DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 15 March 2021: MoEFCC & NMCG join March 14 celebrations on the Day of Action for Rivers

The International Day of Action Against Dams and For Rivers, Water and Life,  or in short, “International Day of Action for Rivers” as used now, was adopted by the participants of some 20 countrties, at the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams in March 1997 in Curitiba Brazil. Representatives from 20 countries including India, USA, Brazil & other countries from Asia, Americas, Europe, Africa decided that the International Day of Action would take place on March 14. Thus, the celebration started from 1997. The aim on this International Day of Action for Rivers is to raise voices against destructive water development projects, reclaim the health of our watersheds, and demand the equitable and sustainable management of our rivers.

This year, among many other events happening on this day in South Asia, we have reported in this weekly bulletin, besides the blog from SANDRP highlighting the resistence against destructive hydro and dam projects in India in last one year, the online discussion by the Endangered Himalayas on “Extinct Rivers or free flowing rivers: The future of Himalayan Rivers”, Official launch of Right of Rivers South Asia Alliance and Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum’s 14-days long campaign Rights of the River and personhood rights to Indus River and Indus delta.

However, in a new welcome development this year possibly for the first time, even official agencies like the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) and Union Ministry of Jal Shakti’s National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG) also joined the celebration with their messages on social media like Twitter and Instagram. Some details of the messages from MOEFCC and NMCG are given here.

MOEFCC: https://twitter.com/moefcc/status/1370940870040514563, (this was also posted on Instagram and the tweet was tagged to five official twitter accounts: Union Ministers Prakash Javdekar and Babul Supriyo, Jal Shakti Abhiyaan of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Press Information Beauro and PIB Hindi) it said, “let’s take a pledge to protect our rivers and other water bodies from pollution”, which is not the central message of this day. Day is firstly also celebrated to free the rivers of Big Dams and fight against big dams that destroy rivers.

NMCG: https://twitter.com/cleanganganmcg/status/1370957932469231618, (all the five tweets of NMCG were also shared on Instagram and tagged to some ten official agencies: Ministry of Jal Shakti, office of Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister’s twitter handle, UN-Water, UNHindi, UN Biodiversity, UNICEF Water, United Nations, United Nations in India, UN Environment Program) it says: “International Day of Action for Rivers is observed on 14th March every year. It is dedicated to save, celebrate and make people around us aware about our life-giving source of water.”

2. “Every river has a right to a healthy and a clean habitat for it’s inhabitants and othe species who rely on it. This #InternationalDayOfActionForRivers let’s work together to conserve and protect our rivers and their ecosystem.” https://twitter.com/cleanganganmcg/status/1371340230180052993

3. “Your Support! Our support and efforts is one of many #RightsOfRivers for them to flow freely without any interruption. Let’s come together and do a bit for the Rights of our #Rivers.” https://twitter.com/cleanganganmcg/status/1371094845645721601

4. “Every #River has a right to a Perennial stream, where it can flow without any hindrance or obstacle. Let’s come together a stand up for the #RightsOfRivers and save them.” https://twitter.com/cleanganganmcg/status/1371047229541085185

5. “Every #River has it’s rights and a clean basin is one of it’s many #Rights. This #InternationalDayOfActionForRivers let’s work together for the #RightsOfRivers and make our rivers clean and green.” https://twitter.com/cleanganganmcg/status/1371012730547695616

The NMCG messages do stand for the rivers to flow without obstacle or hindarance or interference and has right to flow clean & green and have right to healthy and clean habitat. It does not mention directly that the day is celebrated against big dams, but acknowledges it indirectly. The rest of the official agencies to whom the tweets were tagged have not posted any message on this day.

While this is certainly most welcome, the concerned official agencies like NMCG and MoEFCC and also the agencies to whom they have tagged their messags of March 14 day of action need to understand & accept that the celebration is for Rivers, not just water and also that celebration is also against Destructive Big Dams on Rivers.

HYDRO POWER PROJECTS

SANDRP Blog 2021 International Day of Action for Rivers: Opposition against HEPs, dams March 14 is International Day of Action for Rivers, against destructive projects. The main objective is to ensure that the river people have their say in the decision-making processes which affect their rivers and related livelihoods sources and that the decisions are informed decisions.

Here we are bringing forth the struggles of riverine communities in India in past one year to make decision makers aware of their hardships and impacts of destructive hydro and dam projects on the riverine eco-system. Please Read, Share. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/13/2021-international-day-of-action-for-rivers-opposition-against-heps-dams-in-india/  (13 March 2021)

Judicial Interventions in Hydro Projects in 2020 This report is about the interventions by various judicial bodies in India in the hydro power projects related issues in 2020. This also covers judicial decisions either delaying the justice or facilitating the projects thus unhelpful for the public interest cause and paving way for financially unviable and environmentally destructive projects. The account first looks at judicial interventions at the National level and then in states in North, North East and South Zones. https://sandrp.in/2021/03/09/judicial-interventions-in-hydro-projects-in-india-in-2020/  (09 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Hold insurance claim as Rishiganga HEP authorities not co-operating in rescue, help to victims: Chamoli DM  In a letter to the authorities of New India Assurance company, which had insured the Rishiganga hydropower project, district magistrate of Chamoli, Swati Bhadauria, has asked them to hold the insurance claim of the power project firm as it has “neither helped the administration in rescue operations nor has come forward to help the victims and their kin.” According to sources, the Rishiganga power project authorities have sought an insurance claim of around Rs 110 crore from New India Assurance Company.

– “The Rishiganga power project company has not taken any action to support their own staffers so far. They haven’t helped the administration either in relief work nor have they provided any assistance to the families of the victims and missing people,” said the DM. She added that withholding their insurance claim will force the power firm to settle the dues they have towards their own workers on priority. The Chamoli administration in its letter to the insurance firm also maintained that “there is dissatisfaction among the people due to the attitude of the firm.” Atul Sahai, CMD of the New India Assurance Company Limited, when queried about the matter, said that the owner of the Rishiganga power project was given an ‘Industrial All Risk policy’ under which the claim can only be entertained when the property is reinstated. “As per my information, the reinstatement process hasn’t started as yet so the compensation claim is not applicable so far,” added Sahai.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/hold-insurance-claim-as-rishiganga-power-project-authorities-not-co-operating-in-rescue-help-to-victims-chamoli-dm-to-insurance-company/articleshow/81353766.cms  (06 March 2021) 

7 hydel projects ‘vulnerable’ to damage from disasters RMSI, a global disaster risk management firm said in its advisory dated February 11 that although this event damaged two hydropower projects, many other hydropower projects are vulnerable to natural disasters caused by floods, cloud bursts, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), avalanches, landslides, and rockslides, in the Himalayan region. The advisory lists Vishnuprayag (400 MW) on Alaknanda; Tehri (1000 MW) on Bhagirathi; Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW) on Alaknanda; Naitwari-Mori (60 MW) on Tons; Phata Byung (76 MW) on Mandakini and Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW) also on Mandakini, Lata Tapovan (171 MW) on Dhauli Ganga. Each of these projects costs ₹7 to 8 crore per MW.

– “RMSI applied its understanding of the Uttarakhand geography with its machine learning-based models for landslide and avalanche and hydrodynamic models for flood and GLOF to do a quick review of the hydropower projects in Uttarakhand. We found several of them at risk from these hazards,” said Pushpendra Johari, senior vice president sustainability, RMSI. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/7-hydel-projects-vulnerable-to-damage-from-disasters-101615400975589.html  (11 March 2021)

The fact that it was the location of the hydropower project that added to the human toll in Chamoli got mixed up with the debate over what caused the landslide writes Jagdish Krishnaswamy.

It is now clear that infrastructure development project should be allowed, redesigned or avoided based on a proper understanding of geological, hydro-climatic and environmental factors and due diligence has to be exercised. How can we change the discourse on business as usual to climate change and natural hazard resilient development pathways? This is a question that needs urgent attention from our policymakers especially in the NITI Aayog, the MoEF, of Power and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. https://scroll.in/article/988730/uttarakhand-floods-highlight-the-need-to-factor-in-the-environment-while-planning-development  (13 March 2021)  

Seer on fast for closure of all HEPs on Ganga writes to PM Bahamchari Atmabodhanand of Haridwar’s Matri Sadan ashram who has been on a diet of water, lemon, salt and honey since Feb 23, 2021, also wrote to PM Modi, describing his fast as ‘tapasya’, a fight against corruption and for preserving the environment.

Brahamchari Atmabodhanand staging fast at Matri Sadan ashram in Haridwar.(HT PHOTO)

Atmabodhanand is also demanding the prohibition on stone crusher units within 5 km periphery of Ganga riverbed, a blanket prohibition on quarrying from Raiwala till Bhogpur, the formation of Ganga Council, speedy enacting of Ganga Act and ensuring a free unhindered flow of Hinduisms holiest river. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/seer-on-fast-for-closure-of-all-hydel-power-projects-on-ganga-writes-to-pm-modi-101615118659282.html  (07 March 2021)  

Use of Chinese drones red-flagged The use of Chinese drones for mapping by some Indian start-ups, roped in for the first time during two-week long relief operation at Chamoli, has been red-flagged as an area of concern for future deployment of such technology in government-aided relief missions. In the month-long effort following the natural disaster in which 130 people are still missing, four start-ups — Endure Air (IIT-Kanpur), Drona Maps, Garuda Aerospace and Fligen System — were drafted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). India-made drones, however, are believed to have faced difficulties while navigating inside the Tapovan tunnel. “They were unable to fly inside the Tapovan tunnel and crashed on some occasions,” said an official familiar with the report. Founder and director of Pune-based Fligen, Aditya Wadhaokar, claimed that his company’s Chinese-made drones performed better. “It was disheartening to witness that Indian drones were crashing while Chinese drones managed to fly properly inside the tunnel. There were multiple challenges but we can gain from Chamoli experience and use drones for mapping to be better prepared for future disaster strategies,” he said. We also used GIS maps with help of Drona Maps to provide pre-disaster and post-disaster visuals,” said Wadhaokar.

On February 9, Drona Maps along with Fligen systems used their drones to capture the visuals inside the tunnel, something which was not accessible by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and NDRF teams. “This helped the ground forces to get an exact idea about the extent of debris inside the tunnel and plan their next course of action accordingly,” said the IIT-Kanpur associate professor, adding that the micro drones used by them were 15×15 cm weighing 100-150 grams, with a high resolution digital camera.  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/use-of-chinese-drones-in-ukhand-red-flagged/articleshow/81383892.cms  (08 March 2021)

Manipur Arong Nongmaikhong villagers call to let Manipur River flow free  The call to let Manipur River flow free arises from the intense protest by local communities of the adverse negative impacts of Ithai Barrage upon the natural e-flow of the river and considerable degradation of its ecosystem during these past four decades.

Locals at Arong Nongmaikhong observing International Rivers Day. TFM

The barrage is built at the confluence of Manipur River and Khuga River near Ithai Khunou village in Bishnupur District of Manipur, and it was commissioned in 1983. Since then, the barrage had impounded the water of the river at a constant height of 768.5 metre above mean sea level. This is primarily to achieve required volume of water storage in Loktak Lake for generating electric power by the 105 megawatt capacity Loktak hydroelectric power project. https://thefrontiermanipur.com/arong-nongmaikhong-villagers-call-to-let-manipur-river-flow-free/  (15 March 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Chamoli tragedy rings alarm bells Residents of two villages located around the Kishanganga hydel project in Bandipora, Kashmir, are living in fear following the recent flash floods in Uttarakhand. The 37-meter high concrete dam in Gurez valley of Bandipora was constructed by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and has remained in the news because of dispute over it with Pakistan. The local administration says it is prepared and if required, it will relocate the people. However, the local people say that have been left to fend for themselves and are afraid of meeting the same fate as Uttarakhand victims. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/uttarakhand-tragedy-rings-alarm-bells-in-kashmir/  (05 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh On the occasion of International Day of Action for Rivers, 14th March 2021. Endangered Himalaya organized an online session titled “Extinct or Free Flowing Rivers? The future of Himalayan rivers”.  The session was streamed live on Endangered Himalaya facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/EndangeredHimalaya/

Water-level warning system for Chamba soon To mitigate the threats of Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), Chamba district may now have an integrated mechanism for early warning of the increasing water level in the Ravi due to heavy rain. In addition to dams constructed on rivers, the web-based system will also link private hydro projects. It can be operated from the district and state-level disaster management centres. Presiding over a meeting with regard to GLOF here to review the steps to be taken for preparing an accurate and effective system for prevention of flood damage caused by the eruption of glacial lakes, Deputy Commissioner DC Rana said for setting up the system on the Ravi basin in collaboration with IIT Roorkee, the NHPC management had started the work.  https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/water-level-warning-system-for-chamba-soon-222161  (08 March 2021)

FAC Feb. 17 meeting minutes, some relevant decisions:– 0.8374 ha of additional forest land (in addition to the already diverted 69.3762 and 0.9274 ha) for construction of Road, Bridge, River protection/Training works for Rampur Hydro Electric Project in favour of SJVN. This is the THIRD proposal from SJVN for the same project for additional forest land. “The proposed structures have already been constructed on the spot. It has been File No.11-91/2012FC mentioned that the matter with regard to encroachment and raising of permanent structures over forest land has been reported to Police under Section-32, 33 of Indian Forest Act, 1927 by lodging an FIR. At the same time

the encroachment case has been prepared and challaned in the Court of Collector Grade-1-cum-Tehsildar Rampur vide Range Officer Rampur letter dated 1-6-2013″. This is a case of violation of the FC act. FAC RECOMMENDED Approval after noting: “the User Agency shall pay five times of NPV and five times penal CA on double degraded forest land in respect of 0.8374 ha of forest land on which violation of the FC Act has been reported by File No.11-91/2012FC the State Government.”  http://forestsclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/FAC_Minutes/3119125512131538_1615275775037.pdf 

DAMS

Telangana HC awards jail term to Siddipet Collector, RDO Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao of High Court punished two top revenue officials with simple imprisonment ranging from three to four months, after holding them guilty of contempt of court in a case relating to acquisition of land for Mallannasagar reservoir.

– P. Venkatrami Reddy, who served as Siddipet district Collector till August 31, 2018 and continuing in the post from June 10, 2019, was awarded simple imprisonment of three months. The judge also imposed a fine of ₹2,000 on the officer while instructing him to pay ₹25,000 to the petitioners towards costs within four weeks. The judge awarded simple imprisonment of four months to Jayachandra Reddy serving as Special Deputy Collector Land Acquisition Kaleshwaram project Unit III cum Revenue Divisional Officer of Siddipet. He was fined ₹2,000 and also directed to pay ₹50,000 to the petitioners towards costs.

The jail term for the two officers was suspended for six weeks. Another officer Krishna Bhaskar, IAS, who served as Siddipet Collector from August 30, 2018 to June 9, 2019, was held guilty of wilful disobedience of the HC order in writ petition no. 19572 of 2018 along with the two other officials. Mr. Bhaskar, presently serving as Sircilla Rajanna district Collector, was imposed a fine of ₹2,000. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/jail-term-to-collector-rdo/article34030679.ece  (09 March 2021)

Kaleshwaram Project Works slow down in Nizamabad district  Works on Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) in Nizamabad district have slowed down mainly due to issues of land acquisition and funds’ crunch. Works may thus not be completed as per schedule. A surprising matter is that lift irrigation works have been continuing for the last 10 years without being completed yet.

After formation of Telangana state, the TRS government redesigned the project and renamed it Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme. Redesigning has fulfilled anger among people of Nizamabad Rural assembly constituency. Tribals at Manchippa have especially opposed redesigning fearing submergence of 12 of their thandas and agricultural lands. This has led to land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement packages not getting implemented.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, an official of KLIS, preferring anonymity, confessed they are facing a severe funds’ crunch. “When no funds have been released, how can the works be completed as per schedule”, he asked. Meanwhile, opposition parties are planning to take up agitations against the delay in executing the project. Congress and BJP leaders have demanded that the state government concentrate on rehabilitation of oustees and complete works at the earliest. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/140321/kaleshwaram-works-slow-down-in-nizamabad-district.html  (14 March 2021)

The North Koel dam has been lying defunct since 1997 after a flooding accident (Image: Gurvinder Singh/The Third Pole)

Jharkhand A dam is revived, and so are nightmares Indigenous people fear for their future as the North Koel dam project, lying defunct since 1997, has been revived. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/energy/a-dam-is-revived-and-so-are-nightmares/  (11 March 2021)

Maharashtra Mulshi dam issue: Committee to submit report by April 2021 The committee which was formed to explore whether Mulshi dam can supply water to the Pune district, is likely to submit its report by April this year. Pune district has not been receiving water from Mulshi dam, although the dam is located within the district limits. The water is currently utilised to generate hydroelectricity for Mumbai city by Tata Power. It was a long pending demand to get water supply from Mulshi dam to Pune city and district for drinking and irrigation purposes.

During the BJP rule in the state, the then CM Devendra Fadnavis had formed the committee headed by retired irrigation secretary Avinash Surve to study the issue and submit a report to the government. Surve said, “We conducted a study and held meetings with various stakeholders. We will submit the report by April 2021.”

“There are various legal issues in drawing water from the Mulshi dam. Firstly, there should be an alternate arrangement for Mumbai city’s power generation. Secondly, we will require to sort out the agreement issue with the power company and there are some legal issues involved. We collected reports from the concerned agencies for the same,” he said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pune-news/mulshi-dam-water-issue-committee-to-submit-report-by-april-2021-101613894415670.html  (21 Feb. 2021)

Maharashtra Irrigation Scam High Court: 4 VIDC ex-officials will have to face trial The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court (HC) cancelled the session court verdict discharging them from facing trial. They had been discharged on the ground that the material submitted by the prosecution wasn’t sufficient to warrant a trial. All of them are former Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) officials, including executive director Rohidas Landge, chief engineer Sopan Suryavanshi, superintending engineer Sanjay Kholapurkar, and divisional accountant Gurudas Mandavkar. Of them, Kholapurkar had worked with Union minister Nitin Gadkari as an official on special duty (OSD). The Maharashtra government had moved the HC challenging sessions court order of October 25, 2018, where the accused were discharged.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/hc-4-vidc-ex-officials-will-have-to-face-trial-in-irrigation-scam-case-in-maharashtra/articleshow/81438677.cms  (11 March 2021)

Mullaperiyar Dam Case Centre again urge SC to adjourn hearing  Strange to see the Centre repeatedly requesting Supreme Court (SC) to adjourn the hearing of petition on safety of Mullaperiyar Dam. The SC on March 9, 2021 agreed to a request made by the Centre to postpone the hearing of a case concerning the safety of the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam. A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar scheduled the hearing for March 16, but made it clear that no further adjournment requests would be entertained by the court.

– 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 a 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/mullaperiyar-case-hearing-on-march-16/article34031359.ece  (10 March 2021)

Sardar Sarovar Project Centre provided 64% grants sought by state in last 5 years In a written response to a question posed by Congress MLA Virji Thummar in the Gujarat Assembly, the state government recently informed that between the fiscal 2015-16 and 2019-2020 it sought a total of Rs 9,605 crore in grants from the Centre for the Sardar Sarovar Project, which is yet to be completed. The Centre, it stated, provided only Rs 6,107 crore, that is about 64 per cent of the total grants sought, during the five-year period. During this period, the lowest percentage of grants (25 per cent) was received by Gujarat during 2015-16 and the highest (90 per cent) in 2017-18. The state received only 50 per cent of the grants that it had demanded in 2019-20, the response stated.

– Over the last five years, Rs 14,590 crore, including the state government’s contribution, has been spent on the Sardar Sarovar project, while Rs 138 crore of the grants received from the Centre is lying unspent as of September 30, 2020, the government stated. The project gets central assistance under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, under which money is given for constructing minor canals; and Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM), which is a part of the ‘Har Khet ko Paani’ scheme and gives money for sub-minor canals that provide the last mile connectivity to the farms.

– In the Budget 2021-22, tabled earlier this month, the state government had proposed to spend Rs 7,370 crore “for completing the necessary works of Sardar Sarovar project”. In the last five years, the government provided 10,677 million cubic feet of water to the Saurashtra region during August 2016, August 2019, September 2019, and October 2019. Similarly, during these same months, the Kutch region received 3,125 million cubic feet of water from the river.  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/sardar-sarovar-project-centre-provided-64-grants-sought-by-state-in-last-5-years-7227291/  (14 March 2021)

Gujarat Irrigation department to replace 29 floodgates of Bhadar dam by April end After the June 2015 flash floods damaged three floodgates (gate no 11, 14 and 28) of the Bhadar dam (following cloud burst in Amreli), the second largest reservoir of Saurashtra. Sill-beams of these gates were damaged as vehicles like tractors, tractor-trollies and large trees crashed into the dam structure after being washed away in the flash flood. The irrigation department had then restored the structure by undertaking some repairing work. “Rules mandate that fresh coat of paint be applied to the gates every three years. Before a fresh coat is applied, the gates are sandblasted to remove corrosion. For the past few cycles, gates gauge was found to have substantially reduced due to the process of corrosion, warranting their replacement,” another officer added. Anar Construction Private Limited of Ahmedabad has been awarded the work of replacing the floodgates at a total cost of Rs 1.66 crore.

– The state irrigation department began replacing all its 29 floodgates in January 2021, 14 have already been replaced and is likely to complete the work by April end. Located at Lilakha village in Gondal taluka Rajkot, Bhadar dam has a gross storage capacity of 188.14 million cubic metres (mcm), the second-highest in the Saurashtra region after the Shetrunji dam. “Construction work for this dam started in 1952 and water for irrigation from it was given to farmers for the first time in 1963. The gates were quite old and needed to be replaced.”

– Each of the 29 floodgates is six-foot high and 35-foot long and are being replaced after 65 years. “Vertical girders supporting the floodgates had started rusting and weakening.”  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/after-2015-flash-floods-damage-gujarat-irrigation-dept-to-replace-29-floodgates-of-bhadar-dam-by-april-end-7228220/  (12 March 2021)

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS

Ken-Betwa Interlinking MP to give extra water to UP MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s has given a nod to give 50 million cubic metres (MCM) extra water during rabi season to UP in an effort to break the stalemate of agreement between UP and MP over the Ken Betwa river link. The project still has a lot of hurdles to cross, it is not clear if this offer of MP will be agreeable to UP. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/ken-betwa-project-mp-to-give-extra-water-to-up/articleshow/81490659.cms  (14 March 2021)

IRRIGATION

Waste and silt dumped on roadside near Gopalpora, Kralpora area of Budgam. Daily Excelsior

Jammu & Kashmir RTIM seeks intervention as Irrigation Deptt dumps silt on roadside  RTI Movement has demanded action against the officials of Irrigation Department who allowed to undertake the de-silting without keeping lorries on the site to lift the waste and silt excavated from an irrigation canal on the Srinagar -Chadoora road around Gopalpora, Kralpora areas of Budgam. The excavated waste and silt are dumped on the roadside and RTI Movement has appealed to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Secretary Jal Shakti and Chief Engineer Irrigation to intervene.  https://www.dailyexcelsior.com/rtim-seeks-intervention-as-irrigation-deptt-dumps-silt-on-roadside/  (13 March 2021)

URBAN RIVERS

Rispana; Dehradun Movement to clean river Ahead of the International Women’s Day, several Dehradun locals came together to show respect to Mother Nature by organising a Rispana river cleaning drive. The group of locals — including doctors, scientists, professors, priests, residents of Sahastradhara and college-going students — cleared over 20 kilogram waste from Rispana, which is a tributary of the Song river, on Sunday (March 7). The waste also comprised biomedical garbage.

“We were shocked to see tablet wrappers to syrup bottles and even face masks being dumped in the river. People have turned the river into a garbage dumping spot. This kind of laxity is only polluting our ecosystem, primarily the water and soil. Through this drive, we want to convey on Women’s Day that there is an urgent need to protect Mother Nature,” said Aanchal Sharma, a city-based dentist who led the drive.

Incidentally, the forest department of Uttarakhand also conducted a similar drive to clear the Rispana river at Rajpur Shikhar falls on Sunday. The drive was conducted under the Rispana Rejuvenation project which aims at clearing the river from its starting point (at the base of Landhour) to Dehradun. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/to-mark-international-womens-day-residents-organise-aaorispanasaafkre-movement-to-clean-river-rispana-to-show-respect-to-mother-nature/articleshow/81380792.cms  (08 March 2021)

Lack of funds puts cleanliness drive in jeopardy Though the Municipal Corporation of Dehradun (MCD) has started the Rispana cleanliness campaign under the Mission Rispana programme, the corporation does not have enough resources and funds to carry out the work properly.

According to the chief municipal health officer, Dr Kailash Joshi, the MCD has deployed only around 20 workers including sanitation workers and labourers to clean the river as the corporation also manages the sanitation of the whole city too with limited equipment and manpower. When the corporation would receive funds from the district administration, MCD would certainly increase the number of workers and pieces of equipment for the cleaning of the river, said Joshi.

Talking about the campaign, the municipal sanitation inspector, Rajbeer Singh Chauhan stated that the corporation started cleaning the Rispana River about ten days ago and so far, they have collected and cleaned over 300 metric tonnes of garbage besides silt and sludge waste. Officials informed that they will continue the cleaning campaign with the limited resources but it might take several months to clean the 18 kilometres stretch of the river that falls under the corporation. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/lack-of-funds-puts-rispana-cleanliness-drive-in-jeopardy.html  (25 Feb. 2021)

MCD will soon install 100 garbage bins in the Rispana River to curb the garbage disposal by locals in the river. In the last two days, the corporation has cleaned around 200 metric tonnes of garbage that mainly contained single-use plastic waste, silt and sludge waste. The officials informed that the plastic waste recovered from the River is being sent to Sheeshambada solid waste management and recycling plant for proper disposal. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/hundred-garbage-bins-to-be-installed-in-rispana-river.html  (18 Feb. 2021)

The MCD has started a Rispana cleanliness campaign under the Mission Rispana programme from Tuesday (Feb. 16). The corporation initiated the campaign on the instruction of the district magistrate, Ashish Kumar Srivastava meant for the revival of Rispana River in the district. According to the chief municipal health officer, Dr Kailash Joshi, the corporation deployed around 20 sanitation workers for the cleaning of the river on the first day near Chuna Bhatta area.

He further informed that about 100 metric tonnes of garbage, silt and sludge waste was collected and cleaned from the river on Tuesday (Feb. 16). Moreover, Joshi said that about 18 km stretch of Rispana River comes under the corporation which is quite polluted and filled with heaps of garbage and sludge. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/rispana-cleanliness-campaign-begins-in-doon.html  (17 Feb. 2021)

During the inspection, the DM instructed the MCD to pick the garbage regularly from the Rispana river. He also directed the irrigation department to initiate tapping of the waste water channels and drains that discharge dirty water and effluent into the river. The officials from the irrigation department informed Srivastava that the tapping process will be done on 177 drains and the tapping of 20 drains will be executed by the next week.

Meanwhile, Srivastava directed MCD to use all its resources for the revival of the river while adding that the district administration will also provide funds to the corporation to carry out the work as per the requirement. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/dm-inspects-rispana-for-river-revival.html  (16 Feb. 2021)

The DM instructed Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) to take action against the recent encroachments in Rispana River. The DM issued these orders during the video conference meeting of District Ganga Safety Committee and Mission Rispana on Tuesday (Feb. 9).

He also directed MCD to prepare a working plan for the revival of the Rispana River in Dehradun. Moreover, prominent departments and officials including MDDA, irrigation department, Peyjal Nigam and SDMs were also directed by DM to conduct a joint inspection to analyse the entire stretch of Rispana River and subsequently, prepare a plan. Meanwhile, Srivastava also directed the forest department to prepare a proposal regarding tree plantation programme in the district besides other related programmes as soon as possible. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/state-editions/dm-instructs-mdda-to-take-action-against-rispana-river-encroachments.html  (10 Feb. 2021)

निरीक्षण के दौरान जिलाधिकारी डॉ. श्रीवास्तव ने रिस्पना नदी में गिर रहे 177 नालों को टैप करने की प्रगति भी तलब की। उन्होंने सिंचाई विभाग से चैनलाइजेशन के कार्य करने व पेयजल निगम को सीवर निस्तारण के साथ नालों की टैपिंग के बारे में पूछा। अधिकारियों ने बताया कि टैपिंग के लिए 57 नालों के स्ट्रक्चर तैयार कर लिए गए हैं। एक सप्ताह के भीतर 20 नालों की टैपिंग पूरी कर ली जाएगी। शेष कार्य भी आगामी माह तक पूरा कर लिया जाएगा।

राज्य बनने से लेकर अब तक रिस्पना नदी के संरक्षण की दिशा में अपेक्षित काम नहीं हो पाया और नदी अभी भी गंदगी ढोने का जरियामात्र है। रिस्पना नदी में टोटल कॉलीफार्म की मात्रा 76 गुना पाई गई है। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/dehradun-city-177-sewers-falling-in-rispna-river-will-be-tapped-21373728.html  (16 Feb. 2021)

गंदे नालों को रिस्पना में गिरने से रोकने के लिए जल निगम इन्हें सीवर लाइन से जोड़ रहा है। इससे सीवर लाइन चोक होने का खतरा बन गया है। जिन जगहों पर नालों को सीवर लाइन से जोड़ा गया है, उन क्षेत्रों में सीवर लोगों के घरों में बैक मार रहा है। हालांकि, जल निगम का कहना है कि नालों में जाली लगाई जाएगी, जिन्हें प्रतिदिन साफ किया जाएगा।

दरअसल, रिस्पना को पुराने स्वरूप में लाना मुख्यमंत्री का ड्रीम प्रोजेक्ट है। इसी के तहत रिस्पना नदी में गिरने वाले 177 नालों को टेप किया जा रहा है। पेयजल निगम की ओर से इन नालों को सीवर लाइन से जोड़ रहा है। इससे परिणाम भी सामने आने लगे हैं। नालों को सीवर लाइन से जोड़ते ही सीवर लाइनें चोक होनी शुरू हो गई हैं। इस संबंध में जल निगम दून डिवीजन के ईई दीपक मलिक का कहना है कि नालों को अभी पूरी तरह से सीवर लाइन से नहीं जोड़ा गया है। सीवर लाइन चोक न हो इसके लिए नालों पर जाली लगाई जाएगी। कहा कि जिस ठेकेदार या कंपनी को इसका टेंडर दिया गया है, वह 15 साल तक इसकी नियमित निगरानी करेगा।  https://www.amarujala.com/dehradun/the-danger-of-line-choke-by-connecting-dirty-drains-to-the-sewer-city-news-drn372460378  (03 March 2021)

Gomti; Lucknow Hindi News report on Gomti river pollution. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/4305900836104223  (09 March 2021)

प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड की ओर से देवहा और गोमती नदियों में कहने को हर महीने पानी के नमूने लेकर उनका परीक्षण कराया जाता है। उसकी जांच रिपोर्ट भी ओके आती है, लेकिन जब सामने देखो तो देवहा या गोमती नदियों का पानी किसी नाले या नाली जैसा दिखता है। अब तक दोनों नदियों को जल प्रदूषण से बचाने के लिए प्रयास नहीं किए गए। https://www.amarujala.com/uttar-pradesh/pilibhit/markarsanranti-pilibhit-news-bly3921355103  (16 Jan. 2020)

Mula–Mutha, Pune Exploring alternatives to Sabarmati Model  Like the majority of rivers in India, Mula and Mutha rivers have been condensed to severely polluted, vulnerable waterbodies. These rivers are burdened further as they are set to host a riverfront along the lines of the Sabarmati riverfront project, which itself has attracted severe criticism.  https://www.epw.in/journal/2021/2/commentary/riverfront-development-mula%E2%80%93mutha.html  (18 Jan. 2021)

Brahmani, Rourkela RSCL races against time The Rourkela Smart City Ltd (RSCL) is racing against time to transform the city ahead of the Men’s Hockey World Cup as 12 more projects valued at Rs 470.95 crore have been taken up for implementation.  CM Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone of these 12 Smart City projects besides India’s largest hockey stadium on the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) campus on February 16.

The authorities are facing a challenge as at least two of these projects will take a longer period for completion. The two daunting projects are the Brahmani riverfront development and 11 natural drains for smooth evacuation of rainwater. The riverfront project with a cost of Rs 44.30 crore is in tendering stage and should be completed within two years from award of work order. The drain project at a cost of Rs 92 crore is also in tendering stage with completion period of two years. The Hockey World Cup is scheduled from January 13 to 29 next year.  https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2021/mar/04/rscl-races-against-time-to-transform-rourkela-2271980.html  (04 March 2021)

Vishwamitri, Vadodara  Decade later, river revival only on paper The 2015-16 budget had proposed Rs 50 crore for the riverfront as well as Rs 20 crore for diverting the river to prevent flooding and increasing the capacity of Ajwa reservoir. The 2016-17 budget had made provisions for the crocodile park. The Vishwamitri river’s banks are yet to see any development and the crocodile park had to be scrapped due to legal issues.

Sources in the VMC said that the delay in the Vishwamitri project has been due to financial constraints as well as environmental issues. Initially, it was planned that a riverfront would come up along Vishwamitri much like the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad. Preliminary reports were prepared and agencies having experience of doing work in Ahmedabad were roped in.

Activists approached the NGT in 2016 regarding the riverfront and the VMC had to redraw its plans for the river. It was now decided that the project would be that of reviving the river. In 2018, the special purpose vehicle to look into the project that was earlier called Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (VRDCL) was renamed as Vishwamitri River Revival Corporation Ltd.

Funding for the project has been a major concern. The project has also been included in the list of VMC’s Smart City projects. The VMC is hoping for aid from the state government as well as funds under the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP). While the initial estimate for the project was around Rs 800 crore, there is no clarity about the costs after the proposed changes in the project.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/decade-later-river-revival-only-on-paper/articleshow/81096090.cms  (19 Feb. 2021)

Tapi, Surat UK consultant roped in for riverfront project  UK-based consultancy firm Mott MacDonald has been roped in for the development of the ambitious riverfront along the Tapi River.  Mott MacDonald will help the civic body get finance for the project and create a model for revenue generation besides lending its technical expertise. SMC has also appointed Ahmedabad based HCP (HCP Design, Planning and Management) which developed Sabarmati Riverfront project in Ahmedabad, for the technical assistance.

The British High Commission will be funding professional services to be given by Mott MacDonad and SMC will not incur any expenses on this. “Keeping in view of the flood in Tapi, the barrage discharge capacity has been increased from 10. 52 lakh cusec to 13.79 lakh cusec water. The barrage will help store water and recharge the groundwater along the river,’‘Banchhanidhi Pani, Municipal Commissioner, Surat said.

Few months ago, SMC had a meeting with the World Bank officials for the Rs 1500 crore fund for the project. “The World Bank has shown interest in this project and we are hopeful for the fund from it. This finance part of the project will be looked after by Mott MacDonald,’‘ Pani added.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/uk-consultant-roped-in-for-tapi-riverfront-project/articleshow/79999086.cms  (29 Dec. 2020)

Vaigai; Madurai Corporation commissioner inspects riverfront work Madurai Corporation commissioner S Visakan on Wednesday (Dec. 16) inspected Vaigai riverfront development work carried out under the Smart City Scheme and instructed officials to create a facility for people to approach the river at padithurai places (ghats). Construction of retaining wall is being carried out on both sides of the river as part of the riverfront development project at a cost of Rs 81.41 crore. Visakan insisted on the facilities to approach the river following demands from public and activists alike.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/madurai-corporation-commissioner-inspects-vaigai-riverfront-development-work/articleshow/79760765.cms  (16 Dec. 2020)

Tawi; Jammu Youth trying to save river; need support Aditya Khajuria, a young climate change activist, along with few other environmentalists, visits the banks of river Tawi in Jammu every Sunday to pick up litter. But when they return a week later, disappointment awaits — garbage, sometimes 10 times the previous week’s volume, has piled up once again along the river. For the past 24 weeks, they have looked past this disappointment and cleaned the river banks with unwavering enthusiasm, as part of Friends of River Tawi movement.

Tawi, a source of drinking water for thousands, remains littered with plastics, medicines, biomedical waste and industrial effluent. Photo: Renu Kotwal/Down to Earth)

Kamran, a forestry graduate and volunteer told Down to Earth that they found every kind of trash in the river from medicines to plastics. Recently, the volunteers found a huge amount of biomedical waste in Tawi and informed Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board (JKPCB). The information elicited no action, the volunteers shared. Cleaning this hazardous waste manually poses a huge risk for the young environmentalists but with the lack of efforts by the authorities, they are left with no choice. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/jammu-s-youth-are-trying-to-save-river-tawi-but-they-need-support-75851  (09 March 2021)

RIVERS

Report NRCP covers 34 rivers across 16 states In India the NRCP has covered 34 rivers in 77 towns across 16 states. With a sanctioned cost of ₹5965.90 crore, NRCP has also helped set up sewage treatment capacity of 2522.03 million litre per day (mld), minister of state for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment, Rattan Lal Kataria informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday in a written reply, according to a statement from the Jal Shakti ministry on Monday (March 8).

According to a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) September 2018 report, 351 polluted river stretches have been identified on 323 rivers in the country. “Under Namami Gange programme, a total of 335 projects have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs.29,578 crore so far, of which 142 projects have been completed and made operational. Out of 335 projects, 156 projects are in the sewerage sector for creation of total sewage treatment capacity of 4867 mld, and sewerage network of 5066 kms,” the statement said. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/national-river-conservation-plan-covers-34-rivers-across-16-states-11615265008605.html  (09 March 2021)

Tamil Nadu Notes from Kabini River The Nilgiris, also known as the “Blue mountains,” in southern India are an extraordinary mountain range that form one of the most diverse biospheres in the country, the Nilgiri Biosphere. And the Nagarhole National Park, declared a tiger reserve in 1999 is part of this biosphere.

The Kabini River flows through the National park and is the lifeline to a wide variety of flora and fauna. This river transforms Nagarhole into a water world of wonder.The Kabini River flows from the state of Kerala into Karnataka, while doing so it passes through one of the most pristine wildlife reserves in the country. This forest patch has been famous for its wildlife for ages. The area served as prime hunting grounds for the Maharajas of Mysore along with Kings and Emperors from other nations. The oldest photograph of hunting dates back to 1891, that of the Grand Duke of Russia. https://www.softpowermag.com/notes-from-indias-kabini-river/  (03 March 2021)

GODAVARI Telangana Pollution levels in Godavari at scary levels The flowing in of drainage water from Manthani, Godavarikhani and Dharmapuri towns add to a scenario in which the water from the Godavari is polluted and becoming hazardous. Before the construction of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project (KLIS), all the waste used to get washed away along with the normal, steady flow of water in the Godavari. Now, as the water is remaining stagnant from Medigadda to Yellampalli reservoirs following the construction of KLIS, the pollutants are remaining stuck in the river.

The gates of Medigadda barrage are opened only when there are heavy rains; that too for a few days, due to which large amounts of pollutants are accumulated in Godavari water, posing problems not only for the aquatic life but also to the people using it for irrigation and other needs. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/130321/pollution-levels-in-godavari-at-scary-levels.html  (13 March 2021)

GANGA Uttarakhand Hill cutting work ongoing at vulnerable Tota Ghati The Tota Ghati area on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway will remain closed for 11 hours everyday till March 31, because of hill cutting work underway on a 2-km stretch for the Centre’s all-weather Char Dham road project. Even as the work is being undertaken, a video circulated on social media a day ago showed large chunks of the hill side falling off and tumbling into the river flowing below. The sight has sent local residents into panic and environmentalists worried since the Tota Ghati area is a highly vulnerable stretch.

Senior geologists and members of the SC-appointed high-powered committee (HPC) on the Char Dham project, Naveen Juyal and Hemant Dhyani, pointed out that Tota Ghati area is highly prone to landslides and blasting or hill cutting here would make the area susceptible to slope failure and cause colossal damage to the terrain, turning it into a ‘chronic landslide zone’ just like Lambagad near Badrinath, which witnesses recurrent landslides.

“There is a 10km stretch in the area which is very, very critical, especially the parts around Kodiyala and Saaknidhar. These rocks have multiple joints and there are three different types of rocks – clay rich, sandstone and dolomite – all very fragile by nature. Ideally, these shouldn’t be touched, let alone be subjected to blasting or cutting. If a road has to be made in the area, it should have been widened from the valley side and not the mountain side,” said Juyal, former scientist and senior geologist at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He had been to the site last year as part of the HPC team visit. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/hill-cutting-work-ongoing-at-vulnerable-tota-ghati-stretch-on-rishikesh-badri-highway-for-char-dham-road-geologists-worried/articleshow/81499429.cms  (15 March 2021)

Computer graduate seer begins fast unto death A computer science graduate from Kerala, he had undertaken 194 days of agitation in phases earlier to save the holy river. He started his fast on February 23 and stopped consuming water on March 7.  

In his 7-page letter to PM Modi dated Feb. 17, Atmbodhananda also added that despite written assurances by officials from National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in May 2019 to stop mining and stone crushing ‘in Ganga Ji’, Uttarakhand Van Vikas Nigam has issued permissions for mining in areas of Shyampur, Chidiyapur, Bhogpur and Bishanpur.

His other demands include to ban mining in Ganga from Raiwala to Ratighati in Haridwar, remove all stone crushers within 5km of Ganga, the constitution of Ganga Bhakt Parishad, an autonomous body to control and manage Ganga affairs and bring law proposed by deceased Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand who died in the year 2018 after fasting from June to October 2018. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/11/computer-graduate-seer-begins-fast-unto-death-to-save-river-ganga-2275378.html  (11 March 2021)

Medha Patkar extended support to Atmabodhanand. In a communiqué to Matri Sadan on Friday (March 10), Medha Patkar urged newly appointed Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat and Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to take cognisance of the agitation by Brahamchari Atmabodhanand for the last 17 days.

Medha Patkar urged central and state government to instantly look into the demands of the Matri Sadan seer of scrapping of HEPs on Ganga and its adjacent tributaries, prohibition of quarrying on Ganga river bed, enactment of Ganga Act and shifting of all stone crushers from the Ganga river bed.

She also expressed displeasure over the government not adhering to directives of the SC and NGT regarding ensuring sanctity –unhindered flow of sacred Ganga and conservation of ecology saying whether Ganga, Bhagirathi or Narmada every river needs to be saved. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/medha-patkar-lends-support-to-haridwar-seer-who-is-fasting-to-save-river-ganga-101615578963581.html  (13 March 2021)

Ganga highly polluted in Rishikesh, Haridwar Surindra Suthar, associate professor in Doon University who led the study, said: “The pollutants include anti-inflammatory and common antibiotics, caffeine and anti-bacterial medicines, among others. The overall concentration of Polypropylene Copolymer (PPCP) in the stretch was found to be up to 1,104.84 nanograms per litre. Concentration of anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics were higher in the winter season, possibly because of decreased biodegradation associated with lower temperature and inadequate sunlight.”

According to researchers, mass bathing, urban waste and effluent from sewage treatment could be a source of PPCPs. The effluent from domestic sewage, discharge from hotels and ashrams reaches the Ganga, causing additional contamination. Researchers said they analysed the water of Ganga at entry points to the cities and also in spots before it enters a STP. Pollution of Ganga has been a national concern for years. Despite several attempts, not much has been achieved. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/01/ganga-highly-polluted-in-rishikesh-haridwar-saysdoon-university-study-2270381.html  (01 March 2021)

Untreated sewage contaminating Ganga in Haridwar, Rishikesh Despite several complaints and interventions, Ganga, the river revered by millions of people, is still being polluted by untreated sewage from drains falling directly into it in Haridwar and Rishikesh towns, say locals. They add that the sewage and untreated water from many hotels, ashrams, and shops located along the Ganga is being discharged directly into the river on a daily basis. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/untreated-sewage-contaminating-ganga-in-haridwar-and-rishikesh-say-locals/articleshow/79516853.cms  (02 Dec. 2020)

नदी पुनर्जनन प्राधिकरण के गठन का सुझाव ? कोसी पुनर्जनन महाअभियान के प्रणेता नेशनल जीयो स्पेशल चेयर प्रोफेसर विज्ञान एवं प्रौद्योगिकी प्रो. जीवन सिंह रावत ने गुरुवार (Jan. 27) को दम तोड़ रही नदियों को बचाने के लिए मुख्यमंत्री त्रिवेंद्र सिंह रावत को उत्तराखंड नदी पुनर्जनन प्राधिकरण के गठन का सुझाव दिया है। जीवनदायिनी कोसी की सहायक कुंजगढ़ नदी से जुड़ी शोध रिपोर्ट भी सौंपी। मुख्यमंत्री ने प्रो. जीवन को भरोसा दिलाया कि नदियों के संरक्षण कार्य को मिशन के रूप में आगे बढ़ाया जाएगा। यह उनकी प्राथमिकता में है।

प्रो. जीवन 28 वर्षों से कोसी पर शोध में जुटे हैं। उन्हीं की रिपोर्ट पर मुख्यमंत्री ने कुमाऊं में कोसी व गढ़वाल में रिस्पना नदी को पुनर्जनन महाअभियान के माडल के रूप में चुना था। कोसी पुनर्जनन मुहिम दो बार अल्मोड़ा जनपद को देश में नदी संरक्षण के लिए राष्टï्रीय जल अवार्ड के तहत पहला स्थान दिला चुकी है। प्रो. जीवन सिंह रावत ने सुझाव दिया कि कोसी, गरुड़ गंगा, शिप्रा नदी व कुंजगढ़ की तरह हर जिले में माडल तैयार करने की जरूरत है। इससे नदियों के संरक्षण के क्षेत्र में उत्तराखंड पूरे देश में प्रेरक का काम कर सकेगा। https://www.jagran.com/uttarakhand/nainital-uttarakhand-river-regeneration-authority-will-be-formed-on-the-lines-of-ganga-21315125.html  (28 Jan. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Report by NGO shows rise in pollution level A report by an NGO Swachh Ganga Research Laboratory shows that pollution levels at upstream ghats in the city have risen. According to the report, the fecal coliform count has risen to 46000000 per cubic centimetre of water. The Swachh Ganga Research Laboratory is an independent unit of the Sankat Mochan Foundation.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/city/lucknow/varanasi-report-by-ngo-shows-rise-in-pollution-level-of-ganga-water/videoshow/81464469.cms  (12 March 2021)

YAMUNA Delhi Debris on floodplain: Activist cites proof  Yamuna activist Manoj Mishra on March 9, 2021 wrote to secretary of Union ministry of Jal Shakti alleging that the site where soil and debris from the Central Vista project were being dumped was part of the Yamuna floodplain, with Google Earth images to prove his point. “After every flood in the river, a wetland gets created and the site in question is clearly seen in the 2011 image that is post the Yamuna floods in 2010. The work done by PWD for the Barapullah elevated Mayur Vihar corridor has played havoc with the floodplain morphology while it was supposed to be sensitive to the same and actually restore it post the work,” said Mishra.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/debris-on-floodplain-activist-cites-proof/articleshow/81418330.cms  (10 March 2021)

Activists flag concerns over debris dumping Environmental activists and some slum dwellers have raised concerns over mounds of construction debris and soil excavated during the construction of the new Parliament Building at Sansad Marg — as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project — being dumped on the Yamuna floodplains in east Delhi.

Environment activists alleged that the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which is undertaking the construction of the new Parliament building via private developers, has been allowing the dumping of construction waste — including debris and soil from the excavation of the site on the floodplains — in violation of an order of the NGT. Anyone who is found violating the order is liable to pay an environmental compensation charge of up to ₹50,000 under the “polluter pays” principle.

CPWD, however, strongly denied the allegations saying that the portion of land in question is “away from the floodplain”, and that on the request of the Public Works Department, it was just levelling the earth below the Barapullah road project site. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/activists-flag-concerns-over-debris-dumping-on-yamuna-floodplains-101615229636311.html  (09 March 2021)

Dev Pal, a local resident and a field researcher at Housing and Land Rights Network, said, from February 4 onwards, around 55 trucks had been dumping waste every day with the activity generally starting after 10 pm. “It has only recently been stopped after people made a complaint that these dumpers were creating a lot of noise at night. However, several hundred drops have already been made and the soil has been flattened, raising the floodplain area by several feet,” claimed Pal, who had earlier filed a petition in Delhi High Court against removal of 70-80 jhuggis in the floodplain. “We have filed an additional petition regarding dumping of earthen waste in the same case now,” said Pal.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/central-vista-debris-dumped-near-yamuna-say-activists/articleshow/81400547.cms  (09 March 2021)

CM inaugurates Rs 480 cr sewer project in Kirari Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday (March 14) inaugurated a Rs 480 crore sewer project in Kirari here which will give a much needed relief to the residents of over 100 unauthorised colonies in Mundka and Kirari.

The project will be completed in next four years. The project, under the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), will help in reducing sewerage problems of over 114 unauthorised colonies and six villages of Kirari and Mundka having a total population of 7.25 lakh under the Sewerage Master Plan 2031. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/arvind-kejriwal-inaugurates-rs-480-cr-sewer-project-in-kirari/articleshow/81498252.cms  (14 March 2021)

CM inaugurates Rs 480 cr sewer project in Kirari Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday (March 14) inaugurated a Rs 480 crore sewer project in Kirari here which will give a much needed relief to the residents of over 100 unauthorised colonies in Mundka and Kirari.

The project will be completed in next four years. The project, under the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), will help in reducing sewerage problems of over 114 unauthorised colonies and six villages of Kirari and Mundka having a total population of 7.25 lakh under the Sewerage Master Plan 2031. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/arvind-kejriwal-inaugurates-rs-480-cr-sewer-project-in-kirari/articleshow/81498252.cms  (14 March 2021)

Alarming white toxic foam ​covered the Yamuna River​ near ITO area on March 14 giving rise to a pollution hazard for the locals. https://www.newindianexpress.com/videos/videos-nation/2021/mar/14/watch–delhi-pollution-yamuna-river-covered-in-toxic-foam-109549.html  (14 March 2021)

Work kicks off on 17th bridge The Pink Line, which also crosses the Yamuna near Nizamuddin, will see Delhi Metro’s fifth and the city’s 16th Yamuna bridge coming up near Sonia Vihar. Construction work on Delhi Metro’s first cantilever bridge there started last year. The work on the RRTS bridge, which is being executed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), started recently. Apart from these two bridges, two other bridges under construction make up the 17: the Phase III Barapullah flyover connecting Mayur Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan and a bridge coming up parallel to the Old Iron Bridge (Loha Pul).

The RRTS bridge, which will connect the Sarai Kale Khan RRTS terminal station with the New Ashok Nagar RRTS station, will come up almost parallel to the existing DND Flyway. “The length of the bridge crossing the Yamuna River will be around 626 metres and the rest of the bridge will be over the riverbank area on either side. Construction will employ box girders,” an NCRTC spokesperson said, adding that the bridge would have 32 piers and 44-metre spans over these piers.

NCRTC said that all the construction activities were being carried out according to the prescribed guidelines to avoid any adverse impact on the Yamuna floodplain. “Various eco-friendly measures will also be adopted during the construction. The muck and debris generated will be disposed of systematically and no dumping will be allowed on the floodplain,” the spokesperson said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/work-kicks-off-on-17th-bridge-across-yamuna/articleshow/81160755.cms  (23 Feb. 2021)

FISH, FISHERIES, FISHERFOLKS

Study Microplastics in seven popular fish varieties Researchers from city-based National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) found microplastics in 80% of samples of seven popular fish species sold at Pattinapakkam near the Marina, one of the four major fish landing centres in the city. The microplastics detected in the gills and gut of Indian Mackerel, Greater Lizardfish, Humphead Snapper, Barracuda and Golden Snapper were between 1.93mm and 2.03mm in the form of fibres, fragments, films or nurdles.

Most of the microplastic was red in colour. NCCR scientist Pravakar Mishra said this was because fish see red as food particles. “We found a high presence of small particles of plastics in the surface seawater during our study in Bay of Bengal from Pulicat lake to Odisha coast,” said Mishra, who heads the team researching microplastics. “The gut portion where we found microplastics is mostly removed in bigger fishes before consumption but leaching of the chemicals from the plastics could still go up the food chain to humans,” he added.

The varying shapes and types of microplastics come from varying sources. The researchers said nurdles, which are considered primary microplastics, come from cosmetics and face wash. Fibres may come from clothes washed at home, filament may come from breaking down of larger plastics and films are from polythene bags.

Earlier studies in the city have shown presence of microplastics in other seafood such as mussels, squid, prawns and crabs. While the effect of consuming microplastic-contaminated seafood on human health is not yet fully known, NCCR is conducting toxicity studies on various marine organisms. Soon samples will be collected from major fish landing centres across the country. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-nccr-researchers-find-microplastics-in-seven-popular-fish-varieties/articleshow/81404973.cms  (09 March 2021)

Last year, alarm bells went ringing after scientists found microplastic pollution in the snow near the peak of Mount Everest. Tiny plastic fibres – within a few hundred metres of the world’s highest mountain, at a spot called the balcony, located at 27,500 feet, just a few hours climb from Everest’s summit, studies published in the journal One Earth revealed.

Another study conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature last year revealed that an average person consumed 5 grams of plastic, which is equivalent to a credit card. A study published Environmental Science and Technology revealed that human might be consuming 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/how-bad-is-the-microplastic-pollution-problem-in-india-3-ways-in-which-we-can-help/730383  (10 March 2021)

Tamil Nadu Ennore residents protesting against Kattupalli Port expansion project Local fishers, workers in ancillary businesses and environmental activists have been protesting since 2018 against this project, which violates several environmental rules and regulations in the high-erosion area near Ennore. It poses a great threat to their livelihood and the biodiversity of the region, they said. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/why-are-ennore-residents-protesting-against-adani-s-kattupalli-port-expansion-project–75894  (11 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh Trout farmers exiting the business Trout farm owners are exiting the business because of poor supply of seed and feed from the government and exposure to flash floods. Additionally, government farms that supply to farmers, also sell their own trout and compete with the farmers, putting them at a competitive disadvantage in the market. The fisheries department is including insurance now, for infrastructure damage and loss of livestock and wants to facilitate farmers to open their own hatcheries to meet the demand. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/why-trout-farmers-in-himachal-pradesh-are-exiting-the-business/  (10 March 2021)

SAND MINING

Uttarakhand HC directs MDDA V-C to conduct in-depth probe The HC on Wednesday (March 10) directed the vice-chairman of the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) to conduct an in-depth probe and inform the court about the officers responsible for the transfer of riverbed land to private individuals near Dehradun’s Sahastradhara area. The direction came from the bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma while it was hearing a PIL filed by Doon-based social worker Ajay Narayan Sharma.

Sharma had alleged, in his PIL, that the encroachment has been made in the upper region of Sahastradhara road on a rivulet named Aanwala-Ki-Rao which is now facing an existential crisis because the illegal construction and plotting has led to a change in the course of the rivulet. “Even in such jal magna bhoomis (water holdings), revenue records are being systematically converted into banjar bhoomi (banner land) and construction has been allowed… This is changing the very character of the said rivulets in the pristine area of Doon Valley, which has been a notified Eco-Sensitive Area since 1989,” read the petition.

The court has also issued notices to the state government as well as district magistrate Dehradun and has directed all three respondents to file their responses by April 7. “The court has directed the MDDA vice-chairman to tell what actions have been taken against the responsible officials and what steps have been taken to cancel all illegal transfers. The court has now listed the case for further hearing on April 8,” Negi said.

The rivulet Amwala-Ki-Rao is a tributary to Doon Valley’s Rispana river. “That the coming up of the said encroachments is not just blatant encroachment of revenue land, it also compromises the much touted program of the government, namely the rejuvenation of River Rispana. It is noteworthy that river Aamwal-Ki-Rao is a direct tributary of Rispana and therefore, any impact on its ecological flow and health will directly impact the flow of the river,” the petition added. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/riverbed-land-near-sahastradhara-transferred-to-private-parties-hc-directs-mdda-v-c-to-conduct-in-depth-probe/articleshow/81436683.cms  (11 March 2021)

Bihar Govt bans sand mining near river bridges The state road construction department March 10, 2021 issued an order banning sand mining around bridges in rivers and those under construction across the state. The activity will be banned around bridges 500 metres up and downstream, according to the notice.

Amrit Lal Meena, additional chief secretary of the department, has directed all district magistrates to take action against those found to be involved in the activity. Hundreds of big, medium and small bridges were constructed in rivers in the last 15 years, said Meena. The mining not only diverted the water flow, it also threatened the foundation of bridges, he added.

Another senior official of the department admitted that the foundation of some bridges were damaged by illegal sand mining.  Most complaints were reported in rivers flowing in south Bihar, including Falgu, Panchane, Sakri, Sone, Punpun, Badua, Chanan and Goithwa.

Illegal sand mining has, over the last few years, damaged the foundation of the Koilwar railway bridge, which was built by the British in 1900. “Pillars of Koilwar bridge have been in a bad condition due to unabated illegal mining of sand for years. A new road bridge on river Sone near old Koilwar bridge is also under threat,” the official said. Similar reports come from several bridges on different rivers as well in the state.  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/mining/bihar-government-bans-sand-mining-near-river-bridges-75908  (11 March 2021)

सोन नदी का धूल, ग्रामीणों की सांसत में जान ग्रामीण बताते हैं कि जीटी रोड केशव मोड़ से नबीनगर जाने वाली सड़क के किनारे रहने वाले ग्रामीणों की जीवन खतरे में है। एक तो धूल के कारण उनलोगों का रहना मुश्किल हो गया है तो दूसरी ओर धड़ल्‍ले से दौड़ रहे बालू लदे ट्रैक्‍टर की वजह से जीवन पर खतरा मंडराता रहता है। धूल की मोटी परत के कारण सड़क पर ठीक से चल नहीं सकते लेकिन इसे देखने वाला कोई नहीं है।

विरोध करने पर धमकाते हैं बालू माफिया के गुंडे ट्रैक्टरों से बेतहाशा बालू ढुलाई से हर समय दुर्घटना होती रहती है। लोगों की मौत से लेकर घायल होते रहते हैं। ग्रामीण कहते हैं कि आवाज उठाते हैं तो इस धंधे के माफिया के गुंडे समूह में पहुंचकर धमकाते हैं। वे हथियार से लैस होते हैं।  रामजनम यादव, रंजन कुमार, मिथलेश कुमार ने कहा कि जब प्रशासन इन बालू माफिया पर लगाम नहीं लगा सकी तो हम ग्रामीणों की क्या औकात है। बारुण में बालू के माफिया के समूह के सामने पुलिस की हनक भी समाप्त हो गई है। ग्रामीण तो यहां तक कहते हैं कि इस धंधे में सभी बेपर्द हैं।

सोन से बालू लेकर जीटी रोड पकड़ने वाले वाहनों से गिरते रेत से सड़कों का  वजूद समाप्त हो गया है। बलू लदे ओवरलोड ट्रकों से जीटी रोड से नबीनगर जाने वाली मुख्य पथ टूटकर गड्ढों में तब्दील हो गई है। इस सड़क से बाइक एवं साइकल सवारों का चलना खतरे से खाली नहीं। बिजली परियोजना के अधिकारी भी इस सड़क से चलने में हर समय दहशत में रहते हैं। नहर मार्ग पर करीब एक से दो फीट बालू जमा होने से बाइक एवं साइकल सवारों का चलना बंद हो गया है। पैदल आवागमन भी ग्रामीण नहीं करते हैं। कार से भी बालू जमी सड़क पर चलना मुश्किल हो गया है। प्रतिदिन इस नहर मार्ग से बालू लदे सैकड़ों ट्रैक्टरों का आवागमन होता है। दिन और रात बालू लदे ट्रैक्टर दौड़ते रहते हैं। तेज रफ्तार में दौड़ने वाले ट्रैक्टरों से ग्रामीणों को हादसे का शिकार होने की संभावना हर समय बनी रहती है। ग्रामीण कहते हैं कि ट्रैक्टर से बचाने के लिए बच्चों को घर में कैद रखना पड़ता है। https://www.jagran.com/bihar/gaya-sir-here-before-drink-milk-newborns-swallows-the-dust-of-the-son-river-the-lives-of-the-villagers-of-aurangabad-are-in-trouble-21458205.html  (13 March 2021)

फल्गु नदी में बने गड्ढे में डूबने से महिला की मौत गया जिले के खिजरसराय के नौडीहा गांव की एक महिला की मौत फल्गु नदी में बने गड्ढे में डूबने से हो गई. प्राप्त जानकारी के अनुसार महिला नदी की ओर जा रही थी इस दौरान उसका पैर गड्ढे के किनारे से फिसल गया और वह गड्ढे में जा गिरी. मृतका की पहचान नौडीहा गांव के ललन दास की पत्नी लालमुनी देवी 45 वर्ष के रूप में हुई है. ग्रामीणों ने बताया कि नदी में बालू खनन के कारण 8 से 10 फिट तक गहरा गड्ढा हो गया है. https://react.etvbharat.com/hindi/bihar/state/gaya/woman-dies-due-to-drowning-in-pit-in-falgu-river/bh20210204223438485  (04 Feb. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh रेत माफिया ने लगाई तंबू में आग, सो रहे कर्मचारियों को जिंदा जलाने की कोशिश दतिया जिले में रेत माफिया की नापाक हरकत का मामला सामने आया है। बताया जा रहा है कि रेत माफिया ने कंपनी के कर्मचारियों के तंबू में उस वक्त आग लगा दी, जब वे सो रहे थे। तपिश की वजह से कर्मचारियों की आंख खुल गई और उन्होंने भागकर अपनी जान बचाई। हालांकि, उनका सारा सामान जलकर खाक हो गया।

जानकारी के मुताबिक, यह घटना गोराघाट क्षेत्र में कोटरा गांव के बाहर लगे नाके की है। मुरैना निवासी कंपनी के कर्मचारी दिनेश सिंह सिकरवार ने बताया कि बड़ौनकलां से रेत निकालने के लिए कोटरा गांव के बाहर उनका नाका लगा है। इसी नाके पर तंबू लगाया गया था, जिसमें रात के वक्त कंपनी के कर्मचारी आराम करते हैं।

दिनेश ने बताया कि रविवार शाम कोटरा सरपंच तहसीलदार सिंह के भतीजे और एक अन्य व्यक्ति ने सिंध नदी से अवैध तरीके से रेत भर ली थी। कर्मचारियों ने उन्हें नाके पर रोका तो सरपंच का भतीजा बहस करने लगा। उस दौरान उसने रॉयल्टी की रसीद कटवा ली, लेकिन कर्मचारियों को जलाकर मार डालने की धमकी भी दी।  https://www.amarujala.com/amp/madhya-pradesh/gwalior/sand-mafia-set-fire-to-the-tent-in-datia-madhya-pradesh-trying-to-burn-the-sleeping-workers-alive  (09 March 2021)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpp3PcDBnSo (08 March 2021)

A similar incident had taken place in Shadol in 2016:- दो दिन पहले मेडिकल कॉलेज का निर्माण करा रही ठेका कंपनी डीव्हीपीएल के पांच कर्मचारियों को खनिज माफियाओं ने जिंदा जलाने का असफल प्रयास किया। ये कर्मचारी सोन नदी के श्यामडीह के उस घाट पर तैनात हैं जहां से कॉलेज कॉलेज निर्माण के लिए कंपनी लीज पर रेत ले रही है। ये पांचों कर्मचारी झोपड़ी में अंदर थे उसी समय 16 दिसम्बर की आधी रात को आग लगा दी गई। इनकी जान बच गई, लेकिन शहडोल का मेडिकल कॉलेज निर्माण के दौरान ही विवादों में घिर गया है। रेत निकासी को लेकर एक सप्ताह पहले विवाद की स्थिति निर्मित हुई थी और इसी बात को लेकर आगजनी की घटना की गई। इस मामले में सोहागपुर थाने में शिकायत दर्ज हो गई है, लेकिन तीन दिन बीतने के बाद भी पुलिस आरोपियों को नहीं तलाश पाई।

उल्लेख है कि मेडिकल कॉलेज को डीव्हीपीएल कंपनी बना रही है। निर्माण के लिए खनिज विभाग से लीज पर सोन नदी के श्यामडीह घाट पर रेत का ठेका लिया है। रेत परिवहन का काम मनीष पटेल को कंपनी ने दिया है। जहां पर कंपनी ने लीज ली है उसके आसपास रेत का अवैध उत्खनन होता है। यह रेत शहर में खुलेआम महंगे दामों में बिकती है। इस बात का विरोध डीव्हीपीएल कंपनी ने किया था और खनिज विभाग को शिकायत करके आपत्ति की थी। इस घटना के पहले खनिज विभाग ने रेत का अवैध उत्खनन व परिवहन को रोकने के लिए यहां बड़ा गड्ढा बनवाकर वाहनों के आने-जाने में प्रतिबंध कर दिया था। इसी बात को लेकर अवैध रेत उत्खनन माफिया में आक्रोश पनपा और नतीजा आगजनी की घटना तक पहुंच गया। इसके पहले मनीष पटेल को धमकियां भी दी गईं।  https://www.naidunia.com/madhya-pradesh/shahdol-hee-tnt-898435  (19 Dec. 2016)

Goa Govt moves Centre to allow mining According to the Herald report, the Goa government has proposed an amendment only for the areas that reputed scientific institutes studied and allow sand mining through traditional means. Nilesh Cabral, Goa’s cabinet minister of power and non-conventional energy, told Herald, “In Goa river beds do not get dried up during the non-monsoon period. We have requested the MoEF to amend the CRZ Notification 2011 and allow the state to extract sand from flowing rivers by traditional means.” He believes that this will protect the livelihood of sand extractors and meet Goa’s developmental needs.

The state government’s move comes after 26 gram panchayats approached the SC in Nov. 2020, seeking the restarting of mining activities. The SC had banned mining in the state on Feb. 7, 2018. Since the last three years, people whose livelihood depends on mining activities have been observing February 7 as a “black day”.

The Goan reported that in Feb. 2021, the NIO had submitted a report to the state biodiversity board, assessing the environmental impact of six out of 12 sites along the Chapora river in Goa. It suggested that 33.20 lakh cubic meters of sand can be excavated from these sites. The report for this has been presented to the division bench of the Bombay high court at Panaji.

The NIO has also completed the study of the Mandovi river coastline, and the report is expected in April 2021. “Existing laws are snubbed and let sand mafias to proliferate. Natural sand is a part of the ‘commons’ and is meant for collective benefit, it is not the property of a selected few.” Antonio Mascarenhas from NIO added. https://science.thewire.in/environment/goa-moves-centre-to-allow-sand-mining-in-areas-studied-by-science-institutes/  (12 March 2021)

2 deputy collectors to check sand mining The director of mines and geology on Wednesday (March 10) submitted the names of deputy collector for Bicholim, Deepak Vaingankar and deputy collector for Dharbandora, Kedar Naik who will be personally responsible for the complaints on sand mining for north and south Goa talukas respectively. The high court last week asked the government to give the court names of two deputy collectors who would be personally responsible for implementation of the court’s orders on sand mining. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/two-deputy-collectors-to-check-sand-mining-in-goa/articleshow/81456138.cms  (12 March 2021)

Trailer of Goenchi Mati: A new perspective on mining in Goa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tmR4MTfMso  (09 March 2021)

Maharashtra Man tries to immolate self A man allegedly tried to set himself ablaze outside minister Balasaheb Thorat’s residence in Mumbai on Wednesday (March 10), the police said. They added the man is a resident of the Ahmednagar district, who upset over the pending refund of the license fee paid for stalled sand extraction.

Police said the man obtained the licence in 2018 for sand mining and transportation after paying an ₹8.72 lakh fee. He started the excavation before it was stopped because of opposition by the locals. Due to the frequent protests of the villagers, the man suffered losses. He tried to convince the villagers but in vain. The man took up the matter with authorities and sought a refund. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/man-tries-to-immolate-self-outside-maharashtra-minister-s-residence-101615458334262.html  (11 March 2021)

Image source Mid Day

Sand mafia caught plundering Panvel in daylight Despite a ban in place on sand mining, these photos show mechanised dredging activities ravaging Kasadi river, where activists are already in a major battle against pollution. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/mumbai-sand-mafia-caught-plundering-panvel-river-in-daylight-23163204   (11 March 2021)

‘Nakabandi withdrawal’ trap may blow lid off major sand mining scam  An innovative strategy of laying a trap after ‘nakabandi’ hours on the same route by city police led to seizure of a dozen sand-laden trucks at Mahadula T-point on Nagpur-Saoner road, on Wednesday (March 10). The 12 trucks had started plying assuming cops had withdrawn, and seven were found plying with serious violations, hinting at a major scam in illegal sand mining.

The police action under Zonal DCP Neelotpal showed trucks booked online for Buldhana and Jalgaon trips with 13-hour permit were heading to different locations in Nagpur city and Hingna to location which can be covered within an hour. This indicates the trucks would make multiple trips on this single permit. Out of 12, five trucks were found carrying sand excavated from Karanjghat and Temburdoh sand ghats in Saoner taluka, where documents showed major discrepancies. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/nakabandi-withdrawal-trap-may-blow-lid-off-major-sand-mining-scam/articleshow/81435679.cms  (11 March 2021)

Punjab Workers protest illegal mining in Fazilka Activists of the General Reta Workers Union staged a protest over illegal sand mining here today. District general secretary of the union Subeg Singh and block president Hoshiar Singh said a sand mafia was active along the Sutlaj in Mahatam Nagar and Miani Basti areas and was involved in excavating sand worth crores of rupees in connivance with officials. The union leaders alleged they recently got two sand-laden tractor-trailers confiscated but these were released by the police without initiating suitable action. They burnt the effigy of police officials outside the Fazilka sadar police station. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/workers-protest-illegal-sand-mining-in-fazilka-223869  (12 March 2021)

Locals believe illegal mining running rampant In Rupnagar A man sporting a green turban stops a dump truck coming from the Sutlej River overloaded with sand. “Show the receipt”, he says referencing the cargo. The paperwork shows that the dump truck is only loaded with seven tonnes. That does not make sense, the man says. He claims that these dump trucks usually hold about 30 to 35 tonnes when overloaded like this.

He then stops another dump truck, again overloaded with sand. And, again, the paperwork shows it is only carrying seven tonnes. This is a common pattern, the man shares, the quantity of sand coming from what appears to be a local sand mining operation is being severely under-reported. Welcome to the shady and lucrative world of illegal sand mining in Punjab, where sand mafias mine the resource critical for concrete production with impunity. https://www.baaznews.org/p/sandeep-singh-locals-believe-illegal  (04 March 2021)

Mining mafia ‘attacks’ 2 govt officials in Ropar village 2 govt officials inspecting a riverbed near Agampur village here had to flee to save their lives when they came under an attack by goons of mining mafia recently. According to information, residents of Mothapur, Gobindpur Bela, Thona and Amarpur Bela villages had told senior officials regarding large-scale mining near their villages. Later, Sardari Lal, Assistant Engineer in the Panchayati Raj Department, and Harjinder Singh, a Junior Engineer with the Mining Department, were directed to assess the situation.

Accompanied by villagers, Sardari Lal and Harjinder Singh reached the spot on Monday (Jan. 25) and found that mining was being done using two machines and tippers on the Sutlej riverbed. They seized the machines and tippers and informed the police. Before the police could arrive, a large number of persons involved in mining reached the spot and attacked villagers and them. They, however, saved their lives by fleeing from there and hiding in nearby fields, said the officials. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/mining-mafia-attacks-two-govt-officials-in-ropar-village-201761  (27 Jan. 2021)

Uttar Pradesh 60-year-old killed as sand truck overturns A 60-year-old woman riding pillion on a motorcycle died after a sand truck overturned and she came under it, on the Noida Expressway on Friday (March 12). The woman was identified as Sukhviri. Her husband Dharmpal, 62, was riding the motorcycle. The accident took place on the Greater Noida to Noida side of the expressway, near the Jhatta Underpass.

The Knowledge Park police said that the couple was coming from Bulandshahr to their home in Patparganj, Delhi. Police said that as per primary investigation, the truck, loaded with sand, was moving in the same direction. “The truck’s front tyre got burst and there was a bang. The couple was riding a motorcycle just next to the truck. It appears the woman jumped off the motorcycle due to the loud noise, while her husband steered the motorcycle away a few metres. At the same time the truck overturned, killing the woman,” said a police official investigating the matter, asking not to be identified. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/noida-news/60yearold-riding-pillion-killed-as-truck-overturns-on-noida-expressway-101615572760004.html  (12 March 2021)

Assam Sand truck falls off Jalukbari flyover In a horrific accident, a dumper truck fell off the Jalukbari flyover on Tuesday, March 9. The truck fell atop a parked city bus in Guwahati. The dumper truck was heading towards Khanapara from Amingaon on Tuesday morning. The driver, identified as one Kismat Ali (24), died on the spot while the handyman was left injured.

The matter was confirmed to G Plus by Jalukbari Traffic Outpost inspector in charge (IC) Udit Borkakati. “In my career, I have never witnessed such an incident when a vehicle fell down from the flyover. Luckily, the city bus was empty or it could have been much worse,” the IC told G Plus. As per the traffic police, the truck was carrying sand and took a sharp right turn which caused the accident. The police had to bring in a crane to carry the truck. https://www.guwahatiplus.com/daily-news/guwahati-truck-falls-off-jalukbari-flyover  (09 March 2021)

Karnataka Activist fighting forest encroachment, mining assaulted  Social activist Girish Achar, on whose petition the HC recently quashed the denotification of 260 acres of forest area in Shivamogga district, was allegedly assaulted by some unidentified people near Mattimane in Hosanagar taluk on Monday (March 8).

Girish Achar, 41, has been fighting against forest encroachment, illegal stone quarrying, and sand mining for more than 15 years. While he was on his way to Byndoor from Hosanagar on Monday, some people stopped him and forcibly took him in their two-wheeler. After travelling for about 2 km, they assaulted him. “I don’t know who they were or why they beat me up. This is the third time I have been assaulted in the last two years,” Mr. Achar told The Hindu. He is now undergoing treatment at Sagar. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/activist-fighting-forest-encroachment-mining-assaulted-in-shivamogga-district/article34031835.ece  (10 March 2021)

Haryana Indiscriminate mining has irreversibly damaged Aravallis Govt has sought the resumption of stone mining in the Aravallis over a decade after the SC in 2009 suspended extraction of all major and minor minerals in the eco-sensitive region, triggering fears among experts that it could reverse gains made in the region over the last 12 years. The experts said wildlife has since 2009 increased in the region and that the resumption of mining could harm it besides worsening the air quality. They argued the rehabilitation measures suggested for mining to resume are also inviable given the extensive damage already caused due to mining with no regard for ecology. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/indiscriminate-mining-has-irreversibly-damaged-aravallis-suggest-documents-101615263141525.html  (09 March 2021)

With mining plan, a cloud hangs over Aravalis again According to the proposal, which is purportedly meant to generate employment, there will be 10 mining blocks (mining leases) on more than 600 hectares, predominantly in Faridabad. The activists have pointed out that the mining sites are on the wildlife corridor as well. A hearing on the Haryana government’s plea is scheduled for Tuesday (March 16).

“Haryana never fulfilled any forest conservation provisions in the areas it mined. After mining was stopped, the Aravalis witnessed growth in wildlife. There is a wildlife corridor here that includes Delhi, Faridabad and Gurugram. Mining activities will create disturbances for wildlife and lead to depletion of groundwater. Haryana should not go for mining,” Balwan added.

According to green activists, abandoned mining areas are also of importance in providing a buffer to wildlife as the forest has regenerated itself in the last five years. They also pointed out that mining activities could further deteriorate the water table of the region. Gurugram has already been marked as a ‘dark zone’ by the Central Ground Water Authority. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/with-haryanas-mining-plan-a-cloud-hangs-over-aravalis-again/articleshow/81401737.cms  (09 March 2021)

WETLANDS, LAKES, WATER BODIES

Arunachal Pradesh The monks who protect the Bhagajang wetland At an elevation of above 4,000 metres in Tawang district lies the Bhagajang Wetland Complex that has around 20 high-altitude lakes. In 2009, concerned about the impact of tourism on the environment, officials from the Tawang Monastery and WWF-India partnered to address some of these issues and conserve the environment in the wetland region. Among the monks who are silently doing their bit in environmental protection is Phuntsok Wangchuk. Over the past 14 years he has spent around three months every year at the Bhagajang Wetland Complex to guide and care for pilgrims that visit the sacred wetlands.

Arunachal Pradesh has 1672 high altitude wetlands (above 3000 m altitude), among the highest such wetlands in India, after Kashmir. At an elevation of above 4,000 metres in Tawang district lies the Bhagajang Wetland Complex that has around 20 high-altitude lakes ranging from 0.01 sq km to about 0.35 sq km. At least 12 of these are said to be considered sacred by Buddhist communities.

Bhagajang and other wetland complexes in the state act as reservoirs for the three major rivers – Tawangchu, Nyamjangchu and Kameng River, which are important tributaries of Brahmaputra. Bordering West Kameng in the south and Bhutan to the west, the wetland complex is around 18 kms from the national highway on Sela Pass – a strategic mountain pass connecting Tawang district to the rest of India.  https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/the-monks-who-protect-the-bhagajang-wetland/  (10 March 2021)

Maharashtra How citizen action saved Lotus Lake in Navi Mumbai Another wetland in Navi Mumbai is under threat. Lotus Lake is located in Sector 27, Nerul, very close to the Belapur Sports Ground. The approximately 3-hectare lake derives its name from the thousands of lotus plants that can be seen on its surface, and in fact, lends its name to several shops and buildings in the area.

Lotus Lake becoming a debris dump yard. (Pic: Dharmesh Barai/Citizen Matters)

Some days ago, a few citizens from the neighbourhood took it upon themselves to keep “watch” at the place where the vehicles were entering. During this time they encountered a jeep from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Debris Dept. Two people who alighted told them to “move out of the way” as the dumper was going to come. On further conversation our citizen watch guards were shown a permission letter on the mobile that said that they were allowed to dump debris at the lakeside. The men seemed to be a bit disturbed by their presence, and they quickly started their jeep and left the place. Our citizens waited for a while but no dumper came. On talking to local folk and checking out the place, it was evident that about 500 truck loads of debris has already been unloaded. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/water-bodies-lakes-wetlands-dumping-solid-waste-23311  (15 March 2021)

Kerala Why aren’t we talking about saving the wetlands? Recently, the village of Chengara in Alappuzha district was in the spotlight due to the initiative undertaken by its birders, youngsters and residents. They mooted a plan to conserve the wetland areas in their village. But, the people of Ernakulam district, which ranks second in the state when it comes to the area of its wetlands, has barely made any such effort in recent years.

Kerala has 169 natural coastal wetlands with a total area of 40,900 hectares. There are 1,593 inland wetlands with a total area of 1.17 lakh hectares. According to Vishnu P Kartha, secretary, Cochin Society of Natural History, the wetland area in the district has largely shrunk in size over the years. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2021/mar/12/why-arent-we-talking-about-saving-the-wetlands-2275427.html  (12 March 2021)

WATER OPTIONS

IITs trying to provide clean water The Water Purification Technical Excellence Centre at IIT Kharagpur has developed a low-cost nano filtration technology which has ensured access to safe drinking water for 25,000 people at three different locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This water is free of heavy metals, considered hazardous for health.

IIT Guwahati has also undertaken similar initiatives. In fact, children at a primary school in North Guwahati, Assam, have benefited from drinking the purified water from which excessive iron and chemical oxygen demand (COD) was removed. There was a stink in the water, but now IIT Guwahati has set up a water treatment plant in the school.

The plant has been developed on the basis of chemical free electrocoagulation technology in collaboration with DST and is capable of reducing the amount of iron and arsenic present in water, bringing the total dissolved solvent and chemical oxygen demand (COD) below the limits prescribed by BIS. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/news/iits-in-india-are-trying-to-provide-clean-water-where-drinking-water-is-scarce/articleshow/81448774.cms   (11 March 2021)

Hindi report on Savitri Srivastav also known as water woman who has been working for water conservation in rural areas for years. https://itaazakhabar.com/international-womens-day-water-woman-savitri-srivastava-inspiring-passion-for-saving-water/  (08 March 2021)

GROUNDWATER

Maharashtra Groundwater scarcity looms over 145 villages: GSDA The latest Probable Drinking Water Scarcity report October-2020, issued by the GSDA, has been prepared on the basis of rainfall received during June to September last year and the subsequent groundwater recharge.

According to projections, water scarcity could emerge in eight talukas — mostly in Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal and Chandrapur and a few in Marathwada starting January. At least 16 more talukas in the rest of the state could face a water crisis from April onwards. These include talukas from Nashik, Nandurbar and Nanded districts, where depletion of groundwater reserves has been reported since last monsoon.

From June to September last year, rainfall recorded over Maharashtra was 1,165 mm, which was 16 per cent above normal for the season, according to the IMD. Of the 3,694 designated wells surveyed in October 2020, depletion (over one metre or more) in groundwater reserves was reported in 767 wells. These were located in 30 of the 355 talukas in Maharashtra, where the groundwater table fell by more than two metres, the report stated. However, the GSDA officials said that 258 talukas, accounting for 72 per cent of all talukas, reported no groundwater depletion and in some talukas, groundwater table replenishment was more than their average during the last season. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/groundwater-scarcity-looms-over-145-villages-in-maharashtra-gsda-7157890/  (23 Jan. 2021)

Punjab No Riparian rights, groundwater ‘overused’, only 27% farming is canal-based On March 4, 2021, on the fourth day of the budget session, concern was expressed over the declining groundwater level in Punjab. Recognizing the serious problem of declining groundwater level in Punjab, the Punjab government has been asked to take immediate steps to address this problem by passing a unanimous resolution in the Vidhan Sabha.

Announcing the formation of a high level committee of the House, the Speaker said that this committee would present its status report on the declining groundwater level in Punjab and its proposals on water recharge methods and resources. The committee will submit a report on its proposals within three months. In 1980, there was a shortage of drinking water in 3,712 villages of Punjab. In 2007, the number had increased to 8,515. At present the number is even higher. https://www.counterview.net/2021/03/no-riparian-rights-groundwater-overuse.html  (09 March 2021)

URBAN WATER

Delhi All new water body debuts in Dwaraka The newly created 7-acre pond in Sector 16, Dwarka, will soon be filled with treated sewage from Pappankalan STP after passing through a tertiary filter and nutrient filter and recharge groundwater. The water flow from the STP was increased from 5 MLD to 10 MLD on March 6, 2021. The lake cost Rs2.5 crore to build, completed over 7 months, it is within the premises of the STP. This is part of a larger project to rejuvenate 155 water bodies in Delhi.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/all-new-waterbody-debuts-in-dwarka/articleshow/81400257.cms  (09 March 2021)

DJB has gone to the SC challenging reduction in drinking water flow from Haryana to Delhi.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/djb-in-sc-against-haryana-as-city-stares-at-water-crisis/articleshow/81400589.cms  (09 March 2021)

Gurugram NGT gives last chance for clearing legacy waste at landfill NGT, hearing a petition concerning legacy waste at the Bandhwari landfill site on March 9, has given authorities the last chance for ensuring “meaningful action on the ground level” by April 7 to clear the waste.

The principal bench of the NGT, headed by chairperson Justice AK Goel, said, “…only option left to is require the state to pay compensation for continuing damage to the environment till compliance, and direct prosecution of the concerned secretary, but on assurance of the municipal, we give last opportunity for ensuring meaningful action on the ground level by the next date.”

The court further asked the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) to submit a future action plan that must provide for placing information about day-to-day progress on the website and to ensure processing of current waste at a different site. The court also asked the secretary of urban development/local bodies and the commissioner of MCG to be present in person or through video conference with a report of meaningful action during the next hearing, scheduled for April 7.

The green court expressed disappointment over the “inaction of the authorities in scientific management of the waste” that has resulted in leachate being discharged, causing contamination of the groundwater, polluting surface water and also polluting the air. The Bandhwari landfill receives around 2,000 tonnes of waste every day from both Gurugram and Faridabad. Municipal solid waste from both these cities is being dumped at the said site since 2015. Almost eight trommel machines have been deployed by authorities at the site to clear legacy waste, and each machine can process 300 tonnes per day. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/gurugram-news/green-court-gives-last-chance-for-clearing-legacy-waste-at-landfill-101615482095317.html  (11 March 2021)

Karnataka Treated water from Vrushabhavathi Valley to fill 234 tanks  The State Budget has proposed to take up a project to fill 234 tanks in Bengaluru city, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, and Chickballapur districts with processed waste water from Vrushabhavathi Valley of Bengaluru. The project, estimated to cost ₹500 crore, will process 308 million litres of water a day to the second stage. Interestingly, Ramanagaram does not figure in the proposed project though Vrushabhavathi Valley is closer to Ramanagaram.

– The construction of a balancing reservoir near Navali, of Koppal district, to replenish the deficit in the storage of water (owing to silt filling up the Tungabhadra reservoir) would be taken up at the earliest, after consulting with the neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and taking the necessary concurrence.

– The Budget has also proposed to provide ₹500 crore this year for the Paschima Vahini project that involves building 1,348 vented dams in different stages to prevent fresh water from joining the sea. On the contentious Kalasa Banduri Nala project, the required funds would be allocated this year in addition to obtaining clearances. The 2021-22 State Budget has allocated ₹5,600 crore for the Upper Krishna-III.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-budget-treated-water-from-vrushabhavathi-valley-to-fill-234-tanks/article34023496.ece  (09 March 2021)

Mumbai A leak here, a leak there Water supply in Mumbai is a complicated process often ruptured by leakages and pipe bursts. And when this supply is affected, it is not usually restored in 60 hours, sometimes it can take way longer. https://mumbai.citizenmatters.in/water-leakage-in-mumbai-water-supply-23269  (12 March 2021)

A Bhishti carrying water in one of the lanes near Crawford Market. (Aslam Saiyad)

How water has influenced Mumbai history and communities ‘Confluence’, organised by the Living Water Museum, will showcase works that look at Mumbai’s water history, politics and culture. Starting 21 March, a day before World Water Day, the virtual exhibition, in English and Marathi, will be followed by a week-long event comprising panel discussions, virtual curatorial walks on pyaavs (water fountains), the city’s coastline, water bodies and faith, and 12 short films that explore the theme of water access and equity. The show itself will go on for at least a few months.  https://lifestyle.livemint.com/smart-living/innovation/how-water-has-influenced-mumbai-history-and-communities-111615535503673.html  (12 March 2021)

Hyderabad ‘Contaminated’ drinking water irks Chandrayanagutta residents Residents of Gulshan Iqbal Colony, Chandrayangutta, have complained of water supply being contaminated with sewage and alleged that the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) is not acting on their complaints.

For the past seven days contaminated water is being supplied and locals say they are receiving sewerage through the drinking water pipeline. They pointed out that the water was neither potable nor could it be used for domestic purposes. There are around 75 houses and each of them is compelled to purchase water, the residents added. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/130321/contaminated-drinking-water-irks-chandrayanagutta-residents-in-h.html   (13 March 2021)

Lucknow Water in 12 localities unfit to drink Samples from even posh areas like Raj Bhawan Colony and Hazratganj were found to be unfit in the joint survey conducted by Jal Sansthan and district health authorities. Teams from Jal Sansthan and the chief medical officer’s office tested 80 water samples from different parts of the city between March 7 and 9 for chlorination levels. Of these, 12 samples showed that chlorination level was below the required limit in these areas. Confirming the survey report, Jal Sansthan general manager SK Verma said, “We have given directions to engineers concerned to properly check the chlorination level in water before releasing it for supply to households. We will conduct another round of tests in a few days.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/water-in-12-localities-unfit-to-drink/articleshow/81457018.cms  (12 March 2021)

JJM/ RURAL WATER SUPPLY

Report Panel asks water resources dept to ‘plug loopholes’ for ideal utilisation of budget Highlighting “poor financial planning”, a parliamentary standing committee has asked the Jal Shakti Ministry’s department of water resources, river development and ganga rejuvenation to “plug loop holes” in the implementation of various schemes so that their allocations are fully utilised and no scope remains for reduction in their budget at the RE (revised estimates) stage.

Analysing the department’s Demands for Grants for 2021-22, the Standing Committee on Water Resources said, “The Committee notes that over the years, the Budgetary Support / allocation to the Department has been gradually decreasing at RE stage, barring the fiscal year 2017-18. The Committee are of the opinion that continuous decrease in budgetary allocation at RE level is not only symptomatic of the poor financial planning by the Department, but also render the original budgetary allocations losing their sanctity.” The report is available at: http://loksabhaph.nic.in/Committee/reports_page.aspx?tab=6 https://indianexpress.com/article/india/budget-cuts-in-revised-estimates-panel-asks-water-resources-dept-to-plug-loopholes-for-ideal-utilisation-of-budget-7220134/  (09 March 2021)

WATER

From a bottle of water that costs $85,526 to water with the highest TDS—13,197 mg— here’s why Fine Waters is growing as a luxury category https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/india-today-spice-water-the-elixir-of-life-1777916-2021-03-10  (10 March 2021)

AGRICULTURE

Report New farm laws overlook women farmer’s struggles  Nearly 75% of the full-time workers on Indian farms are women, according to the international humanitarian group OXFAM. Female farmers produce 60% to 80% of the South Asian country’s food. So it’s little surprise women are playing a visible role in the monthslong nationwide protests against agricultural reforms passed last September by the Indian government.

Small farmers are particularly vulnerable to three new laws, which deregulated the agricultural market and weakened the government-established minimum sale price for crops in ways that, demonstrators say, could pit small farmers against big agribusiness firms. And women, as the most marginal of India’s small farmers, may suffer the most if the laws go into effect. https://theconversation.com/women-grow-as-much-as-80-of-indias-food-but-its-new-farm-laws-overlook-their-struggles-155083  (12 March 2021)

Chhattisgarh Start scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers: Agri panel In a report tabled in the Lok Sabha on March 9 ,2021, the Standing Committee on Agriculture asked the Centre to launch a scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers while citing the Godhan Nyay Yojana — Chhattisgarh government’s cow dung procurement scheme. “The Committee, therefore, recommend the Department to initiate a scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers in coordination with Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying,” it said, citing the Chhattisgarh scheme which has a provision to procure cow dung from farmers at Rs 2 per kg and sell it back at Rs 8 per kg after processing it into vermicompost. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/start-scheme-for-procurement-of-cattle-dung-from-farmers-agri-panel-cites-godhan-nyay-yojana-7221701/  (10 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh किसानों की आमदनी बढ़ाने के लिए 2017 में यूपी सरकार द्वारा बनाए कृषक समृद्धि आयोग की अब तक नहीं हुई बैठक Shocking state of farmer welfare situation in UP.  https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/02/12/up-government-farmers-krishak-samridhi-aayog-yogi-adityanath  (12 Feb. 2021)

MONSOON 2021

Normal’ monsoon likely for 3rd year in row? Sufficient June-to-September rains will be critical this year, but data show three consecutive normal monsoons are rare, occurring only once in the past two decades. Scientists say current conditions suggest they should favour a normal 2021 monsoon. The long-range forecast division of the IMD is currently preparing to forecast the monsoon next month. “The indications (about the monsoon) are good. We have our fingers crossed,” an agriculture department official said.

The monsoon also depends on what Met scientists call the Indian Ocean Dipole, which refers to the difference in sea-surface temperatures in two opposite parts of the Indian Ocean. Scientists watching the monsoon say, till now, there aren’t signs of oceans warming. “The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (was) solidly in La Nina range in February, but down from January and peak in December. Downward trend of SOI continued in early March as ENSO marches toward neutral,” said Jason Nicholls, international forecasting manager at AccuWeather, a weather forecasting firm. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/normal-monsoon-likely-for-3rd-year-in-row-say-experts-101615573539873.html  (13 March 2021)

URBAN FLOODS

Hyderabad Protection of wetland answer to urban flooding Millions of litres of sewerage mixed rainwater coursed through Hyderabad’s neighbourhoods in October 2020. This event revealed fault lines in the city’s infrastructure that have been neglected for decades. Incremental land use change in Hyderabad has resulted in thousands of acres of similar wetlands across the city disappearing. Yet, strictly in terms of revenue categories, actual shrinkage of lake area is negligible. The trick lies in the way land is categorised.

Hussainsagar, the pride of Hyderabad has no aquatic life to speak of anymore. A swampy wetland which once supported fish breeding and protected areas around it as a flood barrier has now become Necklace Road, serving purely aesthetic purposes.

This follows the logic of the Wasteland Atlas of India 2020. It identifies 17% of India’s surface area as wasteland. A complex terrain of grasslands, marshes, pastures and water bodies, supporting enormous ecological diversity and livelihoods – all rendered waste with one simple categorisation. It’s time we recognised that in this idea of ‘waste’ lies the key to our urban  future. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/protection-of-wetland-answer-to-urban-flooding/articleshow/81009873.cms  (17 Feb. 2021)

‘Illegal constructions and encroachments led to floods’  A study commissioned by the NITI Ayog said much of the damage reported during the unprecedented floods in the twin cities (Hyd-Secunderabad) in October 2020 was due to overflowing lakes, Hussainsagar in the middle of the city in particular, and breaching of storm water drains. Construction over lake beds and encroachments of drainage channels were identified as problems that exacerbated flooding and inundation in the city. The report lamented that since last few decades water bodies had come down drastically from one lakh to 185 within the Greater Hyderabad region. Out of the 185 lakes, surplus weirs and courses were completely closed in respect of 75.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/illegal-constructions-and-encroachments-led-to-floods/article34022933.ece  (09 March 2021)

ENERGY OPTIONS

Efficiency helps power trading gain traction The volumes of power traded on energy exchanges is going up for a number of reasons, including discom’s financial problems, generating companies preference and the power prices.  https://www.livemint.com/industry/energy/efficiency-helps-power-trading-gain-traction-11615224265806.html  (09 March 2021)

Kamuthi solar plant becomes water positive Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL) on Thursday said its Kamuthi solar plant in Tamil Nadu has become water positive. A plant of a company becomes water positive when it harvests and recycles more water than what it consumes, AGEL said in a statement explaining the terminology ‘water positive’. “The 648 MW Kamuthi Solar Plant, a flagship asset of AGEL, has become the first plant of its class to turn water positive. DNV, an independent global assessment and certification agency, issued the certification following a rigorous audit conducted on the plant’s water management in 2020-21,” it said.

– According to the DNV certification, the plant created a water credit of 52,982 m3, which is more than its water consumption for year 2020-21, AGEL said. Sharing further details of the plant, it said it is world’s one of the largest single location solar projects spanning 2,500 acres and the power generated at Kamuthi solar power plant provides clean green electricity to 2.65 lakh homes. To make the plant water positive, the company created higher water credit by desilting of community ponds and development of additional rainwater harvesting potential in the neighbouring villages of Sengappadai, Pudukottai and Thathakulam.  https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/adani-green-energys-kamuthi-solar-plant-becomes-water-positive/81451347  (11 March 2021)

ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE

Opinion The emasculation of NGT By Ritwick Dutta Unfortunately, the last few years has seen a steady decline in the quality of decisions from the NGT – most cases are either dismissed on hyper technical grounds or the NGT has refused to adjudicate on the merits of the case.  The effect of having a tribunal dominated by retired bureaucrats is clearly visible in the NGT’s decision. In 2020, out of the 34 Appeals filed challenging approvals granted by the government, it dismissed 29. The preceding two years were no different.

Today, the NGT comprises only retired judges and retired bureaucrats. The sine qua non to be a NGT member is not the understanding or experience in environmental law, climate science or conservation but being a “retired” civil servant. The NGT’s main role is that of grievance redressal. Access to justice is simply not possible where the public grievances against wrong decisions or inaction by “serving bureaucrats” are only heard by “retired bureaucrats”. This is exactly what is happening today. The NGT needs to be restructured. The starting point is by ensuring that it does not continue to be a “civil services club”. There can be no doubt that the environment is too important a subject to be left to retired civil servants. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/business-laws/the-emasculation-of-ngt/article34016771.ece  (08 March 2021)

Report Anguish At Officials The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forests and Climate Change, chaired by former Environment minister and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, in its report in Parliament today expressed “anguish’’ over the “non-cooperative and unresponsive behaviour of officials’’ when dealing with elected representatives. The Union ministry, as well as states, had not, for instance, given the committee data and information on CAMPA funds, which had been sought – CAMPA, or compensatory afforestation funds, are used specifically for afforestation in lieu of clearing of forests for development projects. The committee observes that environment officials – both at the Centre and states – are entirely unresponsive to elected representatives, often not even acknowledging or replying to their letters.  https://indianexpress.com/article/delhi-confidential/delhi-confidential-quota-nirmala-sitharaman-parliament-library-7220271/lite/  (09 March 2021)  

‘Misappropriation’ of funds, lack of transparency in MoEF schemes: MPs’ panel A parliamentary standing committee has flagged issues of lack of transparency and “misappropriation” of funds in certain schemes under the MoEF. https://theprint.in/india/governance/misappropriation-of-funds-lack-of-transparency-in-environment-ministry-schemes-parliamentary-panel/618163/  (09 March 2021)

Cabinet Approves Amendments to MMDR Act to Reform Mining Sector Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat declaration, the government proposed to auction over 500 mineral mines for which it proposed amendments to the MMDR Act to bring about the reform for the mining sector. https://www.news18.com/news/business/cabinet-approves-amendments-to-mmdr-act-to-reform-mining-sector-report-3520247.html  (10 March 2021)

SC: Why are some road projects exempted from prior green nod? The SC on Tuesday (March 9) asked the Union government to explain the logic behind its 2013 decision exempting road projects of less than100km length from prior environmental clearances as a PIL alleged that it was being misused to subdivide big road projects into less than 100km length to side step the requirement of EIA. The Chief Justice S A Bobde-led bench asked additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati to file the Centre’s response before March 18. CJI Justice Bobde who will retire on April 23 asked the additional Solicitor General to submit the govt response on setting up independent environment regulator. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-why-are-some-road-projects-exempted-from-prior-green-nod/articleshow/81421893.cms  (10 March 2021)

NHAI debars SNC Lavalin for two years The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Wednesday (March 10) said it has debarred SNC Lavalin Infrastructure (erstwhile SPAN Consultant) from engagement in future NHAI projects for two years. “The firm was engaged for consultancy services for four laning of Parwanoo-Solan section in the state of Himachal Pradesh. However, it failed to deliver as per the contract provisions which led to loss of time and increased costs, besides litigation. A show-cause notice was served to the firm on account of deficient services in consultancy services for feasibility report for the project. However, the firm failed to respond to the same,” NHAI said in a statement. The company is also involved in hydropower business. https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/roadways/nhai-debars-snc-lavalin-for-two-years/2210197/  (11 March 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Agra’s metro rail may wreck its historical heritage, environment  Records obtained under the RTI Act show the project is being built without prior approvals from the National Monument Authority and the environment ministry.

Environmental lawyer Ritwik Dutta stated that issuing tenders without applying for forest clearances creates a fait-accompli situation, a presumably irreversible scenario, as the contracts have been granted to third party contractors. He adds that this undermines the process of environmental impact assessment based on the assumption that all the permissions will be given eventually and is an example of both impropriety and procedural irregularity. https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/03/11/why-agras-metro-rail-may-wreck-its-historical-heritage-and-environment  (11 March 2021)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Study Dry riverbeds, overflowing banks A new study in the journal Science carves out yet another advance in the field of climate change attribution: the ability to blame humanity for observed changes in the world’s rivers.  Scientists from a dozen countries collected data from 7,250 river monitors around the world going back to 1971 and ending in 2010.

– In other words, heat-related changes to the planet’s water cycle, including rainfall, snowfall, and snowmelt, are causing rivers to swell in some places and shrink in others. “Rivers are an important indicator for freshwater availability for society and ecosystems,” said the study’s lead author, Lukas Gudmundsson, an environmental systems scientist at Swiss research university ETH Zurich. While the new research assembled a global picture, “zooming in on smaller regions would be both scientifically interesting and practically relevant.” There are two reasons scientists haven’t done this kind of analysis before—slowness in assembling global data from so many far-flung sites, and also the previous inability of models to factor in how people affect rivers by industrial-scale water and land management. More advanced models couldn’t detect the latter, and the scientists conclude that broader human-caused climate change is influencing river systems.  https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/add-rivers-to-the-list-of-things-hurt-by-climate-change  (12 March 2021)

Floods, cyclones caused maximum deaths in past 50 years Floods and cyclones contribute to maximum human deaths in India from extreme weather events (EWEs) but deaths due to heatwave and lightning need urgent attention, a new study has said. States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, and Maharashtra, with high populations, had the maximum mortality rates due to EWEs in the last two decades.

The analysis underscored a need to consider these multi-hazard-prone states with priority for developing disaster management action plans. Experts underscored further improving observational and forecasting networks and a focus on climate-resilient infrastructure. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/floods-cyclones-caused-maximum-deaths-by-extreme-weather-events-in-past-50-years/  (09 March 2021)

SOUTH ASIA

On March 14th, International Day of Action for Rivers, Rights of Rivers South Asia has organised an event on free flowing rivers all week long. For details & signup for the event see http://rorsa.org/ida21/. https://twitter.com/rorsouthasia/status/1369266090153369603 

India-China Tibet official urges China to start construction on Brahmaputra dam within year Reuters on March 9, 2021: China should aim to begin construction of a controversial hydropower project on the Brahmaputra river within the year, a senior Tibetan Communist Party official said in comments published on March 8, 2021. Comprehensive planning and environmental impact assessments for the project should be completed as soon as possible, Che Dalha, chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, said in a delegation briefing issued by China’s parliament. Tibet should “strive to launch construction within this year,” he said. According to Tibet’s five-year plan proposals published in January, the region aims to “research and promote” the project and begin related engineering work as soon as possible.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-hydropower-tibet-idUSKBN2B00GU  (09 March 2021)

China’s hydro hegemony is overstated. But India needs a plan China’s upstream position is a reality, but its dominance on the Brahmaputra is overstated. It’s time to de-emphasise China’s hydro-hegemony. Pursuing a more meaningful water dialogue on hydrological data-sharing is essential, but India would require building a lower riparian coalition with Bhutan and Bangladesh on the Brahmaputra.

– The Yarlung Tsangpo is a trans-Himalayan river where the annual precipitation, as studies reveal, averages about 300 mm. Once it crosses the Himalayan crestline, the annual rainfall is about 2,000-2,100 mm. This means that when the Yarlung Tsangpo reaches India, it swells because of the monsoon rain and also the contribution of the tributaries. As an upstream country, China shares more than 50 major international watercourses with 14 downstream neighbours. The volume of water flowing out of China to other countries is about 730 bcm (billion cubic meters), which is 30 times the volume flowing into China. This, undoubtedly, is a strategic asset. The Chinese leadership, while harnessing the rivers, has, as and when required, used them for coercion and compliance, or what the Marxist political philosopher Antonio Gramsci termed as “a mix of force and consent”.

– This is wrong of misleading: “To enhance economic growth in the region, it needs to build water storages and, thereby, exert prior downstream riparian appropriation rights. India’s water storage capacity is less than 250 bcm – pitiable as compared to China.” https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/chinas-hydro-hegemony-is-overstated-but-india-needs-a-plan-101615465054226.html  (11 March 2021)

Make water a core issue The Hindustan Times editorial on March 10, 2021 in the context of the Hindu story on March 8 about China plans for hydro project on lower Yarlung Tsangpo. Its generally in right direction (though misses the need for demanding joint impact assessments for projects on shared rivers), except this part: “At the same time, India must focus on building water storage capacities in the Northeast so that its needs are not compromised in case of a natural or man-made crisis”. The decisions about what needs to be done on NE rivers should be driven by an informed and democratic process, not because what China is doing in the upstream.  https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/make-water-a-core-issue-hteditorial-101615295842581.html  (10 March 2021)

IWT Indus Commissioners set to meet on March 23-24 The Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan are set to meet on March 23-24 in New Delhi. Pradeep Kumar Saxena, Commissioner (Indus) will lead the Indian delegation in the meeting. The Pakistan delegation will be led by Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters. This will be the first meeting since Aug 2018 meeting.

– Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, the Commission shall meet “regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan”. This regular annual meeting shall be held in November or in such other months as may be agreed upon between the Commissioners, states one of the provisions of the treaty.  https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-pakistan-indus-commissioners-set-to-meet-on-march-23-24-7228464/  (15 March 2021)

India-Bhutan REC, PFC sign pact to finance hydropower project State-owned entities REC Ltd and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) have entered into an MOU on March 9, 2021 with Bhutan-based Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Ltd (KHEL) to finance a 600 MW hydroelectric project at Trashiyangtse in Bhutan. The project is a 50:50 joint venture between SJVN and Druk Green Corp of Bhutan. REC would extend rupee term loan of Rs 2,029 crore. The balance debt shall be extended by PFC (Rs 2,029 crore), NPPF, Bhutan (Rs 200 crore) and Bank of Bhutan (Rs 200 crore). https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/rec-pfc-sign-pact-to-finance-hydropower-project-in-bhutan/81442178  (11 March 2021)

Bhutan Kholongchhu project likely to start in earnest from April With civil and hydro mechanical works, like construction of the dam, headrace tunnel and powerhouse, awarded to two different companies for the 600MW Kholongchhu Hydro Electric Project Ltd (KHEL), the project is likely to kick off from April 2021. An Indian company, Jaiprakash Associates Limited, was awarded the constructions of the 95m dam and its complex at the cost of Nu 9.72 billion (B) and the construction of powerhouse and its components at the cost of Nu 6.21B. A joint venture of a Mumbai-based private company, Valecha Engineering Private Ltd and Rigsar Construction got the work to construct the headrace tunnel worth Nu 4.346B. According to a project official, Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL) and other Bhutanese contractors would also execute some portion of the main work. Joint Managing Director, Kencho Dorji, said Kholongchhu project is a run of the river project with a stream diversion arrangement at about four kilometres downstream of the dam, a scheme to utilize the Jablangchhu stream. “The stream will be diverted into the headrace tunnel for additional power generation during the lean flow period. This for a high head plant would translate to about 26 to 33MW,” he said.

– KHEL is the first ever joint venture hydropower project in Bhutan and is formed between Druk Green Power Corporation and India’s SJVN. The sale of power will follow two routes, 30 percent of the net energy on the power exchange and the remaining 70 percent through long-term purchase agreement. Work on the construction of the dam, headrace tunnel and powerhouse have been delayed as the two governments had to finalise tariff determination on a long-term power purchasing agreement (PPA) before signing the agreement. The project is being financed through a debt-equity ratio of 70:30 with 50-50 equity holdings between the DGPC and the SJVNL. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project during his visit to Bhutan on June 16, 2014.  His Royal Highness the Gyaltshab, Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, graced the ground-breaking ceremony on September 18, 2015. The project, which has spent Nu 3.3B until now, is expected to complete by November 2025.  https://kuenselonline.com/kholongchhu-project-likely-to-start-in-earnest-from-april/  (08 March 2021)

Changes in mapped landslide numbers and total landslide area between 2014, the Gorkha earthquake in 2015, and post-monsoon 2019, from Rosser et al. (2021). Vertical blue bars show the timing of the monsoon; solid black line is landslide number; dashed black line is landslide area; and, the time of the earthquake (orange line) and the first local elections (green lines).

Nepal Evolution of landslides after the 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, earthquake In an open access paper just published in the journal Progress in Disaster Science (Rosser et al. 2021), a multidisciplinary team has examined the question of slope evolution in the aftermath of the 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake.  They have focused on an area heavily affected by landslides in central and western Nepal.  The team has mapped landslides in a large study area on multiple occasions since the Gorkha Earthquake.  In particular, they have manually mapped landslides twice per year since 2015,  before and after monsoon. In the graph, the vertical blue bars show the timing of the monsoon; solid black line is landslide number; dashed black line is landslide area; and, the time of the earthquake (orange line) and the first local elections (green lines). The area and number of landslides increases markedly again from 2017 onwards, which is definitely unexpected.  Authers suggest that this is due to a “proliferation of rural road construction around the time of the first local elections” without proper assessments and precautionary measures. https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/03/10/gorkha-earthquake/  (10 March 2021)

Pakistan Rights of the River & personhood rights of Indus delta Pakistan Fisherfolk forum (PFF) has planned to celebrate the international Day of Action (14 March) for rivers “Rights of the Indus River” with 14-days long campaign named as of Rights of the River and personhood rights to Indus River and Indus delta. In this connection PFF decided to organized a series of the dialogues in the different district of Sindh during the Rights of the River Campaign. After these dialogue PFF, will held a Provincial Dialogue in Karachi in which PFF will raise issues collected from district level. In the provincial dialogue, impacted communities from all over the Sindh will participate and demand for the Rights of the River and legal personhood rights of Indus delta. https://dc.icsf.net/en/component/dcnews/articledetail/18484.html   (10 March 2021)

Abdus Sattar Gazi lost everything due to cyclone Amphan. He is trying to defend his last asset home. Photo taken from Kurikahunia village in Asashuni upazila of Satkhira district. Photo: Rafiqul Islam Montu/Gaon Connection

Bangladesh As river swallows land, villagers turn environmental refugees Frequent natural disasters have resulted in massive loss of livelihoods and mass migration in Bangladesh. People have had to change vocations and keep moving homes to keep pace with the water that is inching closer by the minute. They are caught in a debt trap.  https://en.gaonconnection.com/climate-change-bangladesh-flood-cyclones-farmers-poverty-fishing-women-migration/  (13 March 2021)

Fish deaths: Thousands jobless as stocks reduce  Fish stocks have drastically reduced in Lake Victoria in the past one month, rendering fishermen and fish dealers unemployed. https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/national/fish-deaths-thousands-jobless-as-stocks-reduce–3317248  (09 March 2021)

ASIA

This crater made national news when it appeared along the banks of a Mekong tributary in An Giang province in 2019. Whereas previous coverage had blamed climate change for such erosion, this time the finger was pointed at upstream dams and sand mining. (Image: Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

MEKONG As delta washes away homes; highways are being lost Upstream dams are blocking the sediment that nourishes the Mekong delta, while erosion and sand miners take what remains. https://chinadialogue.net/en/energy/as-the-mekong-delta-washes-away-homes-and-highways-are-being-lost/  (10 March 2021)

Major dams on the Mekong river. Following severe droughts that affected lower Mekong countries in recent years, China has been called on to offer transparent information about its dams.

New platform aims to reveal dam and climate impacts on the Mekong Researchers hope the tool, which provides satellite imagery, maps and data, will show effects of dam building and climate change in the Mekong basin.  https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/climate/new-platform-aims-to-reveal-dam-and-climate-impacts-on-the-mekong/  (15 March 2021)

Bulgaria FIRST dam removal! Incredible news – we have a wild river again. The dam for the small hydropower plant was illegally built in the riverbed without the necessary building lease issued by the government. Since 2018 fishermen have send signals and fought for the river.

In 2021 the dam was demolished and only a side wall is still standing, but the Elovitsa river is running free as a bird!

The lease is necessary because the riverbeds in Bulgaria are considered public state property and the state has to allow its usage. What will happen with the other hydropower plants that were built in the last 15 years without a lease?

Small hydropower plants produce only 3.6% of the electricity in the Balkans but received more than 70% of the renewable subsidies in 2018. They have huge impacts over fish populations, protected areas, local communities.

Expect a new report on March 14th about the Blagoevgradska Bistritsa river and another problematic hydropower project. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/4311673755526931 

THE REST OF THE WORLD

USA Kaupakalua Dam Overflows: Evacuations Ordered, Half Dozen Homes Heavily Damaged or Destroyed News of a possible dam failure in Maui County in Hawaii USA, around 2 pm on March 8, 2021 (USA Time) due to overtopping of the Earthen Kaupakalua Dam due to heavy, unprecedented rains leading to life threatening floods. This notice was later on withdrawn though the flood alert remains in place. Several houses have been badly damaged. The dam owner contacted the state’s dam safety program about 1:30 p.m. to report extremely heavy rainfall and said the spillway was running very high. Just after 2:45 p.m., officials reported the “imminent failure” of the Kaupakalua Dam. The overflow from the dam stopped at 5 pm.

– Kaupakalua Dam, owned by East Maui Irrigation (EMI) is one of the oldest agricultural dams on Maui. It has a maximum storage capacity of 210 acre feet and can hold 68-million gallons of water. The earthen dam is 57-feet high and 400-feet long and was constructed in 1885, according to state officials. Approximately a half dozen homes were heavily damaged or destroyed. There is also evidence of landslides, and he is urging residents to remain vigilant. https://mauinow.com/2021/03/08/breaking-maui-kaupakalua-dam-overflows-evacuations-ordered-haiku/ (08 March 2021)

Torrential rain caused a dam in Hawaii to overflow on Monday, March 8, 2021, forcing the evacuation of about 150 households on the island of Maui and badly damaging or destroying at least half a dozen homes, the authorities said.

On Tuesday, after flooding on another island, Oahu, led to additional evacuation orders, Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency, citing “extensive damage” across the state. The declaration will make state funds quickly available for those in need, he said. Floodwaters destroyed one bridge in Haiku and heavily damaged a second bridge, Mayor Michael P. Victorino of Maui County said in a statement on Tuesday. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/09/us/maui-hawaii-dam-evacuation.html  (09 March 2021)

The storm that dumped buckets of rain on East Maui Monday, causing flooding, evacuations and the Kaupakalua Dam to overflow, was called a “run-of-the-mill low-pressure system for the Hawaiian islands” by an AccuWeather meteorologist.

For the 24-hour period ending at 8 am today, the most rainfall on Maui was recorded at 16.63 inches for the watershed area of West Wailua Iki, near Keʻanae, according to data from the US Geological Survey and reported by the National Weather Service.

While 16.63 inches in one day is a lot of rainfall, it is nowhere near the extreme 24-hour rainfall record for the state of Hawaiʻi. The record is 49.69 inches, set April 14-15, 2018 at Waipā Garden on Kauaʻi, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The 49.69 inches also is a United States record. It exceeded the previous national record of 42 inches set in Alvin, TX, in 1979 during Tropical Storm Claudette. And it exceeded the previous Hawaiʻi record of 38 inches, observed at Kauaiʻi’s Kilauea Sugar Co. Plantation on 24-25 January 1956. That figure was an estimate, according to NOAA.

For those interested in the world record for rainfall in a day, it belongs to the French island territory of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean with an incredible 71.85 inches during Tropical Storm Denise in 1966, according to the World Meteorological Organization. https://mauinow.com/2021/03/09/16-63-inches-of-rain-fell-in-24-hours-in-east-maui-beats-40-state-rainfall-records-but-not-hawai%CA%BBis/  (09 March 2021)

A dam on the Hawaiian island of Maui that overflowed, forcing evacuations and destroying homes, was scheduled for removal this year as it was in an “unsatisfactory” condition, Hawaii’s Dept of Land and natural Resources said. The Kaupakalua earthen dam, dating from 1885 and 57 feet (17.4 m) high and 400 feet (122 m) long, overflowed on Monday during heavy rains in the island’s northern region of Haiku. “On February 18th of last year, the dam’s owner, East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI) and Mahi Pono Holdings Inc, were sent a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) letter setting a compliance schedule to remediate the structure’s deficiencies”, the department said. “The owner has been working with the State in complying with this NOD, and in October 2020 submitted a dam safety permit application to remove this structure, which is targeted for construction this summer”, the statement added. The state land department is charged with inspecting about 135 registered dams statewide. In 2006, seven people died after the Ka Loko dam collapsed on the island of Kaua. https://www.streetinsider.com/Reuters/Hawaii+dam+that+overflowed+was+in+unsatisfactory+condition%2C+set+for+removal+2021/18104708.html  (09 March 2021)

County spokesman Brian Perry said he didn’t know how many people were downstream of Kaupakalua Dam, which is in the town of Haiku.

A state website says the earthen dam was built in 1885 and is 57 feet (17.4 meters) in height and 400 feet (122 meters) in length. It belongs to the East Maui Irrigation Company, which was created to divert water from streams to feed sugar plantation lands.

The state regulates 132 dams across Hawaii, most of which were constructed as part of irrigation systems for the sugar cane industry. Of these dams, 93% are classified as high hazard potential, which means a failure could result in significant loss of life or property, according to a 2019 infrastructure report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

A dam failure turned fatal in Hawaii in 2006, when seven people were killed after the Ka Loko dam on the island of Kauai collapsed and hundreds of gallons of water rushed downhill. https://ktla.com/news/nationworld/heavy-rains-breach-dam-on-mauis-north-coast-forcing-evacuations/  (08 March 2021)  

“Life of a River: From Restoration to Protection and Rights” with International Rivers and American Rivers Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:00am PST/ 1:00 pm EST USA time Registration is required – register at this link https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_siA0t23SSxW4ynwxLDsBxg 

Canada Recognition of Magpie River as a non-human Person  On February 23, 2021, the Alliance for the Protection of the Magpie River/Muteshekau Shipu (in Innu) in partnership with the International Observatory on the Rights of Nature, announced the recognition of legal personality and rights to this majestic river. This declaration aligns itself within the ecocentric current that considers that Man is no longer the “master” of Nature, but a species among others. It implies the recognition of values and an intrinsic dignity to the Magpie River, as it becomes a subject of law.

Nearly 300 km long, the Magpie River is located in the Nitassinan (the ancestral territory of the Innu people), in Eastern Quebec and in the territory of the MRC de Minganie. Its Innu name, Muteshekau Shipu, means “the river where water flows between square rocky cliffs”. The Magpie River, as expressed by Uapukun Mestokosho, young leader of the Innu community, is “the Nutshimit: where my blood comes from”. This river is an integral part of the culture and distinctive identity of this community.

For the first time in Canada, the Magpie River has been attributed through two mirror resolutions, one by the Regional County Municipality of Minganie and the other by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit, nine rights : 1) The right to live, exist and flow; 2) the right to respect its natural cycles; 3) the right to evolve naturally, to be preserved and to be protected; 4) the right to maintain its natural biodiversity; 5) the right to maintain its integrity; 6) the right to perform essential functions within its ecosystem; 7) the right to be protected from pollution; 8) the right to regeneration and restoration; 9) the right to take legal action.   https://www.observatoirenature.org/post/the-recognition-of-the-magpie-muteshekau-shipu-river-as-a-non-human-being  (06 March 2021)

International Rivers Strengthening a global movement of women river defenders -In March 2019, International Rivers and partner groups convened the inaugural Women and Rivers Congress, hosted by the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation in Nagarkot, Nepal. The event brought together close to 100 women from more than 30 countries across Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe, to celebrate the fundamental role women play in defending and stewarding freshwater resources, as well as to spur collective action to challenge the deep-ceded, gender inequities that women face in safeguarding rivers and river ecosystems.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhzkwZJVniI  (17 Dec. 2020)

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

Also see: DRP News Bulletin 08 March 2021 & DRP News Bulletin 01 March 2021

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

4 thoughts on “DRP NB 15 March 2021: MoEFCC & NMCG join March 14 celebrations on the Day of Action for Rivers

  1. Our PM Modi once said, “if 130 crore feet take one step ahead, we will be 130 crore steps ahead in no time” .
    If a reserve forest, flora and fauna, can be protected by the tribal people living in the region(famous Arabari forest protection in Midnapore District of West Bengal) we all can.
    Perhaps we all think that it’s the work of municipality to keep our streets clean and jal nigam to deliver safe drinking water. Later we can pay for health hazards to hospitals and get treated for diseases related to pollution.
    We must check if all those noises are coming on social media alone or in real time because at present, most of us don’t know what to do. So they spend time in virtual reality, joining clubs and networking.
    I believe webinars and discussions like SANDRP does have some credibility. Since you can directly send the necessary message to our ministries responsible for various legal framework for policies and mitigation plans.
    However, prevention is better than cure. If Tapovan Vishnugad project didn’t take off, those died or still missing might have survived.
    Road widening on Rishikesh Badrinath before Char Dham Yatra is an yearly schedule which takes off just before the tourist season and never gets completed. Totaghati area is extremely fragile zone as my 30 years travel on that road tells me. I was stunned by the news (in amarujala newspaper) that blasting took place at 4 AM and rock falling never stopped since then. It’s very evident that the authorities aren’t paying attention to the long term effect. Otherwise, they would have taken alternative measures by now.
    There are many more such zones including those called sinking zones in Uttarakhand hills but nothing has changed in all these years, specially after the statehood.
    Hydropower projects, both reservoir based and run off the river systems, are to be stopped. Those passed on papers need to be scrapped immediately. Road widening, new tunneling, deforestation and maintaining lower amount of destruction on or off char dham shrines need to be sustainably planned. Kedarnath temple area and the path leading to the temple has got green signal for various development work and we already know, how and what kind they are. Char dham temples and other shrines need protection and renewal as they are old and visited by millions of people from all over the world. Therefore, those allocated funds can be better used for maintaining the structures already present, instead of building new. How many people really need railway tracks till Karnprayag, another ongoing destructive project of Uttarakhand?
    Please let your readers know if you manage to invite officials and researchers of the Central universities located in Uttarakhand to give some valuable advice to our government that can help to change their strategies. The pristine nature of the himalayan fragile ecosystem needs to be handled with care, not with rampant cutting, blasting, tunneling, damming or making tourists enjoying 4 Lane roads heading to 5 star luxury resorts.

    (Sorry, for my long list of grievances!)

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  2. Do you think Mr. Trivendra Singh Rawat was removed early because of his “go” signal to Rishiganga valley hydro project against SC order or at least, that was one of the reasons?

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  3. I just read your report about Bangladesh where rivers like Padma erode lands making people homeless. This is a perennial problem. In fact, most of Bangladesh’s coastal areas and the islands are going to be inundated in another 10 years with the rising sea level. Even the Sunderbans, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, are one of the heavily affected areas including the Indian part (one-third).
    The population in this part is poorest of the poor as I found in reports soon after hurricane Amphan. If the environmentalists’ data are accurate then where these people will go?

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