health study over groundwater contamination at SIPCOT Cuddalore The southern bench of the NGT has ordered the preparation of a comprehensive action plan and detailed health study to understand and reverse the effects of severe contamination of groundwater by industries in the SIPCOT industrial area in Cuddalore. The green bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and Expert Member Saibal Dasgupta constituted an expert committee to formulate the action plan, while directing the  SPCB to initiate action against the erring industries and impose environmental compensation against them in accordance with law.

The 286-page judgement is seen as a first of its kind by environmental activists considering the NGT has asked for a comprehensive health study in addition to an environmental study. The judgement talked about ““reverse engineering or relate back theory” to ascertain pollution and its health impacts. An in-depth study will have to be conducted by comparing the situation prevailing prior to the establishment of the industrial complex and post establishment to ascertain the environment degradation, by applying the reverse engineering or relate back theory to ascertain the source and probable reason and person(s) responsible for the same. 

Justice K Ramakrishnan expressed grave concerns that there are several studies by the CPCB which have stated that SIPCOT Cuddalore is severely to critically polluted and the groundwater quality is particularly bad. Noted environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who represented the petitioners, said: “This judgement is truly landmark in the depth at which the tribunal dealt with the issue before it. The various technical and scientific reports were considered by the tribunal while issuing comprehensive direction to remedy the situation. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/mar/06/in-a-first-ngt-orders-health-study-over-groundwater-contamination-at-sipcot-cuddalore-2273104.html  (06 March 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Fluoride and nitrate – a health problem in Anantapur High fluoride and nitrate cause dental, skeletal fluorosis and methemoglobinemia in infants and stomach cancer in adults. The paper ‘Geochemical and health risk assessment of fluoride and nitrate toxicity in semi-arid region of Anantapur District, South India’ by Muralidhara Reddy B and Sunitha V deals with the fluoride and nitrate concentration in groundwater resources of the area, and its related potential health risk assessment. For this purpose, 50 groundwater samples were analysed for testing hydrochemical parameters including major ions, fluoride and nitrate. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/fluoride-and-nitrate-health-problem-anantapur  (28 Feb. 2021) 

Veena Srinivasan – Solving the Groundwater Crisis https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=eGW15PX2l-8&t=4s  (01 March 2021)

Punjab House resolves to raise groundwater level The Vidhan Sabha on Thursday (March 4) passed a resolution unanimously asking the state government to take effective steps to raise the underground water level to save the state from turning into “barren land”. Speaker Rana K P Singh also announced the formation of a committee to look into ways and means of optimum utilisation of water resources and suggest steps to re-charge groundwater.

The Speaker suggested that the principal secretary of the water resources department should assist the committee. The committee’s report will have to be submitted within three months. The Speaker made the suggestion after Congress MLA Kuldeep Singh Vaid suggested the same while participating in the debate on the deteriorating groundwater table in the state.

The passing of the resolution was preceded by a discussion on the water table of Punjab where all members, cutting across party lines, expressed their dismay at the fast-receding underground water levels and made several suggestions ranging from diversification of crops to various methods to conserve water while sowing paddy. Cutting across party lines, MLAs who spoke on the resolution argued in favour of diversification of crops so as to break the wheat-paddy cycle.

SAD MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra said the state had 105 blocks categorised as ‘dark zones’ due to depleting groundwater level and out of 138 blocks, 45 blocks were in critical condition. Commenting that the chief minister should have been present in the House during this important debate, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said that illegal mining has caused widespread damage to river beds. The state is in a crises but the state government has failed to formulate an agriculture policy till date,” he added. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-budget-session-punjab-house-resolves-to-raise-underground-water-level-7215040/  (05 March 2021)

URBAN WATER

Bengaluru Lakes on fire again While Bellandur lake is no stranger to fumes, this time, the burning of dry waste on its lakebed is suspected to have caused the fire. The lake is now dry as it has been dewatered for rejuvenation. On the other hand residents around Vrushabhavathi river the only one that originates in the city yet has never commanded the importance it deserves, said the fire was unusual. Locals suspect that rows of waste picker settlements along the banks of the river is a source of solid waste that is dumped in the river, apart from indiscriminate dumping by others illegally.

While Bellandur is under rejuvenation, Vrushabhavathi got a shot of optimism last year when the KSPCB constituted a committee to draw up an action plan for the Vrushabhavathi Valley (V-Valley). However, sources said the committee has had only one meeting so far.

A resident who lives opposite Bellandur lake, said the fires have become an annual occurrence, but still there are no answers. Another resident, Sonali Singh, said they saw 16 major fires and numerous small fires last year. “This season in just two months, there have been seven fires in Bellandur Lake, buffer zone and surrounding areas,” she alleged. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/dry-waste-burning-suspected-for-fire-in-polluted-water-bodies/article34000156.ece  (06 March 2021)

Another lake slowly dying Halanayakanahalli Lake, spread across 78.97 hectares, near Sarjapur Road, is dying due to official apathy. The locals say their complaints since 2014 have fallen on deaf ears. The lake, also referred to as Chikkanahalli lake, is maintained by the Minor Irrigation Department. It falls under three survey numbers — Halanayakanahalli Survey number 67, Chikkanayakanahalli village survey number 7 and Chikkanahalli village survey number 12.

The locals have been complaining all these years about the lake turning into a dump yard where garbage and construction materials are being dumped. The catchment area of the lake has now been converted into a makeshift road.  The locals in 2014, again in 2018 and in 2019 had approached the department pointing about the encroachment in the lake bed. But that has also not been addressed. They say they have submitted many signature petitions also to the department, which the officials have acknowledged with a seal and stamp. But nothing has been done on the ground. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/mar/04/another-bengaluru-lake-slowly-dying-2271851.html  (04 March 2021)

Lakes to have eyes BBMP will spend Rs 25-40 lakh per water body for CCTV cameras at 11 lakes. This despite the BBMP installing 54 cameras in and around the Bellandur lake at a cost of Rs 5 crore and six months later, many of them were found defunct in November 2020. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/the-lakes-have-eyes/articleshow/81261969.cms  (01 March 2021)

BWSSB shuts over 60K water connections In a drive to weed out illegal water connections in the city, the BWSSB has so far identified and disconnected 64,568 such connections. According to BWSSB officials, many households and apartments were illegally using the water connection without paying money. This had resulted in twin losses for the water board. With no option but to regularise their water connection by paying a fine, around 25,000 houses (whose water connections were disconnected) have regularised their connections now.

The BWSSB officials said that the maximum number of illegal connections was found in the west zone. This zone had around 38,000 illegal connections and out of this, 10,000 have been regularised. In the east zone, there were 27,000 connections. The BWSSB has also been disconnecting illegal drainage connections, with the south zone topping the list with 41,075 illegal UGD connections, all of which have been disconnected. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/bwssb-shuts-over-60k-water-connections/articleshow/81359277.cms  (06 March 2021)

2 ministers, BBMP in top 100 BWSSB defaulters’ list According to a RTI document availed by a High Court advocate and social activist A R Shashikumar, 100 top defaulters from Central 1 subdivision owe Rs 3.12 crore in water bills to the BWSSB. The BWSSB authorities have not disconnected water supply to any of the alleged defaulters- government colleges, bungalows allotted to Cabinet ministers, Karnataka Judicial Academy and BBMP who have to pay arrears worth lakhs of rupees.

BWSSB authorities are still supplying water to the bungalows allotted to Jagadish Shettar and ‘Shri B Ramulu’ (according to the RTI document), despite their arrears amounting to lakhs of rupees. For example, Jagadish Shettar’s pending water bills amount to Rs 15,85,026 (of which Rs 10,66,672 is the arrear) as on February 2, 2021 while Minister B Sriramulu’s pending bills amount to Rs 11,69,637 (arrears: Rs 928,298). The BBMP Head Office has pending bills worth Rs 1,49,30,401. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/two-ministers-bbmp-in-top-100-bwssb-defaulters-list/articleshow/80756613.cms  (09 Feb. 2021)

5 ml litres lost to pipeline damage by GAIL The main water transmission pipeline for South Bengaluru on Kathriguppe Main Road was damaged due to gas pipeline work on Saturday (Feb. 27), disrupting the water supply to several areas. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has filed an FIR at the local station against a contractor of GAIL Gas Limited for the damage. Normalcy in the water supply will be restored on Monday (March 1).  https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2021/mar/01/five-million-litres-lost-gail-work-damages-bengaluru-water-pipeline-2270297.html  (01 March 2021)

Chennai Reservoirs’ storage almost double than in 2020 With city reservoirs brimming, there will be enough water for least for 12 months, say officials. The purchase from desalination plants has also been reduced. After rains in November and December, the reservoirs received copious inflow. As against the 6,229 mcft (million cubic feet) storage last year, the total storage now stands at 10,694 mcft.

“We are supplying 830 MLD to the core and added areas of the city. There is enough water to serve the city for this year. We have also reduced purchase from desalination plants. Only 36 MLD from Nemmeli and 85 MLD from Minjur is being purchased currently,” said an official. While 700 MLD is supplied to core areas, 110 MLD is being supplied to added areas. The fifth reservoir, Thervoy Kandigai has a storage of 498 mcft. However, no water is being drawn from here as of yet. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2021/mar/01/storage-in-reservoirs-almost-double-than-in-2020-2270351.html  (01 March 2021)

Hyderabad Wiping out greenery, one project at a time Sanjeevaiah Park used to be like a patch of nature with an endless expanse of trees and a walking trail where lovers used to get lost. Not anymore. It is a concrete jungle with an occasional ornamental tree or trees planted in a line to fulfil tree-plantation goals. Satellite imagery over the past 15 years shows how the patch of green jutting into the Hussainsagar has vanished over the years. The recent tender floated by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority for a night bazaar between Sanjeevaiah Park and Buddha Bhavan will further change land use of the park and the lake. The bazaar envisages pedestrian boardwalk with illumination over a 1,300-metre stretch. What all this construction activity will mean for the lake is anybody’s guess. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/wiping-out-greenery-one-project-at-a-time/article33983335.ece  (03 March 2021)

Nashik Fall in Gangapur dam sparks save water call Mayor Satish Kulkarni has voiced the need to plan water utilisation considering the fast depleting water level of Gangapur dam complex, which provides water to most parts of the city. Data from the water resources department shows that the dam complex is filled to 54.38% of its capacity. During the corresponding period last year, the water stock in complex was 74%.

The mayor said that the water supply department of the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC)) must draw up a plan as soon as possible so that the water stock lasts till mid-June. “We are still three-and-a-half months away from monsoon. The water level of the Gangapur dam complex has reduced excessively as compared to last year,” he said, adding that a meeting will soon be called to review the situation and make necessary plans.

The NMC sources 80% of its water requirement from Gangapur dam complex, while the remaining 20% comes from Darna and Mukane dams. The total capacity of the three dams (Gangapur, Gautami and Kashyapi) in the complex is around 9,350 million cubic feet (mcft). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/fall-in-gangapur-dam-sparks-save-water-call/articleshow/81353362.cms  (06 March 2021)

Delhi Haryana cut water supply: DJB VC DJB vice-chairman Raghav Chadha Sunday (March 7) sought Central water minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s intervention in directing the Haryana government to release Delhi’s share of water in the Yamuna. In a series of tweets, Chadha said the Haryana government has reduced raw water supply to Delhi, as a result of which the capital is facing a shortage. The move comes after The Indian Express reported Sunday that the flow in the river has reduced from 5 lakh cusec to 2.5 lakh cusec since a week due to poor rainfall and beginning of crop season in Haryana, impacting water supply in parts of the capital.

Chadha said water supplied through two canals to Delhi from Haryana has also reduced — in addition to reduction in river flow — with CLC canal carrying 549 cusec against the original 683 cusec and DSB canal carrying 306 cusec against the original 330 cusec. “Wazirabad & Chandrawal WTP production has reduced by 30% & Okhla WTP’s production has reduced by 15%. Further, Haryana government’s lackadaisical attitude has led to unchecked dumping of sewage into Yamuna. Samples picked up by our quality lab show high contamination/ammonia,” Chadha said in a tweet. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/haryana-cut-delhi-water-supply-says-chadha-asks-centres-help-7218779/  (08 Feb. 2021)

City among top 3 states with most ‘contaminated sites’ Delhi has featured third on a list of states and union territories with most contaminated sites, according to the CPCB data. The CPCB report released on Sunday (March 7) said that there are over 112 sites in India that are contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances. Apart from this, another 168 sites were identified that might be contaminated, but require investigation and confirmation, the report said. The list is topped by Odisha, which has 23 contaminated sites, followed by Uttar Pradesh, with 21 such sites in the state and Delhi, which has 11.

Delhi’s 11 sites are Bhalswa and Ghazipur landfills, industrial areas in Jhilmil and Wazirpur, New Friends Colony (NFC), Dilshad Garden and Lawrence Road. Apart from these, there are another 12 spots under the “probably contaminated” list in the Capital. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-among-top-3-states-with-most-contaminated-sites-101615151772392.html  (08 March 2021)

Eco park on mining pit An eco-park will be developed by South Delhi Municipal Corporation in Badarpur, which has already started tender process for the project. A civic official revealed that the chosen site once comprised mining pits, which are being filled with inert material and soil recovered from the bio-mining and trammeling of the Okhla landfill.

“Around 35% of the work to fill the pits has been completed. Now, greening work will be done by our horticulture department parallel with the pit filling,” disclosed the official. The plan is to recreate natural mounds over a 10-acre area with fine soil generated by bio-mining process. “It will not be a flat space,” another official explained. The artificial mounds will create natural play settings for children for sliding and climbing.”

Spread over 22 acres, the chosen Tajpur Pahadi expanse inclines into the Aravali region. SDMC plans to only use natural Aravali vegetation and plants to create the eco-zone.  Another official disclosed that the development site is gram sabha land that was provided to the south corporation for dumping of ash from the Okhla WTE plant. Several decades ago, sandstone, lime and sand were mined in the area, and sand is even today colloquially called ‘Badarpur’. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/how-an-eco-park-will-rise-from-the-ashes/articleshow/80051286.cms  (01 Jan. 2021)

‘Reviving Ridge will benefit city air, groundwater’ Restoring over 400 hectares of the Central Ridge will have an “enormous” impact on Delhi’s air quality and groundwater levels, according to the expert heading the revival project.

Delhi University Professor C R Babu, who heads the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, told The Indian Express his team aims to begin restoration work this month. The ridge, a reserved forest of about 7,700 hectares and the northern extension of the Aravalli Range, is presently covered with Prosopis juliflora or vilayati kikar — an invasive tree species introduced under the British Empire, which is not exactly serving as the city’s “green lungs”, according to Prof. Babu.

In the first stage, a patch of the ridge measuring about 100 hectares along the Sardar Patel Marg will be restored and the remaining area will be taken afterwards. Prof. Babu estimates the residents will begin to see the impact of restoration on the environment over the next two years. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/reviving-ridge-will-greatly-benefit-city-air-groundwater-says-panel-head-7211703/  (03 March 2021)

DDA to change land use of 31 acres for redevelopment project The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has initiated the process to change the land use of three plots, spread over 31 acres, including 19 acres of green space, in the heart of the city. It is learnt that this is being done for the Centre’s ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project, but there isn’t an official word on the same. The land use of 101.1 acres was changed in 2019 for the approximately ₹14,000 crore project.

“People will have to send their suggestions or objections within the next 30 days. There will be a board of inquiry if we get objections from the public regarding the change of land use. The proposal will be tabled again in the authority meeting before being sent to the Union housing and urban affairs ministry for notification and amendment in the Master Plan of Delhi-2021,” said the official. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/dda-to-change-land-use-of-31-acres-for-redevelopment-project-101614672027609.html  (02 March 2021)

Chandigarh Consumers paying through their nose After the recent hike in water tariff in Chandigarh, which ranges from 40% to 185%, the city residents, in some consumption slabs, are paying more than 10 times the rates prevalent in the neighbouring districts of Mohali and Panchkula. In addition to having the highest water tariff, Chandigarh also has the highest rate of sewerage cess in the tricity.

In September last year, the UT administration had notified the new water tariff. In October, the MC General House passed a resolution to roll back the hike. However, the administration did not approve it. The House will again debate the issue in its meeting on March 9. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/consumers-paying-through-their-nose-for-water-in-chandigarh-101614968520624.html  (05 March 2021)

Gurugram Campaign to improve ground water level With the aim of improving the groundwater level in the district, a comprehensive campaign for water conservation is likely to be launched in the city by the district administration. Yash Garg, deputy commissioner of the district said that the campaign will be run by the team of GuruJal Society in collaboration with the district administration and the department of town and country planning (DTCP).

The administration also aims to clean drains through which rainwater can be harvested naturally to increase the groundwater table. On March 1, the district town planners for planning and enforcement met with members from the GuruJal team. During the meeting, it was decided that a legal framework for the implementation of rainwater harvesting structures in Gurugram will be prepared and a rainwater harvesting enforcement drive will be conducted in the city with an aim to check the functionality and status of the such structures.

Between 2014 and 2018, the groundwater table in Gurugram district reduced by two-and-a-half metres. In 2014, the district recorded an average groundwater level of 26.3 metres (below the ground). By 2018, this level had dipped to 28.9 metres across four monitoring blocks of Gurugram, Sohna, Pataudi and Farrukhnagar. The latest data obtained from the agricultural department’s groundwater cell revealed that between June 2019 and June 2020, the groundwater table in Gurugram district dropped by 0.27 metres and stood at 29.86 metres. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/gurugram-news/gurugram-district-to-soon-launch-campaign-to-improve-ground-water-level-101614967140657.html  (05 March 2021)

Faridabad Feasibility study of water bodies One should take advantage of available digital interfaces or create one by uploading all data in a systematic way so that the knowledge is in the public domain https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/how-we-conducted-a-feasibility-study-of-water-bodies-in-faridabad-75765  (04 March 2021) Designing proposals of 19 waterbodies The project offered us an opportunity to bring substantial change through our work to the local environment and the lives of people living around these waterbodies https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/a-creative-challenge-designing-proposals-of-19-waterbodies-in-faridabad-75792  (05 March 2021)

WATER POLLUTION

Maharashtra Central Railway installs STPs at 5 locations Central Railway has set-up STPs at five locations in 2020 in Maharashtra with an aim to purify 10 million litres of contaminated water used in workshops and coach factories. Matunga workshop in Mumbai will have capacity of 40 kilo litres per day. At Pandharpur 50 kilo litres per day of water will be treated. At Marathawada coach factory around 40 kilo litres per day of water will be treated while at Latur station and Bhusawal loco workshop 15 kilo litres of water will be treated.

A total of 23 water treatment plants have been installed by the Central Railway so far, including sewage treatment plants, water recycling plants and effluent treatment plants. This purified water is used for various purposes on Central Railway such as cleaning of platforms, cleaning of stalls at stations, cleaning of trains in coaching depots, watering for gardens and plants, for flushing toilets etc. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/central-railway-installs-sewage-water-treatment-plants-at-5-locations-in-maharashtra/articleshow/81331327.cms  (04 March 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Telangana Mission Bhagiratha rendered useless  A drinking water problem is looming large in the interior tribal areas with the onset of summer and people are forced to drink contaminated water despite Mission Bhagiratha and putting in place taps. The fact is that water is not being supplied to many villages in tribal areas of erstwhile Adilabad district. There is every danger of villagers falling victims to diarrhoea after drinking water from abandoned wells and polluted water bodies.  

Already the water bodies are on the verge of drying up and the villagers are going long distances for getting drinking water while some are bringing water in plastic drums on bullock carts. The villagers are now using water from the agriculture wells for drinking purposes and also fetching water from agriculture bores.

Villagers say that there are many leaks in the Mission Bhagiratha water pipelines and water is not reaching the targeted destinations. During marriage functions many are getting affected after eating food cooked with polluted water. Such food poisoning incidents occur during summer because of use of contaminated water. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/060321/mission-bhagiratha-rendered-useless-villagers-drink-polluted-water.html  (06 March 2021)

SUMMER 2021

IMD Scorching summer looming for north India In its outlook for the months of March to May, IMD said the mean maximum temperatures in Delhi and Haryana could be 0.71 degree Celsius higher than normal, the highest predicted deviation from normal in the country after Chhattisgarh, where temperatures are likely to be 0.86 degree C above normal. West UP could be almost as hot with 0.61 degree C higher-than-normal maximum temperatures during the season.

The summer in most of Maharashtra, and parts of south peninsular India like Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka may see cooler day temperatures. Warmer nights are also in store for many regions, including Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, east Rajasthan, Madhya Maharashtra and other places. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/scorching-summer-looming-for-north-india-imd/articleshow/81284328.cms  (02 March 2021)

Early summer, lack of rain spark fires Forest fires are raging in many parts of the country as the mercury spikes and there is a large rain deficiency except in parts of peninsular India, leading to an earlier than usual onset of the fire season, senior officials of the Forest Survey of India said on Saturday (March 6).

According to Forest Survey of India’s forest fire alert system, there were 2,317 fire points last year between February 26 and March 7, but the figure rose to 53,211 this time after data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) was taken into account.

When data from the MODIS satellite is considered, there were 627 fire points last year during the same period while there are 6295 fire points this year. In the past seven days, Odisha alone recorded nearly 18,000 fire points as per SNPP followed by around 5000 fires in Telangana; around 4,500 fires in Jharkhand and 4300 in Madhya Pradesh. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/early-summer-lack-of-rain-spark-fires-101615142233553.html  (08 March 2021)

DAM FLOODS 2020

Jharkhand Sudden water release from Galudih dam washed away goods worth 70 lakhs On Wednesday (26 Aug. 2020) night, 16 gates out of the 18 gates of Galudih Barrage Dam dam were opened leading to sudden flood in downstream areas that washed away about 70 lakh items of the GPT Infrastructure Company engaged in work of third line construction. Company officials also complained about the issue to the the Railway Development Corporation through a letter regarding this matter.

-Officials of the GPT Company expressed their displeasure with the officials of the Barrage Division for opening the gate of the barrage without informing them. The site in-charge of the company, Moolchand Yadav, said that an application was made on August 10 to the officer of the Barrage Division to give information before opening the gate of the dam. However, late Wednesday night, the department opened 16 gates of the barrage without giving any information.  Due to this, equipment worth 70 lakhs wa washed away. The information of this incident was given to RVNL and the work was stopped at the moment. https://www.jagran.com/jharkhand/jamshedpur-70-lakh-goods-washed-away-due-to-opening-of-dam-gate-20678151.html  (28 Aug. 2020)  

DROUGHT 2021

Drought Driven by Greed In foreword to Kavitha Iyer’s book Landscapes of Loss, P Sainath writes about the commodification of water, the thriving ‘thirst economy’ in Marathwada. https://thewire.in/books/drought-landscapes-of-loss-book-excerpt-p-sainath-kavitha-iyer (1 March 2021)

Why sugar mills coming up in dry zones Huge subsidies, high returns and support from financial entities attract politicians and entrepreneurs to set up units. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/why-sugar-mills-have-been-coming-up-in-zones-that-are-facing-water-scarcity/article33959121.ece  (01 March 2021)  

DISASTERS

Study Sharp rise in extreme weather events in last 50 yrs The paper, published in Science Direct journal on Feb. 26, compared extreme weather events across two 20-year periods—1980-1999 and 2000-2019. The comparison highlighted an increase of 138% in heatwaves, 193% in lightning strikes, 25% in cold waves, 28% in floods, and a decrease of 19% in tropical cyclones. https://www.hindustantimes.com/environment/study-sharp-rise-in-extreme-weather-events-in-last-50-yrs-101614638532952.html  (02 March 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Editorial Paler green NGT has been called out for failing its primary function of securing the “right to healthy environment as a part of the Right to Life under Article 21”. In the past three years, particularly, the agency has been faulted for giving short shrift to due procedure. Now, an investigation by this newspaper has revealed that last year, the NGT invoked the deadline-related technical clause to dismiss 11 petitions, even though at least five of them were filed well within the outer time limit.  https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/paler-green-7210106/  (02 March 2021)

SC sets aside NGT dismissal of appeal on time bar Holding that NGT’s decision to dismiss an appeal against the environment clearance granted to the Bhogapuram airport project in Andhra Pradesh as time-barred was “erroneous and based on a narrow reading of the law”, the SC on Tuesday (March 02) set aside the order and asked the parties to appear before the tribunal to argue the appeal on merit.

In its judgment delivered, the two-judge Supreme Court bench of Justices Nageshwara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said: “An appeal to the NGT in such matters is no ordinary matter; it has the potential of irrevocably changing the environment with the possibility of likely injury. Application of judicial mind by an independent tribunal in such cases, at the first appellate stage, is almost a necessity.”

The judgment said: “There is, in our opinion, nothing in the NGT Act which excludes parties who would be directly affected by a project that has environmental repercussions, from accessing the tribunal. Likewise, characterizing the nature of legal advice that can be accessed for challenging land acquisition, as similar to a challenge to environmental clearance which involves application of mind to technical issues in a detailed manner, would be unfair and simplistic. Scientific or technical support – apart from expert professional legal advice is necessary, if the NGT were to be approached.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/narrow-reading-of-law-sc-sets-aside-ngt-dismissal-of-appeal-on-time-bar-7211766/  (03 March 2021)

Goa Ecologists, miners oppose Centre’s proposed amendments to mining act The Goa mine workers and environmentalists have come together to oppose the proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Development (MMDR) Act, 1957, which gives the Centre powers to auction mines in states, terming it a step backwards. In a series of communiques sent to the Union ministry of mines, the Goa Foundation has said the proposed amendments will “essentially enable the Center to force states to sell their family silver at a below-market price that the Center sets.”

The Central ministry sent out a notice asking stakeholders and the general public to comment on the proposed amendments, which, among other things, included provisions to transfer the statutory clearances of expired mining leases and allows the Centre to auction mines in case of difficulties faced by the states, a provision crucial to Goa since it has not been able to auction its mines despite passing of more than two years since the Supreme Court order to grant fresh mining leases. Referring to mineral resources as a shared inheritance, owned by state governments as a trustee for the people, akin to the family silver, the Goa Foundation has said that ‘forcibly’ auctioning the mines at less than market value would amount to ‘cheating’. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/goa-ecologists-miners-oppose-centre-s-proposed-amendments-to-mining-act-101614746800131.html  (03 March 2021)

Report Letter from industrialist prompts minister to scrap environment policy More than five months after the environment ministry strongly defended its corporate environment responsibility, or CER, guidelines in the Delhi High Court, environment minister Prakash Javadekar asked his officials to scrap them following a letter from Rajju Shroff, the founder of United Phosphorus Ltd, or UPL, according to official documents accessed by The Morning Context.  Published in May 2018, the CER guidelines mandated companies to spend 0.25-2% of their projects’ capital investment towards activities that could mitigate adverse impacts on people and the environment in their immediate surroundings. The exact percentage of investment to be spent as CER obligation differed according to the nature of the project. https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/letter-from-industrialist-prompts-minister-to-scrap-environment-policy  (06 March 2021)

Scientists Record Drastic Loss Of Forest Birds In Western Himalaya As per the report same is happening in Eastern Himalayas:- Land-use changes in the western Himalayan forests, a global biodiversity hotspot with huge numbers of endemic species, have resulted in a massive decline in forest birds in the region, new research shows.

The middle Himalayas with the oak-pine zone is where the maximum land-use change is expected during the next few decades, due to hydro-electric projects, tourism, urban expansion, and road -widening. The natural oak forests of this region are, hence, especially threatened and further loss of oak forests can result in loss of natural resource-based livelihoods and local employment such as in agriculture, says Shahabuddin.  https://science.thewire.in/environment/scientists-record-drastic-loss-of-forest-birds-in-western-himalaya/  (06 March 2021)

Sikkim Villagers Oppose Bridge  The construction of an 826-metre-long bridge in Rangpo village in Kalimpong district linking the state to Sikkim has been embroiled in a controversy. The bridge is being built across the Rangpo river, which forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal. About 200 metres of the bridge is proposed to be built in Rangpo. While the bridge on the Sikkim side has been completed, the construction of the remaining part in West Bengal has been halted. At least 56 families in Rangpo have objected to the bridge as construction work will require them to be evicted.

While the Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramjivi Manch is fighting for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Cooch Behar districts, the district administration of Kalimpong and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration have been exerting pressure on the Rangpo Village Assembly to issue NOCs and consent letters for forest diversion proposals for the construction of the bridge.

However, forest dwellers in the village have refused to give consent as their demand for implementation of the FRA in 168 villages in Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts is still pending. The Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramjivi Manch and the Himalayan Forest Villagers’ Organisation, which works with villagers to ensure forest rights implementation, alleged in a press release that the district administration is planning to use force to demolish the 56 houses and arrest the Village Assembly leaders in clear violation of the FRA (see the photos attached). https://www.landconflictwatch.org/conflicts/villagers-oppose-bridge-connecting-west-bengal-sikkim-demand-implementation-of-fra-first  (25 Feb. 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Warming will increase frequency of flash droughts in India Climate change will increase the frequency of flash droughts in India in the future, which will have a negative impact on crop production, irrigation demands, and groundwater abstraction, says a study by researchers at IIT Gandhinagar. Flash droughts occur due to rapid depletion of soil moisture. In contrast to the conventional droughts, flash droughts can impact a large region within two-three weeks, severely affecting crop health and irrigation water demands. The study, published in the journal ‘npj Climate and Atmospheric Science’, examined the role of climate warming and intra-seasonal variability during the summer monsoon season on the flash drought occurrence over India. The team noted that the worst flash drought in the observed timeframe from 1951–2016 occurred in 1979, when more than 40 per cent of the country was affected. The frequency of concurrent hot and dry extremes is projected to rise by about five-fold, causing approximately seven-fold increase in flash droughts like 1979 by the end of the 21st century.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/schools/warming-will-increase-frequency-of-flash-droughts-in-india-iit-gandhinagar-study-219082  (01 March 2021)

Agenda for Stockholm+50 Some strange statements by Sunita Narain here. She says Urban lakes that were polluted in 1972 “are now pristine… countries have indeed cleaned up locally”. One wonders which part of India or South Asia or most of the Asia and Africa has this happened. https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/agenda-for-stockholm-50-121030700914_1.html  (07 March 2021)  

SOUTH ASIA

India-China Green light for first downstream dams on Brahmaputra? This front page top headline news in THE HINDU today (March 8, 2021) basically says: “A draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), is set to be formally approved on March 11… The draft outline of the new Five-Year Plan (FYP) for 2025 and “long range objectives through the year 2035”, submitted before the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s ceremonial legislature, on March 5, specifically mentions the building of hydropower bases on the lower reaches of the river as among the priority energy projects to be undertaken in the next five years.” This is broadly in line with what was revealed in Nov 2020 and do not provide what is being allocated for the proposal. The report says that the approval on Thursday may be a formality. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-gives-green-light-for-first-downstream-dams-on-brahmaputra/article34014912.ece  (08 March 2021)

Nepal Floods, landslides plague people living on banks of Budhiganga  This report highlights the destruction by recurring landslides in Budhiganga catchment impacting local populations, infra projects and says even the Budhi Ganga Hydropower Project is vulnerable to damages due to landslide dam.  https://kathmandupost.com/sudurpaschim-province/2021/03/05/floods-landslides-plague-people-living-on-banks-of-budhiganga  (05 March 2021)

Garbage from Beni pollutes Kaligandaki Beni Municipality in Myagdi has been dumping its waste on the banks of Kaligandaki River for the last 17 years for lack of a designated dumping site. The solid waste disposed of on the river banks has polluted the waters in the Kaligandaki River and the surrounding area.

Beni, the district headquarters of Myagdi, produces around one metric ton of solid waste in a day. The garbage is dumped on the riverbank about a kilometre north of Beni Bazaar. The municipality had assured to set up a proper waste management system following complaints from local residents. But the issue remains unsolved. https://kathmandupost.com/gandaki-province/2021/03/01/garbage-from-beni-pollutes-kaligandaki-river  (01 March 2021)

Pakistan Ravi riverfront: LHC takes notice of land acquisition despite stay The Lahore High Court on Thursday (March 4) took notice of the land acquisition for the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project despite a stay order and restrained the provincial government from any process till the EIA of the PM’s flagship initiative. Hearing multiple petitions, Justice Shahid Karim referred to media reports about the clash of the revenue officials and the farmers and asked a provincial law officer as to why the land was being vacated for the project after a stay. https://www.dawn.com/news/1610741/ravi-riverfront-project-lhc-takes-notice-of-land-acquisition-despite-stay  (05 March 2021)

ASIA

MEKONG Study Big droughts in the Greater Mekong trigger carbon dioxide emission bursts A study on big droughts in the Greater Mekong region revealed findings that can help reduce the carbon footprint of power systems while providing insights into better designed and more sustainable power plants. https://phys.org/news/2021-03-uncovers-big-droughts-greater-mekong.html  (04 March 2021)

Cambodia Dwindling fish stocks put spotlight on changing rivers Experts blame hydropower projects, sand mining, deforestation, wetland conversion and climate change for dramatic drops in water levels in the region’s rivers, severely disrupting fishing and threatening food supplies for millions. The Mekong typically swells in the rainy season where it converges with the Tonle Sap River, causing an unusual reversed flow into the Tonle Sap Lake, filling it up and providing bountiful fish stocks. But in recent years, the flows to Southeast Asia’s largest lake have at times been delayed, a factor blamed on drought and hydropower dams upstream on the Mekong. https://www.reuters.com/article/mekong-river-cambodia/cambodias-dwindling-fish-stocks-put-spotlight-on-changing-rivers-idUSL3N2KZ2LC  (08 March 2021)

Large rivers in Asia acting as superhighways transporting plastic waste in massive amount to oceans. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-the-worlds-top-plastic-emitting-rivers/  (02 Feb. 2019)

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Sanford couple suing FERC over dam failure On behalf of plaintiffs Dan and Cathy Allen of Sanford, Pitt Law has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in relation to the Edenville Dam failure in May that led to the damage or destruction of thousands of homes and businesses and the draining of Wixom and Sanford lakes, among others. The suit alleges that for decades, FERC entrusted the license to operate the Edenville Dam to a private owner, Boyce Hydro, that FERC knew or should have known was unwilling or incapable of operating the dam safely. The suit also alleges that FERC failed in its mandatory duty to monitor the operation of the dam to ensure that Boyce had the necessary capital, experience and willingness to safely maintain the dam.

– Said Michael Pitt, Senior Partner of Pitt McGhee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers, in a news release. “This tragedy represents a massive failure of government at both the state and federal level. The federal government must be held accountable for its role in causing this disaster.” “It’s hard to believe that this dam has been considered dangerous for 26 years, and other owners during that time were allowed to sell their interests without making any improvements,” Dan Allen said. “They just left the community to suffer since we couldn’t just sell our ‘interests’ and leave. We want to rebuild our lakes and our lives.” https://www.ourmidland.com/news/article/Sanford-couple-suing-FERC-over-dam-failure-15988718.php  (01 March 2021)

Damming rivers is terrible for human rights, ecosystems and food security Deborah Moore, Michael Simon, Darryl Knudsen put in perspective the push by hydro lobby for big hydro projects, reminding that these are unviable projects and also in violation of The WCD recommendations. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/damming-rivers-is-terrible-for-human-rights-ecosystems-and-food-security-75783  (05 March 2021)

Study Humans Now Control Majority of All Surface Freshwater Fluctuations on Earth In what researchers say is the first global survey of human impacts on the water cycle, scientists have used NASA satellite measurements to remotely quantify changes in the level of water held in a stunning number of water bodies: 227,386 of the world’s ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, whether small or large.

While human-managed reservoirs such as artificial dams comprise only 3.9 percent of this giant planetary-scale system of surface-level water storage, that tiny fraction masks a mind-boggling truth about how much control humanity really exerts over freshwater fluctuations. https://www.sciencealert.com/humans-have-seized-control-of-the-majority-of-all-surface-freshwater-on-earth  (07 March 2021)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D7pIijH-4M

Human alteration of global surface water storage variability On the basis of assembling an extensive global water level dataset that quantifies water level variability for 227,386 water bodies from October 2018 to July 2020 by using measurements from NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite laser altimeter researchers show that 57 per cent of the Earth’s seasonal surface water storage variability occurs in human-managed reservoirs.

It finds that seasonal variability in human-managed reservoirs averages 0.86 metres, whereas natural water bodies vary by only 0.22 metres. Natural variability in surface water storage is greatest in tropical basins, whereas human-managed variability is greatest in the Middle East, southern Africa and the western USA. Strong regional patterns are also found, with human influence driving 67 per cent of surface water storage variability south of 45 degrees north and nearly 100 per cent in certain arid and semi-arid regions. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03262-3  (03 March 2021)

Report Rivers, lakes most degraded ecosystems While fresh water makes up less than one percent of Earth’s flowing water, it is home to 10 percent of all known species, including a third of all vertebrates.

Among the more unusual freshwater varieties are Africa’s elephant fishes, which communicate through electrical signals, and the Amazon’s spraying characins, which lay their eggs on land. Freshwater systems are also home to around 270 species of turtles, more than 1,300 species of crabs, and around 5,700 species of dragonflies. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/rivers-and-lakes-are-most-degraded-ecosystems-in-world-can-we-save-them  (01 March 2021) 

NASA Strange ripples on swirling hills seen in Landsat-8 A satellite orbiting the Earth has snapped photographs of a phenomenon that has scientists stumped. An odd landscape seen in the cold Arctic depths of Siberia, Russia, near the Markha River, shows widespread ripples that scientists could not explain. Images from the NASA satellite Landsat 8 were taking over several years, and recently shared by the space agency in its Earth Observatory website. The images show ripples on land on either side of the Markha river, with alternating light and dark stripes that give it an optical illusion-like quality. While visible in all four seasons, the effect is more pronounced during the winter, when white snow gives an even more striking contrast to the pattern, NASA said in the statement. https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/strange-ripples-on-swirling-hills-seen-in-landsat-8-images-leave-nasa-perplexed-9359941.html  (01 March 2021) 

Nigeria Farmers win right to sue Shell over pollution Nigeria is the largest exporter of oil in Africa, with these exports accounting for 90% of the country’s foreign exchange and more than half of government revenue. But more than six decades of oil exploration have wrecked communities in the Niger Delta. In 2015, two communities from the oil-producing Niger Delta initiated legal proceedings for compensation against Royal Dutch Shell PLC in U.K. courts. The Ogale and Bille communities hoped for a positive outcome.

On Feb. 12, the U.K. Supreme Court ruled that both communities can pursue their claims against Royal Dutch Shell and The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria — the former’s Nigerian subsidiary — in English courts. “The ruling is in the right direction; it is something the people of Ogale have been expecting,” said Bandyson Ngawala, a farmer in Ogale.

Home to about 40,000 people, the farming and fishing community of Ogale is located in Rivers state in southern Nigeria, as is Bille, a remote riverine community that has 2,335 claimants in its proceedings. “We are very happy with the ruling,” said King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, leader of the Ogale community. “We hope that the Royal Dutch Shell will stop dragging us from court to court and then sit down with us on how to remediate the underground water in Ogale and our land.” https://www.devex.com/news/nigerian-farmers-win-right-to-sue-shell-over-pollution-but-who-ll-clean-up-the-mess-99277  (02 March 2021)

Report  Dirty Truth About Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water As countries in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere struggle to find enough freshwater to meet demand, they’re increasingly turned to the ocean. Desalination plants, located in 177 countries, can help turn seawater into freshwater. Unfortunately, these plants also produce a lot of waste more waste, in fact, than water for people to drink. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2021/03/the-dirty-truth-about-turning-seawater-into-drinking-water/  (01 March 2021)

Sand crucial but under-appreciated commodity At present, it is not possible to accurately monitor global sand use. However, Peduzzi said it could be measured indirectly, citing a “very, very good” correlation between the use of sand and cement.

The UN estimates that 4.1 billion tons of cement is produced every year, driven primarily by China, which constitutes 58% of today’s sand-fueled construction boom.

The global use of sand and gravels has been found to be 10 times higher than that of cement. This means that, for construction alone, the world consumes roughly 40 to 50 billion tons of sand on an annual basis. That’s enough to build a wall of 27 meters high by 27 meters wide that wraps around the planet every year. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/05/sand-shortage-the-world-is-running-out-of-a-crucial-commodity.html  (05 March 2021)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 01 March 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 22 Feb. 2021

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

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